Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ryan Haviland loving his return to tennis at age 34

Following Sunday's first two rounds of qualifying at the Nielsen Pro Tennis Championship, I had the pleasure of talking to Ryan Haviland, a 34-year-old touring pro who is making a comeback to the pro circuit after taking 11 years off due to injury. Haviland, a former top junior and college player, had 8 knee surgeries and an elbow surgery over a six-year period. In that time, he got into coaching and now runs his own tennis center, Haviland Tennis Academy in Greenville, SC.
Ryan Haviland,
(c) Jonathan Kelley, On the Rise

Since coming back he's run into some tough draws at the Futures level - playing up-and-coming teens like Ernesto Escobedo, Michael Mmoh and Stefan Kozlov. But still he's made a quarterfinal and semifinal in the past couple of months, and has broken into the Top 1000.

Here in Winnetka, his first go at a Challenger since a brief comeback attempt in 2008, Haviland won his first two qualifying matches (against #3 seed Matt Reid and USC's big-hitting Eric Johnson), after which he was kind enough to hang out and talk about all sorts of things - his time off, coming back, age and tennis, the Futures circuit, and much more. Rather than transcribe the interview, I'm experimenting with posting audio of the whole thing. Forgive my dumb-ass questions, and enjoy Haviland's fascinating perspective.

For the record, Haviland lost his final qualifying match against Andrew Whittington yesterday (You can watch the match here to see his playing style, although clearly he wasn't at his best). That meant 3 matches, 2 wins, no points, and no money.  Still, it was great to talk to a guy with a real passion for his sport, out there enjoying his second chance. I hope you enjoy it.

(I'm so embarrassed about the end when discussing Stanford Men's Tennis - I mentioned Martin Joyce but was thinking of Tom Fawcett. It had been a looooooong day. But yeah, really bad. Sorry, Martin. Sorry, Tom.)

1 comment:

  1. Tell Haviland to get on Twitter, IG, or something. ty