Marcos Giron grew up dreaming big. Still does. His success as a high school junior made him the No. 1 college recruit in the nation. The Southern Californian went on to star at UCLA, not far from his Thousand Oaks home, winning the NCAA title in 2014. But success on the pro tour hasn’t come overnight. He’s had to work for it. Good thing he hasn’t thrown in the towel. For the first time in his pro career, the 25-year-old won consecutive ATP matches this week in Indian Wells, defeating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the first round and 23rd-ranked Aussie Alex de Minaur in the second, the biggest win of his career. His prize? A Round of 32 matchup with Milos Raonic. Giron, who’s undergone not one but two hip surgeries, pushed the Canadian to three sets in a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 loss in Stadium 1. But you get the feeling we’ll be seeing more of this former Bruin.
BNPParibasOpen.com presents Marcos Giron in his own words:
For me, it all started when I was five, six years old. My mom would take me to the park and feed me tennis balls. I was an active kid, running around all the time — a little hyper. I think I had a little too much energy for my own good. I did everything — soccer, cross country, tennis, a LOT of sports. Then, one weekend, I had to make a choice. I had four events in a matter of two days. It just got to be too much for my parents.
So I chose tennis.
My coach, from the time I was seven until I was 16, was Scott Christie. He always believed in me. He taught me the strokes I have today. A lot of my tennis, a lot of who I am, is because of him. With Scott and my parents behind me, I went for it.
But it was all still just a dream.
Thousand Oaks was a hot spot for tennis when I was growing up. You had Top 10 players like JT Sundling, Kyle McMorrow, Dennis Lin. They were older than me, and growing up playing with them helped me raise my game and believe in my abilities. Sam Querrey grew up in my hometown, too. And the Mike and Bob Bryan were nearby in Camarillo. It’s crazy, really, how much talent came out of that area.
I’d watch Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras on TV. I dreamed of playing at the US Open. I remember watching Rafa on the practice courts in Indian Wells. I had never seen a forehand like that before.
By the time I was 17, I was playing the junior Grand Slams. I did well, but I didn’t do great. My highs were high, but my lows were low. I still needed to grow up. I wasn’t ready to go on to the grind of the pro tour, playing Futures, Challengers. It can be brutal. You lose matches every single week.
I asked myself: Is this what I really want to do with my life?
So I went to college. And going to UCLA, being part of a team like that – I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Those are some of my best memories. Fighting for your school, for your teammates – there’s nothing like it, except maybe Davis Cup.
When I won the NCAA title in 2014, I knew I was ready for the pro tour. Not that it was an easy transition. You go from having an entire coaching staff behind you to no one. Suddenly, I was on my own. It turns into a business. You have to make sacrifices. You play in the middle of nowhere, where there are three or four people in the stands. Nobody’s cheering you on. My friends from UCLA were out in the real world, starting careers, making money.
But keeping that dream in mind is what kept me going.
It really hit me last year in Los Cabos. I was playing Juan Martin del Potro. I had qualified and reached the Round of 16. The stands were packed. I served for the first set. Here I was, facing a Top-10 player, and I was in control of the match. I knew then that I could do this. I knew I belonged.
The dream had finally become reality.