Words of Advice and Inspiration:
Due to a crippling car accident, I am in a wheelchair,but I refuse to let this stop me. You are such an inspiration that I have taken up wheelchair tennis.I love it . Can you tell me what keeps you motivated when you are not feeling confident . I am having trouble finding confidence.
33 yrs. Cape Coral, Florida
What keeps me motivated at times when I'm down and I've lost a tough match (like 11-9 in the fifth set) is that this is still what I love to do. I lost a 3 hour match and felt about as bad as I possibly can after a tennis match and realized that I still had fun on the court and that after the match, the worst happened, I lost, but I'm still a very lucky person for being able to do what I do. People like you are the true inspirations, I am sorry for your accident, but the fact that you continue to look at life with a positive
attitude impresses me and makes me proud that you are a fan of mine. You also help me to keep my life in perspective and make me stop feeling sorry for myself when I realize that there are worse tragedies in life than losing a tennis match. Now I've just got to keep my head up and go try to win some doubles.
this is Hannah Samae,
If you could change one thing in your life, or take back one decision you
made in your life .. What would it be?
Thank you once again for giving us respect in answering our questions..
I know you are busy man
Lots of Prayers,
22 years old
I'm not sure what I would do differently in my life. Probably the biggest thing that I have learned with all of the experiences that I've had is that I should never have lacked the confidence that I have now. I was pretty shy my first few years in high school because I was so small and wore a back brace. But I think now I've realized that people will like you based on the person you are as long as you are always just being kind and being yourself. But there really aren't many decisions that I have made that I regret, obviously things have gone wrong at times in my life, but each decision I make I truly believe it's the best thing for me at that time. I think that's the best way to have no regrets.
Dear James Blake,
Hello, My name is Ashtyn, and I am nearly 18 years old. I play tennis, and usually, when I am just rallying, I play very well, and then when I play a match, my whole mentality changes, and I don't play very well. Do you have any tips that may help me out with that?
If you play well in practice, but can't translate it to the matches, it must be something in your mentality. The best guess I would have is that you are much more relaxed in practice, so maybe try to relax during a match. Even if at first it seems counterproductive, try to have fun during a match. Sometimes that can be difficult, but I think it the long run it can help you.
I've been browsing through all of the emails you have responded to on your website, and I must say, I am quite impressed at your dedication. You seem to be very dedicated to your fan base.
I was also pleased to hear that you attended Harvard, if only for two years. I am in my second year of college right now, but my first at this school because I just transferred. I had a hard time making friends at my first college, and am having the same difficulty here. I was wondering if you had any tips for making friends more easily on campus. I have considered playing tennis, but do not have the time between work and school.
Also, what are some tips for staying in shape, specifically for tennis, during the winter? I take lessons in the off season, but it's more difficult to train as you do during the summer months.
I was very lucky to make so many wonderful friends in college. My situation was pretty fortunate because I had 5 roommates my freshman year and still to this day 2 of them are some of my best friends in the world. Also I was surrounded by the tennis team who I immediately had a bond with. I also had my brother who was a senior to show me around, so I was about as lucky as someone can be entering college. But without all of those things, I think the best way to make friends is just be confident and be yourself. There will definitely be people who appreciate you for who you are and those are the people you probably want to be friends with anyway. As for staying in shape in the winter, you may want to look to some indoor sports like basketball or indoor soccer.
I am from Fairfield, I'm 14 and in 8th grade and play tennis, and I am moving to florida next school year to live with my coach. What was your experience with living up here and playing tennis?
tb, living in fairfield and growing up there was a great experience for me. i went to public high school (go mustangs) and had many friends that knew nothing about tennis. that was the best situation for me because i really enjoy being a well-rounded person as opposed to a one dimensional tennis player. moving to florida after i left harvard was a decision based on my career. it made sense to go to a place that is perfect for my training like saddlebrook. it makes sense to be where you can train all year round outdoors and have top level players to practice with.
I live in fairfield and everyone is psyched that you are doing so well. I just wanted to know, since i'm 13, were you playing a lot of New england tournaments or Eastern tennis for USTA. I hope to see you some day.
i used to play new england tournaments. i would play a few eastern tournaments, but i would get ranked in new england. good luck to you in whichever tournaments you decide to play.
