Fan Fare: Meet Jason, 15-Year-Old Tennis Writer and Wozniacki’s Biggest Fan

I’m always up for meeting tennis fans, especially if they’re Changeover readers, so when Jason Kerst commented on my first Family Circle Cup post saying that he was going to be at the tournament, I was thrilled to meet up with him. Thank goodness I did. It turns out that Jason is a 15-year-old freshmen in high school who pretty much puts all of our tennis addictions to shame.

Here are just a few things of the many things about him that are impressive:

–He has his own tennis blog that he started when he was 12!
–He is the No. 1 tennis player on his high school tennis team as a freshmen, and the team made it all the way to States this year!
–He’s been a ball boy in Cincinnati for the past two years. (Stories below.)
–He was at the tennis in Charleston all day, every day. His mom would drop him off in the morning and pick him up at night. That’s commitment.

I had such a great time getting to know him that I thought the rest of you would like to read about him as well, so as we chatted during a rain delay he let me record our conversation. Here is Jason’s take on everything from Woz to Bodo to ballboying for Rodionova.

Jason on his favorite WTA Player:

Caroline Wozniacki. She doesn’t let the press bother her. It doesn’t really matter what she’s asked, her answer is always straight up and you can tell she’s not giving a bluff of an answer. She likes to joke around with the press.

Jason got to meet her in Charleston … twice!

On his favorite ATP player:

Novak Djokovic. I love his charisma. My favorite moment of his was after the 2012 Australian Open final when he ripped the shirt. That was a statement, kind of like, ‘I’m here to stay’

On balancing tennis with high school life:

All of my friends are like, “Can you talk about something else? (Tennis is) all you talk about!” They’re like, “Let’s go to the mall,” and I’m like, “Sorry I have to watch tennis, I want to write about tennis.”

On starting his blog:

English was always my best subject. From the age of seven or eight, I started to write short stories. Whenever we had current events for school, that was always my favorite, so it made sense. Tennis, current events, and I started the blog. (Right now) I’m writing about twice a week … When I was in middle school I’d write 3-4 times a week, but now, with the busier schedule, there’s too much work.

On hogging the TV:

My mom gets upset, she’s like, ‘Jason, the Tennis Channel isn’t the only channel we have!’ I have my laptop, though, so I find my streaming.

On his favorite tennis writers:

I like Courtney Nguyen, and then I’d say one of my favorites is Peter Bodo. In his writing he’s always blunt, in a way that gets right to the point. I really like that.

(For the record, he also said he liked The Changeover and my writing, because he clearly knows that flattery will get you everywhere, or at least a blog post. He’s smart like that.)

On Jelena Jankovic, who he shares a nickname with:

I love her. She he was probably the nicest player I ever ballboyed for.

On the nicest man he ever ballboyed for:

Gilles Simon.

On his worst ballboy experiences:

Mardy Fish. I ballboyed for him on Grandstand in Cincy in 2011. It was 85 degrees out, the sun was on us, he wanted an ice towel. I go to the cooler, pull out an ice towel and give it to him. He said it was too big, I needed to get a smaller one. I get him a smaller one. Since it was coming from a cooler full of ice, there were a few ice cubes on the outside. He said, “You need to brush that off,” so I did. Then he said, “Oh, it’s all over the court now, you need to mop it up,” even though it was only like a drop of water right by the chair, not on the actual court. He made me mop it up while we were on ESPN2! It was scarring.


Janko Tipsarevic. He’s quite the intense man. He was on Grandstand, and he was playing Simon. A ball rolled over under Tipsarevic’s feet, and one of our baseliners wasn’t paying attention and he didn’t go get it. So then Tipsarevic looks at me, I was by the net, and says, “This is how you do it.” (Then Tipsarevic motioned how to throw the ball.) It was in front of a few thousand people. Again, scarring.

On the most entertaining person to ballboy for:


On the worst girl he’s ballboyed for:

Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova. And Anastasia Rodionova. She was awful. She was mocking the ball kids.

On the most “combative” match he’s ballboyed for:

Youzhny/Llodra. They called some of the ball kids some of the worst names I’ve ever heard. Both of them.

On his Plan C, if being a tennis pro or a tennis writer doesn’t pan out:

One of the things I think would be amazing is to be a professional tennis agent … Whatever I do I want to travel, and have to do with tennis.

I’m pretty sure that Jason can be whatever he wants to be, with as much ambition as he’s already shown.

Here are some of his fabulous tweets from Family Circle Cup. He certainly got a lot of sweaty swag!

