Eagle Spotlight of the Week: Jayraj Jadeja
AMR: You listed Rafael Nadal as your favorite professional tennis player. What is it about Nadal’s game that inspires your or encourages you as a tennis player?
Jayraj Jadeja: I think what mainly inspires me the most is not necessarily his technique, but the fight and spirit he has. You can see every time he steps onto the court, he plays with his heart. He can go into five sets and you know he’s going to win it just from his fight and spirit. That’s what I like to portray on the court as well.
You also said that the best word that describes you is warrior.’ Is that the best word that describes you on the court?
Yea, I think since a young age I used to fight a lot and that’s where it comes from. I didn’t start playing tennis until later on, I used to play soccer, and my best attribute on the court was to fight, just to run hard. My technique wasn’t great, but I would run hard. I still carry that on as well. My technique is a lot better now though, but I still try to keep that mentality.
How did you start playing tennis?
I used to play in our backyard where we have some space and I used to hit against the wall. Nothing serious, but I used to enjoy it. But I used to play soccer and the thing with a sport like soccer is that there is always something or someone that can stop you from playing. My dad thought that tennis was the one sport that no one could stop you. If you’re winning, no one can stop you from going as far as you want. So he put a racquet in my hand and said let’s start training and start playing. And that’s how I started playing tennis.
If you weren’t playing tennis right now, what would you be doing?
Right now, if I weren’t playing tennis, I definitely still would be playing soccer.
Why did you stop playing soccer then?
Well I guess I got burnt out as a youngster. I started thinking on what I had to do to prosper, in England especially where it is tough. And so I took up tennis because I always enjoyed playing tennis. It used to help with soccer to do something that is not as mentally straining. So I started playing and then I got serious and I still enjoy it now.
Can you talk a little about playing professional soccer as a youth?
Basically I played soccer for school, then I played for a small club and then I started with a professional club in London. I started training with them. I moved around between 2-3 different professional clubs. I used to take that seriously and play tennis on the side because they go hand in hand with one another.
What characteristics of soccer did you carry over to tennis?
Soccer and collegiate tennis go hand in hand perfectly because you have the team attributes that you get from soccer that comes naturally in college tennis where you play for a team, not individually. Obviously the fitness helps. But also the fight and spirit that soccer players have comes natural as well in tennis. You develop a mental toughness in soccer that can carry over.
In the time you’ve been at Georgia Southern, what has been the biggest challenge for you?
Definitely time management between classes and tennis. I think it helps me to have a schedule because if I didn’t, then I’d be all over the place. But that is definitely the toughest part; finding the energy after a long practice to go home and start studying again or do homework.
How do you mentally approach a match?
Well I think the more I play, the more I change. When I was younger, I used to be really fired up. I still carry that on, but now I think more about technique. I think more about what to do and how to approach my opponent. There are a lot more things that go through my head now that just comes with experience. I used to get really angry when I was younger as well. I think I’ve calmed down a lot.
I definitely go into every match thinking I have to fight for every point and help my teammates as well. I always have to stay positive on the court for my teammates, winning or losing, because it can help bring them up.
What’s been the toughest match for you thus far in the season?
I’ve had matches that are not tough, but I’ve lost because I played bad from the start; but that isn’t tough. You may just be having a bad day or something and that isn’t tough. But then there are matches where you fight a lot that make it tough when you don’t come out on top. Like the match I had against Samford. I won the first set, I was up in the second set and I didn’t close it out. It became long and it came down to my match. I ended up losing the third set and I think that was the toughest both mentally and physically.
In junior college at ABAC, you played doubles with Justin Flynn, whom you still play with here. Keeping the same doubles partner, did that make the transition for you to Georgia Southern easier as opposed to learning the game of someone else?
Yea, it definitely has its advantages. The main thing about doubles is understanding what you do and the movement that you do together. He knows what I am going to do or the serve I’m going to hit. It becomes a pattern. But when you start playing with someone new, like I’m doing now, it’s been tough. We can both play really good doubles and if you put us in training for a week, next week we will be a completely different pair. But right now, it’s tough because we aren’t used to how each other plays.
In your opinion, why do you think tennis is such an international sport?
I think the main thing of why there are so many international students in America playing is because this is a perfect median. In most of the countries, other than the United States, there isn’t a competitive university program. There are players that come to a point in their life of training as a junior that they have to make the choice of playing full time or continuing their education. The university is perfect. It has really good competition, you can carry on your studies and you can still go pro after. I think that is what attracts a lot of internationals to America.
- Category: Men's Tennis
- Published on Tuesday, 31 March 2009 00:17