Martin Redlicki is a former UCLA standout player and is now on tour full time. He finished his collegiate tennis career in 2018 and went full time on tour in January 2019. He plans to focus on doubles in 2021, and you can follow his results here. If you are interested in checking out his Social media page, you can follow him here. Marty and I talked about a lot of the behind the scenes challenges that players face on tour. There is some valuable information in this interview so make sure you pay attention! We also talked about his college career and his memorable moments at UCLA.
- When did you start playing tennis, and at what age did you know you wanted to become a professional player?
I started playing when I was 5 or 6 years old. When I was about 8 or 9, my brother and I took formal lessons and traveled to tournaments. I always knew that I wanted to get my college degree. I realized towards the end of my college career, I wanted to play pro tennis.
- Did you and your brother push each other on the court? How close are you to him?
We are close and push each other more than just on the tennis court. Whether that was video games or tennis, we have competitiveness between us, and that helped us with our tennis. That made me always have a competitive mindset.
- Can you talk about that transition from Chicago to the USTA Center?
I did online schooling for 3 out of my 4 years of high school. My brother had really good results during my freshman year of high school so my brother and I moved to Florida to train with the USTA and were there till our college days. My brother and I are lucky because our parents moved from Chicago to Florida with us when we started training at the USTA center. We were too young to be by ourselves. They helped our growth.
- Do you think that move better prepared you for college?
Had we not moved down to Florida I do not think I would have been as prepared on the tennis court. However, I would have been just as prepared from a social aspect if we stayed in Chicago.
- How much confidence did winning the 2013 Junior US Open doubles title give you going into college tennis?
A lot, doubles is so important in college tennis. It told me that I compete with the best 18-year-old’s on the planet.
- Would you recommend going to college before going pro?
Knowing first hand how beneficial it could be, I would say absolutely. There are so many resources within college tennis. The only exception I can think of would be a 17-year-old who is winning challengers, knocking on the door of playing grand slam qualifying. If your level is not there I believe a year or two of college tennis would be beneficial for 95% of 17-year-old players. There is a stigma behind college tennis because many people think it is a 4-year commitment. Six or seven years ago guys were not playing until the age they are now. You do not have to make it a 4-year commitment.
- What were the biggest contributors to your doubles success?
I believe my game style feeds into doubles well. I have a big serve, good hands, and awareness at the net. I think my results going into college helped me a lot and I had amazing partners throughout college also. I played with Mackenzie McDonald in my first 2 years of college and it gave me a solid foundation.
- You won the NCAA Doubles Championship twice, can you describe your emotions when you won. Where they the same each time you won?
The emotions of winning it the first time were so special because it represented the culmination of the season. The second time was equally as special but in a slightly different way. We played a really good Ohio State team in the championship match. We won 6-7,7-6,(11-9) saving the championship point at 8-9 in the tiebreaker. I will remember these moments for the rest of my life.
- What was your favorite season in college? Can you talk about the most memorable moment in your college career?
My favorite season was my senior year because all of the guys on the team meshed well. We were all close and that year we had the best cohesion of a team. As far as moments go it’s a three-way tie with the NCAA doubles titles and when we played USC my senior year and I won the deciding match at 3-3 in the Quarterfinals of the NCAA Team tournament. It was a stereotypical drawn-out moment to finish a career. They were our final in the biggest tournament in all of college and I clinched the match for the team.
- What were your initial challenges on tour and are similar to your current challenges?
The biggest challenge has been being on my own as far as logistics, travel, expenses. When you are playing for a school in college they take care of all of that and you do not have much to worry about. When you turn pro all of that is on the player now. Balancing that side of tennis is a big challenge and difference between college tennis and pro tennis. Many players argue half of the battle of pro tennis is scheduling! It is almost as important as the tennis part itself.
- What do you think is the biggest skill that separates guys on tour?
It is the mental side of it and the confidence on the court. At the end of the day, every player knows how to hit the ball at a world-class level, it is all about being able to mentally push through. Secondly, having a team who can help you with the little logistical stuff so you do not have to worry about everything is important too.
- Can you talk about sponsorships and how players can save money on tour?
The nature of tennis is a top-heavy sport. Sponsorships are tough to come by, especially ones that pay you money. Player’s get creative, they share coaches and split costs of having a coach. At the end of the day having a second set of eyes watching you that can break down what you think you need is an invaluable asset on the road. Figuring out how to afford it is so important. At the futures and challengers level, you have to get creative. I would say about 80% of challenger players cannot afford to have a coach on their own. The margins are so small, you can play a match and lose by 3 points. Having a coach help you win those 3 extra points in a pivotal moment is so valuable.
- How common is it for players to doubt themselves on tour? I ask this question because I want to shed light on the challenges and the toll playing on tour has on people.
Traveling is tough and when you do it by yourself it can get lonely. I am fortunate, my girlfriend is supportive of my career and helps keep me positive. I think having a good friend that you can travel with is helpful. That way you can share hotels and practice, it allows everyone to be in a better headspace and it is a really good remedy to that feeling of loneliness or self-doubt. There is a fine line between friends and competitors when traveling with friends because you could play against them first round; however, I think it is beneficial.
- 2020 has been a tough year for everyone. Did it force you to stick to doubles?
I am going to put a big emphasis on doubles but I will try to play singles still. Long term, I am going to stick to doubles. When playing doubles a lot of the challenges that we talked about on tour are relieved. Also, a lot of my success in tennis has been in doubles and I believe I can be competing for grand slams in doubles.
- Reflecting on your career, what is one thing that you learned about yourself.
I do not enjoy being by myself. I like having a group of friends around me. Some people are comfortable being alone, I am not that person. It is really important to me.
- What has been your most memorable match on tour?
Definitely when I got the wildcard to play US Open doubles my sophomore year of college. We got on court and the bleachers were packed. We had a set point in the first set and took the #1 team in the world to a tiebreaker in the first set. The crowd was electric and it was so memorable.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself doing well on tour playing a full schedule with all of the big tournaments. After my competitive career, I see myself getting into collegiate coaching whether that is 2 years or 5 years, who knows.
- How has tennis shaped you?
It has taught me a level of commitment and determination. Tennis sets itself apart from other sports because you do not have a team to push you to do the right thing so all of those athlete-specific characteristics are much tougher.