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Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Profit is not sitting on the sidelines because of Type I diabetes, she is day dreaming about the day when she turns pro. Photo by Jason Lewis
Profit manages her diabetes during matches using an insulin pump, which she clips on her hip. It does not give her issues during her matches. Photo by Jason Lewis By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
Elizabeth Profit has been working on her dream to become a professional tennis player since she was six-years-old, and she is not going to let an obstacle such as type 1 diabetes get in her way. Profit first picked up a tennis racket when she was only two years old. Her mother would throw a rolled up sock towards her, and she would try to hit it with her tennis racket. About that same time, she was diagnosed with diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system destroys cells that make the hormone insulin. It is different from type 2 diabetes, which is the more common form of the disease, and typically develops later in life and often can be controlled by dietary changes. Diet and exercise are prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes, but for people with type 1 diabetes, exercise can cause blood-sugar levels to drop. Which means that exercise, food intake and insulin injections must be carefully monitored and balanced. Profit wears an insulin pump on her hip, which is clipped to her shorts, as she trains six days a week and plays in tennis tournaments. The pump sends insulin into her body on an hourly basis, but if she needs more she can press a button. The pump that Profit currently uses does not give her any problems while playing, but in the past she has had problems with other pumps, which would fall off at times while she was playing. During a match, Profit has her mind set on winning the game. “I’m mostly focused on the game at hand, but every other change over I check my blood-sugar,” Profit said. “If it is high then I give myself insulin through the pump, and if it is low then I just eat something. When it is low I feel tired, and then I start making, not very smart decisions. And then I stop running, and running is a big part of my game, because I’m more of a defensive player… more like counter puncher… which turns into offense. But when it is high, my muscles lock up and I start cramping.”Profit’s tennis career began on the tennis courts of the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex, and she now trains at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) training facilities in Carson. This past year Profit made it to the finals of the Super National Championships in Tucson, Arizona, and she made it to the quarterfinals of both the Super National clay court tournament in Virginia and the Super National hard court tournament in San Diego. Travel time really appeals to Profit, who has played in two international tournaments in Atlanta and South Carolina, but her favorite tournament was at Club Med in the Bahamas. “It was amazing, I never had so much fun playing at a tennis tournament,” Profit said. “I drank a lot of smoothies, and they had parties every night, so I went to the parties, and I hung out with my friends.” Other than the travel, Profit loves tennis because it is a very competitive sport. “I just like when it’s five all in the third set, and you’re down by a break point, and you hit a shot to come back,” Profit said. “You get this amazing feeling.”The goal for Profit is not to just be No. 1 in her age group, but to one day be No. 1 in the world, professionally. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are Profit’s favorite tennis players. “I like how graceful Roger Federer is, it looks so easy for him to hit the ball,” Profit said. “And I wish that I can hit the ball like him. And Nadal, I just like the way he fights.”At this point in Profit’s career, she’s more of a defensive player. She waits for her opponent to make a mistake, and then she goes on the offensive and strikes. But she’s working to become more of an offensive player. However she fine tunes her game, Profit can certainly do it while playing with type 1 diabetes. Other athletes are doing it, such as Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, NBA players Adam Morrison and Chris Dudley, and Hall of Fame tennis player Bill Talbert.
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