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Justin Gimelstob

Sport: Tennis

Born: January 26, 1977

Town: Livingston, New Jersey

Justin Jeremy Gimelstob was born January 26, 1977 in Livingston. He grew up in the wealthy New Vernon section of Harding Township and began playing competitive tennis at the age of 8. Always big for his age, he would one day tower over opponents as he grew to 6–5.

By age 12, Justin was nationally ranked, and he was the #1 player in his age group at 12, 14, 16 and 18. Meanwhile, he attended Newark Academy, in Livingston. He led the tennis team to an undefeated season and state championship in 1993.

Justin graduated in 1995 and accepted a scholarship to UCLA. That summer he made the US Open draw as a wild card and beat David Prinosil, who was ranked #65 in the world. Justin wasn’t even ranked in the Top 1000.

He made All-American as a freshman and had a 4.0 GPA. After winning the NCAA doubles title and leading the Bruins to a #2 national ranking, he decided to leave school and join the pro tennis tour. He next made headlines at Wimbledon in 1997 when he beat Gustavo Kuerten, the 12th-ranked player in the world. Later that summer he entered a tournament held on the UCLA campus and trounced Andre Agassi.

As one of the few Jewish players in pro tennis, Justin was proud of his role model status, but usually joked when asked about anti-Semitism in the sport. When asked specifically about his treatment during the French Open, he told a Daily News reporter, “They're so impolite and rude in general, you don't know if they think I'm Jewish or whether I'm just another American tourist.”

Justin lacked the all-around game to be a consistent winner in singles. He never did crack the Top 50. But he proved to be a superb doubles player, winning a dozen tournaments and appearing for the US Davis Cup squad in 1998 and 2001. Back problems forced him to retire from the tour in 2007, but he continued to play World Team Tennis and also worked as a commentator for the Tennis Channel. A go-to guy for quotes throughout his playing career, Justin remains a popular guest on sports talk radio shows.


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