Aforza Spotlight

Rayyan Rasheed

Academy Alumni

Here at Aforza, we’ve worked hard to build a fun, family-friendly environment for tennis players of all ages and skill levels. From the moment our players pick up a racquet to the time they leave our doors, we are so excited to support them in the sport we love.

Rayyan Rasheed is one of our recent Aforza Academy graduates. He started playing here with his siblings at just 10 years old.His passion for tennis grew and, within a few short years, he was playing in our high-performance program—and the rest is history. Rayyan doesn’t think he was the best player, “I never had the best strokes or biggest serve, but I always had a big heart.” He worked hard, gave it his all and has left his mark here at the club. He’ll be heading off to the University of Calgary this fall to pursue a career in engineering.

Rayyan has always been driven and it was important to him to leave a positive impression on those around him. He has a strong forehand, but an even stronger work ethic. He said, “It was instilled in me from a young age by my dad that no matter what it is you do in life always strive to be the best you can be, and work hard each and every day.” His fondest memories revolve around the other elite players he grew up with here at Aforza, and he knows how valuable those relationships have been to his tennis career and beyond. “The bonds that I have made with all of them are something that will last a lifetime and I am so blessed to have these people in my life.”

As a player, Rayyan had challenges just like any other. His physical health was sometimes his biggest setback, but he overcame thanks to an incredible support system of family and coaches. Rayyan said, “Without those amazing people in my life, I can’t imagine where I would be.”

Here’s some fun facts you might not know about Rayyan:

  • His favorite racquet is the Babolat Pure Areo.
  • He always wears Nike shoes, just like his favorite athletes. In fact, Rayyan is sure the brand has contributed to his success: “I always associated Nike with being the brand of champions and so I thought naturally that’s the brand for me.”
  • His favorite tennis player is Rafa Nadal. Rayyan is a super fan of a number of professional sports teams and athletes.
  • His favorite thing about tennis is the sound of the ball after a clean hit.
  • His favorite thing to do, besides tennis, is to hang out with his family.
  • His shoes have his grandmas name on them, who he lost to an 8-year battle with cancer. She was an incredible source of wisdom, faith and positive influence for Rayyan.
  • His favorite quote is from Kobe Bryant: Leave a legacy.

Front desk manager, Doug Kozak, has a special relationship with Rayyan and his family. He enjoyed visiting with Rayyan’s parents on Saturday nights when they dropped off their boys for practice and he soon found a common bond with Rayyan over their shared love of sports. Doug encouraged Rayyan in his competitive tennis journey and lead him into coaching as well. He shared:

“When Rayyan turned 16, we talked about entering the club championships with his buddy Arsh. Rayyan was hesitant to play, but I was able to convince him to compete. Rayyan played in five club championships, winning all five! One of my fondest memories was watching an epic three-set match with Rayyan and Arsh taking on Liam Spiers and Will Atkins. The match went down to a 10-point tiebreaker, and there were over 50 people crowded into the MVP restaurant, pressed up against the glass, cheering them on. Rayyan’s passion for tennis was evident in every point he played. Now, Rayyan is eligible for his first year of interclub and has made the 5.0 Team. Aforza is hoping for continued success in the upcoming interclub season.

If you speak with Rayyan around the club, you’ll quickly notice his upbeat, energetic, and enthusiastic personality. When we were looking for a coach to help with the little kids at the Academy, Rayyan was my first thought. He was hesitant to accept the role at first, but he did, and after just one day of coaching, I knew we had made the right decision. Rayyan has since worked our summer camps, weekend programs, and private lessons. It’s been amazing to watch Rayyan grow from a child to a young man during my time at Aforza. His passion for sports, especially tennis, is infectious, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for him.”

His long-time coach and fellow Rafa fan, Garcia Gordon, couldn’t help but boast as well. “I could not be prouder of the little boy I first met. He became a little brother to me and has shined his light to become the young man I am so proud to know. My heart is full and proud of his accomplishments. We will all miss him and his smile.”

Want to be just like Rayyan? Pick up your racquet and work hard. “I never had an early start, I started competing at the age of 13. I was never naturally gifted or super talented but I always had a good work ethic and a dream of being able to compete at the highest levels of the sport. No matter where you are, what age you are or how talented you are, dream big and strive for greatness.”

Great advice. And we agree. Play. Do what you love.

We are all so proud of Rayyan and have been so fortunate to have him and his family a part of our club. Congratulations, Rayyan, from all of us here at Aforza!

Read more about our junior tennis programs and stay up-to-date on all of Rayyan’s accomplishments here.