Some athletes are born with the innate talent to succeed in a particular sport. Others acquire the skills to succeed much later. And some just happen to stumble upon their abilities by pure luck. For senior Jon Kazarian, tennis was simply in his blood.
Following the footsteps of his grandparents, parents and brother, Kazarian picked up his first tennis racket at age seven. A Rancho Palos Verdes native, Kazarian graduated from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School as a four-year varsity player and a two-year team captain. Then came his college career.
“Pretty much except for this year, I have only started in doubles, so it has been a very up-and-down career,” Kazarian said.
His freshmen year, Kazarian partnered up with then-junior Zac Tsai, and the two had success, ending up second in the Big West. He rotated through different doubles partners his sophomore and junior years, never having a permanent partner.
Things began to look dim for the civil engineer major his junior year. Kazarian only played seven out of 25 doubles matches last year. After a season of sparse playing time, Kazarian seriously considered quitting.
“I really didn’t feel that I was getting the opportunity that I deserved,” Kazarian said. “But I’m not the kind of guy that just gives up on things, so it would be weird stepping away from something I have loved for 15 years.”
Kazarian ultimately decided to stick with the team for one more year. This season, Kazarian is the second-best singles player for the ‘Eaters with a record of 2-3. He is currently partnered with senior Sam Gould in doubles, and the duo has a record of 3-2.
“It is very demanding being Jon’s partner,” Gould said. “Sometimes [he] has major lapses and misses some balls, but he also has the ability to play really, really well.”
With tennis players, there is always the mystery of which style a player prefers. Kazarian has more experience with doubles but still tries to make his mark in singles.
“I have always had good success in doubles, but I have always wanted to start in singles,” Kazarian said. “Doubles is fun, but singles is where I’m really focusing.”
To Kazarian, tennis is much more than just playing singles and doubles. He explained that tennis is all about etiquette and that the game has taught him respect and sportsmanship. Perhaps these lessons have helped shape Kazarian into the person he is today.
“[Kazarian] has a very mature, calm personality,” head coach Trevor Kronemann said. “He leads by example and hopefully his work ethics will rub off on the freshmen.”
The senior hopes to pursue a career with his civil engineering major after college. Although he admits that professional tennis might not be part of his future plans, he will continue to live a life with the respect that tennis has taught him.