Hopefully Jason will stop by in the comments to answer any questions that you have!

Lindsay is an author, a filmmaker, a long-winded blogger, and a huge tennis fan.

14 Responses

  1. Steph
    Steph April 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

    AWESOME – what a fun read about a wonderful tennis fan. I love seeing that passion, especially in youngsters and about the WTA! I think JJ will go far – seems well beyond his years.

    I want to know how we gets all those wristbands…

  2. Jason Kerst
    Jason Kerst April 25, 2013 at 6:17 pm |

    Thank you so much Lindsay for the article! Beautifully written:) This is awesome, and I’d be happy to answer anyone’s questions! Meeting you was such a great experience, and it has already opened several opportunities for me!!!(I got followed by Kevin Fischer and Doug Robson RT’d the article!!!!) Keep in touch!

  3. Victor Abadio
    Victor Abadio April 25, 2013 at 8:18 pm |

    What a great kid!
    Nice to see there are still some ambitious, smart kids left in the world.
    And even nicer to see he is a Karolina fan. We Caro fans are on the verge of extinction these days.
    I’ll definitely follow him on Twitter.

  4. Master Ace
    Master Ace April 25, 2013 at 8:50 pm |

    I see that Linz buttered you up in Charleston but overall, glad you enjoyed your experience. How did you convince your mother not to pick you up until late? Was school out on spring break?

    Also, what is the best match you saw in Charleston and what was your reaction when Wozniacki lost the 5 games of the match against Voegele?

  5. Aube
    Aube April 25, 2013 at 9:00 pm |

    awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww TennisJJ:) good luck in whatever you want to be,this is so sweet,thanks Lindsay too…

    Psssssssssssssstttttttttttttt: Lindsay,for the awesome stories you attached to this site we would invent you if you did not exist:)

    Can you tell us about the “chinese bus ride” again?? like please?! wa ha ha ha ha,you’re awesome!

  6. Nicole
    Nicole April 25, 2013 at 10:53 pm |

    Jason, you are one very cool dude! I am going to go follow you on Twitter now, I hope you don’t mind. 😉 Keep reaching for the stars, my man!

  7. wayne
    wayne April 26, 2013 at 12:29 am |

    No surprises about Rodinova – I used to work in the grounds crew at the Sydney tournament and saw first hand her digustiting behavior on a couple of occasions.

  8. Jason Kerst
    Jason Kerst April 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm |

    Master Ace,

    We were staying with my aunt and cousin in Charleston, and my mom was happy to be spending lots of time with her sister and niece, and was fairly content with leaving me for the day. She always says she just wants me to be happy, and she can see how happy tennis really makes me. And yes, we were out on spring break during the event. Lastly, the best match that I saw was probably the final, and the best single performance I saw was Genie Bouchard against Stosur. Talk about potential.

    1. Master Ace
      Master Ace April 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm |

      Indeed about Bouchard having potential. And, good move by Mom to let you see Charleston for the week

  9. Jason Kerst
    Jason Kerst April 26, 2013 at 7:47 pm |

    And about the Wozniacki match, it was pure torture. Anyone following me on twitter that night could see how distressed I was. I could barely watch. I love watching her, but at times like that I absolutely hate it!

  10. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne April 27, 2013 at 11:55 am |

    Great stuff, Lindsay and Jason.

    Jason, how does one go about becoming a ballboy/girl?

    Do ballpersons get paid or are they volunteers?

    Are they on duty on a single court all day long, or do they move from court to court? Are they on duty all day, or do they just do a match or two and then are free to move around the grounds?

    At the end of the tournament do the players who have done well leave a nice tip for them (if they are allowed to do that)?

    Do any of the players ever say, “Thanks!” or at least give you a smile when the ballboy/girl brings them a towel or something? Seems like it’s a simple thing they could do that would humanize them to the fans in the grandstand … and win fans of the ballkids for life!

  11. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne April 27, 2013 at 11:57 am |

    A couple of other things, Jason.

    If you could go to one grand slam, which one would it be and why?

    And if you could pick the players you’d like to see in that grand slam final, who would they be (on both the men’s and women’s side)?

  12. Jess Stein
    Jess Stein April 29, 2013 at 6:19 am |

    Thank you Jason for telling the world that Gilles Simon is the nicest ATP Player with ballboys. 😀 He has had a lot of love around tennis fan these days.

    Oh and your fanboyinghood is awesome.

  13. Jess Stein
    Jess Stein April 29, 2013 at 6:21 am |

    – edit *He hasn’t had*

Comments are closed.