ESPN: Stars Next Door (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=5966104)
AGE: 18 | HOME: Shreveport, La.
Let's face it: This isn't exactly the golden age of American men's tennis. So when Harrison, ranked 173rd in the world, upset 15th-seeded Ivan Ljubicic in the opening round of the 2010 US Open, fans rejoiced. (He lost his next match in five sets to No. 36 Sergiy Stakhovsky.) "I love that Ryan has an all-around game," says Billie Jean King. "He can serve and hit off the ground, and he's strong at the net. He's going to have a great future." With Harrison having earned a spot in this month's Australian Open, the future might already be here.
PICK A PRO, ANY PRO: "I've always had an attacking game because I love Pete Sampras. I'm also trying to play from the backcourt like Novak Djokovic, and kick serve and volley like Patrick Rafter."
HIDDEN TALENT: "I have a really good memory. I can tell you about every point of every game I've played this year -- especially in the matches I've lost."
FALLBACK PLAN: "I'm 1,000 percent sure I'd play football. I play five-on-five, and I'm a fantasy fanatic."
Querrey, Harrison to play World TeamTennis (http://tennis.com/articles/templates/ticker.aspx?articleid=17736&zoneid=6)
In other WTT news, Ryan Harrison will play for the Philadelphia Freedoms on July 11, 13, and 14, and Robby Ginepri will play for the Boston Lobsters on July 9 and 13.—Ed McGrogan
06-14-2012, 02:29 AM
The men's team is expected to include John Isner (10th in the ATP Tour rankings), Andy Roddick (32nd), and two first-time Olympians, Donald Young (48th) and Ryan Harrison (52nd). Mardy Fish, the silver medalist in 2004, is ranked 12th but has said he'll skip the Olympics.
Shreveport native Ryan Harrison will play in The Ryan Harrison Invitational tennis tournament scheduled for Nov. 18.
The tournament features Harrison, Christian Harrison, Scott Lipsky, and Mike and Bob Bryan.
An A.T.L.A.S tennis tournament is set for Nov. 15-18 at the Bossier Tennis Center with the Ryan Harrison Invitational set for Nov. 18 at the Centenary Gold Dome.
There will also be a kid's clinic, a dinner and dance and opportunities to meet the players. The event will benefit the Wounded Warrior project.
06-19-2012, 12:24 AM
Grass-Court Report: Eastbourne & Up (http://www.tennis.com/articles/templates/features.aspx?articleid=18266&zoneid=9)
From one bright young thing to two more: Ryan Harrison is playing Vasek Pospisil on the smaller, more pleasant Court 1, where a ball girl at each end manually changes the score on the old-fashioned scoreboard. Pospisil has played through qualifying here to reach this match—it shows, as he is immediately more comfortable in the windy conditions. Harrison’s temper is not always under control on the court, and it’s on display early as he argues with umpire Mohamed Lahyani. 'Pay attention to the baseline!' he hectors Lahyani angrily after double-faulting to trail 1-3. In fairness to Harrison, he has to wait while an elderly couple, both leaning on canes, make their laborious progress all the way up to the second row of seats, a process which takes a good couple of minutes.
I praised Pospisil’s explosive power and serve-and-volley technique last week, and as he takes the first set 6-3, those aspects of his game are on full display. Harrison finds himself outgunned from the baseline and can’t throw the Canadian off his rhythm, even when throwing in slice from both wings. What he can do is take care of his own service better than in the first set, and that’s what he does, cutting out the complaining and going for more on both first and second serves.
In a situation that calls for patience and level-headedness, Harrison’s greater experience begins to tell. Two years younger than the Canadian, he’s been a Top-100 player for almost a year now, something Pospisil has yet to achieve. Harrison hangs on grimly, weathering a break point at 4-4 in the second set and waiting for Pospisil’s increasingly erratic game to yield an opportunity. The American almost breaks at 4-5, thwarted by risky, confident play on two break points, but chooses the perfect moment to throw in a high ball to Pospisil’s backhand, surprising the Canadian into an error to take the second-set tiebreak and even the match at one set all.
The third set features scrappier, more fractious play from both men, in stark contrast to the peaceful atmosphere among the spectators, one of whom reads his newspaper and then falls asleep. Pospisil’s shots don’t have the impact they did in the first two sets, perhaps because Harrison is getting better at anticipating and soaking up his pace, but he keeps holding on despite pressure on serve. It’s getting on Harrison's nerves. ‘So freaking lucky!’ screams Harrison in frustration after Pospisil saves two break points, words which will return to my mind in the third set tiebreaker.
Pegged back with a double fault after leading 4-2, Harrison finds himself match point down after big forehands from Pospisil force an error. After taking an inordinately long time selecting a new racquet after flinging his to the ground, Harrison returns to the baseline, then as the Canadian charges the net, hits a backhand pass which threads the narrow needle of available space and strikes the line cleanly. Pospisil’s chagrin is written clearly on his face and it’s Harrison’s turn to attack, forcing two errors from to take the match. Pospisil’s racquet hits the turf.
It’s not often that you can say Ryan Harrison was the cooler, wiser head in a contest, but he was the more finished player on Court 1 today, and when it counted, had the confidence to make a million-to-one shot while staring defeat in the face. There’s a fine line between youthful impetuosity and having the courage of one’s convictions. When it mattered, Harrison threw caution to the Eastbourne winds and it paid off. It might be the foolhardiness of youth, but it's also a big part of what makes him such an entertaining player to watch. I hope he never grows out of it.
06-21-2012, 01:49 AM
IMG Academy tennis alum, Ryan Harrison, moved into the quarterfinals of the Aegon International in Eastbourne, England, today. Harrison, who turned 20 last month, defeated Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei 6-1, 7-6(2) in the second round. In Harrison’s first grass court event of the year, he had to save one match point in the opening round before outlasting Vasek Pospisil of Canada 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(6).
Harrison’s quarterfinals opponent will be Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who upset the No. 2 seed, Marcel Granollers, in three sets today. This will be Harrison’s third quarterfinal appearance of the year (San Jose and Houston.) He is currently ranked No. 53 on the ATP World Tour.
Americans Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison and James Blake Entered to Play in 86th-annual Farmers Classic (http://www.tennispanorama.com/archives/27539?utm_term=%23tennis&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter):
Sam Querrey, fellow Americans Ryan Harrison and James Blake, France’s Nicolas Mahut, Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov, and Belgium’s Xavier Malisse, the tournament’s reigning doubles champion, are among the players initially entered in the draw at the 86th-annual Farmers Classic, presented by Mercedes-Benz, July 23-29 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA.
Harrison Survives, Gets Djokovic Next (http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/harrison-survives-gets-djokovic-next/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nyt%2Frss%2FSports+%28NYT+%3E +Sports%29)
By JOHN MARTIN
Toby Melville/ReutersRyan Harrison had much to celebrate in the first round Monday.
