Indian American tennis player Rajeev Ram visited Washington D.C. last week for the Citi Open tournament. His trophy from the 2009 Hall of Fame Tennis Championships will be featured in the upcoming exhibition Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation.
Interview conducted by Summer 2013 intern Nimita Uberoi
Do you see yourself as a role model to young Indian American tennis players?
For sure, if there are young people who can take something from what I’ve done or if I can be helpful to them, I think that’s important. Even if young people don’t end up playing professionally, but play in high school and college, it’s a great sport and great for learning life lessons.
Did you receive support from your parents for this non-conventional career?
My parents had an open mind, especially about me trying something different. This allowed me to pursue what I was good at and very passionate about. They pushed me to do as well as I could. Their support has been the biggest key for me to be able to be on tour for 10 years.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Given that the level of the game is so high these days and the margins are so small, it’s a big challenge just to compete on a daily basis. I’m always looking for ways to improve. Also, it’s not easy to travel as much as we do and be away from family and friends; it can get exhausting.
Have you ever faced any discrimination on tour?
I don’t personally feel like I’ve faced discrimination. If anything, I’ve been lucky to get some support from fans in the United States as an American and from Indians in the United States and from India. It’s an advantage to come from two places – I get double the support.
Do you have any advice for young people – athletes and otherwise?
It’s so important to have a passion, to enjoy it and be as good as you can at it. To like something and do your best at it is very satisfying and fulfilling. Don’t just conform to what you think you are supposed to do; if you really do like something, it’s definitely possible to become really good at it, and then the sky’s the limit.
More about the author
A tennis player herself, APAC Summer 2013 intern Nimita Uberoi is a rising junior at Brown University studying Political Science and Environmental Studies.