JASON JUNG

Written by Team PTPA | June 21, 2021

“I play this sport because I enjoy the challenge, the problem solving, and the grind,” says professional tennis player Jason Jung. “Each tennis match brings uncertainty. But you prepare and put your effort in before and during [each] match to give yourself the best chance. Sometimes you come out on top and sometimes not.”

 

As a junior player, Jung ranked as high as No. 15 in USTA and No. 54 for Boys’ 18-and-under singles. He was the California Interscholastic Federation state singles champion as a junior, and named a blue chip recruit during his senior year of high school. 

 

Jung played college tennis at the University of Michigan, where he majored in political science. As a Wolverine, his tennis accolades were many: Jung was the National and Midwest Regional winner of the ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship in 2010, he made the All Big Ten team as a junior and senior, and was a 2010 Big Ten Conference Outstanding Conference Sportsmanship Award winner, chosen as the candidate to represent all the men’s varsity teams at Michigan.  Several of Jung’s accomplishments remain on the Michigan All-Time Lists: a tie for seventh for most doubles wins in a single season (24, 2010), third place for most doubles wins by a freshman (22, 2008) and fourth place in career doubles wins (88, 2008-2011).


Despite his early successes and a solid collegiate career, Jung says professional tennis wasn’t a given: “I wasn’t really on the radar anymore. During college, I didn’t produce the results that were expected of my recruiting class or ranking and I think most people know the story that I didn’t play tennis when I graduated.”


Jung took a job upon graduation but it wasn’t long before a friend encouraged him to enter a tournament “just for fun.” Jung convincingly won that tournament, and decided to make the commitment to playing tennis professionally. To do so, he needed to improve his ranking and shore up both mental and financial support.  


On the Futures circuit, he struggled to “keep his mindset right” and his play suffered when budgetary concerns followed him on to the court: “[I’m not the type of guy that can] travel with 500 dollars in their bank account [needing to make it to] the next quarterfinals to pay for that next flight.”


In 2015, Jung arrived at a solution that continues to provide him with the resources that are required to compete at the highest level in his sport: he now plays professional tennis as a representative of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) and believes he would not be enjoying the same level of success (in terms of rankings) had he remained an American player. 


Listen to Jung talk about that crucial decision and more, in his own words, during the May 31, 2021 episode “Behind the Racquet with Jason Jung” and read his story on Behind The Racquet. He also maintains a personal WordPress blog.  


Behind The Racquet is a community of today’s top tennis players and fans that, by taking on the biggest issues facing the sport, imparts players with an opportunity to open up like never before, and provides fans with intimate access to the athletes they admire and insight into the sport they adore. Visit BehindTheRacquet.com for the latest stories, merch, as well as direct links to all of the latest podcasts.  Behind The Racquet Pod can also be found on iTunes, Google Play, Pandora, Stitcher and wherever you find your podcasts. Fans can join the Behind The Racquet community at Patreon.com/behindtheracquetpod and on Twitter (@BehindTRacquet), Instagram (@BehindTheRacquet), and Facebook. 

GUSTAVO FERNANDEZ

Written by Team PTPA | June 21, 2021

“I have always loved sports and I tried every sport. My father was a professional basketball player in Argentina and won five National Basketball League championships. I played basketball and golf. [My] mother played tennis socially. 


“During the first years, I didn’t know about wheelchair tennis. I started to play as I can, with the wheelchair, but with able-bodied people. The first five years I was playing even in tournaments. Then they showed me the wheelchair tennis pro tour, [and I] decided I wanted to be a professional wheelchair champion. 


“I have always loved to compete. I have … worked hard and put many years of my life into the sport. It might sound crazy, but I enjoy the bad times as well because they make you stronger. They make you grow and improve every day. If you combine these things and work hard enough, you will probably be successful in anything you do.


“This belief put me in a good spot to go through the good and bad moments in my career. I have always looked at my life and felt confident about myself, maybe not in a rational way. But if you think too much, you might not achieve your dream. My confidence [is] a good skill. 


