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Northern California

Q&A with Isaac Graves, College Player

In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting members of our community and sharing their unique perspectives on the importance of recognizing Black History Month, diversity in tennis, and sharing their personal tennis stories.


Meet Isaac Graves. He is a high school senior and has committed to play college tennis at William Jessup University this fall, hoping to study computer science. Graves has been playing tennis since he first started walking, as his dad is the head tennis coach at Oak Park Tennis Center in Stockton, Calif. Getting his start in tournaments at the Orange Ball level in NorCal, Graves has been competing since the age of seven. When not playing tennis, Graves can be found snowboarding at Heavenly Ski Resort in Tahoe, or partaking in his other competitive hobby — fishing. 


You can check out our full interview with Issac as part of our 2022 College Decision Series here.


Isaac Graves Q&A

Q: As a Black student why do you think it is important to not only go to college but also play tennis?


A: It’s important for me to go to college and to also play tennis because it allows for other Black people to look up to me and to want to do what I do. It allows for others to see their own skin color and show them that they can be great at anything they put their mind to. My dad also really wanted me to play college tennis, so I made that my goal too. 

I know there are other kids that don't have the same opportunities — I have friends that are like 'man, I wish my dad was a tennis coach,' so I'm just going to take the opportunity to the fullest. I'm going to strive for as much as I can. 


Q: Why do you think it's important to have a diverse representation within the tennis community?


A: It’s important to have a diverse representation because we are all equal. We need all races in the tennis community, so it’s not just one race. I feel like if it is a single race, kids and adults won’t want to play the sport because they don’t see others that look like them playing.


Q: Are there any roles models that have inspired you in both life and on your tennis journey?


A: I’ve had a few different role models in my life. Gaël Monfils is definitely one of my role models for tennis. I absolutely love how he plays and I try to copycat him whenever I’m on the court. Another one is Mark Daniels Jr.; I’ve always looked up to him in the fishing industry and seeing him fish out of a new boat every year and watching him do well in all the tournaments is awesome. One more role model I have is Cal Lane. Cal Lane is 18 years old and devoted all of his time to fishing. He worked extremely hard and won a tournament to qualify to go to the pros, and he’s shown me I can do anything I put my mind to.


Q: What has been your favorite memory from junior tennis?


A: It was when I was playing Junior Team Tennis for the Claremont Tennis Club in Berkeley and we played Courtside. I was losing really bad because I had just switched racquets and I broke strings so I was using my friend's racquet. I believe the one he gave me was a 26-inch junior racquet. I was playing so badly with it. The other kid was winning 6-0, 4-1 but then my dad showed up and gave me one of the new Wilson Ultras. Once I got my hands on that racquet, I started winning and my whole team was so hyped. It was so much fun.


Q: What are you most excited about for college tennis?


A: I'm looking forward to taking trips with the team and doing really well when we get there. I can't wait for matches and we're all hyping up and screaming and giving high fives... I'm so ready for that. I'm ready for the hype in the tennis industry because I've never really experienced that. 


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