Sean Karl, 18, underwent his first round of chemotherapy last week at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. -
Tennis players from Middle Tennessee and across the nation are rallying around a Brentwood teenager who is battling cancer.
Eighteen-year-old Sean Karl, one of the top-rated tennis players in the country, underwent his first round of chemotherapy last week at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Pain in Karl's lower back, which first began while competing in a tournament in Texas, led to his diagnosis.
"The pain was just getting worse and worse. Finally, they did more tests and found what they found," Karl's Coach Andy Veal said.
Veal told Nashville's News 2 the diagnosis stunned the tennis community.
"[I was] just devastated. Both my wife and I just couldn't believe it," Veal said. "You know, outwardly, he's so strong you know, playing tennis and just being such a good athlete to have this kind of diagnosis was just shocking."
Since his diagnosis, Karl said he has received an outpouring of love and support, including a video message from tennis great Roger Federer.
"It's just amazing how the tennis community has pulled together," Veal said, adding, "Whether you're talking about the number one player in the world down to just some of the kids in the junior program that are saying, ‘How's Sean?' [or] ‘Is he going to be okay?'"
Veal said he feels certain Karl will beat his battle with cancer.
"He is a tough kid. If anyone of all the players that I coach could handle something like this and come out of it strong, it would be Sean," he said.
Karl planned to enroll at the University of Tennessee next fall.