We had the pleasure of conducting a recent Q & A with Newport, RI winner Rajeev Ram. The American took part in the Indianapolis Tennis Championships this week, where he increased his Tour win streak to six matches. Ram’s current ATP rank is No. 108 on the computer.
Along with Andy Roddick, (and Mardy Fish), Ram is the only other American to hold an ATP World Tour title in 2009. Look for Rajeev to light-up the U.S. Open series throughout the summer season.
Here we go…
T.C. After your win in Newport, how many text messages did you receive from fellow players and family?
R.R. I received a lot more than I expected, and for a long time after as well. It was really humbling to be honest with you, to see how many people were following my progress.
T.C. We noticed you’re on Twitter now. Do you find it as a way to connect with your fan’s, or do you just want to grab more followers than Andy Roddick?
R.R. Haha, well, I have a long way to go before I am even in the same ball park as Andy. In all seriousness I think its a great way to connect with tennis fans, and followers, and also to grow and popularize the sport.
T.C. What is your outlook now for the remainder of the year. Where would you like to finish by years end?
R.R. The outlook for the rest of the year hasn’t changed too much to be honest. I am still trying to improve as a player every time I step on the court. Maybe my schedule might change a bit because I will get into some more ATP events but that’s about it. I still have the goal of being in the main draw at the Australian Open and the ATP events around that time.
T.C. Obviously grass suits your game quite well. Will the transition to hard-courts be an easy one to make?
R.R. Surface changes are always tough, that’s why its so impressive what Federer and Nadal have been able to do between the clay and the grass the last few years. For me, it’s going to be tough and take some practice to get used to the hard-courts again but I feel pretty good about it because that’s the surface I grew up playing on the most.
T.C. In terms of equipment, do you make adjustments to your string tension and weight of your racket’s for hard-courts?
R.R. I don’t make any changes in terms of the weight of the racket. The string tension might differ slightly depending on the speed of the courts and the conditions but it won’t change too much.
T.C. How has winning your first Tour title changed your relationship with your sponsors?
R.R. I have always been lucky to have had a good relationship with my sponsors, Wilson and Nike. They have stood by me and supported me since I have been very young so my relationship hasn’t changed that much really. I feel like they are quite happy for me.
T.C. Which one of the American guys to you get along with the best? Which player would you not want to share a taxi with?
R.R. One of the nice things about all the American guys is that we all get along pretty well. I think everyone supports each other and really pulls for each other out there and that’s an important thing because otherwise the tour can get quite lonely. I get along with everyone quite well.
T.C. Will you be playing qualifying for the U.S. Open, or will your win in Newport give you direct entry or wild-card status?
R.R. At this point I am in the qualifying of the U.S. Open. I am a few out on the acceptance list, so if some people pull out I’ll get in. (Nalbandian and Ancic have recently withdrawn). If I do receive a wild-card that would be great, but I won’t know that for a few weeks yet.
T.C. How would you sum up the current state of American tennis? Obviously, only Roddick and yourself have won tour titles this year?
R.R. That’s actually not true because Mardy Fish won the title in Delray Beach. I think the state of U.S. tennis is ok really. I realize that it’s not what it used to be with Sampras, Courier, Chang and Agassi, but in my opinion a group of players like that from one country won’t be duplicated. Andy and James and the other top Americans are held to a very high standard because of the generation before them, and I don’t think that’s fair all the time.
T.C. What advice would you give to up-and-coming players trying to make it on the circuit?
R.R. My advice to young players would be to not be afraid of losing and not be afraid to make mistakes. I think as a tennis player you learn more from losses then wins, and if you can take the positives out of losses that is the best way to improve.
T.C. Do you recommend the college route, or if a player is good enough should they dive right into the pro ranks?
R.R. I think each situation is different and the individual has to see if college is the right play for them or not. If used properly, the environment in college can be a great place to improve and learn. I definitely think it should be strongly considered by every young player.
T.C. We all know of the many on-court habits the Nadal’s and Djokovic’s of the world possess. What are some of the overt, and kept habits to your game? Any before and after rituals?
R.R. I don’t think I have any really obvious habits. The biggest thing for me is that if I keep winning, I’ll eat at the same restaurant for dinner every night.
T.C. What would you like to do when your career is all said and done?
R.R. At the end of my career, I would like to think that I left nothing to chance and reached my maximum potential as a player. It doesn’t matter what my high ranking ends up being as long as at the end of the day I know I gave it everything I had.
T.C. Finally, and we have to ask, what juicy locker room stories can you share with the tennis fan’s around the world, who are locked out of the locker room?
R.R. Hahaha, I think they are called locker room stories for a reason… because they belong in the locker room.
For some odd reason, every time I ask a pro player that last question, I seem to get the same response. Cheers, and thanks again Rajeev.