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By Sean Rudolph

(October 15, 2010)  During his days on the tour as one of the last pure serve-and-volleyers on the ATP Tour, Justin Gimelstob hurled his body around the court with such exuberant frequency; he led the ATP in dives. The New Jersey native was known for playing quick, explosive points during a pro career that saw him reach career-high ranks of No. 63 in singles and No. 17 in doubles


The 33-year-old Gimelstob is training for the New York City Marathon on November 7th with much more than pride on the line.


Justin, who confesses he had never run more than 3 miles before he started training for the marathon, has a $10,000 bet with his buddy Andy Roddick riding on his result. If Gimelstob finishes in less than 4 hours, 45 minutes, Roddick will donate $10,000 to the Justin Gimelstob Children's Fund. Justin created his charity in 1998 with a mission to provide financial support to several children's charities. If Gimelstob does not meet that time or fails to finish then he will donate $10,000 to the Andy Roddick Foundation.


Justin has played with and against some of the game's greatest champions, Andre Agassi, Patrick Rafter, Michael Chang, Gustavo Kuerten, and Lleyton Hewitt. He has been a hitting partner for Pete Sampras and Roddick, won the 1998 Australian Open and French Open mixed doubles championships with Venus Williams and took a set off the young Rafael Nadal months after Rafa won his first career major title at the 2005 French Open.


A former NCAA doubles champion at UCLA, who maintained a 4.0 grade point average his freshman year, the bi-coastal Gimelstob splits his time between Jersey and southern California. Gimelstob is a popular presence among both fellow players (he attended Roddick's wedding and is friends with Mardy Fish and James Blake) and many celebrities (he has hit with Gavin Rossdale and Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman invited Justin over to his home to play tennis).


Since 2009, Justin has covered the Grand Slams including the US Open for the Tennis Channel and other networks. Currently Justin is hosting and co-producing a show about life on the ATP World Tour called, “ATP World Tour Uncovered”. Gimelstob offers a unique and fresh perspective of matches from firsthand experience.


Tennis Buzz caught up with Justin for this interview in which he reveals some of the best advice he ever received from Andre Agassi and legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, explains why he believes Andy Roddick would be an ideal player-captain for the US Davis Cup teams, cites his five rules for tennis commentary and recounts his most bizarre tennis experiences.



Best advice you gave or got?

“I’ve been given a lot better advice than I’ve ever given out.”

John Wooden (UCLA basketball coach): Live your life with a never-ending thirst and curiosity for information. Learn as much as possible, enjoy the process, be the best you can be at whatever you do, and always strive to improve yourself (in the game, in education, as a brother, as a husband, and as a philanthropist).

Andre Agassi (on tennis): During competitive play, maximize your opportunities by positioning your strengths against your opponent’s weaknesses. Learn to play high- percentage tennis.

Gimelstob (advice to juniors): Don’t be so concerned with results; be concerned with the process.


Best tennis fact or secret you know that might surprise people?

Fact: 5-0 in 5 set matches at US Open.

Secret: While running on the court, I lost 10 pounds in an hour from sweating so much.

Secret: Afraid of heights. (As a kid, my younger brother and I went to a local town fair. While on the Ferris wheel, I told the conductor to stop the ride because my brother was scared, but I was really the one who was frightened.)


Best adventure or most bizarre or unusual tennis experience you had?

At a Challenger in Europe - After boarding a train, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I didn’t know where the train was going. No one spoke English, and I ended up traveling five hours in the wrong direction.


Recently, in a bathroom, a guy comes up to me and asks, “Are you Justin Gimelstob?” Then he blocks me from leaving the bathroom while asking me questions about Roddick, Fed, etc. I had to stop the guy and let him know that I was happy he loved tennis, but could we get out of the loo first so I could give him my full attention?

At a Lakers’ game, Dustin Hoffman approached me about playing tennis with him at his home.


Best instant improvement for tennis to make it a more fan-friendly sport for TV audiences?

On court interviews with players after each set.


Why should the USTA hire Andy Roddick as Player-Captain of the US Davis Cup team?

The Davis Cup requires the participation of the best players - Andy is that. He has a great mind for tennis, and all the players respect him. He is and has been an American ambassador for tennis, and he has played continuously over the past nine years.


Five rules a commentator should/shouldn’t follow:

Eliminate the word “I” from his or her vocabulary.

Refer to players as men and women - not boys and girls.

Know all the rules of the game.

Never talk during points.

Play competitive matches throughout the year to remain current with the equipment, the game, and players’ patterns and tendencies.



Sean Rudolph is a contribuiting writer to Tennis Now who owns Tennis Express and Rudolph Blume Fine Art. He is a tennis enthusiast, foodie, and art collector.

 

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