Today it is our privilege to bring you an interview with tennis artist, Stefan Bojic. We discuss baffling Novack Djokovic with his tennis skills, his positive experiences from following his intuition and passion, the books that have helped shape his mentality and much more…
How did you get into tennis freestyle? Did you create the sport?
Honestly, I don’t know where I would start with that. I don’t know how I would define ‘freestyle tennis’. It’s true I’m the first of my kind and I’m actually doing a project now, it’s sort of trying to expand my idea. The way I called it, the way I coined the term was ‘elementary techniques’, and what is elementary techniques?… is a way to develop, what turns out to be elementary abilities that are for tennis. So, the term ‘freestyle tennis’ was coined by people to describe the activity I was engaging in. But to be honest I’m happy for it because a lot of the inspiration came from other freestyle cultures and other sort of freestyle sports.
But when you really break it down, as I like to do with everything. Freestyle originated with swimming and basically it meant that you can do it in any way you want, just as long as it’s efficient for you to get to the other side of the pool.
So for me ‘freestyle’ is a complicated term, as freedom is at the same time. But what I think in terms of that, is that freedom is very subjective and although our modern society is built around that phrase of freedom, everything from our government to our economic systems, revolves around the word freedom. When you really think about it you can’t define it. Because as soon as you define the word freedom it becomes contradictory. The mere definition of freedom is an oxymoron. So, for me to have a definition in ‘freestyle tennis’? I feel about it in a similar way.
However, having said that. I do think there is some validity to the term, and in that regards, I think freestyle is subjective and can be subjective to the individual engaging in it. For me as long as they are feeling free, like again I said freedom can only be a subjective means, I really do believe that you can engage in freestyle. Now the problem is, that the way I wrote my book and the way I see it is you can’t really have or engage in freestyle if you don’t have the basics.
So, the way I’ve coined it is that I have this 5 or 6 elementary techniques, I actually have 5. That is a way we train, and through these 5, the 6 one is born, and this is the elementary technique of playing or the elementary technique of freestyle. Either way you want. But you see you cannot play if you don’t know how to. So for me ‘freestyle’ is a really high level of what I’m doing and I don’t think it can be called ‘just doing a trick or two or this or that’. I think freestyle is something you have to achieve in order to become really free, physically free, so that you can create your own stuff, so that’s what I think about that.
Yeah it’s true I’m sort of the first of my kind and I do take pride in that, so that’s why it took me maybe it was a bit confusing the way I answer but sorry about that, but it took me a bit of time for that one, I’m going to be a bit quicker…
Can you talk us through the journey from doing tennis freestyle as a hobby to becoming a professional? What various ways do you earn money as a freestyler?
To be honest it was never a hobby, I always has this idea since I was a kid and then it was just a matter of committing to it. After I finished college in New York, I really sort of made it into a project. So, you know this is the way I see it.
It was never really a hobby, I was very serious about it and I just had a hunch about that I’m doing something special and it will lead somewhere, and I think this personal feeling was very important for me in pursing it. So that’s why I think I’ve considered myself a professional from day one haha.
Can you tell us about some of the most notable adverts, performances etc… that you’ve worked on as a freestyler? What are some of the companies, players etc… that you have worked with?
It’s been pretty amazing… It all started with a ‘Head’ campaign, where I got to film an advertising campaign with a lot of players, that are sponsored by the brand ‘Head’. This was in India Wells, ever since then I’ve been to many, many tournaments from Roland Garros, US Open, Wimbldeon. I’ve worked with many Davis Cup Finals, some famous exhibitions. It’s been pretty cool. I’ve also worked with many different companies, like from Fed Ex, Poker Stars or Head was one of my main sponsors, Lacoste…
A lot really different ones I can’t think now on the spot, there has been for sure dozens, now I work with sponsors ‘Third Set Nutrition’ and with ‘Tennis Warehouse Europe’, as my sort of month to month income.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to take their passion for health and fitness, or anything else for that matter, and turn it into a successful business?
What advice I would give? Well it’s an interesting question… because I don’t believe in giving advice haha.
But what I can talk about is my experience, and my experience has been so far, I don’t know if this would be for everyone like this, but for me it was, every time I try to focus on my work, good things happen in the exterior world. This is what I will try to make in this piece of my elementary techniques, and for me it is this, ‘separating the actual work from the other things’. So, for me the actual work is going and getting my hands dirty and doing 2 hours of trying to invent new tricks and practicing the old ones, this is my craft, everything else I don’t consider work, everything else just happens out of that.