Hi my name is Johnny im 17, from
New Zealand and i am half maori which is the native people of New Zealand and
half white and have had a lot of racial experiences ive been playing tennis
for 4 i now live in hawaii and i really admire and look up to you and also venus
and serena, i jus wanted to ask u how u deal with rasism ? and if it has helped
u to get to where u are today?
p.s. im really diggin the hair.my email if u could help me get better at tennis (email@example.com) i hope u dont think im nuts.
johnny, it's good to hear from you. i've been to new zealand and hawaii, and have enjoyed my experiences in both places. as for how i deal with racism, i try to educate people who show ignorance by being racist. for adults that have that feeling, i feel that generally the damage has already been done, and try to make sure they don't pass along those beliefs to their children because that is how it is perpetuated. i don't believe that anyone is born racist, it is taught by the parents and elders. i think my race has played a part in making me the person that i am today, it gives me perspective on situations that many others are never forced to face.
First of all, thanks for even
getting this message! :-)
Second, your dad plays doubles with one of my tennis coaches (Billy Ray Jackson)
Third, I have a problem!
See, I started playing tennis when I was 12 (April last year) and I really want to play professionally. But, most of the guys on the tour and even on college teams have been playing since they were like 6. I sometimes get discouraged because of this, and the fact that in Junior tournaments its the same problem. Can you help me?
Fourth- You were born in Yonkers, I was born in Briarcliff Manor, about 20 minutes from there
sportsmanjr., don't be discouraged because you started later than others. i wasn't such a very good junior player until i was about 17 years old. i was pretty discouraged at first, but i just went on to accept how good i was and enjoy the hard work for the journey. i would suggest this as your outlook instead of focusing just on becoming a professional tennis player.
I am one of the top ranked juniors in the U.S. but school is holding me back from dramatically improving. However, if I don't make it as a pro I want to do well in life. (Unlike most juniors from foereign countries who have nothing to fall back on because they have been traveling around the world trying to make it.) I am asking you this because you went to Harvard. It is a tough situation but your advice would be appreciated.
Thanks Jay P.
jay p., that is a very mature question. i'm glad you are looking at your tennis career realistically. it is a very big chance to take for anyone, no matter how much talent, to bank on a career in professional sports. i'm saddened by the fact that you think your school is holding you back in your career. i found that having to do my school work, work hard at tennis, and still have a social life was a perfect way to easily balance my schedule. it made time management much simpler. i only had so much time and i had to get the most out of it. i think you should try to put in as much effort as you can to improve your tennis without letting it effect your school work. if professional tennis is in your future, i feel that it will take its course. the only difference is it may take you a little bit more time to adjust to the top level, but if the ability and drive is there, you'll be just fine. and the way you're doing it, if it doesn't work out, you'll be set up to live a well rounded life away from the game.
Hey James, my name is Bari i live
in NY and i'm 15 years old. I've been playing tennis since i was 4. I'm on the
tennis team in my school, and i was the only freshman to make it on the team.
Anyways tennis is like my life, but about 2 years ago i got injured. It happened to happen on the last day of tennis camp. After going to a few doctors, a hand surgeon told me that i had carpal tunnel syndrome and i needed the surgery. At the time i had just turned 14. About a month after the surgery i started playing tennis again because i felt that i had to, i missed it too much.
Well i wasn't able to write in school for a few months and then the next september when school began again my hand also began to hurt. My surgeon told me that i had something wrong with my thumb. When i heard this news i was so upset and frustrated. i couldnt imagine going through another surgery and maybe not being able to play tennis again. well i played all through the tennis season injured without anyone knowing and now I'm in the same position as before- the choice whether to just take a break and let my hand feel better or to keep playing tennis and just being in pain.
now that i told you some of my story my question for you is:
if the only way you could recover from an injury would you stop playing for a year to rest, or would you play having the pain and hope that it will just get better on it's own?
ok well i hope to hear from you.
bari, i'm sorry to hear about
your injuries. since you are so young, i would take the time off to let yourself
heal. playing through the pain could possibly make it worse. you should see
a doctor and they can give you a better idea of what you should do. but if rest
is what's recommended, then you have to take the time off and even if you miss
tennis, you have to look at the big picture and realize that the rest is the
best thing for you at that time. and then you'll be that much more excited when
you do get the
chance to be back on the court and that will mean you'll never take it for granted.
