Where Are They Now?
Talking With Jesse Levine
by Harry Cicma
, 18 April 2011
Special from NBC Sports
|Share: || || |
If you've followed American junior and college tennis over the past few years, you probably recognize the name Jesse Levine.
standout Jesse Levine
courtesy, Florida Athletics
After a stellar junior career, Levine played college tennis at Florida
. In his lone season playing No. 1 for the Gators, Levine was named National Rookie of the Year
by the ITA
while leading the Florida team to the round of 16 and fighting through to the quarterfinals in both singles and doubles.
Since leaving Florida, Levine has been playing on the ATP tour. Harry Cicma of NBC Sports recently sat down to talk with Levine after he reached the second round of the Sony Ericsson.
Questions and Answers
Harry Cicma (HC): How is life on the ATP Tour going?
Jesse Levine (JL): Life on the tour is going really well. A lot of traveling - and a lot of tennis. But that's what I signed up for.
HC: What has been your most memorable experience on the Tour?
JL: That would have to be making the third round of Wimbledon and beating Safin. I grew up watching him on TV, and then suddenly I saw him on the other side of the net. That was a surreal experience.
HC: How did your experience at Florida help prepare you for the top level of tennis?
JL: My experience at Florida was amazing. Coach Jackson and Coach Bayon are two of the best coaches out there. Playing there helped me really prepare for the big leagues.
Florida was an amazing atmosphere. It not only helped me mature as a tennis player on the court - but off the court as well. And it was a great time to be a Gator... I was there when Florida won national championships in football and basketball during the same year!
HC: Many players chose not to go to college. What lead to your decision to attend Florida?
JL: Deciding to go to Florida was pretty simple. I saw that Coach Jackson and Coach Bayon had a program to help develop players to continue onto the pros. They supported me in playing pro tournaments while I was in school.
HC: The SEC is one of the most competitive conferences in NCAA tennis. How did the competition differ from ATP level players?
JL: Every match in the SEC is tough. Everyone can play. The biggest difference between college tennis and the pros is the mental aspect of the game. The pros are obviously a lot tougher upstairs than college players. There are more demands physically as well.
HC: You and John Isner have been great friends on the tour. Tell me about that friendship.
JL: John and I are really good friends. And we have that Georgia - Florida rivalry... or should I say Florida - Georgia. (Laughs) He is a great guy on and off the court, and we always joke around when Florida plays Georgia in any sport.
HC: If you had to give advice to a young American player looking to make it in college tennis, what advice would you give?
JL: I would say go to college and at least experience it. It really is the opportunity of a lifetime. Don't look at it as if you can't go pro. I mean, look at a lot of the pros now - lots of them have gone to college, and they are proving that it is can be a great stepping stone.
Leave a Comment
More "Where Are They Now?" Features
Marissa Irvin and A Magical Racquet Ride
Marissa Irvin is one of those rare players who flawlessly made the
transition from the top of the junior rankings to the head of the
college rankings, and on to a fairly successful professional career.
She can now add award-winning author to her resume, but the tennis
book she wrote is not what you might expect.
An Interview with 2013 NCAA Champion and Rising ATP Star Blaz Rola
Football may reign over the sports kingdom at Ohio State, but 2013
NCAA champion Blaz Rola has done his part to raise tennis's visibility
in Columbus. Colette Lewis of ZooTennis talked with Rola at the Champaign,
Illinois Challenger last week covered many topics, including his first
year on tour, his decision to play college tennis, his plans for
off-season training and his schedule for early next year.
NCAA Champion Nicole Gibbs Moves Up
Nicole Gibbs won her first ITF Women's Circuit title at the age of 14,
finished high school a year early and joined the Stanford Cardinal in
the fall of 2010. After an illustrious career at Stanford where she
won the NCAA team, singles, and doubles titles, Gibbs elected to
forego her senior year and begin her professional career. Fresh off
two main-draw wins at the US Open, Gibbs is now ranked in the Top 100.
Colette Lewis of ZooTennis chatted with Gibbs at the Open.
About Harry Cicma
When it comes to college tennis, Harry Cicma is your man. Cicma
covers tennis and other athletic stories for
writing articles and producing video segments.
He is co-founder and host of World Tennis
a weekly tennis show on NESN, and host of of Tennis Live Radio's
Cicma competed as a junior in USTA/New England and went on to play
college tennis at Rutgers University. As a professional, Cicma
competed at the ATP Newport tournament and the San Jose Siebel Open.
He reached a career-high #75 in the ATP doubles team rankings and
#1262 in the ATP Entry System.
In media, Cicma has run the gamut. He has worked for NBC, CBS, ABC,
ESPN, FOX Sports Net, the Tennis Channel, and World Team Tennis.
Cicma has announced NCAA sports as well as the US Open Tennis
Championships on both TV and radio.