Let us turn the clock back to some of the years from 2000 when a tennis player turned in some great moments on the court. Tennis fans must certainly recall that a star was in the making and maybe one day would follow in the footsteps of Arthur Ashe, but this player never won a Grand Slam event.
His name is James Blake, a product of the New York-Connecticut area.
Physical problems along with some decent performances were two reasons why his career was shortened on the court as he recently announced his retirement from activity on the court during an appearance at the United States Open Championships. The product of the Harlem Junior Tennis Program will certainly be missed by all the fans, and even his opposing players alike.
Blake, 34, who began playing the sport with his older brother Tom, had some major physical problems and injuries but always seemed to recover. He stuck with the sport. He ended the year of 2012 ranked 129th in the world.
The Afro-American netter hung ‘it’ up during the first week of the US Open tennis tournament, held at the Billie Jean King United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Tennis Center. He did not surprise anyone dong with his major announcement.
“This is my last tournament,” he said. “I’ve had 14 pretty good years, loved every minute of it, and I definitely couldn’t have asked for a better career. To think of matches I should have won and to make those regrets for me has always just seemed greedy.
“My goals when I was playing tennis instead of ranking based, it was to keep getting better and try to improve every day and practice. And when I’m done playing, put my racquets down and be content with what I did, and happy I did everything the right way.”
Blake turned in a decent career especially during 2005 and 2006 when in each September he was able to play in the quarter final round of the US Open singles tournament at the National Tennis Center.
Playing in the 2006 quarter finals of the US Open was tremendous.
“The match against (Andre) Agassi was hyped extremely,” he said. “It was hyped extremely from the beginning of the tournament that we could meet in the quarter finals.”
Blake was coming back.
“He was possibly at the end of his career,” Blake said. “Two Americans in the quarter finals after I had beaten the number two in the world, Rafa Nadal. A lot of times those matches fizzle. There is a lot of hype and someone goes out with 3, 3, 3, and it’s over.”
He wanted that to be the case when he first took the initiate in two sets. But Andre Agassi played like a champion and that is the reason he is the greatest of all time.
“The third and fourth sets were his without any trouble,” he recalled. “In the fifth set we were both playing at our best.”
Blake later added that beating Nadal was a big moment.
Blake who was born in New York played tennis at Fairfield High School and then went to Saddlebrook Academy to train and spent two years at Harvard University. He was the talk of the tennis world, and had many opponents talk about him.
Nadal was one of them.
“James was one of the more charismatic players on the tour,” Nadal said. “His style of game was spectacular (on) a lot of days. He was able to play winners on the return with great first serves, and his forehand was one of of best on the tour without doubt. He was able to hit very hard. His image was great.
Recalling briefly his past, at the age of 13 he was diagnosed with a severe scoliosis (trouble with his spine ) and wore a back brace 18 hours a day. After staring at Harvard, he was named outstanding college player in the NCAA Division I. He had knee surgery only a couple of years ago, which also slowed his career down his career. He returned to the courts this year and lost in the first round of the singles tournament of the US Open.
Blake is uncertain of what he is going to do next, but he will not return to Harvard.