WIMBLEDON, England — Ryan Harrison rallied from a first-set lapse to defeat Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, in the first round of Wimbledon Monday.
With the victory, Harrison is now in the unenviable position of playing the world’s top-ranked player, Novak Djokovic, in the second round. It will be the sixth time in six months that Harrison, a 20-year-old up-and-coming American, has faced an opponent ranked in the top 12 in the first or second round of a major tournament.
Djokovic, top-seeded and the defending Wimbledon champion, won his opening match over Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets.
A flawed forehand volley, delivered into the net by Lu as he prepared to take a 5-4 lead in the third set, signaled a breakthrough moment for Harrison.
Instead of forging ahead with an easy winner, Lu lost the game two points later. Harrison stepped to the line and served out the set.
In the fourth set, another botched volley by Lu let Harrison escape an uphill skirmish. In the second game, Lu maneuvered Harrison into a corner, forcing him to hit higher than he wanted. Lu moved forward to comfortably block a backhand volley for a certain winner only to drop it into the net.
Another botched volley played into Harrison’s hands in the next game. Lu hit a weak backhand that barely cleared the service line. Harrison moved in, drove the ball at Lu’s feet, then slammed away Lu’s popup volley response.
Later, Harrison was asked if he was looking ahead to his next match.
“I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, well, it doesn’t matter if I lose this match.’ Harrison said. “My thought process is ‘He’s stepped up, I need to step up.’ That’s kind of the way I think and the way I tick.”
Harrison has been saddled with an unlucky streak in his tournament draws. He lost in the first round of the French Open to Gilles Simon of France, ranked 12th and in the second round at Madrid to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France, ranked 5th. He drew Roger Federer in the second round and Andy Murray, ranked fourth, in the first round of the Australian Open.
Djokovic won his only previous match against Harrison, 6-2, 6-3, last year in Cincinnati. The encounter took place, no surprise, in the second round.
Harrison said that match was “far from a blowout,” and it had gone against him because Djokovic dictated points.
“I was reacting,” he said. “The more I’ve come into my own and become a better player, the more I’ve learned that I have to take my guns and play with them and not kind of just react to those guys.”
“A guy like Novak and the guys at the top, if you give them their chances to play their game they’re going to beat you.”
This time, Harrison suggested, he would go for his shots and take his chances at dictating play.
06-26-2012, 02:26 AM
I was hoping Ryan would get a better draw, I think he has a lot of potential on grass, but against the defending champ...
Mixed day for men's up-and-comers (http://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/news/articles/2012-06-25/201206251340655048516.html)
by Benjamin Snyder
Monday 25 June 2012
With play resuming for the year at the world’s oldest tennis tournament, a handful of the game’s rising stars are beginning their grass court careers at The All England Club. In the gentlemen’s draw, America’s Ryan Harrison, Australia’s Marinko Matosevic and Britain’s Oliver Golding headlined up-and-coming entrants in first day’s action.
Harrison, 20, started his second main draw at Wimbledon against Yen-Hsun Lu with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win. In front of a full crowd on court 12, the young American looked strong as his opponent’s fitness began to falter late in the fourth set. Serving at 4-2 up, Harrison punctuated his athletic game with powerful serves over 120mph, while Lu looked out of steam.
After breaking his opponent on a failed Lu volley, Harrison served big to edge 15-0 ahead at 5-2. Showing little sign of nerves, the American followed up with a passing shot that clipped the line by a stunned Lu. On his first match point, Harrison blasted another winner for which the Taipei-native did not even attempt to run down.
A semi-finalist at Eastbourne last week, Harrison seems to have found his form on grass in time for The Championships. In the final four, he succumbed to the steady baseline game of Italy’s Andreas Seppi on a day impeded by blustery conditions.
Last year, the young American made his best Grand Slam showing yet at The Championships when he advanced to the second round. After battling his way through Qualifying at the Roehampton courts, Harrison defeated the No. 37 Ivan Dodig of Croatia in straight sets. He then lost to the No. 7 seed David Ferrer, of Spain, 7-6(8), 1-6, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6.
Next for Harrison is defending champion and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The Serb played a sharp match in his opening round on Centre Court against Juan Carlos Ferrero, winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Djokovic won their only meeting in straight sets at the Cincinnati Masters event last year.
Although Harrison competed and advanced, Australian Marinko Matosevic was not so lucky. He lost to in-form Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse, a recent s-Hertogenboshi semi-finalist and Queen’s Club quarter-finalist. Despite bowing out in his first appearance at The Championships 6-2, 6-2, 7-5, the Aussie is currently enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 72.
Notably, Matosevic is ranked second after fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic, the No. 20 seed and another rising player in the gentlemen’s draw.
The youngest entrant in the Gentlemen’s Singles, 18-year old Oliver Golding showed promise in his four-set defeat at the hands of the more experienced Igor Andreev. He lost in front of a packed No.2 Court, 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(7), 7-5 in his main draw debut.
The Brit, ranked a career-high No.491, was previously a finalist at last year’s Junior Wimbledon Championships.
06-28-2012, 10:37 PM
No problem for Novak (http://www1.skysports.com/tennis/wimbledon/story/25802/7845463)
Defending champion cruises into third round at Wimbledon
Defending Wimbledon champion and world number one Novak Djokovic cruied into the third round with a commanding straight sets victory over rising American Ryan Harrison.
Djokovic was never expected to lose to the 20-year-old but a stern examination was always on the cards and so it proved, even though the Serbian was a comfortable 6-4 6-4 6-4 winner.
Harrison was able to match his decorated opponent for large parts, often unleashing a stinging forehand, but when the pressure was cranked up Djokovic was the one to stand firm.
He took the three break points that came his way, while at the other end Harrison squandered six in a game when they were presented to him midway through the second set.
It was a tough lesson for Harrison to learn and the pattern was set in the first set.
He first lost his serve in the fifth game despite being the better player. He chased down a volley and hit a forehand winner before leaving Djokovic flatfooted when he pinned a cross-court one-hander beyond him.
Djokovic remained composed, though, and broke serve when Harrison got too excited and slapped a forehand long.
Djokovic served the set out and Harrison showed he had learned little from the opener as he allowed six break points to slip through his fingers. Having found a way to get on top of the Djokovic serve, he went through a range of ways to fritter chances away, ranging from a misplaced smash to some wild forehands.
As if to ward the rookie off trying to break him again, Djokovic took his serve off him in the very next game - Harrison's wayward hitting prominent again - and the set was again seen out by the world number one.
Knowing he needed something special to stir fanciful hopes of a comeback, Harrison upped the ante in the third set, serving well and restraining himself where previously he had not, but even then he was undone, losing serve in the ninth and what proved to be penultimate game.
Djokovic had three chances to put himself on the brink and needed just one, haring in on a poor drop shot, before serving out.
