2013.10.23 09:06

Interview with the Lithuanian tennis player Benas Majauskas 2013.10.23 09:06

A sports reporter of The Lithuania Tribune, Aleksejus Podpruginas, talked exclusively to Benas Majauskas, the fifth Lithuanian racquet, about his current tennis career and future aspirations. 

A sports reporter of The Lithuania Tribune, Aleksejus Podpruginas, talked exclusively to Benas Majauskas, the fifth Lithuanian racquet, about his current tennis career and future aspirations.

The 21-year-old Lithuanian left his home in Vilnius and moved to the United States. There he is playing for Concordia College in New York. His first professional match took place in 2008 when Benas was 16. Back then, he lost to the Polish Jan Serdakowski with 6 – 2 6 – 1 in the first qualification round of a Future Tournament.

Majauskas is a right handed player with double handed backhand shots. So far he has two ATP ranking points which put him at the 1519th place in the world. So far, during the 2013 season Majauskas has accumulated 11 victories and lost only four times. During his career he claimed 22 victories and lost 20 matches. According to the latest ATP update, Majauskas currently stands at the 1519th place in the world.

Aleksejus Podpruginas (AP): You are the fifth Lithuanian racquet. How does it feel?

Benas Majauskas (BM): Well, I was always trying to be the best in what I do, so the fifth racquet doesn’t really reflect my motto. On the other hand, I did not plan to take part in the tournaments of 2013 summer (where I got my points), so at this point I feel pretty happy of the current ranking and becoming the fifth racquet in Lithuania.

AP: Benas, you are playing for your college in New York. How do you manage to combine the two: to play for the college and to participate in the ATP Future Series?

BM: Yes, I have been playing for the college for three years already. During the college season I don’t have time to play futures, because of the classes and college tournaments. The only time that I can play futures is in summer, when I am free from my college studies. So there is not a lot of managing at this point. The biggest management is playing for college and trying to be a good student.

AP: Could you tell our readers what is the difference between playing in a college and playing in the ATP tour? And where are you planning to play next?

BM: The main difference between playing in ATP and college is that in ATP you are playing for yourself, and in college you are playing for the team. If you win in college, the team won the match, in contrast, if you win in ATP, your name comes up.

My autumn season is over now. I just came back from Florida where I played in the national championship of doubles. Fortunately, my partner Daniel and I won the nationals, and we are now ranked number one in D2 in America… I will rest till January, and our official season begins again in February.

AP: You are also a student. What do you study? How you are managing to play professional tennis and to study in college?

BM: College is very interesting topic for me, because many people think that college prepares you for the future job… Well, I might disagree with that. I study business administration and I am a very good student with 3.9 GPA. However, I forget all the things I learn after the semester is done. I asked other students who graduated already and their answer was the same – forgot everything.

So, in my opinion, colleges teach you time planning and responsibility more than anything else. We will get knowledge when we start working, but the qualities that we get in college will be more important in the long term than the theory we get in the classes. Managing playing and studying is really hard, because there is not much time. I pay a lot of attention in class so that I would not need to study a lot at home, because after practice it is very hard to concentrate on studying. I try to study every day for some time, so that I wouldn’t fall behind. This tactic helps me to save time and always be ready to play full force.

AP: You mentioned that because of your studies you cannot play in ATP. Will you play in ATP after you will finish the college?

BM: My current plans are to stay during the summer in the US and work in the country club, so I will not take part in ATP tournaments during these years. However, when I return home, I am certain that I will play some tournaments, because I cannot live without competition and sport.

AP: Let’s talk a little bit about you. Who was or is your inspiration in tennis?

BM: My first inspiration in tennis was Nadal. Not because of his playing style, but because of his character. I was always inspired by his fighting and never giving up. When I got older, I started to like the Russian player Dovydenko. I liked his playing style and attitude on the court or maybe because his physical abilities were more similar to mine.

AP: It is known that basketball is the most popular sports in Lithuania. Why did you decide to be a tennis player?

BM: Well I couldn’t be a basketball player when my father is 175cm in height and mother is 155cm. I tried many sports when I was a kid. First, I went to dance classes, but teachers said that I was too active. Then I tried some other activities, but again, I was too active. Finally, my father took me to the tennis courts in Šiauliai and I saw this racquet. I started to think that I want to have that thing, because it was very similar to a sword. At that time I loved knights, so the racquet was an implication that I can be a knight! That is how I started to play tennis.

AP: You are not a member in the Lithuanian Davis Cup team. Why is that? Would you like to be a member of the national team?

BM: First of all, officially Davis Cup takes top four players in the country, and I am the fifth. However, I do not happen to remain fifth always. I believe that captains give priorities to some younger players such as Mantas Bugailiškis or Kasparas Žemaitėlis, who are motivated by being there, even though there are some better players than them.

On the other hand, I believe, that it is not very comfortable for the Lithuanian tennis association to bring players from the US, because it costs more than take two younger players who are closer. Since first two numbers (Bernakis and Grigelis) play majority matches, the federation does not really care who will be the third and the fourth. I want to play Davis Cup in the future and experience this feeling, and I strongly believe that I will.