Hi James, I wanted to congratulate
you on your title success! My name is Erica Parker-Marshall and I have just
recently begun following your remarkable career. I have heard you are an avid
fan of the most consummate athlete Arthur Ashe. (a hero of mine as well) I was
wondering do you feel any added pressure having to be an African-American role
model in a sport that is predominately white? Or do you feel that tennis provides
you a platform to inspire others like Arthur Ashe was able to do?
I wish you continued success especially at the U. S. Open. Good Luck!!!!
I am a teacher at P. S 20 in Brooklyn and would love to know if sometime during the school year if you could attend and speak to some of the children at my school. It would be inspirational for them to see someone who has accomplished so much in their career. Thank you.
30 years old
erica, thanks for the question. if feel like being african american in a predominantly white sport offers me a unique opportunity to make a difference in not only the sport, but people's lives. i think that hopefully i can bring fans into the game that may have never been exposed to it if there wasn't an african american for them to look up to. that drives me to work even harder, and i enjoy it. good luck to the kids you teach
Hey James! first of all - I just
wanted to tell you that i'm a huge fan of yours...
Good luck on the US open!
Basically I wanted to ask you for advice: I'm playing tennis for a really short time (about a year now), and i'm 14, so i guess you can say i started pretty late... I want to reach high achievements, but i don't know where to turn, so i can reach my highest potential. Of course i need a place in my own country, but i was wondering if i should join to a special group, or hire a private coach? My serious problem is, that i think i won't be able to succeed, because i know there are many players who are much better than me. It is like i'm thinking to myself " i probably won't get to something big, so why bother?..." and therefor i'm loosing my motivationa bit.
I guess you won't have an answer, but i'll appreciate it if you'll give me some advice...
Sivan Lustig - Tel Aviv, Israel.
sivan, thanks for being a fan. as for your motivation, i wouldn't draw motivation from being the best in the world, or even a professional. i would just try to improve as much as you can. that was always the motivation for me, i just wanted to get better and better. i still do, so i hope this helps you to stay motivated.
I'm Gina from the UK and I'm 17 years old.
I'm sending this before I know the outcome of the final at Washington. You played a great match against Andre yesterday - hope you enjoy your match with Paradorn and play well!
I know you went to Harvard University but I was wondering about how you managed to juggle your lives of economics and tennis?? I mean, you are a top-class player now and your still very young (!!!) - I just find it amazing how you managed to reach this standard as well as studying! A lot of players on the tour have worked solely on their tennis since they were small, nevermind taking time out to go to college.
I'm interested in knowing about how you coped with it all, and your standard before you went to Harvard. I'm still keen on tennis, but I eased off because my studying means a hell of a lot to me and I thought one of the two would suffer as a result of concentrating on both. Damn, if only i'd known more about you when I made that decision, maybe I'd have realised it WAS possible :-( ! I think you're amazingly talented and the world of tennis must be glad that you chose the tour over businss school!
Good luck in everything you do!
gina, thanks for the note. i felt that while i was at harvard it was easier to balance my schedule. i realized that i only had certain amounts of time for everything i wanted to do, so i worked as hard as i could for that time and i think that helped my concentration. it was just a matter of time management.
I know you have no idea who I am but I am so proud of you. You won your first ATP title in style. You beat Agassi and then dug deep inside yourself to pull out that win against Srichaphan in the final of the Legg Mason tournament. You have so much heart and determination and I admire you for that. Congrats on your first ATP title. I know this is sort of off topic but I am thinking of playing tennis in college at either Wellesley or Harvard but I am apprehensive about neglecting my studies, tennis, and not having a respectable social life. So the bottom line is how did you balance tennis, studies, and your social life in your college days?
andrea, thanks for the support in d.c. as for how i managed at school, i felt like it made it easier having all those things to do. it made it easy for me to focus because i realized i was always up against the clock. i would just make sure to give 100% while i was on the tennis court or in the weight room. then when i was studying, i just mad sure to use my time as wisely as possible. then i would make sure to put all that aside when it was time to just have some fun with my friends. so i truly enjoyed my time and just felt like it was normal to have all of that stuff to do. good luck with whatever school you choose.
