MEET THE MAVS

SURVIVING THE SETBACK

By Bryan Kuntz

MEET THE MAVS

This Kidwell-sponsored content series highlights the unique stories of UNO student-athletes that have built a special connection to our city and community.

MEET THE MAVS

This Kidwell-sponsored content series highlights the unique stories of UNO student-athletes that have built a special connection to our city and community.

This series is brought to you by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

My journey began in Clearwater, Florida, before my family moved back to Brazil.

At the age of eight, I left the familiar landscapes of Florida behind to embrace a new life in Brazil, surrounded by my extended family.

Little did I know that this early decision would set the stage for a truly unique path.

As the years unfolded, so did my passion for tennis.

I dedicated countless hours to refining my skills on the court.

In fact, tennis wasn’t just a sport for me — it felt like it was my calling.

However, life, with its unpredictable twists, had other plans for my aspirations.

Turning this passion into a profession started to feel like a distant dream.

The financial burden accompanied with the pursuit of a professional tennis career was simply not manageable.

Candidly, the weight of this reality pressed heavily on my shoulders.

Just when it seemed that the chapters of my tennis journey might be coming to a premature close, fate intervened.

Choosing UNO

An opportunity, almost like a lifeline, materialized in the form of college tennis in the United States.

Without much hesitation, I seized this opportunity and committed to playing for UNO.

It was a leap into the unknown.

Little did I know that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would alter my course in unimaginable ways.

At first, everything was great.

The transition to college life in Nebraska was exciting.

I loved the competition, the camaraderie with my teammates, and just the experience of a college student.

When everything changed

But then, roughly a month into my first semester, I started having frequent, intense headaches.

At first, I thought nothing of it and simply brushed them off as minor inconveniences, you know?

But soon, I found myself confronting reality.

After a series of medical tests and scans, doctors found a tumor nestled in my cerebellum.

It was chilling.

In all honesty, it felt like my whole world had been abruptly turned on its head.

And I had no clue what it all meant at first.

I did know, however, that it was serious.

November then marked a pivotal point in my journey as I underwent a rigorous six-hour brain surgery.

The road to recovery was difficult, to say the least.

Physically and emotionally.

Simple tasks, such as relearning how to walk and regaining coordination, became monumental challenges.

The pain that accompanied each step in this journey tested me in all possible ways, and admittedly, there were moments when the thought of returning to the tennis court seemed unattainable.

However, amidst the trials, I just felt like I could not give up.

With an amazing support system of coaches, trainers, and teammates, I was determined to make it back to the court.

Each day was a challenge.

Coordination and balance exercises under the guidance of dedicated trainers, rebuilding my strength and mobility — it wasn’t easy.

But I refused to give up.

My return

And finally, the day arrived when the medical staff gave me the green light to return to the tennis court. 

It’s hard to describe my emotions in that moment.

Joy.

Relief.

And an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

Against all odds, I ended up playing a decent fall, even winning all of my matches at the Omaha Invite. 

And on October 10th, I scored the biggest win of them all — a clear scan, and not having to go back to the doctor for a year.

It’s hard to wrap my head around the whole thing sometimes.

I mean, the doctors even told me that they’ve never seen anyone recover from it this fast.

I can’t describe how happy and grateful I am.

Life after college 

As I look into the future, I find solace in the openness to all possibilities. 

Whether it be stepping into the realm of coaching, sharing my story as a source of inspiration, or resuming the pursuit of my dreams to turn professional, I am prepared for whatever the future holds. 

The setback I encountered has definitely changed my life.

And my outlook on life.

So, as I reflect on the ups and downs of my tennis journey, I hold onto the lessons of resilience, gratitude, and determination. 

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to play collegiate tennis at UNO, for the support of my family and teammates, and for the chance to transform setbacks into comebacks.

I’ve learned that each match, each practice session, and each new day is a gift not to be taken for granted. 

And speaking of learning — life is unpredictable, so I try to embrace every moment now.