BARCELONA, SPAIN: It’s become customary in tennis for many youngsters from around the world to move to the USA and train at one of many tennis academies, particularly those in Florida where the weather is warm and conducive to year-round outdoor play.
What is far from fashionable is for an American junior to go abroad to train and develop their game. That, however, is just the approach that Jared Donaldson is taking to improve his chances for a future in the pros.
The 15-year-old hails from Rhode Island -- a state not really known for developing champion tennis players, although the elegant International Tennis Hall of Fame is headquartered in the Atlantic Coastal resort town of Newport. Donaldson, from Chepachet, a small town on the Connecticut border, realized that cold weather and indoor tennis was not going to enhance his tennis chances, so he now primarily lives in Buenos Aires.
Donaldson was one of three players on the top-seeded USA team at the Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.
Donaldon’s parents -- mom, Rebecca, a former social worker and dad, Courtney, formerly an owner of a construction company -- initially were thinking Florida. But a coach he worked with in Rhode Island -- Nestor Barnabe -- came from Argentina and urged the Donaldson’s to make a bigger -- and better -- move to South America.
One essential reason for the lefty’s choice of Buenos Aires was the constant availability of clay courts.
“That was actually a big part of the decision,” said Donaldson, as he watched teammate Stefan Kozlov play Brazil’s Marcelo Zormann Da Silva in the first match on Tuesday. “When I was younger my movement was lacking and I needed to learn strategy and patience and clay is good for that.”
Last year, Donaldson spent eight months in Buenos Aires and this year he will end up being there for seven months. One of Donaldson’s parents usually accompanies him to Buenos Aires with the other parent staying home with his 14-year-old sister, Tye, who is an equestrian and “hates tennis” according to her brother. If his parents can’t always be in Argentina he moves in with his coach, Pablo Bianci, and his family.
“I’d say Buenos Aires is home now,” Donaldson said. “I really liked it there and it manifested itself as the best place for me to be.”