Getting Into The Swing As A Pro

Yu Shing Ting
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Friday - October 19, 2011
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Dennis Lajola

Local boy Dennis Lajola is living a dream come true. This past summer he joined the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) World Tour and has already moved up about 1,500 spots since turning pro. He’s currently ranked No. 692.

“When I picked up my first racquet (at 4 years old) I knew I wanted to be a professional tennis player,” says Lajola, 22. “I like the competition of it, and that it’s me by myself on the court and not relying on anyone but me.”

Lajola was born in the Philippines and moved to Hawaii with his family when he was a baby. As a child, he and his brother Derrick would tag along with their father who played recreational tennis at the open courts in Waipahu.

Lajola discovered quickly that he not only enjoyed the sport, but he was good at it, too.

“By age 6 or 7, I was playing in the higher divisions, and by age 12, I was ranked No. 1 in the 18-and-under division in Hawaii, and ranked in the top 3 in the nation for my age group,” he recalls.

At a time when most teenagers are anxiously preparing for their first year in high school, Lajola decided to pursue tennis and moved to Florida where he attended International Tennis Academy.

He then returned to Hawaii and played four years at the University of Hawaii where he received WAC Player of the Year honors (he’s the first UH honoree in program history), was named to the all-WAC first team for the fourth year in a row, and helped lead the team to three WAC championships.

“Winning the WAC and when I won my first pro event (the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Honolulu Futures tournament) in 2007 those were definitely the greatest events in my life,” says Lajola on the highlights of his career.

To stay at the top of his game, Lajola trains six days a week. His mornings begin with about two hours of tennis practice, followed by an hour of off-court conditioning such as a gym workout, and then another there’s another tennis session.

For his diet, he stays away from “bad” carbs, red meat, sugar and soda, and eats a lot of greens. His sports drink of choice is Vitalyte, which he drinks at every workout, and his favorite tennis equipment is his Babolat racquet and strings.

He names Michael Chang as his favorite tennis player. “I just like the way he is on the court,” he explains. “I love his attitude. He’s always humble, and that’s who I work out with now.”

Lajola resides in Aiea, trains in Irvine, Calif., and competes around the world.

This week, he’s in Asia for tournaments, and then it’s the Southeast Asian Games in November.

“Being on the tour, it’s been going good,” he says. “Physically and mentally, it’s tough, but I’m trying to stay as good as I can for every match.

“My goal is to be in the top 10 or top 20 one day.”


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