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Random Tennis Player Biofile: Jay Amari

By Scoop Malinowski

Cycling to work to New York City last year I spotted a random man hitting tennis balls against the side of an apartment building on Riverside Drive and stopped to take a photo of the peculiar sight. A year later I posted the photo on the Facebook page NYC Tennis Players. And by coincidence, the man saw the post and identified himself as Jay Amari, an actor, writer and videographer. Here is a Biofile interview we did this week…

First Memory Of Tennis: My first memory of tennis was seeing Rod Laver on TV in 1962 playing at Wimbledon, and my mom informing me of how the rules worked.

Tennis Inspirations: I am still inspired by John McEnroe and how he continues to play the same way he has played for 30 years successfully in regard to serving and covering the court and his volley abilities, not always hitting the winner but placing the ball in the court effectively. Pete Sampras is an inspiration to watch in regard to his court sense, and Bjorn Borg is still amazing to watch, as is Djokovic as he manages to get every ball back into play and Nadal for his competitiveness.

Worst Tennis Memory: Worst tennis memories – meeting a beautiful woman at the courts and pulling my shots basically beating myself as she beat me in two straight sets; another bad memory- losing 6-0, 6-0 to a player in a tournament. It has taught me to never underestimate any player’s ability to win with what they’ve got.

Favorite Courts To Play: I have played on hard and clay but prefer hard courts because there’s no nonsense- clay is dusty, dirty, slippery, and slow.

Shoes: I like Nike as they are all around supportive and durable, but I also wear Head, and Asics – I rotate shoes every time I play so my feet do not get stressed by the way a single pair holds my feet.

Racquet Used: My favorite racquet was an Estusa like the red/blue model that Boris Becker used for a while. I owned 6 Wilson Pro Staff Classic 6.1 racquets and like it a lot. I like the Babolat Pure Drive blue frame- it’s a great all-around racquet. The Wilson pro staff Federer RF 97 autograph is a fantastic frame- I feel like I cannot miss with it- it is great for control and feel. I have all my old racquets including my wood Dunlop Max-Ply and my Wilson Jack Kramer. These days I am playing with a vintage Wilson Pro Staff tour- it’s from 2011 but feels great strung at 40lbs with Babolat Blast string and the weight is heavy which I like.

First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: I met Jimmy Connors at the US Open in 2016 and was surprised how small he is in person- he is from the age of average sized players not like the over-developed players of today.

Once playing at 119th Street Riverside courts David Mamet started playing on the courts next to us- he talked constantly with the guy he was hitting with for an hour. Another time Marat Safin was playing on the same courts and my buddy hit a ball into his leg – ironically it was the year that Safin lost at the US Open in the opening round.

Why Do You Love Tennis: Tennis is a great recreational outlet and I recommend it to anyone seeking low-impact aerobic activity with exertion – for me it allows me to get sunshine and time outdoors, conversation and camaraderie with friends and other people I am acquainted with- it’s also my own “grapevine” information outlet about my circle of friends. It’s also an outlet to get out my frustrations by really pounding the tennis ball instead of taking it out in other ways. And it’s a wonderful procrastination tool- when I want to avoid doing work I go to the tennis courts and tell myself it’s great exercise and ultimately good for my health.

Favorite Tennis Books: Two books that I re-read for tips and inspiration: Tim Gallwey’s “The Inner Game of Tennis” – it’s a reminder of how the game works psychologically on so many levels. “Winning Ugly” by Brad Gilbert is still a rock level basic approach to playing the game.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · September 24, 2023 at 11:40 am

    Safin, the 13 seed, lost 1R at US Open in 2004 to Thomas Enqvist in four sets. But then he won AO 2005.

  • Jay · September 24, 2023 at 12:02 pm

    Whoo hoo…

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 24, 2023 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks for the terrific Biofile Jay, fun and insightful read. Glad I saw you hitting on Riverside drive )

  • Richard P · September 26, 2023 at 11:15 am

    Nice interview. I’ve never heard anyone cite or use Becker’s Estusa racquet.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 26, 2023 at 11:18 am

    Same here. Never seen one or tried one either. Must be a very good racquet. Some high quality racquets slip through the cracks and don’t sell mainstream, such as the Volkl Tour 8 which I used for about ten years and former ATP top 100 player John James still uses today after about 20 years.



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