I was very fortunate to get to sit down with rising Bleacher Report superstar writer, Joe Kennard and ask him some questions about tennis, sports and writing. Here’s what he had to say.
Hey Joe, thanks so much for agreeing to do this. I’ve been a fan of your writing ever since I read your article on Federer’s dominance. He’s my favorite player too!
Q. I know a lot of men and women who would absolutely love to write about sports for a living. Was there a moment that you knew that this is what you wanted to do?
A. During my senior year of high school, I realized that sports journalism would be the path for me. I grew up as an avid follower of many sports, from tennis to football, basketball, baseball and everything in between, and I wanted to somehow convert that passion into a creative outlet I could share with other people. Writing always seemed to come naturally for me, so I decided to put those two loves together and study journalism in college.
Q. Awesome. We’ve talked before about tennis, and I know you’re a huge fan of the game. What drew you to the game, initially?
A. From the time I was just a small boy, tennis has always held a sway over me, especially singles tennis. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but I always liked the individuality of the sport and how it forces you to come up with your own solutions to win. It’s a very mental and strategic game, and I love all the way it truly makes you open your mind and analyze. And there’s just something about the beauty of tennis; it’s so artistic and you can really express yourself with all the different movements and shots.
Q. I’ve never heard it put that way. I agree there is an art to it that is mesmerizing. When did you start playing?
A. I didn’t start playing until my senior year of high school, but since then I hit the courts frequently to practice or just compete against friends and people in my town. I’ve improved my game immensely over the past five years, and I can’t wait to see how much better I can become in the future!
Q. As a sportswriter, you’re a storyteller. What is your thought process when you are crafting a story? In other words, how do you look at an objective event like a Grand Slam final and begin to turn it into something that hundreds of thousands of people are dying to read?
A. When crafting a story, first I try to pick a topic I know people will be interested in. Whether that involves a famous player or huge event, I then work to come up with my own unique angle on whatever I’m writing about. I do a lot of background research to build the bare bones of my stories, but then I fill in the gaps with my own thoughts and opinions while trying to be fair and objective at the same time. People respect honesty and candor, but there’s a delicate line you have to walk.
Q. What kind of music do you listen to?
A. I’m a rock ‘n’ roll aficionado, especially the classic stuff. The Rolling Stones are my absolute favorite band, but I also enjoy groups like the Black Crowes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Clash and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Q. I love the Stones. My dad and I were talking yesterday, that if you love rock, it’s the Stones or the Beatles is the best rock band of all time. If you had one superpower what would it be?
A. If I had one superpower, I would simply want to be an unstoppable force on the tennis court!
Q. Favorite tennis player?
A. Roger Federer is not only my favorite tennis player, he’s my all-time favorite athlete. His success is without equal, but what draws me to him is not only the sublime grace of his game, but his cool demeanor and the way he handles himself off the court. He’s a true role model and the kind of person I aspire to be. Even in defeat, I love the way he handles the situation, and you can see how much winning means to him. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him practice and play in-person several times, and he always transfixes me!
Q. Agreed. What are your tennis goals?
A. My tennis goals are to work hard everyday, on the practice court and in the gym to become the best player I can be. Though I may not be the most talented, I pride myself on my unrelenting hustle and work ethic.
Q. What are your professional goals?
A. Sports is my ultimate love. I hope to continue being able to cover it in some capacity, hopefully in a job that will allow me to travel the world and interview the best athletes and coaches.
Q. If you could have an afternoon hitting session with one player, past or present, who would it be?
A. I would have to hit with Roger Federer. He’s my hero, and the chance to share the same court with him would be a dream come true!
Let’s set up a hit with Fed. I think if we both took him on, we’d get a couple points… maybe.
Thanks so much Joe, and keep up the phenomenal writing at Bleacher Report. You’re an inspiration to me and sports fans everywhere!