"It was a straight-sets win but much more difficult than the scoreline shows," Djokovic said.
"It was a great match but I was in trouble in the second set and it could have
gone either way. It is difficult to adjust under the roof, and Ryan was serving
"I was very pleased with my serve and performance.
"I think I played really well from the start. It was a close match, he performed really well but I got the crucial breaks in every set when I needed to."
06-29-2012, 12:50 AM
Turning the Page (http://blogs.tennis.com/thewrap/2012/06/turning-the-page.html)
Djokovic was even calmer today in his highly controlled 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over a game Ryan Harrison. Djokovic said afterward that it was “very close, closer than the score,” and he was right. Djokovic broke Harrison once in each set, and the two players' winner-to-error ratios were virtually identical—31/15 for Djokovic, 30/14 for Harrison. Statistically, the biggest difference was the percentage of points won on second serves. Djokovic won an amazing 82 percent (higher than the percentage of points he won on his first serve), while Harrison won just 48 percent. You’re only as good as your second serve; and, in Djokovic’s case, you’re only as good as your return of serve.
In its mix of safety and brinksmanship, this was vintage Djokovic all around. He used his usual blend of aggressive yet high-percentage play from the baseline; he had a lot of success getting Harrison stretched on his backhand side and forcing him to drop one hand off the racquet. And in the one moment when his back was against the wall, Djokovic characteristically came up with his best stuff. It wasn’t match points that he saved this time, but break points, six of them, at 2-3 in the second set. Harrison finished an exasperating 0 for 6 on breakers, while Djokovic was an highly efficient 3 for 3.
Still, this was progress for the 20-year-old Harrison, who has always been a proverbial big-match player. He held his own in his first appearance on Centre Court, against the world No. 1, and he must have won a few fans with his athletic scrambling, which included a shoe-top crosscourt forehand pass that skidded off the sideline. If his return let him down, there wasn’t all that much he could have done. Djokovic made 75 percent of his first serves, a ratio that’s going to be too good for just about anyone.
Milos Raonic and Ryan Harrison hit the practice courts together at ATP Newport. So what did they talk about: tennis, Newport, playing in the Olympics? Nope, Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City, and the NBA. Guys on this continent are indeed all the same.
Read more: Milos Raonic and Ryan Harrison ATP Newport Practice (http://www.racquetrequired.com/?p=2360&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=milos-raonic-and-ryan-harrison-atp-newport-practice-pics-and-video&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter)
Sixth seed Ryan Harrison won an all-American second-round contest on Thursday at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport as he dismissed Jesse Levine 6-3, 6-4. The 20-year-old Harrison converted two of his four break points and won 73 per cent of points on serve for victory in 71 minutes.
Harrison is through to his fourth ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season and second on grass after reaching the last eight at the AEGON International in Eastbourne (l. to Seppi) last month. He improved to a 20-16 match record on the season.
Harrison goes onto face German qualifier Benjamin Becker, who upset third seed Milos Raonic of Canada 6-3, 6-3. World No. 112 Becker won 89 per cent of points behind his first serve and broke Raonic three times to claim his eighth win of the season in 63 minutes. Victory for Becker avenged the semi-final defeat he suffered to Raonic in San Jose in February.
"If you qualify you have three good matches under your belt," explained Becker. "You know the courts, which is a little bit of an advantage over the guys who have only played one match. He didn’t serve many aces, whereas last time I played him he served nearly 30 aces. His serve wasn’t as effective today; I made him play a lot on his second serve and used my chances."
Harrison Advances; Hewitt Reaches Semis (http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2012/07/28/Newport-Thursday-Harrison-Reaches-QFs.aspx?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter)
07-13-2012, 09:44 PM
ATP - Fish says helping Ryan Harrison could come back to haunt him (http://www.tennisworldusa.org/ATP---Fish-says-helping-Ryan-Harrison-could-come-back-to-haunt-him-articolo4860.html)
It not uncommon for veteran players to come out and advise younger players trying to make their mark in the sport.
But American Mardy Fish thinks this might come back and hurt them at times.
Talking to the media, Fish said, "Someone like Ryan Harrison jumps out at you. He's sort of a sponge when it comes to information from all the guys that have played or have played for a while or have just retired. The only problem with taking someone under your wing is that you're trying to compete with them, as well, and it's an individual sport, so it's not a team sport. I'm certainly open to discussing anyone's game at any time. If a young player would approach me, I would give him my full attention. But they're still trying to take your lunch away."
Fish is the second highest ranked American and at 30 is one of the senior Americans on tour.
Harrison is 20 years old and climbing up the rankings.
Let's put the information to good use, spongeHarry ;).
07-14-2012, 12:02 AM
In the second quarterfinal match, Harrison overcame four break points in the final game of the first set. He's saved 19 of 22 break points this week.
"It's big. Everyone's going to have that point in the match where you get hot and win the big points," he said.
During the break, a trainer worked on Becker's left leg and back. He was broken in the first and third games of the final set before retiring.
Before Harrison and Becker took the court, Isner was asked to compare the two he could have faced.
"Ryan thinks he can beat anyone in the world," he said, smiling, before saying he thought they were fairly even.
Harrison smiled when he was told what Isner said.
"I think John has that same attitude, too," he said. "Anybody that's played at a high level of any sport has to have that attitude."
Brothers Ryan Harrison and Christian Harrison didn’t have much time to celebrate their third-round victory over 14th seeds Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins Sunday at the US Open. The two quickly turned their attention to an important matchup against doubles icons Luke and Murphy Jensen at the American Express Fan Experience, where they traded in their racquets for paddles.
After answering questions from fans in attendance, the four players worked out the rules and stakes of the match. The Jensens said if a player was tagged, it was worth two points. The Harrisons required players to alternate hitting every shot. The pressure built when the bets were placed. A player on the losing end had to do 20 pushups, and, shave their head, except Luke and Murphy were already buzzed!
Keeping the match entertaining but still competitive, the Jensens showed they could keep pace with their younger opposition, not allowing the Shreveport, La. natives to open a major lead. At 3-all, Murphy’s serve found the net and he argued for another serve. The Harrisons and the majority of the crowd quickly reminded him there were no second serves in table tennis, much to his dismay.
The contest continued to go back and forth. After winning the point for his team to move ahead 9-7, Ryan cracked the joke of the exhibition, telling his competition, “Ya’ll should be named the Baldwin brothers instead.”
On how he came up with the new name for the Jensens, Ryan said, “It just came to me. I had a guy on my fantasy football team named Doug Baldwin. That’s what I thought of. He plays for Seattle. That was my thought behind it and it was very fitting for the situation.”
Christian closed out the victory with a backhand winner to give the Harrisons an 11-7 win, sending the Jensens to the ground to do their pushups… if you could call them that.
“We were confident that we were going to win and we were also confident that we would be more capable of doing the pushups,” said Ryan. “We felt like it was a good bet.”
