Countdown: Donovan Credits Kid's Day for Inspiration
by Rick Limpert, 4 April 2013
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Benjamin Donovan credits a chance meeting with former U.S. Open finalist and former top-5 ATP pro Todd Martin and the frenzy of Arthur Ashe Kid's Day at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York with being enough to make tennis his priority when he was a young junior player.
"Todd was at Arthur Ashe Kid's Day and he was so down to earth," said an impressed Donovan. "He did a little hitting session, and here he was this superstar, but he was such a cool guy."
Donovan started taking lessons at the age of five, and started playing tournaments at the age of 10. Growing up in the New York area, Donovan said he had plenty of good coaches and enjoyed all the big clubs the New York/New Jersey area had to offer.
At the age of 12, Donovan and his family moved to Memphis and he trained there for a couple years. When he was 13, Donovan said he begged his family for an opportunity to try out one of the academies, since he was now serious about tennis and was showing potential.
"I begged them up until the summer to go to John Newcombe's Tennis (Ranch) in Texas," admitted Donovan. "I was at Newk's for three years and got a lot better."
Then, much like the prospectors seeking gold and more opportunity in California, Donovan headed west to the Advantage Tennis Academy in Irvine, California, and that is where he has been for the last two years.
"It was a good change and my tennis has taken off," said Donovan.
Donovan also pointed out to me that college is about balance to him, and that's part of the reason he decided to commit to Cal Poly.
"Tennis is a primary focus, but academics is also."
With interest from Ivy League institutions and some large state schools, Donovan said Cal Poly really didn't appear on his radar until last year after Kalamazoo.
"I met Coach Nick Carless and (he) was really straightforward and honest about the process," explains Donovan. "Most of the coaches I had met were throwing me the same lines, but he really sold me to take an official visit."
Donovan said after meeting the guys on the Cal Poly team and hearing about their training and the school, he knew it was the right fit for him.