An aspiring lawyer's internship leads to an ideal summer job at the US Open. A position where the goal of practice is perfection. NY1's Roger Clark explains.
You can probably figure out which person here is the elite tennis player.
It was great getting tips from Joe Schafer, who spends his days during the US Open helping the pros prepare for their matches.
"Sometimes I kinda have to pinch myself it's such an exciting place to be all the time," said US Open Practice Partner Joe Schafer.
The law school student from Buffalo was an intern in the legal department at the USTA's corporate offices last summer when it was discovered he was an ace at tennis — having been a top junior player and a member of the team at Davidson College in North Carolina.
He went from a desk to the courts as a practice partner for players seeking a US Open title in Queens, also helping coordinate practice court assignments.
"Roger, you and I are playing on court six," Schafer tells me. "I want to get you to warmup on court six so you can kinda get the feel of the court and know the different intricacies of it. Not that the lines change. You know, you want to see where your coaches are going to be sitting and all that stuff."
One of the challenges for Schafer is tailoring his game to the styles of the players who practice with him.
"I need to hit big serves at Nicole Gibbs," he said. "And then yesterday when I was hitting with Carla Suarez Navarro I had to hit very straight very flat because she was playing an opponent who hit deep and drove through the court."
Joe Schafer is planning on pursuing a legal career once he graduates from law school in the spring. But he hopes to continue to come back here and hit with the pros.
And he confessed that the first four players he hit with last Open didn't win. However, his luck improved.
"I had somebody make the fourth round and another person made the quarterfinals soon after so I was feeling much better about myself there," he said.
Which is good for a guy who is having fun on the tennis court, hoping to excel in a different type of court in the future.