When USOpen.org asked Ryan and Christian who was the superior ping pong player between the two of them, this dialogue followed.
Christian: “We probably haven’t played each other in four years. It’s been a while. He used to beat me when we were young probably every three out of four times on average.”
Ryan: “As of three years ago, I was better, but we haven’t played in so long. I would say seniority still rules.”
Christian: “I think that’s just a fabrication”
A challenge has been created. If accepted, perhaps next time at the American Express Fan Zone Experience, the brothers can battle it out in front of another packed crowd to see who lives up to their words and who will be getting an extra workout.
If you thought you were a big shot at 20, meet Ryan Harrison.
The rising American tennis star has made recent appearances at the London Olympics, the Davis Cup, and now the U.S. Open, where he and 18-year-old brother Christian just took out the number 4 seeds in the doubles portion of the Grand Slam tournament. And there’s even an app—My U.S. Open from American Express—where you can follow his movements at the tournament. Not too shabby for a kid who can’t even legally pay for a pint.
And while Harrison sends guys ranked higher than him packing this week, we wondered: How can you keep your cool while keeping up with some of the biggest names in the sport? Here are his tips. (Want more secrets from the pros? Visit Men’s Health Celebrity Fitness.)......
Ticker: Harrison, McHale split with coaches
Matt Cronin | Thursday, October 25, 2012
Ryan Harrison has split with coach Grant Doyle, while fellow American Christina McHale has left USTA Player Development coaching and will return to work with New Jersey-based coach Gordon Uehling, sources told TENNIS.com.
The 20-year-old Harrison worked with Doyle—the former coach of Sam Querrey—for the majority of the 2012 season after splitting with coach Scott McCain late last fall. Harrison is considered one of the United States’ top prospects, but has fallen to No. 61 after reaching a career-high ranking of No. 43 in July. Since reaching the semifinals of Newport the week after Wimbledon, he has gone 2-7.
Larry Stefanki, who coached the recently retired Andy Roddick, is likely to be considered a candidate to coach Harrison, who is extremely close to Roddick and trusts his advice. Harrison may also decide to go back to USTA coaching.
The IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis program’s tradition of developing top talent into the world’s elite is well known – especially being the training home to 10 world No. 1s in its history. Today, some of the top up-and-coming players on the men’s circuit all came together in one place to prepare for their next events.
Kei Nishikori, ranked 15th in the world and winner of the 2012 Japan Open was here and worked with his coach Dante Bottini. Kei recently earned his career-high ranking of No. 15 in the world after winning the 2012 Japan Open. However, Nishikori was not the only rising star present. Long-time IMG Academy trainees Ryan and Christian Harrison dropped in for some final preparations, working with their father Pat Harrison. Ryan is currently ranked No. 61 in singles, and No. 63 in doubles. His younger brother, Christian, is continuing on a comeback year, and has risen more than 470 spots this year to reach No. 475 in singles, and No. 175 in doubles.
Ryan Harrison and fellow Americans Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Ryan Sweeting, Scott Lipsky and Christian Harrison came together in Shreveport, Louisiana, to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project in the first Ryan Harrison Invitational. The Wounded Warrior Project aims to support injured service members.
“I could not be happier with the way things went this first year of the Ryan Harrison Invitational,” said the 20-year-old Harrison. “I am so grateful for what our troops do to preserve our freedom and rights here in the United States and around the world and I am glad that we could all come together to help raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. They sacrifice so much for us.”
Several hundred people turned out for the charity event, which featured a gala, kids clinic and exhibition. The gala on Saturday night, which included dinner, dancing, a meet and greet, as well as a singing performance by Ryan’s younger brother Christian, raised approximately $20,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.
On Sunday, players interacted with local youth during a kids clinic and autograph session prior to taking the court at Centenary College for exhibition matches featuring Harrison against Sweeting, Lipsky & Sweeting against the Bryans, and the Harrison brothers against the Bryans. The activities, emceed by Wayne Bryan, also featured on-court appearances by General Charles C. Campbell and former baseball pro Scott Garrelts.
“I am also proud to be from Shreveport and the community here really embraced this event and made it a lot of fun,” said Harrison. “The turnout was great and I look forward to returning to Shreveport many more years in the future.”
Visit ATP ACES For Charity Page
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01-13-2013, 03:58 AM
Austin Tennis Academy Coach Tres Davis has accepted a position as a full time traveling coach of ATP professional Ryan Harrison starting in 2013.
Tres, a former touring professional himself, has been serving as a coach at Austin Tennis Academy for the recent past, and remains part of the all-star coaching staff at ATA while working with Harrison.
Tres and Ryan’s relationship extends well beyond that of a typical coach and player, which is a major part of why the two work well together on the court. The two met when Ryan was competing in the 12 and Under Hard Court Nationals in Chicago, next to Tres’ brother Blake. Ryan and Blake became good friends and doubles partners.
“I was still playing on the tour at the time but came to a lot of Blake's tournaments to help coach him when my Dad couldn't attend,” Tres said. “I got to see Ryan play a good bit during that time and saw first hand how great he competed. There are some people that just have that belief and know how to find a way to win. He is one of those people.”
On top of knowing each other in and through the tennis world for more than a decade, the similarities between these two extend much further than the confines of a tennis court. Both Ryan and Tres are the oldest sons in very competitive tennis households. Both of their fathers are great coaches; both speak of their angelic mothers, and both have two younger siblings whom they love and talk to on a daily basis.
“Ryan has already accomplished things in this sport that I have only had the pleasure of dreaming about,” Tres said. “Our friendship and respect for each other has much more to do with our family values and similar upbringings than anything tennis related. I have a good understanding of where he is at this stage in his life and I hope that I can have enough awareness to speak to him in a way that really gets through to him.”
The quiet, humble confidence that Tres exudes around ATA has not escaped him in this new endeavor. When asked what his official title is with Ryan, Tres simply defers.
“My official title is whatever it needs to be to help Ryan succeed,” Davis said. “Pat [Harrison] built Ryan's game from day 1 and there is nobody on the planet that knows Ryan's game better than Pat. I stayed at Pat's house for a few weeks over the off-season and we talked a ton about Ryan's game and where he can improve. Pat's coaching is a massive reason for Ryan's success. I just hope that I can be an asset to Ryan's team and help him achieve the goals that he has set.”
At his core, Tres is a family man. He is extremely close with his parents Leisa and Doug, and brothers Blake and Brandon. When asked what the biggest challenge has been thus far, it predictably was not about tennis at all, rather, the distance and time away from the one person who matters most to him.
“My biggest challenge has been being on the road and away from my beautiful wife,” Tres said. “She is the most important person in my life and I miss her every day. She made me a package with a present and a note for every day on the road. So far each present has been some sort of candy. Apparently she wants to keep me nice and plump. I love you Paige!”
