University of Virginia Senior Jarmere Jenkins has enjoyed a tremendous 2012. The All-American from College Park, Ga is the ACC Player Of The Year and recently won the ITA Indoor Championship.
Jarmere was gracious enough to accept some questions from me. He reflected on his past and looked ahead to the future.
·You are one of 8 siblings. What was it like growing up at the Jenkins house ???
Growing up with the Jenkins clan was a chaotic experience at times, but I would not change it for the world. There are so many advantages that come with having a big family: your own sports team, the Jenkins tennis tournament, having an older brother to look up to while mentoring your younger brother, knowing if someone gives you trouble you have the protection of a football team (my favorite one), just so many things I could think of.
I can remember one of the most chaotic experiences was getting ready for school each morning. For some reason, my sister would always be the first one into the bathroom to get ready for school. She would take FOREVER, and I can remember all of my brothers screaming at her to hurry so we don’t miss our buss. Thinking back on it, I feel kind of bad for her. From a woman’s perspective, having people scream at you while you put your make-up on would not be ideal.
The best experience is having the family together during tennis events. I would always have the most confidence when they all came to watch me. Something about doing the thing you love with the people you love gives me good vibes.
·Your family was profiled in Sports Illustrated . What do people say when they realize that you are a member of that tennis family from College Park, Georgia??
Usually they ask my parents what’s the secret to raising that many kids on such a thin budget. I think back on it in awe and appreciation. I love my parents for their compassion that they have. I’ve learned a great deal and I soon will adopt one of my own some day.
·I must have spoken with a dozen people in Atlanta who say they were involved in your early development.For the record, where did you start playing, and who was your first real coach??
I learned a great deal on my own from a young age, traveling to tournaments with my older brothers and begging the top juniors at the time to play with me. I started playing in Atlanta with my dad at local parks recreationally, soon after he taught me until the age of 12 when the USTA picked me up and started to cover some of my expenses regarding flights, hotels, and coaching.
·The nickname” Hands” who gets credit for that ??
I’m pretty sure it was my aunt who named me this. As an infant I was able to grip a racket so I guess she figured the name hands was suitable to the size of my hands at that age.
·How old were you when you moved to Florida to train ?? Was it a tough transition? Did you get homesick?
I was 17 when I moved. The USTA thought it would be better if I had unlimited access to the best resources in the country to better equip me for professional tennis. Because I had always been on the road since the age of 12, the only time I got homesick is the plane ride over and the plane ride returning home.
·You enjoyed an outstanding Junior career, was there ever a thought of trying the tour instead of college??
Yes of course. I had always pictured myself going straight to the pros out of highschool. It was not until I became older and was more aware of the process that I decided that college would be the best route for me. Tennis is such a physically and mentally demanding sport, without the right guidance, mindset and maturity it can be a harsh road. By taking the college route, I assured myself that I would focus on weaknesses and become physically and mentally stronger while getting the best education in the country.
·Your college career has been a steady progression.. Earlier this year you topped off your junior year by earning ACC Player of the Year honors. What did that award mean to you??
Becoming the ACC player of the year meant a great deal to my development as a person and as a player. That semester I worked on becoming a better student, brother, friend, prayer, etc. It just so happened that by striving to be the best at everything I was faced with, I also became the best tennis player that I could be. With this reward, it solidified my path to success.
·You have managed to get a number of pro challenger tournaments on your schedule, advancing to the doubles final at the Charlottesville event..Congratulatuions on that.. What do you look for from your game when playing in professional tournaments???
Thank you. The good thing about the sport of tennis is you are your biggest enemy. The good thing about playing professional tennis is it lets you know what your weaknesses are quickly. Its up to you to challenge yourself to keep getting better and facing new adversities every time you step on the court. So when I play professional tournaments I just try and learn so much from them and apply it to my practices and make sure I’m better the next time I compete professionally.
·Congratulatuions on winning the ITA Indoor Singles Championship..What was that week like? What does this title mean for your college career??
·Thank you. This was probably one of my best weeks of tennis I have ever had. I challenged myself to be as mentally prepared as possible and to compete for every point. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a journey as much as this one. To be able to hold that trophy up at the end was truly pleasing. Again, it solidified my path to success. For my college career, this title puts me down on the list of greats that have competed before me. I am honored to have my name written down next to the Somdevs, Franks, and Domijans as I know they will all go on to do amazing things in tennis and in life.
·Winning the ITA Indoors will make you a marked man next Spring. There will be great expectations from others, but what do you expect from yourself???
I think with success brings unnecessary expectations usually. I never want to start learning or getting better. My only expectations for this season are to work extremely hard and compete with love, humility, and a good perspective. If I can accomplish this then I have won. No matter what the scoreboard says.
·As 2012 comes to an end, how would the ideal 2013 play out for you???
I am expecting to cross out a few things from my bucket list tomorrow. Graduating from college, winning the NCAAs as a team or individually, playing the US Open (preferably against someone inside the top 5 in the world), and just continuing to grow in all aspects of my life. Life is such a progressive journey and whatever 2013 brings for me I would be grateful for the opportunities that I have, the moments I will get to cherish with the game that I love and the people I love.