10-year-old La Jolla tennis ace sets his sights on national and global competitions
Last year was tough for many, but for La Jollan Jake Weiss, 10, it was the year he achieved his goal: to rank in the top 10 in the U.S. Tennis Association’s Southern California 10-and-under division.
Jake landed at No. 8, and he and his doubles partner, Arnon Jittathai, also 10, are ranked first. They’ll be handed the Bryan Brothers Doubles Trophy at a ceremony in the spring by Bob and Mike Bryan themselves, twins who retired from professional tennis as the most successful doubles players of all time.
Jake also is USTA-ranked at No. 3 in San Diego for the 10-and-under division.
Jake, a fifth-grader at La Jolla Elementary School, said the pandemic-related restrictions that many bemoan and have kept local students in distance learning have actually been a “silver lining” in helping him achieve his goal.
Distance learning allowed him the flexibility to head to the Newport Beach Country Club’s tennis club program three days a week to train, which increased his training from 12 hours a week pre-pandemic to 20 hours a week now.
In addition to the Newport Beach training, Jake trains locally two days a week with former pro tennis player Ronald Agénor.
Training includes fitness drills for the legs and arms, match play and other activities, said Jake, who also competes in tournaments one or two weekends a month.
Jake wanted to be in the top 10 “to prove that he’s one of the best,” said his father, Craig. “It’s a marathon — he has short-term goals and long-term goals. It shows that his hard work is paying off.”
Jake has been developing his skills on the court since he was 2. He doesn’t remember much of those early years except “I remember playing a lot of tournaments,” he said.
Jake also grew up on the basketball court and showed promise there as well but started focusing more on tennis in the past couple of years.
Basketball “was too aggressive for me,” he said. “It’s too much of a physical sport, and I didn’t want to rely on other people.”
The choice to drop basketball also allowed Jake to channel all his energy into tennis. “If you want to be great, you’re going to need to choose,” Craig Weiss said he told his son. “We’re doing high-performance stuff right now.”
The game is not without its challenges, Jake said. “The most basic stuff has turned into the hardest stuff. Moving your feet all the time requires a lot of energy.”
Despite his first-place ranking in doubles, Jake said he prefers singles tennis. “I like how you’re by yourself. In tournaments, you have to figure out [how to win] on your own.”
Jake said his tennis idol is Roger Federer because “he’s very calm and he has very good strategy and technique.” He said he tries to emulate Federer’s calmness when on the court.
Jake said he has new goals for 2021: to play in national tournaments and in competitions presented by the International Tennis Federation.
National and international tournaments are paused due to the pandemic, and both types usually have a minimum age of 12; Jake turns 11 in May. However, “because he’s got some talent,” Jake might be able to start playing then, his father said.
Meanwhile, Jake said, he’ll spend time at the beach and playing with his new puppy.
And he’ll keep training. His long-term goal? “To be No. 1 in the world,” he said. ◆
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