The 3900-mile gap between grass and hard courts

Julian Robinson joined the the Marquette men’s tennis team from overseas in London. He reflects on his training and the transition over to Marquette.

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Julian Robinson hits a forehand during practice Nov. 5, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Going from a grass court in London, England to hard courts of Milwaukee, redshirt junior Julian Robinson has had to use his swing to get to where he is now.

Robinson started playing tennis at age six, but he began taking it seriously when he was 11.

The London native got his love of tennis from his grandmother.

“My grandmother played professionally and she asked my parents if I wanted to give it a go,” Robinson said.

Clissold Park Tennis Club is where Robinson’s tennis career started.

At the tennis club, Robinson developed a sense of the game’s fundamentals.

“It was mostly just court sessions with people around my age, just starting to play the sport,” Robinson said. “This club was five times a week and an hour to an hour and a half after school.”

After this, Robinson attended Reed’s School Tennis Academy which was linked to his school. This type of tennis was a lot more hardcore than the tennis club. At Reeds, tennis was played for three hours a day with an hour of fitness.

Robinson played individually and on a team, and tournaments were every two to three weeks throughout the year.

However, the tournament experience, for Robinson, was different in London than it is here.

“Over there it is more individualistic, while here you are more part of a team,” Robinson said.

The International Tennis Federation Tournaments were based on one’s ITF ranking. An ITF ranking is where you stand compared to other tennis athletes around the same age.

“You will go to a tournament based on your ITF ranking and you will play other players near your ranking,” Robinson said.

Robinson played in many tournaments, and the most memorable one he ever played in was the World Schools Championship in Qatar. This tournament took place in 2015 from March 8th-15th.

“It was somewhere I have never been before,” Robinson said. “It was a different culture than in London.”

Robinson discovered Marquette through a sports agent in London.

“This sports agent got me in contact with coach (Steve) Rodecap,” Robinson said.

When some players come to play from overseas, it is difficult to adapt to playing on a new surface. Robinson had to make that adaption.

“With our players from Europe, they play on a different surface, so he had to adapt his game a little,” Rodecap said.

Robinson has been on the team for a few years now, so he has made the change and has also improved his game. Rodecap has seen a lot of improvement in Robinson since the first time he saw him play.

“His serve has improved the most, it is a lot faster,” Rodecap said.

Not only that, Rodecap said the younger players look up to Robinson.

“He is more mature and they see him a role model,” Rodecap said.

Rodecap said he loves the player Robinson has become, and that he has evolved into a great young athlete.

“He has improved a lot over the years and he will be in the lineup more often,” Rodecap said.

Last season, he accounted for seven victories, and claimed a win in lone dual match appearance, earning victory at No. 6 singles against IUPUI.

Robinson loves tennis, but he is not going to pursue it professionally when he leaves Marquette.

“I am just going to play it socially with friends as a hobby,” Robinson said.

This story was written by Matthew Valente. He can be reached at Matthew.valente@marquette.edu.