Athlete of the Week: Omaha Northwest’s Malak Ashbalu

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Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 10:42 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Northwest’s number two singles tennis player Malak Ashbalu kicked off the season winning six of her first eight matches all while fasting for Ramadan. For 30 days, in the middle of the tennis season, Ashbalu fasts from sunrise to sunset. That means no water or food for almost 18 hours every day.

“Sometimes it’s difficult, but I try to eat a lot and drink a lot of water before I start my fasting,” said Ashbalu. “It just keeps me going throughout the day. And yeah, It doesn’t stop me from playing tennis or anything else.”

The junior normally plays doubles as well, however, in an effort to conserve Ashbalu’s energy and health, she only plays singles during Ramadan.

“At tournaments, she only plays singles always, but she plays four to five matches in a day and so managing that can a lot of times get difficult,” said Omaha Northwest girls tennis head coach Stattin Yates. “But it all comes down to she’s fit enough to do it, so as long as her mind game stays in it, she’s able to do anything really.”

Despite picking up tennis only three years ago as a freshman, Ashbalu has been quick to learn the new sport and even quicker to fall in love with it.

“Malak is the most coachable player we have. Came to us as a freshman. Never played before, so she’s really developed really quick through the program,” said Yates.

”I was like oh this is my thing and every time I got better at hitting my hard strokes, it would help me a lot,” said Ashbalu. “It’s like a therapy for me now.”