AP: If you were not a tennis player what would you do?

BM: I keep asking this question myself every two years and the answer is always different. Two years ago I would have said that I wanted to be a professional dancer. Five years ago I would have said that I wanted to be a car racer. But right now I wouldn’t like to be anyone else but a tennis player. I think it is the elite sport which requires a lot of responsibility and character.

AP: Let’s talk a little about tennis in Lithuania. How do you see the situation in the Lithuanian tennis today?

BM: Lithuanian tennis is growing like never before. I think we need to say big thank you to Ričardas Berankis, because he influenced a lot of children, younger generations. When SEB Arena was built in Vilnius the popularity of tennis jumped up very high. Right now SEB Arena is expanding by building six more closed tennis courts. I talk to my friends who are in tennis industry in Lithuania, and they say that during the winter time courts are booked from 6am to 11 pm, fully. That shows that tennis is in huge demand, and it is great!

AP: But still, why we do not have a Lithuanian tennis player among the top 10-20 players in the world?

BM: Ričardas Bernakis is the first tennis player who got into top 100. Tennis in Lithuania is still very new comparing to basketball. Everything needs time. 15 years ago we had maybe 40 kids who played tennis, from these 40 maybe 10 left when they were 16 and maybe five left when they were 20. From this number to have one player in top100 is already great. As to comparing to other countries, such as the US with millions of kids playing every year and only five players are in top 100, Lithuania looks pretty good, if we consider the percentage. By the way, who is saying that Ričardas Berankis or other players cannot get as high as top 20? It’s not too late.

AP: Roger Federer losing matches, one after another. What happened to one of the best tennis players in history? In your opinion, will he take his 18th Grand Slam?

BM: Roger Federer is a tennis legend. He could have finished long time ago, but I think he is one of these guys who just enjoy the game. There are many other talented players who are much younger than him and stronger physically. Age is still a big factor in sports and it affected Roger too. In my opinion, it will be very hard for him to win his 18th Grand Slam, but in this world everything is possible.

AP: Who is the best tennis player in history in your opinion and why?

BM: In my opinion Roger Federer is the best, because of all the facts. He won the most Grand Slams of all. He was the longest Number One player in the world. And it all happened now, when tennis requires much more physical abilities than before.

AP: Last week you and your partner won an important doubles title. Describe the feelings after the match? What were you thinking of when you played the match point?

BM: Yes, it was one of the greatest experiences in my tennis carrier. In the third set we were up 6/5 and other team was serving. The team dropped down 0/40, so Daniel and I had three match points. I was returning the first one and he aced me. Daniel missed the return on 15/40. So, I had the last chance on 30/40. My palms were sweating and I was feeling little goose bumps on my skin. The opponent came up with the first serve in and I returned really well. After a couple of shots Daniel hit a great volley shot which was too hard for the other team and we won. I dropped my racquet, hugged Daniel and little tears came out from my eyes. After the match I was feeling fantastic. The feeling that you are Number One in the country is just phenomenal. I didn’t experience anything else like that.

AP: What do you like to play more: singles or doubles?

BM: I prefer singles more, because everything depends only on me. Moreover, I feel much more confident on the base line than the net.

AP: Tennis is generally known as an expensive sport. Who is supporting you? Do you have any investors?

BM: Tennis is a very expensive sport, especially in Lithuania. I did not get any support from the federation or other people when I was young. I was paying the court fee as a regular client from the street, and coaches were expensive too. The only thing what I was getting was racquets. I am very blessed that I have wonderful parents who always supported me in all the possible ways.

AP: To end the interview I would like to ask you short question in the form of key words, please try to answer in one or two words that come to your mind.

1) Clay – favourite surface;

2) Lithuania – my home;

3) Ričardas Berankis – hard worker;

4) Maria Sharapova – sexy;

5) ATP top 10 – fortune;

6) Andy Murray’s injury – temporary;

7) Double Fault – shit happens;

8) Grand Slam – a challenge;

9) Inspiration – people;

10) Doping – everyone does it, no one says it.

AP: Finally: Žalgiris or Rytas?

BM: RYTAS! My fitness coach was from RYTAS. R.I.P. He was a conditioning coach of the team. His name was Juozas Sapalas. This person contributed a lot to my understanding of life and values that I have know. This man was like a second father for me. When I go to play the tournament I am certain that I am one of the fastest and one of the best prepared fitness-wise just because of him. He did a great job not only for my fitness, but for my personality too.

AP: Final, final question: tell us something that no one knows about you.

BM: Interesting question… There is always someone who knows some parts of a person’s life. If there is a big secret that no one knows, that means it should stay as a secret. I can only tell you what not many people know about me. I never had alcohol in my blood. Well, I tried a sip of beer when I was eight, when my father gave it for me to try, but I don’t count that as drinking. So, I never had alcohol or tobacco or any other drugs in my body.

AP: Benas, thank you very much for your time and answers. Best wishes and good luck in your studies and your tennis career.