© Chengdu Open

During the Chengdu Open, American #NextGenATP star Jared Donaldson gets behind the video camera on a field trip to see the pandas.

ATP Firsts: Jared Donaldson

Barry Bonds, J.Law & Eminen feature in Q&A with fast-rising American

#NextGenATP star Jared Donaldson recalls the time a guy stopped his car to tell him “Rock on, bro!” and shares the important question he had for his idol, Barry Bonds, whom he met on a trip to Atlantis. 

First moment I realised I loved tennis
I was six years old playing a match at my club that I grew up at. This kid was 12 or 13, way older than me, and it was an eight-game pro set. I was down 7-0 to him and I came back to beat him 9-7. My dad felt that not too many kids at that young age have that ability to stay with it and fight. I feel like maybe that was the first moment where he and I realised that I really had determination, and I feel like that’s what you need in tennis and I feel like I have that. 

First coach and the most important lesson he taught me
My first coach was Mario Llano. The most important less he taught me was to always play aggressive and hit your groundstrokes. He said don’t focus so much on the result. Obviously you want to win and fight, but don’t get caught up in the result; make sure you’re playing well. 

First pinch-me moment on the ATP World Tour?
Honestly, when I got my first [Emirates ATP Rankings] point, that was big. I feel like one of the bigger moments in my career was last year in Toronto when I beat [Fabio] Fognini in the second round. That was a really good win after coming through qualies. And also it was hot, he was playing well, he had won a tournament the week before and won a good first-round match, and I felt that it was really close. Sometimes when you’re just coming up you lose those tight matches and I was able to win it so that was really important, where I kinda thought I belong here, I can play with these guys. 

First time I was recognised
The funniest moment I was recognised outside of tennis, I was in Rhode Island on vacation two to three years ago, and there’s this place called the Coffee Exchange in Providence. I walked out of that with my sister and some dude was in his car and he stopped on the street, and he was like, “You’re Jared Donaldson!” I was like “Yeah,” and he said, “Rock on, bro! I love you!” 

First time I travelled abroad
I always used to go to Atlantis when I was young, in the Bahamas, but the first time I really travelled abroad for tennis was when I went to Argentina when I was 14 to train and live there two-and-a-half years. 

First thing I bought with prize money
I guess I’m pretty frugal, I don’t really spend a lot of money. I rented a house, I guess. That was my first big thing, where I thought I’m kinda on my own, I’m living in a house. 

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First autograph I got
Barry Bonds. I was five or six years old, at Atlantis. He was actually my idol growing up. I got an earring because of him. I walked up to Barry Bonds, it was the year after he broke the season record for home runs, and I asked him what it was like hitting all those home runs. He just smiled and said it felt really good. 

First celebrity crush
(long pause) That’s a tough one! This is more recent, I probably had a crush on someone when I was younger I don’t remember, but I’ll say Jennifer Lawrence. She’s a good actress, she’s good-looking, so I’ll say J.Law. 

First album I bought
‘Curtain Call’ by Eminem 

First pet
Midnight, my cat. I was in second grade.  

Donaldson
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