The new Indiana billboard in Times Square isn’t the only Hoosier product in New York people are talking about. Rajeev Ram, a professional tennis player who lives in Carmel, is enjoying a great week at the U.S. Open both on and off the court. This interview ran on the tournament’s homepage today.
Even better, the former Indiana high-school state champ got his first win in his sixth time playing the tournament’s main draw. He didn’t have an easy opponent, either—Ram, currently ranked No. 128 in the world, lost only four games in rolling over the player ranked No. 18 in the world. Granted, that player was Fabio Fognini, an Italian who prefers a clay surface to the U.S. Open’s hard courts and is often described as “mercurial.” The narrator of the U.S. Open’s video recap said, “The match went almost as quick as these highlights.” But Ram followed up the victory with another surprising performance in the second round today. He lost, but not before Tennis Channel commentators called his serve [Pete] “Sampras-esque.”
The hype machine isn’t exactly spinning on “Rampras.” He’s 29, has only one significant tournament title to his name, and his best results come on the doubles court. No doubt Ram will be disappointed that today’s match got away from him after he won the first two sets—the prize-money difference between the winner and loser of that match is $40,000. But he got some well-deserved attention, and will still be rewarded handsomely as a beneficiary of the U.S. Open’s big increase in prize money this year. He earned $53,000 for making the second round and sweetened the pot by winning his opening doubles match Thursday (that against fellow Hoosier Ronnie Schneider). So if you see Ram at St. Elmo, congratulate him on a great U.S. Open—and tell him he’s buying.