JC Aragone (UTR 14.69), the 23 year old University of Virginia alum, is a player to watch this 2019 season. At the BNP Paribas Open, JC and Jamie Loeb (UTR 12.13) were named the 2019 Oracle US Award Winners, receiving $100,000 to support their transition from college to the professional tour, joining an elite group of past winners including Danielle Collins (UTR 12.86), Mackenzie McDonald (UTR 15.02), Francesca DiLorenzo (UTR 12.34) and Chris Eubanks (UTR 14.79).
UTR had a chance to speak with JC about his goals for the 2019 season, his favorite memories from University of Virginia and how he hopes he can inspire fellow athletes with diabetes to dream big.
What does it mean to you to be a 2019 Oracle US Award Winner? Were you surprised? How did you feel when your name was announced?
It was unbelievable and so energizing. I was getting ready to go on court for a match and the news gave me an incredible boost. I still have a hard time believing I got the award; it's such an honor. I hope to live up to the selection committee's confidence in me.
What are your goals for the year?
My immediate goal is to compete in all four Grand Slams in 2019. I won a doubles title this year and I would love to add a Challenger singles title and my first tour level victory. I constantly strive to improve my game and to take time to enjoy the ride and focus on how lucky I am to be pursuing a career in professional tennis.
What do you hope to accomplish in your tennis career?
I want to be able to leave an impact on the game. I would love to be a role model for the diabetes community and to inspire diabetic kids to pursue their athletic dreams. Diabetes makes playing sports more difficult, but it doesn't force you out of the game. No one should feel like diabetes, or any difference, is holding them back.
You were a two-time ACC MVP and member of 3 NCAA Championship teams with University of Virginia. Why did you decide to play in college before going pro? And why UVA?
I had a serious health scare during my peak junior tennis years which forced me out of the sport for a while. Playing college tennis was a simple decision as I knew I needed to grow and mature as a person and as a player after missing so much time from the game. UVA’s coaching staff believed in me even while I was sick and away from the game, and I appreciated that confidence in my potential. I also fell in love with UVA after visiting and knew there was no other place for me. The players from UVA were both top level tennis players and strong students who graduated from a top-notch university. I wanted to play my best tennis and get a degree so that I had something in my life in addition to tennis.
"Enjoy the process, don’t always look ahead, enjoy getting better every day, and celebrate the small stuff."JC Aragone, 2019 Oracle US Tennis Award Winner
What is one of your favorite memories from your college experience?
My fourth (senior) year was extremely special for me as I clinched the ITA Indoor National Championship, the ACC tournament, and the NCAA Division 1 Championship for UVA and did it playing with an amazing group of teammates and coaches. Helping my team win an NCAA championship is the greatest tennis feeling I've had to date. I would not give up that last year of college for anything and, although I didn't get to attend graduation as we were competing for in the NCAA tournament, I value my degree as much as the win. It's great to have both.
What has been your coolest experience on the tour so far?
The summer after graduating and winning my third NCAA championship I received a wild card into the qualifying draw of the US Open. I beat the number five seed (Cecchinato) in the first round and then battled through the next two matches to make to my first grand slam main draw. The player facilities and the scale of the tournament were mind blowing and I enjoyed every minute. I felt like my hard work had paid off and I showed that I could play with top level players.
What tournament are you excited for this year?
I love the summer hard court swing, especially the weeks of Vancouver Challenger and US Open. Vancouver Challenger is my favorite Challenger of the year, the facilities are amazing and it's a great warm up for US Open. Going from there to US Open is awesome; I love those two weeks of tennis.
Who do you hope you get to face on the court?
I would love to play Federer as I have been a huge fan since I was a young player. I hope it happens before he retires.
What advice would you give for kids who hope to be in your shoes one day?
Enjoy the process, don’t always look ahead, enjoy getting better every day, and celebrate the small stuff.
UTR Lightning Round:
When I'm not playing tennis you can find me... trying a new restaurant; I love good food
If I was stranded on a deserted island, the three things I'd want with me are...my girlfriend, I guess my diabetes supplies (haha), and lots of sushi
The weirdest thing in my tennis bag is... a bunch of needles (for diabetes)
Check out JC's UTR profile here and follow @MyUTR on Twitter to stay up to date on the Oracle US Tennis Award Winners throughout the 2019 season. Don't miss UTR's interview with 2019 Oracle US Tennis Award Winner Jamie Loeb!