Status: Member U.S. Davis Cup Team. Finished last year ranked No. 28 and won his first ATP title in Washington.
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 170
Born On: December 28, 1979 In: Yonkers, NY
Childhood Heroes: “Does it have to be in tennis? I’d say Michael Jordan impressed me with how he got ready for every game. And he had to show everyone he was the best every time he stepped on that court.”
Nicknames: “Junior. JB. Squirt Gun – luckily that was short-lived. On the Harvard team, most of the guys had nicknames. One guy gave most of the guys their nicknames. And my brother (Thomas) was Tommy Gun. So the first time I came up for a visit – I was 5′ 4″, a little kid – and so they called me Squirt Gun.”
Hobbies/Interests: “Play golf – I’m not that good but it’s a lot of fun. Play some basketball.”
Favorite Movies: “Braveheart, Good Will Hunting.”
Musical Tastes: “R&B, rap, classic rock, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Notorious B.I.G, Tupac, Master P, Snoop Doggy Dogg, John Mayer, Brandy, R Kelly.”
Early Tennis Memory: “Hmmm, let’s see. Winning my first New England Open when I was 11, at Brown University in Rhode Island. I was really happy. At the time it seemed so important.”
Childhood Dream: “Being at the U.S. Open, Wimbledon or the French Open. Things I dreamed about. I’d go to the U.S. Open every year as a kid. One or two years I might have even snuck in!
First Job: “Paperboy for the Bridgeport Post (age 10). I did it for five years. That was a lot of fun. My brother and I shared the route.”
First Car: “Hand-me-down from my brother, which was already bought used. A 1987 crimson Toyota Celica with dents all over it. The stereo barely worked. Put a sticker on it and called it The Harvard Mobile.”
Funny Tennis Memory: “The first time Thomas and I played doubles together was at the U.S. Open in qualies (’97). We didn’t think we were gonna get a wildcard. So we were actually out on the first tee, ready to tee off, in Trumbull, CT. And I didn’t even think to call down to see if we got a wildcard. And we were playing with my coach and another Harvard teammate. And they said, ‘You might as well just call before we go out.’ So I call down and go back and tell them I think we might only get in nine holes because we have to be down in New York in an hour and a half. They thought I was kidding. So we have to run to the car, run home and change into our clothes. We flew down here. We ended up getting down and the match was delayed. We didn’t even think we were gonna play. We ended up playing a great match, we lost 7-6 in the third to Davide Sanguinetti and another player I forget his name. And it was a lot of fun.”
Pre-Match Feeling: “Try to get a game plan pretty early. Before I go out to a match, I think about how I’m going to play and think about the feeling of winning it. I always want to think about that feeling. So it’s never a surprise. I don’t want to be surprised to win.
Favorite Meal: “Just pizza.”
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Golden Grahams.”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Pralines and cream. No, sorry, now it’s double fudge brownie.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “Every match I win is a pretty big deal for me. I never really expected any of this. I didn’t really set goals to be like top 50 or anything like that. I was going to college, planning on going for four years. So this is all just a lot of fun for me. I feel like I’m getting better every day. My best win ever was probably over Andre Agassi in Washington. The U.S. Open is a big deal for me. There’s nothing more important to me than the U.S. Open and Davis Cup. Playing for your country – you put your heart into it. When I hear ‘Advantage, USA’ or ‘Game, USA,’ you realize you’re not playing tennis for yourself.”
Most Painful Moment: “Every time I lose a match I think, This is a terrible feeling. I don’t want it any more. But it’s still tennis, it’s still fun. Like Jimmy Connors said, his favorite thing in the world is to go out and win a tennis match. His second favorite is to go out and lose a tennis match.”
Favorite Athletes To Watch: “Americans in tennis – Sampras, Agassi, Roddick, Todd Martin – he’s always been kind of a favorite of mine. Randy Moss. Shaq – incredible. Mike Piazza and the Mets. Tiger Woods. I love seeing everything he’s gone through. Sometimes I feel bad for the things he has to deal with. But I also have to understand that’s the way he chose and he brought it on himself by doing so well. Roy Jones Jr. Tyson back in the day. Just ran through people. Women’s tennis? I can’t say I follow it that much. But maybe I did like watching Steffi Graf. Seemed like a really great person and someone that was going to be nice no matter what happened. A great champion. Another great champion was Patrick Rafter. He’s a class act, someone I admire a lot. I played him two years ago in (3rd round at) Cincinnati (lost 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 after defeating Arnaud Clement and Julien Boutter). After the match, he was telling me, ‘You could have beaten me today. You could beat me on any given day. It’s just that maybe you didn’t believe you could.’ For him to say that to me…he didn’t need to. He could have just said he played horribly. He was worrying about playing the rest of the tournament, he had a million friends in the locker room, not like he needed one more. He was just helping out a kid that was struggling with his confidence. He really helped me a lot that day. Until then I didn’t feel that I belonged on the ATP Tour at all. After that, I started thinking, Maybe he’s right, maybe I do belong out here. Now I realize I can play with those guys. Patrick really made a difference in my career.”
Closest Tennis Friends: “Mardy Fish is probably my best friend on the tour. But I’m friends with a lot of the guys…Jan Michael Gambill. Paul Goldstein. Robby Ginepri. Andy Roddick. Patrick McEnroe. I think Patrick is a perfect blend of being friends with all the guys, a great guy to hang out with in the locker room. But also someone we know we have to take advice from. When it comes down to business time, he’s going to be the leader and he’s done a great job.
People Qualities Most Admired: “Honesty. Someone who’s gonna be with you from beginning to end no matter what happens. Someone you can always count on.”