But if I’m not focussed on that base, and that base is led from my interior feelings and my intuition, then I can’t really focus on everything else. Because there are so many ways that you can take your idea in. If you don’t believe what’s inside of you, which will determine the direction of your idea, then you’re in a lot of trouble. I was in the position to try and chase the market, to try and figure out what is it that they want, how can I serve it better but… not so long ago I had a point where I was either going to move on or stop, and I said I’m going to move on, but I’m going to move in the direction that I want to go, and I’m not going to care about the market and about the needs and about the wants and from then on, a new market was created, new needs were created, new things were created.
That’s how I see it, I think you should always sort of, first of all stay in touch with yourself, which is not an easy thing to do. So you have to you know be emotionally very balanced, and from then on you will always know what it is that you actually want to do and if you are in a position like I was, which is sort of a lucky position to be in… I gave myself a certain period in time where I said I’m going to do this, this way, but I was very brutal towards myself in terms of how much I have to work, what I have to do and this and that.
Are there any people, books, or experiences that you would be willing to share with us, that have really shaped your mentality?
Actually, yeah I mean for me there is 3 from the top of my head, 3 very important books that sort of shaped me, but I got to admit I do have a lot of interest and my whole life I’ve been watching a lot of movies, reading a bunch of different things in all various directions. I think this is very important, especially if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, to sort of have this very wide perspective on the world, without this I think ideas are very limited. I’m never drawing inspiration from tennis; this is the last place I look for inspiration. I’m in tennis all my life, I know tennis inside out, and I don’t need to look for inspiration in tennis because the same ideas are happening there and they always will, but if I’m a mix of everything around me that is different, a part of this movie, a part of this book and a part of this dish and a part of this culture and I mix it all inside of me and a spice of me, add a piece of me to the equation then, something special could happen and could appear. But the books that I’ve found inspiring in regard to this journey would be:
‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ by Albert Camus, this is a very important book in defining the direction of thought called absurdism and is very close to existentialism. So, this is actually one of the books that made this present time available for all of us. Sartre was his friend, and he wrote his books and they were in a fight, but anyhow, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’…
The 2nd book would be ‘Parkour’ by David Belle, this is the creator of Parkour and the 3rd book would be Rodney Mullen ‘How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself’. Rodney Mullen is the pioneer of one of the most important figures in the skateboarding world and I find him very inspiring and I actually learned a lot from his life experience about the methodology that he used.
What advice would you give to someone who is demotivated or doesn’t know where to start with getting into sport and fitness?
The motivator doesn’t know where to start, I think everyone knows where to start if they listen to themselves, if there trying to meet the demand of the outside it’s very hard to know where to start. If you have the luxury that you can do whatever you want for a certain period of time, you should do that. In that it is very important to have discipline and from there on maybe something can happen.
What’s your approach and attitude to overcoming setbacks towards your goals?
I don’t like goals to much. I have some goals. But to be honest if I was focussed on my goals that I’m working on no one else has before, and sometimes there is some uncontrollable factors that are determining my destiny. If I was too obsessed with my goals, that are in the outside world then they probably wouldn’t happen. Because it is very frustrating that some guy in some suit decides not to do it, although he is completely wrong and only time will tell he was completely wrong. If I’m too focussed on that, then I’m losing focus on what’s important, and what’s important? …. Again, I’m coming back to that, to what’s inside.
So, I try to make my goals relatable to what I can control and I if I manage to respectfully meet those demands that I set for myself then I have a chance to actually fulfil my goals.
So, for me if things are going ok, I don’t have major setbacks. I think major setbacks happen outside of the profession, they happen on an emotional level where there is some turmoil, there is some events happening in your life and they effect, what it is that you’re doing, because they mess with your focus. So, you can’t focus on the right things inside, your focus is very blurred.
So, I don’t try to think about goals too much that are outside of my control. I do have some ideas, some dreams I would say, and to be honest a lot of them are happening and going in the direction of happening and it’s pretty crazy that just by having them in the back of my mind, a sort of, not a goal, but a north star, that you can navigate to… it really helps.
What are you plans and goals for the future?
So, for example this year I wanted to reach 75K on Instagram, but I surpassed that by a lot. This was one of my focusses, not because of Instagram, just because it was something tangible.
One of my goals is to develop this performance I’m working on, the other one is to shape this project, the book that I wrote.
But once again you know there it started as a presentation, it turned into a text and book and now it is turning into maybe an app. So, it’s very difficult to control it because such a new idea and I think if I would try to do that it wouldn’t be smart or good. So, I have a lot of plans, I mean I’m trying to last longer in this that I’m doing and I think I’m just learning how to do that.