“Wheelchair sports are often not looked at as professional sports [and some] people do not appreciate wheelchair sports because they are not used to seeing athletes in wheelchairs. It feels unfair but it is part of disability sports. All of us go through this. I hope one day wheelchair sports will evolve and people will see us as equal because we are. We … do not have the legs to move so a few things change when we play in wheelchairs but the tennis, talent, competition, and physical skills are the same.”


“We are elite athletes too.”


In 2017, then aged 23, Fernandez became the first Argentinian world singles No.1 in either able-bodied or wheelchair tennis. In an interview with La Nación´s, he revealed that his success also came at a huge financial cost, due to the lack of support from private sponsors. “I feel that if a company supported me it would be like a pampering for so many years of effort that have been made. It would be an assessment in that sense. Anyway, I’m tired of feeling that I beg for things. Because lately with the private sponsors I’ve had it seemed as if I was begging, and I don’t want to feel that way. I want them to respect me and value me as the athlete I am. So, the decision we make now is not to accept anything anymore until they respect me for who I am, as Enard did, as Yonex did (racket sponsor), as Invacare (the sports wheelchair) did, which are my three sponsors. The sponsor issue doesn’t take my sleep away from me, not at all, but it would be a good recognition. I think I’ve earned it.”


This conversation with Fernandez includes excerpts from his Behind the Racquet interview, a 2020 International Tennis Federation mini bio-documentary film, as well as the 2017 interview with La Nación. Fernandez can be found on Instagram @gustifernandez4.


Behind The Racquet is a community of today’s top tennis players and fans that, by taking on the biggest issues facing the sport, imparts players with an opportunity to open up like never before, and provides fans with intimate access to the athletes they admire and insight into the sport they adore. Visit BehindTheRacquet.com for the latest stories, merch, as well as direct links to all of the latest podcasts.  Behind The Racquet Pod can also be found on iTunes, Google Play, Pandora, Stitcher and wherever you find your podcasts. Fans can join the Behind The Racquet community at Patreon.com/behindtheracquetpod and on Twitter (@BehindTRacquet), Instagram (@BehindTheRacquet), and Facebook. 

NOAH RUBIN

Written by Team PTPA | June 21, 2021

Professional tennis player Noah Rubin can’t remember a time when the sport wasn’t a part of his life.


“From the [very] beginning, there was nothing I loved more than chasing around that yellow ball,” he said. “Wherever it went, I followed.” 


At age 16, Rubin reached a career high of six in the world for under 18’s. Two years later, aged 18, he won the singles Jr. Wimbledon Title and followed it up by winning the 18’s National Championships in singles and doubles. His meteoric rise and subsequent success brought him joy, yes, but also doubt and pain.


Rubin quickly learned that he was not alone.  Fellow competitors became friends and confided in him that they also struggled with soaring emotional highs and soul-crushing lows while in pursuit of their dream career. He realized everyone had a story and he felt an innate drive to do something to better the sport that they all loved.


In 2019, Rubin started Behind The Racquet. “I wanted to give players the platform to share their stories on their own terms,” he explains, “while also giving fans an opportunity to relate to individual players on a deeper level. 


“I am also helping to fight the stigma of talking about mental health, especially in the world of professional sport. I [believe] that these stories, told by honest and bold people, inspire you to see deeper into who [the players] truly are.” 


Read Rubin’s full story at Behind The Racquet  and listen to him, in his own words, during Behind The Racquet Pod Episode 18 “New Balance Winner’s Circle with Noah Rubin” and “Coffee Cast with Cation: Noah Rubin Edition” Episode 39. 


Behind The Racquet is a community of today’s top tennis players and fans that, by taking on the biggest issues facing the sport, imparts players with an opportunity to open up like never before, and provides fans with intimate access to the athletes they admire and insight into the sport they adore.

Visit BehindTheRacquet.com for the latest stories, merch, as well as direct links to all of the latest podcasts.  Behind The Racquet Pod can also be found on iTunes, Google Play, Pandora, Stitcher and wherever you find your podcasts. Fans can join the Behind The Racquet community at Patreon.com/behindtheracquetpod and on Twitter (@BehindTRacquet), Instagram (@BehindTheRacquet), and Facebook.