While the two can relate on many personal levels, Tres ultimately has his coaching foundation rooted in a successful playing career. Tres logged 7 professional singles titles and 20 plus professional doubles titles. He reached the quarterfinal of the Men’s U.S Clay Courts Doubles with partner and long-time friend Andy Roddick.
As a junior, Tres reached #1 in the nation in both singles and doubles. In 2000, Tres, Roddick and Robbie Ginepri earned the Sunshine Cup would team championship. Tres’ career was sidelined early by a major hip injury.
Tres and Ryan are currently in Melbourne, Australia preparing for the first Major tournament of the year, the Australian Open.
“There is nothing quite like the buzz surrounding a Grand Slam,” Tres said. “If you have ever been as a spectator then you have an idea of what I am talking about, but you can't really grasp it unless you are there to play or coach. The facilities are amazing, the stakes are high, and the excitement is everywhere. I can't wait to watch him battle this week.”
FROM THE SAP OPEN IN SAN JOSE – With the young US women like Sloane Stephens, Madison Key and Jaime Hampton getting world attention with their fine recent play, the young US men have been somewhat left in the dust to start the year
Ryan Harrison, 20, has had a decent win or two, but he hasn’t had an outstanding 2013 tournament yet. After focusing on his fitness in the off season, the frequently injured Jack Sock, also 20, got hurt in his opening round of qualifying at the Australian Open and then didn’t play another match until the first round of the SAP Open in San Jose, where he lost 7-6, 6-1 to Marinko Matosevic.
Harrison did a little better than Sock, except that he was favored to win his match against Benjamin Becker, whom he had beaten two times last year, but he did not, falling 6-7, 7-5, 6-3. He’s sick, so he was understandably lacking a little energy, but once again his game failed to come together at crucial moments.
His serve is still big and effective at times, but his return is sporadic and his ground game isn’t overwhelming. Yes, he can improve all those parts of his game, but taking a close look at his current arsenal, even if he progresses at a decent clip in 2013, at best he’ll end the year in the top 30.
In demanding US tennis circles, that is not an attention grabbing ranking
“It’s obvious the areas of the game that I need to get better, especially to play with guys like Djokovic and Roger and Rafa Murray and Ferrer, and all those top guys,” said Harrison who is currently ranked No. 57 but whom will fall out of the top 60 next week. “I have to get substantially better off the ground and definitely a lot fitter, too. I can serve as hard as anyone, but my percentages are very up and down right now. Sometimes I serve 70 percent. Sometimes I serve 50 percent. I have to be a little more consistent. I’m volleying OK, but the more you come in you start getting comfortable at reading things, but if you are not in as much as you want, you start losing confidence. Lately I’ve been trying to be a little more imposing.”
If Harrison does not develop another weapon, or begin to manage his matches better, he’s going to end the year very frustrated. He qualified and scored a win over John Isner in Sydney and had to be credited for beating the then world No. 13, but Isner was hurt then and was nowhere near at his best.
Then Julien Benneteau thumped him in the quarters, but no matter he was in a good mood entering Melbourne, where he out toughed Santiago Giraldo and earned himself a night match on Laver Arena against Novak Djokovic. In the blink of an eye, he was gone 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. The world No 1 beat him everywhere he could have.
Stephens, just 19, showed the world that she could already contend with the best by stunning the great Serena Williams in the quarters.
All Harrison showed was that he has miles to go before he can sleep easily.
“The entire time I was thinking this guy’s the best I ever played against, but I’m real competitive, I’m running side to side and I feel like I’m on a string and I’m thinking, I’ve got to hit the practice courts because he’s not going away,” Harrison said.
Djokovic is not going away, in fact, it’s going to a monstrous effort for anyone to seize the No. 1 ranking from him this year. But really at this point, Harrison shouldn’t be concerning himself with upsetting the greats. Finding a way to best competent yet beatable veterans like Becker is what is on the plate in front of him.
Harrison does not take losses in stride.
“I have to be told by my coach that it’s a process,” he said. “I’m the person that ‘it should have been yesterday.’ Coming off a match like that I’m not happy but my team says to understand the conditions and you are going to take lumps on the way up.
Too many lumps though, can spoil a player’s state of well being. Harrison was brought up by his father, Pat, to be a great player and he expects to be one. He believes that there is clear path to success and after his loss to Djokovic, his mentor, Andy Roddick, laid down the law.
“He said if you want to be a pro at that level you have to train, eat and sleep at that level and not just do the hours on the court,” Harrison said. “You have to devote every aspect of your life to that level…If you want to be the exception, you have to act like the exception. You can’t do things at the pace of a 20 year old, you have to emulate what the guys at the top are doing.”
03-06-2013, 07:06 PM
The United States has a rich tradition of producing tennis champions. Six Americans have been ranked No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, with Andy Roddick being the latest to hold the top spot in 2004.
Ryan Harrison hopes to be next in line. Long considered one of the future stars of the game, Harrison won his first tour-level match at just 15 and has found success early in his professional career, cracking the Top 100 as an 18 year old on 25 July 2011. Since joining this cornerstone group of players, Harrison has maintained his status, peaking at No. 43 this past July.
“I think it’s one of those deals where these guys are all very good players. You have to understand it’s a process,” Harrison tells ATPWorldTour.com. “Whenever you’re working, it’s not all going to just happen tomorrow. That’s a difficulty of breaking in. To jump into the Top 100 in quick fashion is pretty unheard of. For most guys, it takes a while.
“I had to play a couple years at the Futures and Challengers before breaking that barrier. I think over time, you develop confidence and expect more of yourself. It kind of just falls into place. You don’t know when it’s going to happen. That was the attitude I had.”
In reflecting on his rise up the Emirates ATP Rankings, Harrison called out his performance at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in 2011 as the point in time where he realised he had the potential to compete with the best players in the world.
“It was before I broke into the Top 100 later that year. I made the round of 16 there and played Roger Federer,” recalls Harrison. “I felt like I played him well on the big stage and it gave me confidence later on that year, when I reached two semi-finals and broke the Top 100.”
Now 20, Harrison is hoping for an even bigger breakthrough in 2013. The Austin, Texas resident is seeking his first ATP World Tour title and is optimistic the sum of all parts will come together.
“I want to achieve certain ranking goals. Obviously I want to improve on where I got last year and keep building,” Harrison says. “All I can do is prepare the best I can before the match. Once you get on the court, you have what you have. You don’t really have time to improve when you’re playing. It’s all going to be done with practice and preparation.”
As he looks to break further ground this season, Harrison has some advice for his younger compatriots aspiring to compete at tour-level events week in and week out.
“You need to find consistency in your preparation,” says Harrison. “Those days when you get down on yourself when you have hard moments, and don’t feel like being productive are probably the most important ones. Anyone can work on a day when they feel motivated, but to get up and work on a day when you’re not feeling your best is ultimately what makes the difference.”
04-04-2013, 09:23 PM
Sport psychology.....advice for Ryan.
