TALKING WITH... RAJEEV RAM
September, 2003 continued

Q: You have had success at many tournaments. Why do you think it is that you can't break through here (at the US Open)?
A: "That's a good question. I don't really know. A lot of it is getting used to the atmosphere. It's very easy to get distracted here with all of the things going on. I do well when I'm able to focus and be on my own a little bit."
    "It's something that even the best players here have taken a couple of years to get used to, so I'm not worried about it. It's something I need to figure out on my own. I'm more of a keep to myself kind of guy."

Q: How close are you to turning pro?
A: "Pretty close. I need to work on the physical part of my game a little more. Right now it's so physical out there. I need to build up a little more. I need a body that is going to stand the rigors of playing for 12-15 years, which is what I want to do."
    "I'm going to take some time right now -- about a month -- and put down the racquets and hit the gym really hard before the season starts. I don't know if my start will be in January. I'm not going to take any prize money."

Q: I just heard that Amer (Delic) is staying amateur as well?
A: "Yes. Both of us, as well as Craig (Tiley, the Illinois Coach) don't believe in rushing things. There's no rush. Our window is going to be there. He (Amer) is a lot closer than I am (to a college degree). My thing is to make sure I start properly. I just want to make sure I jump in at the right time so I don't get injured and start getting stuck at 150. It's not bad, you're a good player at 150, but that's not where I want to be."

Q: Did you have any idea that Illinois would be the place to be?
A: "Not when I was younger. When I was growing up it was always the California schools. I never knew what Craig was cooking up at Illinois just in the last couple of years. The timing was unbelievable. It was my first year there and we do all these things."

pictured above left: Amer Delic, Coach Craig Tiley & Brian Wilson watching Rajeev play at the US Open
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