Falling in love with the game.
Both my parents and my older brother played tennis. That’s how I got hooked. I used to go to the courts with them and they’d throw me a few balls to play with at the end of the game. I loved it right away and wanted to be just like my parents and my big brother. So it was a real family affair. We also grew up near the Arthur Ashe stadium. So every year I went with my Dad or my friends to watch. So that helped feed my passion and years later the US Open became my favourite tournament as a player.
I loved the challenge of trying to reach my potential and always trying to find ways to improve. I loved the feeling of being totally prepared for tournaments as well. When I knew the hard work was done and I was ready to compete were my favourite times.
The pinnacle of that was winning the Davis cup. It was such a special experience to share that with Andy Roddick and the Bryan twins. We’d been through so much as a team. We loved the journey and I care about those guys because we shared so much.
When it was no longer possible to stay at that level, to keep improving, I knew it was time to call it. I still play once a month or so. But I have different priorities now.
USACOUNTRY OF BIRTH
183 LBSWEIGHT (83 KG)
6'1"HEIGHT (185 CM)
“My advice to anyone starting to play the game is always to have fun. If it’s fun, you’ll keep playing”
Looking to the future.
That was what made the transition away from the sport so smooth. We already had one daughter, with another one on the way. So I had plenty to keep me busy. Tennis takes up so much of your energy and focus that it was actually really nice to change that pattern and have something more important to focus on. Having that singular focus switch from tennis to my family was a real joy.
I still love watching the game. It keeps getting better and better. Players are getting more physical and taking even better care of themselves. It’s fun to watch because I know how much hard work it takes for them to be ready to compete at that level every time they step on the court. For me, a good match has a variety of points or styles. I like watching players who can do different things on the court.
There are some great young players coming through. My advice to anyone starting to play the game is always to have fun. If it’s fun, you’ll keep playing and that’s the biggest hurdle.
Just getting kids to play and to enjoy it is the first step. That would have been good advice to my younger self too. To take it a little bit easier on myself. I tended to be pretty hard on myself and could have maybe lightened up a bit at times.
That mental side, staying balanced in your head is so important. In my career, there were plenty of people who had as much, or more athleticism, than I ever did. But I had great mental strength. That’s what sets the top athletes apart.
It’s important for kids to have role models too. My dad inspired me with how he raised me and led by example that hard work pays off. As an athlete, Arthur Ashe and Michael Jordan were my two biggest inspirations.
There’s a great quote from Robert Hastings – “Regrets over yesterday and fears of tomorrow are the twin thieves that rob us of the moment.” I tend to not have many regrets or too many worries about the future and just think if I do the things necessary in the moment, the rest will fall into place.
James’S RACKET CX 2.0
Take control of your game with the precision of the CX 2.0. Packing extra power and spin, this racket is fast and manoeuvrable. Ideal for advanced and intermediate players.View details