The Tennis Week Interview: Jordan Cox
By Richard Pagliaro
Friday, July 17, 2009
Jordan Cox raises Wimbledon junior runner-up trophy.
Illness and fatigue marked Jordan Cox's tennis initiation. Growing up in Georgia, Cox grew sick and tired of watching his older brother and sports role model, Bradley, play tennis. So younger brother Jordan joined him.
"Our family was very sports-orientated. I played a lot of sports when I was younger," Jordan recalls. "Basically, whatever my brother took up, I wanted to try to play too. And he just decided to play tennis at our club one day. I got pretty tired of sitting around watching."
Soon Jordan was joining his brother on the court. Less than a decade later, he has reached a junior milestone.
The 17-year-old Cox made his Wimbledon debut one to remember. Cox arrived at the All England Club with rather modest aspirations — "Really, me and my brother set out to qualify and make a run," he says — and exited as the Wimbledon junior boys' runner-up. Cox knocked off 11th-seeded David Souto in the second round then topped fourth-seeded Agustin Velotti in the quarters setting up a semifinal showdown with his friend and doubles partner Devin Britton.
In one of the most exciting matches of the junior event, Cox outlasted Britton, 6-3, 6-7(5), 16-14, to reach the Wimbledon final where he fell to Andrey Kuznetsov, 6-4, 2-6, 2-6, concluding one of the most momentous weeks of his young career that served as a family reunion of sorts.
"My parents got a couple of tickets from a friend, so they were able to come over for a really cheap price and see all of my matches, which was great," Cox says.
While current American pros Andy Roddick, James Blake, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey are continuously confronted with the question "where is the future of American tennis?" Querrey, who reached the Newport final last Sunday, expressed confidence in a group of teenagers, including Cox, Britton and Ryan Harrison, who train at the IMG Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy alongside Australian teenager Bernard Tomic, Flip Krajonovic and Yuki Bhambri.
Bollettieri recalls another group of talented teenagers who once battled for bragging rights on the back courts of the Bradenton-based Academy — including Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and David Wheaton — when asked to assess Cox's game.
"When talking about Jordan, he reminds me a lot of Jim Courier," Bollettieri says. "He is a bulldog on the court. He grinds, fights, and does everything in his power to come off the court as a winner. We all know what a fantastic career Courier has had, and if Jordan keeps the attitude he has been showing, it can carry him a long way."
Cox, who plans to play a few Challengers this summer and may partner his brother in doubles, said the group dynamic has helped his singles success.
"There's lot of talent and a lot of good players so when you're training with each other it really pushes each of you," Cox says. "You see how hard the other guys work and when the other guys have a good result you realize "Hey, I can do that too." So it's great motivation."
Tennis Week caught up with Cox for this interview.
Tennis Week: Jordan, what was your aim when you first arrived at Wimbledon last month? Did you feel you were playing well enough to reach the final?
Jordan Cox: Really, me and my brother set out to qualify and make a run. We didn't set out a certain round we wanted to reach. We wanted to win some matches in the main draw. I always felt I was capable of that kind of result. I wasn't playing my best when I got there, but that was my best result in a big tournament so it was great.
Tennis Week: Since you're an aggressive player it seems grass would suit your game. Do you like grass? Have you had experience playing on grass prior to Wimbledon?
Jordan Cox: I love grass. I've only played two other tournaments on grass over here in the States — once was in Philadelphia — and I think my game suits grass well. I like coming to net, I try to play an all-around game and that is a good style for grass.
Tennis Week: I only saw a little bit if your semifinal win that went to 16-14 in the third, but what impressed me was you kept going after the shots under pressure. You played to win, and weren't playing just to get the ball in play. Was that always your style and what approach did you take in the final set of that semifinal?
Jordan Cox: I always felt when it comes down to the big moments you just gotta go after it and not have any regrets. I always had a big heart and I kept going after it and played to win and it worked out in that match. I was very relieved to win that match especially how it came down to 16-14 in the third.
Tennis Week: Was it draining to come back after that long, tough semifinal and play the final?
Jordan Cox: I had a day off in between that match and the final. The rest of the day after the semi, I was pretty physically and mentally spent. But I was 100 percent for the final — no excuses.
Tennis Week: Talking to Nick Bollettieri and some of the people down in Bradenton, they're excited by the group you're a part of there with yourself, Ryan Harrison, Bernard Tomic, Flip Krajonovic, Yuki Bhambri and a few other guys. From the outside looking in, it appears to be a pretty talented group: Tomic won a match at the Australian Open this year, Harrison won a match in Houston and Bhambri just won a title. How does training with those guys help push you?
Jordan Cox: It's a great group. Like you said, there's lot of talent and a lot of good players so when you're training with each other it really pushes each of you. You see how hard the other guys work and when the other guys have a good result you realize "Hey, I can do that too." So it's great motivation.
Tennis Week: I know you played your final on the final Sunday. Did you get to see any of the Roddick-Federer final and if so what was your impression being there
Jordan Cox: The boys final and the men's final were at the same time so I didn't see all of it. We finished before they did, but I didn't get into the stadium because it was full. I watched the end and it was unbelievable. I felt Roddick definitely had chances to win it, but you know Federer is Federer. He is amazing. It was incredible. Andy Roddick played so well and played so hard. It was great to see it.
Tennis Week: What does reaching the Wimbledon final do for your confidence? What are your next events?
Jordan Cox: Getting to the final gives you a great deal of confidence, which I definitely gained. I'm definitely pumped up to play a couple of pro tournaments. I am looking forward to playing Kalamazoo and hopefully get ready for the Open.
Tennis Week: What players did you follow growing up and who do you like now?
Jordan Cox: Definitely growing up watching tennis on TV, Sampras and Agassi ruled tennis back then and I loved watching them both. Sampras and Agassi were two of my idols growing up. Now, I really like watching Nadal and of course Federer.
Tennis Week: How would you describe your game? What are your strengths? What areas are you working on?
Jordan Cox: I feel like I have a pretty good first serve and I like to dictate play as much as I can with the forehand. I don't feel like I have any real weaknesses and the main thing I will continue to work on is just my atttiude and the way I carry myself on the court. I am trying to stay positive — especially as I'm going into bigger tournaments. So really working on my attitude and staying positive is the main thing.