During the qualifying for the 2006 US Open, Brian Vahaly once again competed with a severe shoulder injury that has plagued him for most of the 2006 tennis season. The first round loss could very well be his last match as a professional on the ATP Tour. Atlanta Tennis wondered what the future might hold for the local tennis hero who has meant so much to the tennis community in Atlanta. We recently caught up with Brian in his Smyrna home.

“For the past year I have been playing through a series of injuries to my right arm and shoulder that have made it kind of tough to play,” professes Vahaly. “I'm having surgery September 7th to repair several tears in my rotator cuff.” As for his recovery, Vahaly will be in a sling for three to four weeks before he begins extensive physical therapy. Brian admits the injuries and surgery are “serious” and leaves his future on the tour in doubt. His doctors are vague when it comes to him being back on a tennis court.

“I'm starting to think about the next phase of my career after tennis. I've been taking interviews here in Atlanta and in New York. I'm also considering Harvard or Stanford for grad school.”

Brian began playing tennis at the age of two with his parents, Barry and Karen. He was a successful and decorated player as a junior. He went on to graduate from the University of Virginia with a double major in finance and business management in 2001. While playing for Virginia, Brian received the ACC Player of the Year honors for two years and was named the University of Virginia Male Athlete of the Year as a senior. As a professional, he played in big matches against James Blake, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick. While ranked in the top 100 in the world, he was the only professional to have a college degree. Now at the young age of 27, Vahaly is faced with ending one career and beginning another. “The competition has been great on the professional tour, but it's the friendships with some of the players that remain,” explains Vahaly. “The places I've been lucky enough to visit and all the great people who've supported me. It’s a collection of great experiences that have all been a part of the past several years.” Most important to Brian now is the continued success of his Brian Vahaly Brighter Future Foundation.

“We've tried our best to help kids in disadvantaged circumstances understand the value of academics through tennis. We've reached out in Columbus, Savannah and here in Atlanta. It's been great, and we hope it continues.” On a sad note, Brian mentions how hard the death of Janet Louer has been this summer. Louer was the USTA Georgia Director of Junior Player Development and Programs plus a Brighter Future Foundation supporter. “We lost the driving engine of the Foundation this past summer to cancer. Janet had been my mentor and friend for as long as I can remember. It was very, very sad to lose her. She's irreplaceable.”

What will Brian take away with him if surgery ends his tennis career? “I'll be on an injury sabbatical from the tour, so I still have the option of trying to come back. Who knows? I'm still relatively young so we'll see. “ Vahaly adds, “Everybody finds their own way. For me, the key has always been balance. Balance between tennis, academics, social life, and family time.” The tennis community in Atlanta is anxious to see what happens.

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