HELLO EIICHIRO, HOW ARE YOU? WELL, TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE.
Eiichiro Okuyama: Good morning. I’m fine, thank you. I was born in Fukuoka (Japan) but I almost spent my whole childhood in Maryland (United States). Afterwards, I came back to Japan where I studied Environment and Information Studies (main area of interest was Internet policy, especially surrounding health information) at Keio University.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR SPORTS BACKGROUND?
Eiichiro Okuyama: I started playing tennis at age 3 in the US. My father was a fan of tennis and would feed me balls after he was finished playing with his tennis friends. Afterwards, little by little I got more interested in the sport until I started competing. I ended up number 1 in the Mid-Atlantic region for 12 and under and 14 and under divisions. I was also ranked 23rd in the US in the 14 and under division.
WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING PADEL?
Eiichiro Okuyama: I started playing padel at the end of 2016 when I was invited by Tomoaki Murasawa (my current partner).
WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT THIS SPORT?
Eiichiro Okuyama: In addition to skill, it is a game of wit. One of the struggles with tennis was the physical disadvantage I had when playing top players in the US. In Padel, this aspect is less relevant.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FORTHCOMING SEASON AND IN A LONG TERM?
Eiichiro Okuyama: Well, we will fight to recover the ranking number 1 in the Japanese Championship and try to win the most important tournament of the year here in Japan, the ALL NIPPON CHAMPIONSHIP. Regarding long term goals, I would love to go to Spain to compete.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BEING A STARVIE PLAYER? AND ABOUT THE BRAND? DO YOU THINK WE CAN HELP YOU TO REACH OUT YOUR GOALS?
Eiichiro Okuyama: StarVie is a brand that is well recognized professional and is used by professionals that are highly respected. The brand also treats the players with respect and works to support the players so they can play their best. As a sponsor, I feel that that is the most important contribution to a player a brand can make.
WHAT HAS IT BEEN YOUR BIGGEST JOY SINCE YOU PLAY PADEL? AND YOUR BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?
Eiichiro Okuyama: Winning the first Tokorozawa tournament was a big joy for me. Being able to come back and beat a pair we lost to in the finals before demonstrated that we improved and was a great accomplishment. On the other hand, the most disappointing event after starting padel was the 2018 season All Japan Tournament. Unfortunately, Tom and I lost in the 2nd round regardless of being the former finalist and the number three seed. But more than the loss itself, the fact that I had been making excuses and not giving my all to my Padel did not only drive feelings of regret, but also generated feelings of remorse towards my partner as well. For this 2019 season, I hope to go back to my roots and face the competition as a challenger, looking to give my best throughout this season.
HOW RACKETS CONTRIUTE TO HIGHLIGHT THE WAY YOU PLAY?
Eiichiro Okuyama: As a power player, the shape and material of racquets greatly affect my swing. Without a racquet that I can swing through and feel the ball with, it is difficult for me to generate power and place the ball to where I want.
WHAT WEIGHT ARE YOU USING? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS WEIGHT?
Eiichiro Okuyama: I am currently using a 371 g. racket (without overgrip and frame protector). Since it is on the heavier end of the scale, it is easier to generate power.
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO BUY A RACKET?
Eiichiro Okuyama: Always be sure to try multiple racquets, especially those that are different shapes and materials.
Thanks Eiichiro for your time! Can’t wait to see you in action! Best of luck for you and Tom!