Ronan Jachuck at only age 15 is a veteran of national and international junior competitive tennis, but last year he planted himself firmly on the radar of U.S. college coaches by winning the boys’ 16s title at the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships as the No. 12 seed.
“I have only played the [Bobby Curtis] tournament twice, once in 2015 and in 2016,” he said. “In 2015, I lost in the second round to the eventual champion, Michael Heller. Last year, I was able to go all the way through the tournament and win it, so it is my best memory.”
Now, according to TennisRecruiting.net, he is entertaining college offers from Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Illinois, Penn, Princeton, Stanford and UCLA.
“I definitely plan to play college tennis because I think that it is an experience and a privilege that not many people get to enjoy,” the rising high school junior said.
In 2014 he was recognized as the third-best player in the boys’ 12s by the USTA Eastern Section at their Junior Awards Gala. Soon after he relocated to Florida to live and train, attending on-line school and currently living in Boca Raton.
This year he has finished singles runner-up at a USTA National Level 2 tournament, at the ITF Copa Sultana-Mayaguez, and at the ITF Copa Badia tournament in Coral Gables. He won the doubles title at the ITF Trinidad Trinity Cup, the ITF Copa Sultana-Mayaguez, and was doubles runner-up at the ITF Barbados Junior International.
“[Last year’s “Bobby Curtis” title] definitely gave me confidence going into the summer clay court nationals and hard court nationals,” he said. “It’s the biggest Florida section tournament and it showed me that my game was moving in the right direction.”
Ronan spoke with USTA Florida about his attempt at the boys’ 18s title this June, his college plans, and why sportsmanship remains an important part of his game:
You’ve been playing a lot of international ITF junior events, reaching a few singles finals and winning some doubles, do you feel you’ve made progress from last year?
“I do feel that I have made progress from last year. I recently made the singles finals of the Copa Badia ITF in Coral Gables, and to win five matches at a Florida ITF demonstrated the growth in my game. The Grade 4s in Florida are extremely difficult tournaments with great players from all over the world comprising the 64 draw. The fact that I was able to beat five great players in succession showed the consistency that may have been lacking a year ago.”
What is your singles game style?
“I would say that I like to dictate the game from the baseline with a heavy forehand and a driven backhand. My serve has developed into a weapon and I definitely try to get the first strike in the rally.”
Do you prefer singles or doubles?
“I enjoy playing both singles and doubles because they both have different qualities that appeal to me. Singles is all about you and only you, so the outcome can be put on one person’s shoulders. I enjoy playing doubles because it gives you a different perspective since you have someone else to depend on. The pressure can be shared equally among both players, and it makes doubles fun.”
Who are your favorite doubles partners?
“My favorite doubles partner is someone that, besides playing the game well, has a good head on their shoulders and has a calm mentality. Arguing and getting upset on the court can definitely hamper the way that you play, so having good chemistry is extremely important when choosing a partner.”
Do you have a pre-match routine?
“After warming up for my match, I like to be at the site with at least 30 minutes to go before my match so that I can get a feel for the environment. I also listen to some music to help me focus before the match.”
What is your favorite tournament?
“My favorite tournament is Kalamazoo [boys’ 18s national hard courts] because it is a step above all of the other junior USTA events that you play. With the inclusion of ball boys and chair umpires for every match, the tournament organizers really make you feel special and that you are playing in the USTA national championship. On top of that, the crowd that the tournament attracts adds an extra element to the atmosphere.”
What is the strangest thing that has happened to you at a tennis tournament?
“I was playing in a 10-and-under tournament, I was playing a match and it started to rain quite hard. The tournament was on clay, so the courts were not soaked yet, but the rain was heavy enough to affect the play and I wanted to stop and wait for the rain to stop. However, the referee made us keep playing and I ended up losing the match while being soaking wet.”
You’ve been described as a very emotionally-steady player, and you’ve won a number of sportsmanship awards over the years — how would you describe your mental approach to the game?
“I feel that whether I win or lose, there is always going to be another tournament coming up and there is no need to dwell on the tough losses. Unlike a team sport, you do not have the pressure of having to perform well to gain a spot in the first team. In tennis, you can decide when you play and work your way back to form if you have a rough patch. In terms of behaving well on the court and respecting opponents, my parents instilled in me values that I try to bring with me on the court. There is no greater feeling than winning, and tainting it with the guilt of cheating and disrespecting your opponent can take away from the feeling of victory.”
What are your tournament plans for the remainder of the year?
“I plan to play the “Bobby Curtis” sectional tournament leading up to the summer clay and hard court nationals. In the fall, I plan to play more ITFs in Tulsa, Ok., Mexico and Florida. My goals for this year are to try and get my ITF ranking high enough by the end of the year so that I could get into the  Australian Open juniors qualifying draw and then put myself in the position to play the other junior slams some time in my junior career.”
Coach: Eleazar Magallan
Racquet: Babolat Pure Strike
String: Babolat RPM Blast
Favorite Surface: hard court
Favorite Pro: Roger Federer
Snapchat or Twitter? Snapchat
Serena or Venus? Venus
Ice cream or chocolate? ice cream
Gatorade or Powerade? Powerade
Favorite website? Netflix
Favorite app? Instagram
Favorite TV show? Breaking Bad
The USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships is the most competitive USTA Section junior championships in the U.S., spawning the most players of any USTA Section to go on to the professional circuit and rank No. 1 in the world, including Chris Evert (1971 Girls’ 18, 1970-69 Girls’ 16, 1968 Girls’ 14, and 1966 Girls’ 10 champion), Jennifer Capriati (1986 Girls’ 12 champion), Jim Courier (1986 Boys’ 18 champion), and Andy Roddick (1996 Boys’ 14, 1994 Boys’ 12 champion).
In 2012 the tournament was renamed the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships in honor of legendary Florida junior tennis organizer Bobby Curtis.
For more info on this year’s event on June 10-14 go to www.USTAFlorida.com/BobbyCurtis2017