July 7, 2011

Brown Graduate Does Not Give Up on His Tennis Dream

By KAREN CROUSE

New York Times

June 30, 2011


WIMBLEDON, England — In 2008, James Cerretani's father, Chip, strongly suggested it was time for him to retire from tennis and put his Brown University degree to use. Three years later, Cerretani's sister Chrissy, a former college player at Clemson, is on the verge of quitting her job in Boston to travel with him on tour, he said — and with their father's blessing.

"An incredible 180," Cerretani said. He was talking about his father's stance but also of his own competitive career, which is on the rise as he approaches his 30th birthday in October.

Cerretani and his doubles partner, Philipp Marx of Germany, advanced to the quarterfinals, where they lost on Thursday to Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic by 6-7(3), 7-6(7), 7-6(5), 7-5.

"It was a very uplifting result to be in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon," Cerretani said, adding, "Even though we lost, we won in many ways."

It meant the world to Cerretani that his sister spent the first week of the tournament cheering him on before returning to her job in health management in Boston. His parents traveled here to attend Thursday's match.

Cerretani credits his mother for his earning his international relations degree at Brown. He wanted to drop out after his sophomore year to become a tennis professional.

"I was 19, going on 20," he said, "and I was thinking I was almost too old if I wanted to have a tennis career." Both parents, his mother most adamantly, nixed the idea.

With his degree in hand, Cerretani turned professional in 2005 and played the minor tours with the help of financial backing from a family friend. He supplemented his income playing club matches in Italy and Germany.

At the time his father delivered his ultimatum, Cerretani was barely making ends meet. "He said 'I'm going to give you six months, and if you don't make Wimbledon, you're done."' Cerretani added: "I kind of agreed with him. After that I learned how to become more professional and not just show up."

Cerretani made it to Wimbledon in 2008 and lasted two rounds. By the end of the year, he had won a doubles title on the ATP World Tour and climbed inside the top 60.

"This is kind of like a phase," said Cerretani, whose current ranking is No. 71. "You have a gift, you have a talent that God gave you. My talent is tennis. I think I owe it to myself to fulfill my potential as a tennis player. Once that phase is done, I'll move on."