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Ryan Harrison Q&A: Don't Stop Believin'

Player Q&A

Harrison© AFP/Getty ImagesHarrison played his first live rubber for the US Davis Cup team against France.

Competing this week at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston, 19-year-old Ryan Harrison returns to the event that served as the launching pad of his professional career in 2008.

As part of ATPWorldTour.com’s new Q&A series, Harrison discusses the career-changing moment, the source of his nickname “Harry” and the reason why he should be followed on Twitter.

You’re back in Houston this week, the site of your first professional win four years ago when you were just 15. Reflect on that milestone for us.
Houston is a special place for me. It’s where everything started. I had my first feeling that I really could do this in the professional world. I had aspirations as a kid, but to get a Top 100 win at the age  was great. People told me I was in elite company with guys like Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet, so I was really ecstatic to have my name in that type of a pool.

In the latest South African Airways ATP Rankings, you’re tied at your career-high mark of No. 65. How motivated are you to add points during the clay-court season, knowing you can continue to move up higher before having to defend your results from the second half of the 2011 season?
I was able to fight off some points I had coming off earlier in the year, so now I have some opportunities to move up pretty soon. I hope I can capitalise on it but it’s a tough tour. To have the chance is nice, but I need to take it one event at a time and see how I do.

This past weekend, you played your first live rubber in the Davis Cup quarter-finals. Talk about that experience and the opportunity to change up dynamics by playing for a team.
It was exciting to have the opportunity to represent the team in a live match, and have the trust and respect from captain Courier, who called me up. My first thought was being concerned for Mardy, as he’s a close friend and a mentor. I have a lot of respect for him. Once I found out he was OK, I was very excited to represent my country. I hope I have the chance for many more ties to come.

The US Davis Cup team has a ritual of having the practice partners or ‘rookies’ as they’re dubbed, do some sort of activity or dare. What did you guys have Denis Kudla, Rhyne Williams and Austin Krajicek do?
We actually didn’t have them do anything, because we tried to keep it as professional and serious as possible. On the last day, John and I thought, ‘Wow, we didn’t get the guys to do anything’. We were so caught up in the preparation and excitement of being there, so we forgot about it.

You mentioned Mardy Fish being a mentor. He has asserted himself as your ‘Twitter brother’. How much of his advice have you taken on board when it comes to tweeting, particularly with your off-court activities?
He’s more joking than anything else. It ran away with him making a couple announcements about my tweets. I’ve also made fun of some of the things he’s posted. He’s very lighthearted about it. That’s the type of relationship we have. We give each other hard times about different things. It’s something funny, and I cherish the friendship we have.

If you were to compose a tweet stating why fans should follow your Twitter handle, @ryanharrison92, what would you write?
It’s going to be quoted, so let me give it some thought. Can I have ten seconds to think?

Sure.
… I can provide some exciting insight from the life of a player who is trying to break through and become a rising star in the US.

How did your nickname “Harry” come about?
It started with one of my closest friends in the juniors, Blake Davis, who plays at Florida State right now. He started calling me it and it stuck. Travis Rettenmaier followed him, then Mardy and John, and now it’s caught on.

Are there any issues with your younger brother Christian following suit?
Whenever the guys see him, they call him “Little Harry” and when John Isner sees my mom, he calls her “Mrs. Harry”... It’s pretty funny.

If you were challenged to a game of Rock Band with a choice of two other players on the ATP World Tour to join your group, who would sing, who would play guitar, who’d play drums and which song would you all perform?
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan would play the instruments, because I’ve seen them perform. They would be my two guys. I would sing Journey’s, Don’t Stop Believin’  because as my Davis Cup rookie stunt as a 16 year old in Croatia, I had sing it in front of a crowd of people at the official dinner. I was awful, but it would be very entertaining to do it again.

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