The young American is another player whose Oedipal myth has been documented for posterity. When he was just 11 years old, he reached the final of his hometown’s adult championship. The man across the net was his own coach and father, Pat Harrison. Ryan lost 6-3, 6-1. During the match he also threw his racquet and yelled at the chair umpire for giving his father “everything.” It was then that Pat Harrison told his son he was embarrassing himself. Ryan reportedly left the court in tears.
Although there's humor in this story of childish antics—some of which are very familiar nearly 10 years down the road—it tugs at my heartstrings. Harrison was caught in a vicious double-bind. Damned if he defeated his father, because 11 is too tender an age to be wandering blind without a kingdom, and damned if he failed, because his father was also his coach. Also, precocity and perfectionism are costly traits to bear. As much as they push a person ahead early, they’ll oppress him later on.
One reason the psychotherapy process so often moves in a one-step forward, two-steps back pattern is that learning new things is a blow to the ego—it means admitting we didn’t know it already. Ryan Harrison is not the only professional tennis player to find himself in his situation. He’s not the only one to be born into his career, with a coach father, and told his task in life is to become No. 1. But the fact that others have been there before him doesn’t pave the way for Harrison. The only way out for Ryan is through.
The fact is, there’s no place else to begin except at the beginning. Allowing oneself to be a true beginner is an achievement in and of itself, and the longer we put it off, the harder it becomes to start the journey. So if I could give Ryan Harrison a few words of advice? I’d tell him that it’s OK to be a beginner on the pro tour, and it’s OK that it’s hard to be a beginner. Time is all you’re guaranteed in life—so take it. Oh, and I’d also tell him to stand closer to the baseline.
I'll be honest, I just don't think Harrison is all that good. I never thought he was. He lacks any real weapons.
05-23-2013, 10:23 PM
Ryan Harrison tells ESPN that certain players relish facing Americans at Roland Garros. The United States hasn't produced a male singles champion since Andre Agassi won the title in 1999.
"You go over there, and you certainly have a target on your back a little bit," Harrison said. "The guys love playing Americans on their home surface, you feel like they're fired up to play you. It's something you've got to use, and stay motivated, and just do your best to fight through each match."
2. How much longer can we call Harrison a promising talent? He’s gotten a reprieve, given his horrible draws in majors, where he’s never reached the third round. But this was his opportunity, especially after winning those first two hard-fought sets. And then saving break point after break point in the fifth. But he couldn’t seize his one break chance in the fifth.
“It was definitely a tough one,” Harrison said. “Sometimes you give it all you’ve got, and you come up a little short.”
Commend him for the effort and fitness, but Harrison, ranked No. 92, had played Challengers to get that number back into double digits after tumbling from a season-starting No. 69. He’s still only 21, younger than Donald Young was during his fourth-round run at the 2011 U.S. Open. Time hasn’t run out, but it’s certainly ticking.
“To say that I’m not frustrated by it is a lie,” Harrison said. “I want to be in later rounds, the second week, and be doing greater things than I’m doing now. … I competed my butt off out there.”
06-02-2013, 12:14 PM
Harrison's Impromptu Radio Gig
Ryan Harrison made an impromptu visit to the Roland Garros radio studio on Saturday, accepting an invitation on Twitter, to take his turn commentating with Matt Cronin on the match between Maria Sharapova and Jie Zheng. In addition to his commentary and breaking down the third-round clashes between Djokovic-Dimitrov and Isner-Haas, Harrison also took questions from fans.
The young American revealed his best friend on tour is Matt Ebden and recalled dancing with the Australian's sister when he served in his wedding party last year. "It was a step down for her as my dancing skills are nowhere near par!" joked Harrison. He also said if he hadn’t been a tennis player, he would have liked to take a crack at playing in the NFL.
Ryan Harrison says that in order to grow tennis in the United States and get more children playing and watching the game, the U.S. must produce more high-level male players.
“The unfortunate truth about the situation is you've got to have a guy who's American and winning a lot, because then kids have something to look up to,” Harrison said. “They have a popular athlete in the States that's becoming a dominant figure. That kind of draws attention. For the most part over the last seven, eight years, you turn on the TV to watch the Australian Open final or the final here or Wimbledon, you can count on one hand the guys you've been seeing over and over. That's what tennis in the States needs. You got to have someone who is really being an idol to the kids growing up, making them say, 'I want to get in that position; I want to be like that.'”
PARIS (AP)—John Isner's career, so far anyway, is defined by what he's done in five-set matches.
Mainly, of course, the all-sorts-of-records-breaking 70-68 win at Wimbledon in 2010. He's also the only man to push seven-time champion Rafael Nadal the distance at the French Open, in 2011's first round. And Isner's 18-16 loss at Roland Garros a year ago was part of a rough Grand Slam slate: He was beaten in a fifth set at all four major tournaments.
That last part was why the 19th-seeded Isner pumped his right fist, clapped and flashed a thumbs-up Friday, so thrilled to end his six-match losing streak in five-setters by coming back to beat Ryan Harrison 5-7, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-1, 8-6 in all-American matchup in the French Open's second round.
''I played well in 2012, but that really was a tough pill to swallow for me, to lose in five sets at every single Slam,'' said the 6-foot-9 Isner, who missed the Australian Open this January with an injured right knee. ''This one helps, and I really do think it will help me going forward, because, you know, certainly will be probably in some more five-set matches.''
Seems safe to say.
This also was the first time in Isner's career he won a match after dropping the first two sets.
''What I did exceptionally well — more than serving, my forehand, everything else — was I just stayed composed,'' Isner said after improving to 5-11 in five-set matches, ''and just told myself, 'If I'm going to lose, I'm going to want him to beat me, and not beat myself.'''
There were moments against the 92nd-ranked Harrison that could have been discouraging, to be sure. There were those first two sets, for example. Isner, who is based in Tampa, Fla., got broken the sixth time he served, enough to put Harrison up 6-5 and take the first set. Isner then held a set point ahead 7-6 in the tiebreaker, but dropped the next three points.
''I started out a little — I don't know if the word is 'tight,' but I had three days off and I didn't start out that well,'' Isner said. ''It was slow, the conditions. A bit sleepy out there, I felt like.''
Rain Thursday postponed their match a day.
Nothing might have been more confounding for Isner than what happened with Harrison serving at 5-all in the fifth, a 13-minute game with five break points. Convert any, and Isner would serve for the match, but he couldn't.
''I really would have liked to have played a bit better on those points, but he came up with the goods,'' Isner said. ''I was knocking on the door pretty much the whole fifth set.''
''I saved about a million break points,'' he said.
At 6-all, though, with the match more than 3 1/2 hours old, Harrison faltered, sailing a forehand long to make it 15-40, then double-faulting for the ninth time a point later, allowing Isner to serve it out.
After that first-set break, Isner held 21 times in a row.
