If you haven’t noticed, American tennis is by far the weakest on the professional tour in terms of up-and-comers. There are four American men in the top 100; after that, nobody is making their mark on the tour.
Despite a general lack of talent, the future of tennis in the United States is not entirely bleak. We’ve recently been introduced to a promising young tennis player named Edward L. Oueilhe. Edward is a 19-year-old, measuring in at 6’3” and 200 lbs, who hails from Southern California. He spoke to us about the experience of pursuing the dream to play on the men’s professional tennis tour.
Edward started playing tennis by the age of 4 when his parents enrolled him in a city tennis program for children. Almost instantly, he was recognized for his natural aptitude to play tennis and his love for the game.
Despite his passion, Edward lacked the grooming of the top flight players. Instead of playing tennis in high school, Edward spent his time playing on the junior tennis circuit, achieving his highest ranking of #9 in the USA (Boys’ 12). He was also scouted to play in college but opted out to focus on being a better tennis player and making his dream come true.
As a junior player, Edward did not have the guidance from his coaches to formulate a long term strategy for getting to where he needs to be. He has come to the realization on his own that success was not only a product of heart and hard work, but of having the financial backing to participate in the required tournaments on the road to the top. Edward now has a better vision, a better plan, and a better coach in Jeff Tarango. Now all he needs is the money.
Currently ranked 1,524 in the ATP, with a few ITF Futures wins under his belt, Edward spoke to us about the challenges of making it and what really motivates him. “I’ve learned more about tennis in the last six months, than I ever had in my entire life,” said Edward, clearly inspired by his new training regimen and the support from those in his life. “I’m working harder, getting stronger and really learning to appreciate the littlest of things from the sport I love more than anything,” with a smile so broad that it is difficult not to share his passion and admire his dedication.
We asked him where he was in terms of being on the tour, “Well, to be honest, I only have one ATP point, which is not enough to enter the challenger tournaments, I only need a few more points to have the opportunity to enter qualifying matches in the bigger tennis tournaments. Basically, I need to increase my ranking points to be able to play more tournaments …the reality is, to get to these tournaments, I need money and I don’t have the financial support from anybody. Between training 30 to 40 hours a week and giving lessons when I can, I don’t have the money to travel and compete. I earn a very small income from teaching the kids in my community tennis, I teach about 15 hours a week and that’s not quite enough to get me to Europe, Asia, and South America to play in the Futures events I need get those points.”
His true motivation? “Well, since the first time I picked up a tennis racquet, I knew in my heart that I wanted to play tennis for the rest of my life. Honestly though, I don’t want to be a pro for the money, fame, houses, and cars; my true dream is to have the opportunity to play at the US Open on Arthur Ashe Stadium under the lights.” Wait, all you want to do is play at the US Open? “Well of course, I want to play on the [ATP] tour and all the tournaments on the calendar, but yeah, playing the US Open has always been what I have wanted most.”
We also asked Edward why he believes he could be a successful professional, “I believe in myself and with that belief I have been able to beat some of the top 200 and 300 players in the world, I just know I can do really well on the tour.”
Since he has points, we wondered whether the USTA/ATP/ITF helps him enter tournaments or to get wildcards? “Well no, not really. Like I said, I only have one ATP point so I still need to prove to them [ATP] that I can be a top tennis player. This is why I’m doing as much as I can to scrape every penny together to travel to the events that will give me more points. Only time will tell, I’m young, in great shape, and I just want it so bad. So the only thing lacking for me to succeed is the funding. I’ve got the game, now I just want the world to see it.”
Tennisthis.com loves to see young American tennis players with the drive to compete at the highest level and we’d like to see Edward have every opportunity to prove his talent. We offered to help him seek out some contributions. His reply to our offer was, “That would be amazing! Every single penny helps me get one step closer to my dream. If people would even loan me a buck, that would put me one-step closer to my dreams of being the next great American tennis player. I would be more than happy to repay all the contributions I receive with my tournament earnings. I would also give Tennisthis.com frequent updates with where the money went, so that peopled who helped me know exactly where their contributions were going.”