Hi James. This is Teresa, I also talked to you on your brother's cell phone in Houston along with Kristin. I just have to say that you and Thomas really are two of the most down to earth and genuinely nice guys on the tour. But anyways, I just have to ask if you've ever been burned out and if so, what did you do to get yourself motivated again? Thanks!
i have been known to get a little bit burned out, it's usually more from the travel than the tennis. all i do usually is take a few days off, maybe play some golf and just get my mind off of tennis. then when it's time to get back to practicing, i am actually truly excited about being on the court. i haven't run into a point yet where i didn't want to get back on the court. i hope i never do.
Hey my family housed ur brother
last year at a pro tournament where i live. then i met you at the davis cup
tie against india, i was there with the usta. i was gonna ask you a question
about taking time off. i am home-schooled for tennis and i work very hard but
sometimes i am unmotivated to play usually i snap out of it in a week or two
but do you think this is a start of me burning out? becasue i love the game
and my goal to to make it to the main
circuit in a couple years. did you ever take some time off to regroup or just take a rest? well i am only 15 years old so i hvae plenty of time on my hands but i can only see this lack of interest to practice getting worse. it would
be great if you could answer me.
i think this is a very important question. you obviously have some talent since you are already being helped out by the usta. i never had so much tennis in my junior career as most national players. all i did was play after school most days. but nowadays i work extremely hard and i did in college as well. so there are times that i get tired of playing, especially when there are extended periods of non competition. the best thing i find to do is just take a few days off. just get away from tennis for a little while. don't try to force yourself onto the court and go through the motions if you're not really into it. i think this is actually detrimental because you develop bad habits in those types of practices. when i take a little bit of time off, i make sure i don't get back onto the court until i am actually excited to play. my coach actually forces me to do this at times. he thinks i play too much sometimes and makes me take a break. these times make my time on the court more valuable i think. especially since you're so young, a few days off the court really won't make any difference in the big picture, but being happy all the time on the court is a good habit to form. i hope this helps and good luck to you keri.
One of my really close friends plays tennis at the college level and has a hard time controlling his emotions when he's on court. I'm talking screaming and breaking racquets. I know you said that you used have a little trouble controlling your frustrations. What would you advise him to do? Also when he gets in this slump, it seems like he can't get out of it. What are somet things that he can focus on to try and get his mind off of how mad he is and back into his game? He's great when he's focused and positive, but when he puts too much pressure on himself it's all over, and he could lose to a 3 year old.
I did have a problem controlling my emotions when I was younger. What I did to change it is just have a little more fun on the court. I also put everything into perspective. It will always remain just a game. I will work as hard as possible to get better at it, and try as hard as I can for every match, but at the end of the day, it helps to realize that it's just a game. So if he can think of that, it may help his attitude, and then when his attitude is a little bit more relaxed, I think he will play much better.
I read your article in the Ocean Drive Magazine, while my friend was getting her hair cut. I also play tennis and am hoping to go pro during or after college. Can you please tell me when you started working on your national ranking and when did you get nationally ranked! thanx Jourdan
i first was nationally ranked in the 14 and unders. but at that time i think i was ranked 125 in the country. i was always just barely making nationals until my second year of the 16's. that year, i finished the year ranked number 25 and then kept improving to the point that my last year in juniors i was ranked number 1. good luck to you.
I just wanted to say congrats on your performance on your opening day at the US open. I recently learned about your talent and discovered on your website that you have an african-american father and a british mother, I mention that cause so do I, and I was curious did you ever find barriers in your carrer due to your ethnic background?
-Marlee, 22, Miami, FL
marlee, that's great that we've got something in common. as for whether my race every holds me back, i like to look at is as an opportunity. i feel that i have the opportunity to bring an entire group of people into the world of tennis that might not have been fans before. i also always try to be a positive role model for all those who might feel that they have something in common with me. good luck to you.