''You think of one thing when you think of John Isner, and that's 'huge serve.' Doesn't matter if you play on any surface. If he serves well, he's going to give himself a chance to win,'' Harrison said.
The 20-year-old Harrison, who lives in Bradenton, Fla., tried not to be distracted by the miniature airplane that traveled along an overhead zipline toting a camera (because of an airline's sponsorship deal with the tournament, naturally).
He fell to 0-4 in his five-set career, and has yet to make it past the second round in 12 Grand Slam appearances. This was his ninth loss in a row at a major tournament against a seeded opponent.
''Whenever ... you're starting to feel like you're on top, it's not a time to hit cruise control,'' Harrison said about letting his two-set lead vanish. ''It's a time that you hit the gas pedal and try to bury them.....read more (http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/05/isner-edges-harrison-8-6-fifth-set/47717/#.Ua0NnJzleSo)
07-14-2013, 04:35 AM
Where Are They Now?
Catching Up with Rising Pro Star Ryan Harrison
In 2007, when Ryan Harrison and his younger brother Christian turned professional, there were many who criticized the move as too soon, but five years later there's no doubt that he's in the place he's supposed to be.
Harrison, now 21, became the youngest player to win an ATP Tour match at 15 years old. He was always a top ranked junior nationally and in 2008 he reached No. 7 in the ITF Junior World Rankings. He also advanced to the semifinals at the Australian Open Junior Championships before moving all of his concentration to the professional ranks.
Ryan, Christian and sister Madison had tennis in their blood as their father, Pat Harrison played college tennis for Oklahoma State and Mississippi before a short pro career. The elder Harrison would go on to be head pro at John Newcombe's Tennis Academy and later move to a similar position at Bollettieri's IMG Academy in Bradenton, bringing his tennis loving children along.
Ryan Harrison reminisced about playing the juniors while visiting the young players at the Longines Future Tennis Aces competition in Paris, "I remember I was 12 years old and we played in Seville, Spain, when the Davis Cup final was there. We lost to Spain in the finals against Nadal when he was like 13 in the world and 18 years old. It was one of his coming out moments, so to speak.
"We had this miniature Davis Cup play. There were four of us from the States and four of the top Spanish guys who were 12 and under," he continued. "It was the first time I ever met Andy (Roddick) and the first time I ever got to see those guys."
Harrison added, "It was really cool. It was a great experience that stuck with me my whole life. So to have the opportunity to come over here and meet these kids and kind of give back to what I was given, and to be able to pass it along, is certainly an opportunity I'm not going to miss."
It took three years in the pros before Ryan Harrison won his first tournament on the Challenger level. It happened in in Honolulu, where he took singles and doubles. It came just after Harrison had his coming out at the 2010 U.S. Open Championships, where he made it through the men's singles Qualifying and won a round before losing in a fifth set tiebreaker to Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Things have continued in the career of Ryan Harrison from that point on. He's remained within the top 100 in the world, reaching a career high of 43 on July 16, 2012. In addition to continuing to be coached by his father, he is working with another former junior tennis standout, Tres Davis.
Ryan Harrison (second from right) at Roland Garros with Adam Neff (right)
courtesy, Marcia Frost
Harrison has also benefitted from being chosen as the only American to be a Longines Tennis Rising Star. The Swiss watch company describes the group (which also includes Sabine Lisicki, Grigor Dimitrov, Tiago Fernandes and Tsung Hua Yang) as, "Talented young tennis players who symbolize the sporting elegance of Longines. The brand supports these future stars in the development of their careers."
Harrison was equally supportive of the Longines initiative with younger players, Future Tennis Aces.
"It's great to get the young kids out, competing and playing in such a beautiful setting like this (Hotel de Ville in Paris). It's amazing for the sport. I'm really proud to be supporting Longines and be part of what they are doing with this rising stars campaign, and hopefully these rising stars become stars one day - and hopefully I'm one of them."
Harrison was on hand at the finals of the Future Tennis Aces in Paris. It was just one day after he lost a phenomenal match to John Isner at Roland Garros.
"It was obviously going to be a tough match from the beginning," he said about the second round loss. "I know, from many encounters with John, it's going to be a very difficult time because he's so hard to break, so you're never going to get there and feel like you're completely in control of things at all times."
Harrison went on to explain, "Over the course of three out of five sets, you have a lot of back and forth. I started out with an early break, he got it in the third and fourth, and in the fifth set you saw two guys that were just battling their hearts out trying to do what they could to continue to the 'W.'"
"I had one small chance there at two all where I had a break point. You can't 'what if' yourself to death, you have to keep moving forward. Obviously, I didn't come out on top, but if I play matches like that every day, I feel like it's going to give me a good chance."
Harrison has come a long way since battling his emotions in the juniors, "Whenever you're competitive as a junior you're fighting as hard as you can to try and win matches. You don't really quite understand your emotions yet. You don't really understand how to control it."
He went on to say, "Even my first couple of years as a professional I had moments where it would get away from me and I've had some ups and downs with it where it's tough to control, but using yesterday (the match against Isner) as an example, that's a match where I could have exploded at any time. Through experiences and through matches and being a little bit more mature, you learn how to handle situations and how to control your emotions and become a professional."
Ryan also spoke about 19 year old brother Christian, "He's been progressing well and he's up to about 350 (ATP). He's playing a lot of U.S. It will be his first experience as a professional outside of the U.S. at the Challenger level on the red clay. I think he's going to be very competitive. He works his butt off so he's going to give himself a good chance to be successful."
Just 21, Ryan Harrison has a pretty mature understanding of what it takes to make it on the ATP tour.
“You’ve gotta love the process,” Harrison said after his 6-3, 7-5 win over former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt on Tuesday in a first-round match at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Northwest. “No matter how tense any moment can get out there, it’s what we live for, it’s what we play for.”
That mantra will be worth recalling Wednesday, when he will meet top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, a Wimbledon semifinalist and two-time Citi Open champion, in the second round. Del Potro won’t be taking him lightly.
“He has a very good game, he serves very hard, he’s young, he’s trying to break into the top positions,” Del Potro said of Harrison. “He likes to play on hard court. He’s an American guy and I think the crowd will be cheering for him.”
When asked what song he’d enter the court to if given the choice, Harrison cited Toby Keith’s “Made in America” with little hesitation. Fitting for a player many believe could play a key role in the future of U.S. men’s tennis.
Harrison was born into a tennis family. His father, Pat, played collegiate tennis and works at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Ryan was born in Shreveport, La., and by age 11 he was already impressing on court, making it to the finals of the Shreveport City Championship. He lost to his father.
While Pat has coached Ryan in some form throughout, the Harrisons also hired private coaches to further his development. Most recently, Ryan had worked with Tres Davis, a former professional who Harrison first met at age 12 at a tournament in Chicago.
