Professional tennis player James Blake is in Oxford for a friend’s wedding and took time today to train for next week’s Atlanta Tennis Championships (and next month’s U.S. Open) at Ole Miss’s Palmer-Salloum Tennis Center.Following his practice session with Ole Miss assistant coach Jason Ontog, Blake took a few minutes to answer questions. To sum up the interview, Blake had nothing but raving reviews about Oxford, Ole Miss, Devin Britton, former Georgia standout and current pro player John Isner and the Ole Miss tennis program.
A full article will be in Monday’s edition of the Oxford EAGLE.
Below are a few videos of Blake practicing. (Sorry for the quality in advance, the videos are iPhone quality…).
In case you’re not familiar with Blake, HERE is his Wikipedia page. Blake, 30, has 10 career titles and a 324-203 career record, and is currently ranked 109th in the world. He was ranked as high as No. 4 in 2006.
Blake was a really nice guy, considering he was attempting to practice and there was a handful of tennis fans who had congregated to watch, and was a good sport with the spectators. At one point, he scorched a forehand shot just inside the far doubles alley, which drew some quiet applause and a grin from Blake. “Every now and then I hit a good one,” he joked under his breath.
Several times during his training session he signed autographs for kids during his water breaks.
(On a personal note, I probably didn’t help the crowd situation. My roommate, RebelGrove.com‘s Chase Parham, is a die-hard tennis fan. So I did him a solid and invited him to tag along. Happy early birthday…or Christmas… whichever is sooner. Also, I refrained — somehow — from informing Blake that the grip on my racqet is none other than Tourna Grip, which he uses and endorses.)
HERE is Ole Miss’ release regarding Blake’s practice. (July 16, 2010)