Name: Jeff James
Hometown: Edmonton, AB
Playing for the University of Alberta is a family affair for fourth-year student, Jeffrey James. He followed in his brother’s footsteps by joining the highly successful Golden Bears program and, like his brother, he has racked up several championship titles during his tenure with the team.
The fourth year team captain plays in the #1 singles position and most recently, he helped lead the team to their 12th consecutive Western Canadian Tennis Championship title in program history.
As the team looks ahead to the Canadian University Tennis Championships, their goal is clear. They want to reclaim the national title that they held in 2016. Ahead of the tournament, James took some time to talk to us about his experience in university tennis and his team’s goals and expectations for the upcoming championships.
How did you get started in tennis? Has it always been your sport of choice?
I started when I was about 6 years old. It was kind of a family sport – my uncle was my coach from a very young age and my dad also played. I also played hockey until I was about 13 years old but then I started to focus on tennis seriously.
What led you to your decision to attend the University of Alberta?
My older brother, who is 4 years older than me, played on the Golden Bears tennis team. When it came time to decide between playing here or attending a school in the United States, he was a big influence. I knew how successful the team was and that is was a really good program. The school is also in my home town so it was a good choice for me.
Can you tell me about the level of competition in university tennis?
I think it’s really high and the depth has increased a lot, especially when we moved to the NCAA format. When my brother played, I felt the level was good but I think over the last 4-5 years it’s really grown all across Canada.
Congratulations on bringing home another Western Canadian Tennis Championship. What type of preparation did you put in to achieve these results?
The coaches are really good at getting us committed right from the beginning of the year. They recruit very well and some of the best players in Alberta decide to play here instead of going to the US because of the success of the team. We all commit to a really good practise regime and we practise and go the gym together.
For me personally, I’m really motivated to be the best player that I can be for the team. You’re not alone out there, you’re accountable to other people so whenever I don’t feel like going to the gym, the team really motivates me to go and get to the next level.
Last year in Montreal, the team placed 3rd at the Canadian University Tennis Championships and missed out on a chance to win back-to-back titles? Is that a source of motivation for your team at this year’s tournament in Toronto?
I’ll be honest, last year’s loss was definitely disappointing. We won the previous year with basically the same line up and we definitely wanted to win. We had a tough 4-3 loss in the semis to McGill.
Even though that loss was disappointing, it has motivated us in each training session, practise session, match or tournament. We want to get back to the nationals and we want to win gold.
What are your expectations/goals for this year’s Canadian University Tennis Championships?
The goal is definitely to win gold. We aren’t expecting to win and we aren’t over-confident but when it comes down to it, we are aiming to win gold. Anything less would be a bit of a disappointment. Having said that, we aren’t putting any pressure on ourselves and we just want to go out there and have fun and do the best we can.
To follow the Canadian University Tennis Championships, like us on Facebook!