But after hitting a career-high ranking of No. 43 last July, his ranking has plummeted to 107 — prompting him to make a change and move to the U.S. Tennis Academy training center in Boca Raton, Fla., to work with USTA Coach Jay Berger.
“Tres and I are close friends, we’ve been involved, we still communicate about tennis, but it got to a situation where we had to reevaluate after the first six months of the year,” Harrison said. “He wants what’s best for my career, just like I want what’s best for my career and we kind of decided that being based in Boca and training there with the competitive crop of guys they have down here was going to be the best situation for me.”
The switch seems to have reinvigorated Harrison’s faith in “the process.” After a week in Boca Raton, Harrison made an impressive run in the ATP event in Atlanta last week, falling in the semifinals to No. 21-ranked Kevin Anderson — and he has followed up with the impressive win over Hewitt. But he’s not willing to chalk everything up to the switch so early on.
“You never know when [breakthroughs] are going to happen. I also was down 1-2, break point in the third set in Atlanta and those are just moments that can change here and there,” he said. “. . . I believe that the work that I put in that week and a half down there in Boca and the hard work I was able to put in certainly helped in my Atlanta run and in the win here today.”
08-24-2013, 07:32 PM
August 23, 2013
Finding Lessons in Stumbles, American Aims for the Top Again
By BEN ROTHENBERG
When the draw for the United States Open was made Thursday, Ryan Harrison’s name again appeared next to that of one of the biggest stars in the sport. This time, it was Rafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, who comes to New York with a 10-match winning streak and a 15-0 record on hardcourts.
It was the latest tough luck of the draw for Harrison, a 21-year-old from Shreveport, La. Thought to be one of the best hopes for the next generation of American men’s tennis, Harrison has yet to make it past the second round in 13 Grand Slam appearances.
Within the last two years, Harrison has lost twice in the second round of Grand Slams to No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and once in the first round to Andy Murray. At last year’s United States Open, he fell to the 2009 champion Juan Martín del Potro in the second round. Outside of Grand Slams, he has also had to face Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round of prestigious Masters tournaments.
Harrison, with his deep, unwaveringly earnest voice and unflinching eye contact, made the roadblocks a positive.
“If you look at the bright side of it, I’m 21 years old, and I’ve played everybody on just about every court,” he said. “There’s nothing that’s bad about that.”
He added: “I want to play against the best, and that’s why I’m playing. I couldn’t care less if my ranking gets to 54 or 57. I’m trying to get to the top 10, and I’ve got to play those guys.”
Last July, Harrison had reached a career-high ranking of No. 43, but 12 months later he had fallen to No. 132. With his ranking no longer guaranteeing direct entry into tour-level events, Harrison has had to occasionally play in qualifying draws or on the Challenger Tour this year. He was given a wild-card entry into the United States Open main draw.
When Nadal was asked earlier this month which players he thought would lead the next generation, he first named Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Jerzy Janowicz, and then came to Harrison.
“Harrison — I thought he was one of these guys,” Nadal said. “The last couple of months, probably he didn’t play his best. But I still believe that he can be in the top in the future if he’s able to reverse the situation.”
Nadal could relate to the early promise Harrison showed in his career. In Houston in 2008, Harrison became the first man since Nadal in 2002 to win a main-draw match on the ATP Tour as a 15-year-old. As an 18-year-old qualifier at the 2010 United States Open, the 220th-ranked Harrison upset No. 16 Ivan Ljubicic in the first round, then had three match points in his second-round match to Sergiy Stakhovsky, before losing in front of a capacity crowd on the Grandstand court.
While it appeared to many to be the emergence of a future American tennis idol, Stakhovsky urged caution.
“Even then I said: ‘The guy has yet a lot to work on. Don’t hype him,’ ” Stakhovsky said in a recent interview with Eurosport Russia. “Because that’s how you buried many of your juniors: making a star out of them before they’ve become one.”
Harrison continued to rise steadily over the next several years. In July 2011, he cracked the top 100 for the first time and reached the top 50 about a year later. He was among four American men picked to compete in singles for the United States at the London Olympics.
While Harrison’s ranking rose, so did criticism of his frequent on-court tantrums, behavior that once led the Tennis Channel commentator Mary Carillo to label Harrison “a brat” and “Mr. Crankypants.” After a loss at the Olympics that included several petulant tosses of his racket, Harrison had to apologize on television for his lack of decorum.
Harrison admitted that focusing on controlling his on-court emotions after the Olympics affected his tennis.
“To be honest with you, bottling it up, it was tough,” he said. “After that whole thing, I told myself, and I told everyone on national television, that I was not going to be an embarrassment like that anymore. And it was very difficult for me, because I went into almost zombie mode.”
But Harrison has a mentor to call on: Andy Roddick, the retired former standard-bearer of American men’s tennis. Harrison often trained with Roddick when the two were based in Austin, Tex. Harrison recently relocated to Boca Raton, Fla., to be closer to other sparring partners, but Roddick’s influence remains strong.
“Andy and my dad have been two of my most caring and toughest critics,” Harrison said. “And that’s something to be appreciated.”
Roddick said Harrison’s early successes might have left him unprepared for the adversity he recently began to experience.
“I think he’d always been the best player on any court he’d played on, but now he’s playing against the best players in the world,” Roddick said. “I think he’s finding his way through it. You know, it’s tough when things start going south a little bit and you haven’t actually ever had a slump in your life.”
Helping Harrison reverse course is his new coach, Jay Berger, a former top-10 player and current director of men’s tennis for the U.S.T.A., who preaches a singular vision as the only formula for success.
“You’re thinking about becoming a better tennis player all day, every day,” Berger said of his philosophy. “Your day revolves around it. And that’s the way the best players in the world do it, and that’s the way they’ve always done it.”
Harrison acknowledged that his status as a young, charismatic “next big thing” had brought tempting comforts and perks.
“You can obviously have all things you can imagine that come with being a professional athlete at 21 years old,” he said. “Or you can try for more. You can go out there and you can strive for greatness. And if you want that greatness, you can’t be content with the lifestyle of it.”
Roddick said increased competition from fellow young Americans like Jack Sock, Denis Kudla, Rhyne Williams and Steve Johnson might motivate Harrison.
“Personally, I think it’s good for him that a couple other guys went ahead of him that are young,” Roddick said. “That will push him; he’s not going to like that. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy jealousy, and hopefully these guys can push each other.”
At his first event with Berger, Harrison made the semifinals of the BB&T Atlanta Open. He is back into the top 100, at No. 97.
Harrison said he believed that his capacity for improvement was greater than it might have been because of his recent struggles.
“Maybe I’d still be cruising at 45 and 50 in the world,” he said. “And then maybe I wouldn’t be as professional as I am right now. You know, a lot of times you can see certain guys who get to 40, 50 in the world, and then they just stay there because they’re not doing the right things. Sometimes it really takes you to get knocked on your butt, so to speak, to really understand.”