- School: University of Virginia
- Year Graduated: 2017
- Current Job: ATP #274 singles, #206 doubles
Juan Cruz “JC” Aragone was born June 28, 1995 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and grew up in Yorba Linda, California. Son of Paula and Facundo Aragone, JC is one of the most accomplished college tennis players in recent years. But before we get into that, we need to go back to 2012. In January of that year, the American had an allergic reaction to an acne medication that caused liver and kidney failure. JC was in a coma and was later diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He recovered from the health scare and proceeded to have an incredible college career.
At University of Virginia, JC was part of a massively successful Cavaliers team that won 3 back to back NCAA National Championships (2015-2017). On top of that, the American amassed several individual accolades including two ACC tournament MVP nominations all two NCAA all tournament team selections. All that led JC to a 109-22 overall singles record (85-12 in dual matches) and 63-18 doubles record (55-15 dual). It is hard to find college players with similar numbers.
JC graduated with a major in Government in 2017 and quickly picked up his professional career. He was awarded a wild card into the 2017 US Open qualifying and he made the best of it. He defeated Marco Cecchinato, Riccardo Bellotti and Akira Santillan to earn a spot in the main draw, where he lost to Kevin Anderson. Since then, the American has been steadily moving up the rankings, thanks to two 25K titles and solid performances on the ATP Challenger tour. JC is currently ranked #276 in singles and #206 in doubles (career high 224 and 153 respectively).
His collegiate and professional accomplishments earned him the 2019 Oracle US Tennis Award, receiving $100,000 to support his transition to the professional tour. JC has a captivating story and he has quickly become a role model for the diabetic community. He hopes that his journey inspire diabetic kids to pursue athletic dreams despite all the challenges.
Personally, I’ve known JC for a long time and he was one of my best friends on tour. We will definitely party hard in his upcoming wedding! Now let’s get to his interview.
7 Questions With JC Aragone
#1 What was your recruiting/school selection process like?
My recruiting process was pretty straight forward. I created a list of my favorite schools and got in contact with the coaches. I wanted to find the best fit for me based on my tennis skills as well as desired team dynamics. I talked to some of the current players from teams to learn more about their experiences. I narrowed my list down to three schools for my official visits. The visits were the most important because I was able to see first-hand how different each program was and how I connected with the guys. I took my official visit in the fall and then committed shortly after. I did not wait until the August deadline. I began my process with around eight school and had narrowed it down to three schools for my official visits. I believe it was in July of my junior year when we were first able to start having conversations with the coaches.I was looking for a program that would help me grow as a person not just on the tennis court but off the court as well. I wanted a school with strong academics that would challenge me.
#2 What was your favorite moment/story/aspect of college?
My favorite aspect of college besides tennis was actually going to class. It really was the only time in my life that I ever had real school – I was homeschooled before college. School had never really been a priority for me. I ended up being competitive in the classroom as well as on the court. At first, I naturally felt very out of place and uncomfortable but as I kept working hard, I really began to enjoy learning. My first semester Luca and I were taking a biology class, we both had no idea what to expect for a college level class. We had our first exam of the year and we thought we had prepared well. When we went to class after the test, the professor put a graph on the screen with all the results. As he went over them, he noticed that basically the entire class got B’s or higher, however there were two students who managed to get a 48 and a 52. He then asked if those two students would raise their hands. My already minimal confidence plummeted in this moment. In front of the entire class Luca and I had to raise our hands and face the embarrassment. Thankfully we were able to turn the class around in the end!
#3 How did college tennis prepare you for the rest of your career/life?
Being at UVA taught me so many valuable lessons. The coaching staff had a major impact not only on my development as a tennis player but also as a person. I learned that there is much more to life than just playing tennis. I quickly learned that in order to be the player and person I wanted to be, I couldn’t only focus on my tennis. Being disciplined in the classroom had a huge impact on how I was on the court. The social aspect of UVA also had a positive aspect on my tennis. UVA helped shape me into the person I am today. I am currently a professional player. I am traveling the world playing around 30 weeks a year. I would be lying if I didn’t say it was tough both mentally and physically. I still love playing tennis and genuinely enjoy what I do for a living. I have gotten to travel the world and play against some amazing players. I have learned a lot but have a long way to go!
#4 A lot of juniors and parents worry that tennis will suffer because of the academic demands of college. What advice would you give an 18-year old in terms of balancing academics and tennis?
Like I mentioned earlier, I believe that pushing yourself academically will only make you a better tennis player. The discipline you develop from studying and learning in the classroom will help you tremendously on the tennis court. Balancing tennis and academics is extremely tough but the skills you develop from finding a way to juggle both will aid you later in life. I learned how to prioritize and be more efficient. In my experience, I found that when I was more professional and focused, those days resulted in a better practice.
#5 Another thing we see parents worrying about is how the social component of college will affect their kids tennis. What would you tell an 18-year old going to college in regards to having fun without compromising their tennis/academics?
Our coach always said to us, “There are three major aspects of college – tennis, academics, and social. You need to prioritize two of those, and you know which ones to choose.” I always thought about that in the back of my head. That is not to say you can’t have any social life, but it is important to prioritize what is important.
#6 Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you were starting college again today?
If I could go back and do it again, I would try and take more classes that I found interesting even if the workload would be tough. Tennis programs have great academic advisors but sometimes they focus on not overloading their players so they can have time to juggle both tennis and school. My best semester academically was the one where I took the heaviest workload with classes I was truly interested in. I would say take classes that you are drawn too and you will find a way to succeed if they truly interest you. The most valuable lesson I learned in college was the importance of understanding your role and focusing on doing that to the best of your ability. A lot of times we are so focused on getting where we want to be, instead of fulfilling the task at hand to the best of our ability. I think a perfect example of this is playing 6 in the lineup and being salty that you are not 3 or 4. Show everyone that you can crush at 6 and deserve to be there.
#7 In your case, why did you think that college tennis was a good option as opposed to going directly to the pro tour?
Going pro wasn’t an option for me at the time. While I always had the dream of going pro, I had a really terrible illness that set me back about a year and a half, so college was really the only option I had. Even if I hadn’t been sidelined with an illness, I still believe college tennis was the right option for me. I needed to mature a lot as a person and player. I think the team aspect was the thing I valued most and miss the most. Playing for something bigger than yourself was a new experience for me and one that I enjoyed day in and day out. Tennis is an extremely selfish sport, your whole life you are told how good you are and everything is catered to you. Going to college taught me just how important it is to be selfless. Something so simple as to think of others before yourself seemed so hard at first. As I started implementing that I saw a major improvement in not just my tennis but my life as well. I feel like I learned a lot of valuable lessons and matured a lot during college. I worked on the specific qualities I lacked that I was going to depend on later in life.