As one of the newest members on Tennis-Orlando.com, only joining in June 2014, Jherson Baylon still vividly remembers the butterflies in his stomach before his first match: “While I was on my way to the tennis court, I felt so excited to play. But when I got there and saw my opponent, my legs felt stiff, and I started sweating profusely. Suddenly my excitement went away, replaced by a feeling of seriousness. I tried to reduce my anxiety by joking around with my opponent. I could tell that he was a really nice person, but also that he was determined and ready to play. I felt scared and intimidated. We then started playing, and I lost the first set. I told myself to just have fun and enjoy each rally. My opponent was giving everything, so I should too.”
It turns out the story has a satisfying ending: Despite losing the first set, Jherson won the match 4-6, 7-6, 14-12 (tie-break). In fact, Jherson is actually still unbeaten this season—he has a 4-0 record so far (as of July 9th).
Tennis-Orlando is Jherson’s first experience playing tennis in a league. He first learned about it from a fellow league player and good friend, Ernesto Mariquit, whom he likes to call Uncle Ernie. He is very excited about this new experience, eager to demonstrate his tennis skills and to meet different people with various personalities and playing styles.
Jherson considers himself an athletic person. He loves to play other sports besides tennis, such as basketball and volleyball. He is quite serious about maintaining his skills in all of his sports, making sure to allocate enough time to practice in each. Nevertheless, he does have a special fondness for tennis, “Tennis stands out among all the sports I know. It looks so classy and professional—definitely a gentleman’s game. I also like the fact that there’s no contact with the opponent, so there’s less of an injury risk. Plus, tennis makes for great socializing. You could easily start good friendships with your opponents.”
Jherson has his dad to thank for introducing him to tennis while growing up in the Philippines, and his dad is apparently very good! As Jherson says, “He is the best example of a man who has great fundamentals in his game. A lot of what he does is actually very basic, but those things have brought him many championship titles. He let me start by just being a ball boy at first, and then he started training me when I was seven years old. Unfortunately though, I had to stop at age nine due to some financial problems in our family.”
Thankfully, Jherson was able to pick up the racquet again in college. It wasn’t easy to get back into it, “I had to learn everything again pretty much from zero. It felt as if I had never played tennis in my life before. I struggled a lot with proper form and positioning, but I kept on going, and I kept on playing because I knew someday it would all pay off. I was driven by the belief that I’d end up playing better than everybody else.”
Evidently, Jherson is not shy about setting ambitious goals. After all, his motto is “Always strive for the goals that you never thought were possible.” This year, he hopes to win the championship and get promoted to a higher division. Jherson is not just being dreamy, mind you. He actively takes the steps to reach those goals not just on the court but also off it: He carefully watches his weight, maintains a pescetarian diet, eats lots of fruits and vegetables, and does fitness training—all in the name of improving his game. This concerted effort is partly inspired by his new realization, “My recent games opened my eyes that in order to become a champion, I need to conquer my fear. I need to improve every day because there are many very good players out there who are not just going to let me be the champion. I need to earn and deserve it.”
Jherson’s inspirational goals don’t just end there. His ultimate wish is to play as beautifully as his favorite player, Roger Federer, whom he considers the best example of a gentleman on the tennis court: “I want to have good form all the time like him.” Hmm, Jherson, we love your passion and tenacity, but wanting to be the Maestro himself might be a little out of reach! ;)
Cool story! Hope to see you in Miami this year. :)
It can't run without me there. :) I'm starting to get excited for it.
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