Four years ago at 22 years old if you told me I’d be playing the US Open I’d think you were kidding. Fresh out of college I had decided professional tennis was not for me. My first job post college, tennis instructor/bike rentals at a summer hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan. By June tourist should have been flooding the Island, but it was an unusually long winter. That meant no tennis lessons to teach. The tennis and bike rentals shared the same space so instead of teaching tennis I was renting out bikes. But most of the time it was just the three of us (employees) huddled up in a circle next to the shrimpiest (is that a word?) space heater.
I only planned to work on the Island for a month as I took a corporate job back home. Coming home I remember these exact words that came from my dad when he picked me up from the airport, “I think you should play tennis professionally.” I even remember talking to my college coach on my first day of work during my lunch break. “Jason, I really think you should consider giving tennis a chance. This work thing is not going anywhere.” I was still set on my decision though.
My company announced layoffs on my second day of work. I was called in on my second week of work and it became official, I was laid off. A total of three weeks on the job and I was out. Unsure of what was next for me. My buddy Chris Ho told me to sign up for a money tournament in Seattle. I had no expectations going there. Only to have a good time. I won the tournament, convincingly! I decided then and there I would pursue my childhood dream of playing professional tennis.
I went into the process of playing professionally very blindly. No one told me how the process worked. Which tournaments to play, how to schedule, and how to train with a structured schedule (very different than college because you are completely on your own). With the help of a few close friends and family, financially, I started my professional tennis career in India. Thinking the competition would be easier, but not thinking about the conditions, I paid the price. Getting sick twice in three weeks. It wasn’t until the end of month three that I picked up my first professional ATP point. That was the beginning of a long 3 years trying to figure out the best way to give myself a chance. There were so many times after losses I just wanted to quit and live a “normal” life. Now at year 4 on the professional tour I can say that I’m more confident in my abilities and that for the first time I can really say, professional tennis is what I want to pursue.
Even though I wasn’t physically 100% for my first Open it was still an experience I will never forget. It has been an unreal journey so far and I want to say, thank you to all my friends and family who have supported me since day one. This is not an easy road and I truly appreciate you all sharing it with me.
To many more U.S. Open’s!