James Blake, A Great Tennis Star Under The Radar

by Celine Elveus (BPRW)

James Blake, A Great Tennis Star
You often hear about how Andy Roddick hits the fastest serve, 155 mile per hour.  How Roger Federer dominated the field by winning Wimbledon five consecutive times, holding the number one title for one hundred and ninety two consecutive weeks.  How the young Rafael Nadal is taking the French Open by storm. Yet you seldom hear about the great American tennis player, James Blake, son of an African American father and white British mother.  James currently holds the rank of sixth place in the world and is ranked the number two American tennis player behind Andy Roddick.

The New York native started playing tennis at the age of five. However James’ future as a tennis player did not look too promising when at thirteen, he was diagnosed with severe scoliosis which is a lateral curvature of the spine. James had to wear full-length back brace for eighteen hours a day for five years.  The story goes that he was inspired to pursue tennis after he heard a speech by his role model Arthur Ashe the nation’s most famous African American tennis player to date.  He left his Ivy League education at Harvard after his sophomore year to pursue his dream of playing professional tennis and in 2001 James became the third man with American Heritage to play the Davis Cup for the United States.

Under the radar, James has emerged into a power player. From 2000 until 2003, his career blossomed tremendously with him winning his first ATP tour tournament and the 2002 USTA Waikola Challenger in Hawaii.  Unfortunately, 2004 marked difficulties for the tennis star.  In 2004, James broke his neck by running into a net post while practicing. He lost his father to stomach cancer shortly thereafter. While mourning his father’s death, James contracted shingles that for the moment, paralyzed a side of his face and blurred his vision. However, James did not let any of this keep him from his dreams. After his injuries, he re-entered the ATP and went from number 210 to rank number 49, continuing to climb to the top throughout the years. James weathered many storms including racial issues on the court and he has done all that under the radar.
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