One of the oldest adages in life states that if you find a job you love doing, you’ll never actually work a day in your life. If that’s true, then Luke Jensen is still searching for his first employer. The man who can serve aces with both arms broke into the big time 39 years ago, when he was the world’s number one junior in both singles and doubles. What’s happened since then has mirrored the trials & tribulations that many in life are offered and afflicted. Triumphs. Setbacks. Glory. Adversity. Yet through it all Luke Jensen continues to be a positive force for the game that afforded him and his family so much joy. He joined the Tennis.com Podcast with Kamau to reminisce about a journey in tennis that’s had a little bit of everything, and one that’s still not completed.
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Tennis.com Podcast Featuring Luke Jensen: The Legend Of Dual Hand Luke
Luke Jensen is one of the most tennis-crazed people on the planet, and it’s easy to understand why in this chat with Kamau Murray.
Published Apr 29, 2023
The rapport between guest and host is terrific, which is thanks in no small part to their shared Midwest roots. Jensen’s Michigan upbringing combined with a supportive family gave him all the tools in the world to succeed. As his game skyrocketed, the pros seemed like the most logical step. That was until he met one-on-one with Arthur Ashe, who encouraged the young player to go to college. “When Arthur Ashe tells you and gives you advice, you take it. And in the end it was the most important decision I made as a person, because I did everything he said I was going to do,” Jensen recalled decades later. At USC under the great Coach Dick Leach, he learned not only to succeed as an individual but to contribute to the goals of a team. College enabled Jensen to grow as a person, which enabled his tennis to flourish.
Despite his junior and college success as a singles player, it was doubles that took priority for most of Jensen’s pro career. Doubles was the best path to make a living and last on tour for the USC alum, and for that he offers no apologies. Jensen won 10 titles altogether, but one clearly stands taller than the rest. In 1993 he partnered with his younger brother Murphy to shock the tennis world and win the French Open. It was a Cinderella run, and one that featured an unlikely and confounding locker room speech from one of the greatest players in history. “As we’re sitting there waiting for this match to end (the women’s final), Johnny Mac comes through,” Jensen remembered. “He stops, and he gives us one of these General Patton speeches like, ‘I want you to take these guys back to the Beaches of Normandy,’” in reference to the two German players the Jensens were about to meet in the final. As both teams sat listening to this, Jensen couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that nothing was lost in translation to his fluent English speaking opponents. “As he soon as he got in there and yelled at us, he left. And we were like, what just happened? But it took the edge off.”
After the completion of his tennis career, Jensen has been active in both broadcasting and coaching. He guided the Syracuse women's team for several seasons and was most recently at the helm for the New York Empire in World Team Tennis. In fact, Murray's Chicago Smash team came within one point of claiming the title in 2020, but a CoCo Vandeweghe winner grazed the line. Wounds are still fresh regarding that outcome, but Murray fully acknowledges and credits the opposing coach for willing his team's comeback that day. "They're already down, they're feeling it," Jensen explained of his coaching philosophy. "You still may lose. But you gotta go down swinging, and just saying, we're gonna have more fun than everybody else. Keep going."
Luke Jensen and Kamau Murray cover all the bases the game has to offer. They talk shop, reminisce over good times and bad, and crack more than a few laughs. Tennis has given opportunity and vigor to many people who would otherwise not have had such a chance at a fulfilling life. Luke Jensen continues to devote himself to the game that made him, and it's one that tennis should not take for granted.