My name is Inga, and I was just wondering if you have your own physical therapist, because I have read that the Williams' sisters have one who travels with them on tour. If you do, then do you know how one comes about getting hired for such a job. I am a physical therapy student and I am interested in working with athletes. Ever since I was little, tennis has been my favorite sport, and you have become my favorite tennis player. So if you are hiring, I'm looking! ;)
Inga, 23 y/old
inga, there are trainers at every tournament on the tour as well as massage therapists. so i don't feel the need to travel with my own physical therapist although a few of the players do. i have a physical trainer that i work with while i'm at home and he will travel with me to certain tournaments next year. as for how to get involved in this profession, i would advise contacting the atp tour and the wta tour about possible job availability. good luck to you.
My name is Audrey and I am French.
I had met Brian in Rome this year while you were playing but don't think you could remember someone sitting down next to your coach...
I would really like to congrat you for your great season for now...hope the US tour will be good for you...as well as the Davis Cup semi final meet against us in September!! :D
Well you become more
and more famous since a while and everybody is talking to/about you through
the tournaments (like to think it's not only physically...) and I was just wondering
if you deeply think an authentic and true person can remain the same even thrown
into fame and pressure?
Hard to me to believe in that -with regard to the world we live in- but my optimism lets me hope it could!! :)
Wish you all the best
for the next stages of your life and endlessly send you positive waves...
Take care of you.
i definitely think it is possible to remain true to yourself no matter what life brings you, whether it be fame and fortune, or tradedy. these events and material things that change your life merely test how much you really are the person you grew up as and how well you learned your lessons from your parents. i think there are a few great examples of people who don't change on tour. patrick rafter, carlos moya, and todd martin are 3 people that are genuine people no matter what comes there way. i think a quote by lou holtz (a popular football coach- ed.) sums up my feeling on this situation. "life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it".
First of all, let my say thank you for answering my question. It really means a lot to me. I'm a fresheman in highschool and I'm on the tennis team. My backhand's pretty strong (because I'm still a two-hander), but I can never get much power on my forehand! Do you have any tips for me? Anyway, I think you're a really great tennis player and a great person which really is hard to come by! Thanks so much for being an inspiration to many of us!!!
Renu Hermon, 14, Sterling, IL
I think the key to getting power most of the time is having your legs in position, shifting your weight properly and then hitting the ball cleanly. The main thing that accomplishes this is being in the proper position early. One of the best examples of this is Andre Agassi. He prepares so well that he can really hurt his opponent from any position.
I have a 12yr. old daughter, who plays junior tennis in Florida. She loves the game and is quite good at it. She is ranked 11 in the state. Her problem is that she can't control her emotions on the court. She bangs her racquet and yells at herself during matches. She is so negative and tells herself how terrible she is on the court. She tries but she says that she can't help herself. I know she can do it, though because when hreatened with not going to tournaments she has behaved better at times. When she gets like this her game suffers and she looses oncentration. You are her favorite male player and we read an article once and in it your mother said how bad your temper was when you were a teenager. She said that she told you that no one would root for you or want to watch your matches because of your behaviour. This is also true of my daughter. I related to your mother when she said, "when I call to see how James did in a tournament, the first question I have is , How was his behavior, not did he win or loose". I have used a sports psychologist , which helps for awhile, but then she is back to the same crazy behaviour. I don't want to take her out of tennis because I know she loves it and it is good for her, but I may not have a choice. What I would like to know , is What helped you with your behaviour and what would you recommend for my daughter?????
worried mother, this sounds very familiar to the situation i was in. it sounds like your daughter just needs time to grow and constant reminders that having fun is what tennis is all about. it helped me at that age to have my coach teach me that at 12 years old, i really can't be worried about every single match like it's the finals of the u.s. open. i think it's great that she has that kind of competitive spirit, but it just needs to be harnessed. part of that is just growing up and maturity. i had my coach and parents constantly reminding me that it was for my own good to act right. as i began to act the right way on the court, and be a good sport, it became more of a habit and it was amazing how much more i began to enjoy the sport. that's not to say that i don't still have that competitive spirit and get very disappointed when i lose, but i just find a more constructive way of venting, like running, than throwing my racket or breaking things. i wish your daughter good luck.