Jocks to GIs: James Blake

From: James Blake

Sent: Thursday, May 8, 2003 8:13 AM
To: Richter, James MAJ CFLCC-C3
Subject: Touring Italy

Hey Jim,

I'm actually in Rome right now, but heading to Hamburg later today.
I didn't do so well here, but that means I actually get to do some
sightseeing. It's kind of weird that the places you remember and get to
appreciate are usually the ones where you don't do well.

I went to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican. They were both just amazing.
What Michelangelo did on the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is just so
overwhelming. To believe that one man could possibly be so talented is just
beyond me. Apparently he wasn't even really a painter, he was a more
talented sculptor and architect. Yet he created one of the best pieces of
artwork ever by working on a huge scaffold and painting upside down for about
4 years of his life. I'm just about the worst artist in the world, so i'm
pretty much amazed by anyone who has a talent for that.

I hope you get to see 8 Mile soon when you get back to the states. It was a
pretty good movie. It's still tough to tell how good of an actor Eminem is
because he basically was playing himself in the movie. So that might not
have been so challenging. Anyway, good luck to you, and I'll talk to you
again soon.


From: Richter, James MAJ CFLCC-C3

Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2003 10:45 PM
To: James Blake
Subject: Busy keeping peace


No problem – I know your busy with travel on tour. Sorry you didn't get past the round of 32 in your last two events, but I really feel strongly that you're going to win one real soon. BTW, I just recently noticed that the Jocks to Gis program published our photos and correspondence on their website -- pretty tight, isn't it, James? While I know you're used to a lot of media attention, it's new to me.

While I'm not generally a huge rap fan, I actually do like Eminem and my son really loves his music. My wife thinks I'm a bit crazy when I tell her that I really like his music and that he's a talented musician. I, like you, happen to have very eclectic tastes in music – I especially like R&B and reggae, but I also listen to hard rock, country, oldies, and some rap too. I think you hit the nail on the head that Eminem is following the beat of his own drum while shrewdly leveraging the media to enhance his incredible popularity. BTW, did you see his latest movie, "8 Mile"? I haven't seen it yet, but I will once I return to the "real world."

Good luck in Houston. Coincidentally, my parents and my brother both live in Houston.

Take Care & Best Wishes on Tour,


From: James Blake

Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2003 42:02 PM
To: Richter, James MAJ CFLCC-C3
Subject: My favorite tunes

Hi Jim,

Sorry it's been awhile. I'm anxious to answer all of your questions, though. First off, I listen to just
about everything from rap, r and b, hard rock, all the way to oldies. My
absolute favorite is Eminem. To me, he is a genius. His lyrics
and the beats (which are mainly inspired by Dr. Dre). All the controversy
that has surrounded him has only helped his career and he knows that. He
continues to push the envelope and have more and more people talk about him
and purchase more albums.

As for my favorite players on tour right now, I really enjoy watching Carlos
Moya and Roger Federer. Carlos is someone who plays very similar to me, so
that's why I like watching him play. Roger is just one of the most talented
players in the world and some of the things he can do are just incredible.
They both happen to also be very good guys. On the women's side, I don't
really watch a ton of women's tennis, but my favorite would probably be
Monica Seles. She is an inspiration for coming back from such a tragic
situation. She is such a sweet person, and I feel so sorry for what happened
to her by a deranged fan.

I've got to play tonight here in Houston. I hope it gets easier over there.
I couldn't imagine the difference in the feeling once the fighting actually
stopped. But still knowing that there is so much work to be done must really
change the mood. I hope everyone can still keep their heads up and stay
positive. Good luck with it, and I'm over here hoping you get to see those
two kids of yours pretty soon. Take care and good luck.
James Blake

From: Richter, James MAJ CFLCC-C3

Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 1:28 AM
To: James Blake
Subject: Busy keeping peace


Thanks for the reply, James. I know you must be busy and I'm all too familiar with the demands of life on the road. Airplanes, rental cars, hotels, suitcases, and multiple time zones get old, don't they?

So, how's your buddy in the Navy doing? I don't envy him having to be onboard a ship afloat at sea. Please tell him that this land-lovin' grunt (me) wishes that seafarin' squid (him) the very best and a safe return home soon. FMI, what branch of service did your Dad serve in?

