An interview with Irish No. 1 James McGee
James McGee is 26 years old and has a current ATP singles ranking of 254. McGee made his first appearance in the Wimbledon qualifying event earlier in the summer and just missed out on a US Open qualifying place.
In late August, he took an ITF Futures Title in Gabon. We caught up with him to talk to him about an impressive summer of tennis so far.
How did you first get involved in tennis?
I remember playing tennis on the road outside my house with my friends and loving it when I was around 6 or 7. I played a lot of sports growing up but I started to play more and more tennis when I was around 8 or 9. My mom brought me down to my local club, Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club and I got involved in junior coaching and tournaments. Since then, I’ve been hooked.
Are any other members of your family involved in sport?
My mom still plays a lot of tennis in Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club.
Did you have a particular tennis idol growing up?
I loved watching all the tournaments growing up and really liked watching Agassi and Sampras. I looked up to all of them but if I had to choose one player, I would probably say Agassi.
Best and worst aspects of being a professional tennis player?
Best Aspect-The Freedom. I get the chance to travel a lot, meet new people on a weekly basis and see all sorts of places across the world. I like the fact that I am my own boss and I am always learning new things on the road. I’ve made a lot of friends across the world from my travels and this is something I am very grateful for.
Worst Aspect- Despite having a lot of freedom, it can still be very tough if you are travelling around alone, no matter where you go. Along with that, it is an extremely expensive sport with no huge financial rewards in the Future/Challenger circuits. The big money is in the ATP events but it is not easy to get there quickly- it requires a lot of work, patience, luck and good people around you to support you.
Tell us about the toughest opponent on court that you have faced?
I’ve played a lot of top players but can’t name the toughest one. Everyone has their own strengths and qualities; sometimes the toughest opponent on the court is our own self.
What aspect of another player’s game do you most envy?
The big guys (Isner, Karlovic, Raonic, Querrey) all have a huge advantage on serve which allows them to hold serve easier and with less energy in general. I wouldn’t mind having that type of advantage.
What are your favourite and least favourite parts of training?
Favourite: The feeling of getting better/improving. The self-satisfaction you feel after you know in your head that you have given your best and didn’t give up. I love the feeling of progress and growth.
Least Favourite: There are many tedious exercises that have to be done in order to stay injury free. I don’t necessarily enjoy doing them but I know they need to be done and are making me better in the long run.
What are your hobbies away from the tennis courts?
I like to read and keep learning. I am interested in all types of subjects including psychology/philosophy/spirituality/science/business. I also write from time to time on my blog when I have some spare time.
Finally James, what are your Goals for the next 6-9 months?
My goal is just to keep improving. I don’t set myself ranking goals as rankings tend to jump sporadically when you keep doing the right things every day. I feel I am on track to play all the Slams next year and let’s just wait and see where I am 6-9 months from now.
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