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Classical Pianist Competes at the US Open

By Sara Schabas on September 5, 2023

Yuriko Lily Miyazaki
Yuriko Lily Miyazaki (Photo via LTA)

Twenty-seven-year-old British tennis player Yuriko Lily Miyazaki, trained as a concert pianist while perfecting her game.

The Story

Yuriko Lily Miyazaki was born in Japan before moving to Switzerland and eventually England, where she now holds citizenship. Miyazaki’s mother, Akiko Miyazaki, is a concert pianist with whom Miyazaki can often be seen on Instagram playing duets. Miyazaki recently faced Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in the second round of the US Open, who beat Miyazaki in straight sets.

Tennis Meets Classical Music

Sports and more specifically, tennis psychology is often employed by musicians. Timothy Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Tennis (1997) has become a classic text for musicians experiencing performance anxiety, despite it having been written for tennis players. Popular performance coaches for musicians including Jackie Reardon, close colleague of legendary Canadian conductor/soprano Barbara Hannigan, also work with tennis players and Olympic athletes.

And the connections don’t stop there. Composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears were often known to hit the court together, and Arnold Schoenberg and George Gershwin played regular games together in Los Angeles. Violin virtuosos, Joshua Bell and Pinchas Zukerman, were both tournament-winning tennis players—Zukerman even once considered leaving music for a career in tennis(!).

While Miyazaki’s Instagram performances don’t suggest her to be the next Zukerman-esque double threat, only time will tell where her inner game of tennis takes her next.

Sara Schabas
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