***1993 French Open Doubles Champion, Luke and Murphy Jensen come from the all-American prototype family. Both parents are involved life coaches. The dad played for the NFL New York Giants and mom was a 6’2 basketball player. Twin sisters, Rachael and Rebecca, were WTA tour players. Luke went to USC, a top team in nation, played Davis Cup for the US for two years and was part of the Champion 1992 US Davis Cup Team. He was ranked as high as #5 in ATP doubles, played Team Tennis for 9 years and has done ESPN work since 1994. Now the coach at Syracuse University, we sat with him recently in Florida.***
Luke Jensen: I turned 40, and I wanted to have the opportunity to give back to the game I love. Playing professional tennis was the best, it gave my family so much. I felt tennis had changed in the US and there was an overall lack of understanding of the effort and commitment which is required to achieve excellence. Being in the media with my TV work, I was tired of answering what was wrong with American tennis. I felt I had to try to do something about it and college coaching was a way to give back.
ONcourt: What do you feel is wrong with American Tennis?
Luke Jensen: From looking at the entry level of pro tennis and by recruiting players for University, I feel we have become a nation of where it’s ok to be second. I died if I lost, I do not see that same desire in our players. The lack of commitment to excellence seems to be a standard. Players are not so aware of how fortunate they are and how thankful they should be at their opportunity.
ONcourt: Tell me about your relationships on tour with the Canadian players.
Luke Jensen: This goes way back to juniors with Andrew Sznajder and Mike Hall. I am from Michigan, so we always talked about sports. I remember Chris Pridham [former Canadian Star] having his ATP ranking on his car license plate and I thought that was pretty cool.
ONcourt: What were the three highlights of your career?
Luke Jensen: 1. In 1996 when all four siblings where in the main draw of the Australian Open. Imagine two brothers and two sisters from Ludington, Michigan playing in Melbourne, Australia in a Grand Slam. Pretty amazing.
2. In 1993, winning the French Open Doubles with my brother, Murphy, was a great family accomplishment with my mom there to watch.
3. Beating Agassi in Memphis in 96, it was my one perfect match in my life.
ONcourt: What do you want your legacy to tennis to be?
Luke Jensen: That we made the game fun. We were taught by our parents that tennis is a game and it’s fun. They pulled off the court if we did not enjoy or behaved poorly. We were competitive but we wanted to have fun. That was our philosophy throughout our career.
ONcourt: Univeristy of Syracuse has a unique university program. Tell us about it.
Luke Jensen: In 2006, I was offered the opportunity to coach and to help American players through the American NCAA system. With my athletic director, we decided to recruit only Americans that wanted to play pro tennis while playing college. In five seasons we have developed 12 players who are on WTA ranking system. In 2011, 9 Syracuse players were ranked on the WTA singles and doubles list. We are proud of that accomplishment.