Jarmere Jenkins, an NCAA champion at the University of Virginia, talked to us a little over a year ago as he began his journey on the pro tour. You can read that Q&A here. 2014 saw Jenkins go through some incredible highs as well as some forgettable lows. At 24, he cracked the top 200 for the first time, and finished the year at no. 192 in the world. We spoke to Jenkins on a variety of subjects.
The Tennis Nerds: First full year on tour, what stood out to you the most?
Jarmere Jenkins: How important faith, family and friends are. This is a brutal sport to play alone. I’m convinced you can’t do it by yourself. Had it not been for them I would have quit a long time ago.
TTN: Finally the offseason, got any plans?
Jenkins: I’ll be in Boca doing on court with USTA and working on my fitness with Richard Woodruff. Just trying to maximize that time in preparation for Australian Open quallies.
TTN: A large majority of your points came from challengers and futures in Australia, what about that country made you so successful?
Jenkins: I honestly don’t know. I’ve developed some really good relationships over there so it’s kinda like home away from home at this point. Could be because it’s so far away. I know if I lose a match I can’t hop on a plane and be home in a couple hours. Just have to go to work and bring it every single day. Seems to be working.
TTN: You are certainly “earning” your way up the ladder. Other than French Open quallies, you played exclusively ITFs and Challengers. How tough is that?
Jenkins: It’s really tough. But nothing feels better than earning your way up the ladder. I’ve played tournaments where I felt like I didn’t deserve to be there. Now I feel like I’m putting in the work and paying my dues to belong.
TTN: Playing off that, prize money at those levels is pretty brutal. ATP site has you at $27K(that’s without your last futures title). You picked up a lot of points, but how do you manage to stay positive when the paychecks are so low?
Jenkins: I’m crazy.
TTN: How prevalent, in your experiences, is match-fixing? Have you seen it/heard about it?
Jenkins: I receive messages and hate mail about it through my Facebook account. But never from players or coaches. I’ve heard about a couple instances or rumors. But nothing firsthand.
TTN: When we talked last year you said fitness was a key point of focus for your game. How has that progressed?
Jenkins: Yes. I’m stoked that I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’m witnessing my hard work pay off. Credit to my trainer Richard and his impact performance team in Florida. He’s really helped me take my fitness to the next level and I still have so many levels more to improve on.
TTN: You had various fellow American’s traveling to the same tournaments as you throughout the year(Klahn, Krueger etc), how important is it to have friends out there with you?
Jenkins: Very important. We all have the same goals plus I grew up with Klahn. It helps because we push each other in practice everyday to get better. We’re all trying to take American tennis to the top.
TTN: With that futures title, you move up inside the the top 200. Any significance in that?
Jenkins: Yes. Just a tribute to the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made to get there. Definitely wasn’t an easy road but I’m excited and grateful for it. My ultimate goal is much further than that.
TTN: Gotta talk about your EPIC tweet
— what was going through your head at that time?
Jenkins: Tennis is a cruel sport sometimes. Up 6-3,5-3 40-15 serving I tasted the defeat only to have it ripped from me. It was devastating at first and I was crushed. But it lit a fire in me that burned for weeks in Australia and I could easily argue had it not been for that loss I wouldn’t have played so well the following weeks.
TTN: Most in the tennis world have seen your legendary face-plant by now. What kind of reaction have you gotten for that and are you able to laugh about it now?
Jenkins: I’ve always thought it was hilarious. Probably the single most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done. My ex-girlfriend was watching from the sideline. I’m pretty sure that destroyed any chance I’ll ever have of getting back with her! (laughing)
TTN: You built a solid base of points at the end of the year, what does your schedule look like for the start of 2015?
Jenkins: Noumea challenger. Aussie quallies. Maui challenger. Then back “home” to Australia for some challengers.
TTN: Do you think next year is when you can make the breakthrough to the tour level? You’re not far off now. How hungry are you?
Jenkins: I think 2015 will be a special year for me. I’m all in. I really believe I have something special within me to make the breakthrough. In due time.