MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Maxim Zagrebelny may have the most mispronounced name in high school tennis.

“Both my parents are from Ukraine, and they immigrated here 25 years ago, but I was born and raised here in Minnesota, so, that’s sort of where it comes from,” Zagrebelny said.

It’s time we all learned how to say it right, because he’s definitely making a name for himself.

Last year, Zagrebelny was the only junior to make the state quarterfinals. All the rest were seniors. He made it all the way to the state title match. Now a senior, he’s one of the favorites to contend for this year’s title.

“Yeah, I mean, if I play my best, that’s the end result, that’s the end goal for me,” he said.

Maxim Zagrebelny (credit: CBS)

How Zagrebelny grew into one of the state’s best young players also comes from his parents.

“I started playing tennis at a very young age. It was mainly my parents, they really got me into it,” he said. “I’ve been playing tournaments ever since I’ve been like 8 or 10, and loved it ever since, and haven’t had a doubt.”

Part of his success is the talent they taught him. But even more so, he believes, is that classic immigrant mentality, about working hard to make something of yourself.

“The main portion of it is that sort of work ethic that they really passed on to me. That really resonates through tennis,” he said.

It’s pretty much the American dream. Go to school, work hard, your son becomes a state-wide tennis star. Zagrebelny has a pride in his background that he carries with him every time he plays a match — fueled by parents who are so proud of him.

“They’re definitely really proud of me that I’ve been able to sort of take what they’ve learned and sort of apply that in a different scenario, such as tennis.”

David McCoy

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