Me. I'm married with two sons, 3 and 10 years old. I'm still doing well in Kuwait. However we are experiencing a strange anomaly around here -- now that the fighting war's winding down, work is even busier as we start peacekeeping and stabilization operations. Just when we thought the workload would ease up ...

You certainly picked some excellent role models for all of the right reasons in both Courier and Edberg. Who are your favorite tennis players on tour? What are your hobbies and interests outside of tennis? What kind of music do you like? Who are your favorite musical artists?

Take care, keep in touch, and good luck on tour.

From: James Blake

Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 4:08 PM
To: Richter, James MAJ CFLCC-C3
Subject: RE: Jocks to GIs


Thanks so much for your letter. I, as well as the rest of the country, am so proud of the job you guys are doing, and have already done, over there.
I can only imagine how tough it must be to go through that every day, and the only distractions being the internet and sports results from the states.

I have a friend from high school that's in the Navy and stationed over there as well. He says the monotony of the days and the heat are the toughest
things about being over there.

Anyway, I'm guessing you don't get a chance to play a whole lot of tennis while you're over there, and it probably wouldn't be all that fun in
the heat anyway. My father was in the service when he was younger and that's actually where he learned to play tennis. A friend of his played tennis, and my father was very good at basketball, so he helped his friend with basketball in exchange for tennis lessons. He fell in love with it there,
and he still plays today.

Thanks for being a fan of mine. Those are some pretty impressive players you list as your other favorites. I'll try to live up to their standards. My favorite players when I was growing up were Jim Courier and Stefan Edberg. I admired Jim for his unbelievable work ethic. He always worked harder than anyone else on tour. I admired Stefan for his sportsmanship. He was just such a class act all the time that it amazed me.

Waffle House is one of the biggest things I miss when I go overseas. It must be the same for you. When I get home to the airport late, all I want
to do is crash into my bed and then wake up and eat a huge breakfast at Waffle House.

I'm really hoping that you get that opportunity to come home and do the same very shortly. Good luck with everything over there and come
back to the States safely.


From: Richter, James MAJ CFLCC-C3

Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2003 11:21 AM
To: James Blake
Subject: Jocks to GIs

James (or is it Jim?):

I'm Jim Richter, a 40-year-old Major in the U.S. Army assigned to the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) in Kuwait. I've been lucky to be rewarded by the ESPN "Jocks To GIs" program with this golden opportunity to correspond with you.

I, like you, was born in New York City and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut (Greenwich, not far from your hometown of Fairfield). I played varsity tennis in both high school (at Greenwich HS) and college (at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania) until I hurt my wrist before my sophomore year of college. I was never ranked, but I had beaten several regionally ranked players in ETA junior tournaments. I was also a professional tennis teacher before starting my military career. Tennis has always been the one and only sport that I closely follow and is still my main hobby in life. However, with the busy schedule and limited facilities over here, I don't get to play or watch tennis too often, so I really relish this great opportunity to correspond with you, James. In fact, my daily ritual of checking e-mail is one of the very few real distractions that I have from the normal demands of the day.

James, I'm impressed with your current ATP ranking of 14th in the world (and the 4th highest ranked U.S. player). I was really proud of your recent win over Carlos Moya in the round of 16 at Indian Wells -- well done! Sorry you lost to Guga in the quarters. I would have loved to see you beat Leyton Hewitt in the finals, but you did win the doubles trophy at Scottsdale. That's really tough to succeed at both singles and doubles, but you're obviously making it work. Are you going to keep playing doubles, James?

I noticed on your website that you like Waffle House restaurants. Well, I love them too. In fact, there's one not far from my home that I used to eat at frequently. Unfortunately there aren't any Waffle Houses over here. Just another good reason why I look forward to returning home soon.

Besides yourself, my favorite tennis players are Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, and Rod Laver. I actually got to see Rod Laver play in live exhibition matches in Stamford, Connecticut with fellow Aussies John Newcombe and Roy Emerson (I'm really showing my age now, aren't I?). Overall, I really enjoyed watching John McEnroe play more than the others -- not for his colorful antics, but instead for his raw talent, graceful movement, and pure athleticism on the court. Who are your favorite players – current and all-time?

What are your upcoming tournaments? How's life on the road?

Please consider me your number one fan on the warfront.

Take care, good luck, and keep in touch.