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Johnson's priorities begin shifting with daughter's impending arrival
The world No. 63 is first very much focused on tennis at The Greenbrier where he's competing for the Orange County Breakers.
Published Jul 25, 2020
White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. — Wins and losses aside, Steve Johnson is soaking it all in at The Greenbrier this summer. The 30-year-old is competing for the Orange County Breakers, a team that has dropped to a 3-7 record in World TeamTennis.
Johnson has something far bigger than tennis coming up on the horizon: He and his wife Kendall are expecting their first child in December.
"I don't want to screw up somebody else's life now. I've got to be responsible for somebody else," he says. "Probably a little less time on the golf course for me when I'm home come December when we welcome our baby girl into this world. So my wife and I are so happy that we get a chance to start a family and looking forward to it."
Don't get him wrong, the American is still very eager to play more tennis, and golf. Sam Querrey named Johnson as the best American golfer at The Greenbrier, followed by Jack Sock and then himself. Away from the green inside Creekside Stadium, Johnson has competed in both singles and doubles with wins over Querrey (twice), Taylor Fritz and the Bryan brothers, but he's taken losses to Fritz, Brandon Nakashima, Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock and Tommy Paul.
There's more tennis to be played with the regular season ending next Thursday. A lot of the first matches have been about shaking off the rust.
"There's only so much you can do in practice, at least for myself," Johnson says. "It's comes with live reps, it comes with competing, playing big points and kind of figuring out what works and what doesn't work again, since we haven't been playing events for the last three months."
The Breakers had a tougher start than most by only having four team members: Johnson, Jennifer Brady, Andreja Klepac and Luke Bambridge. They managed to fly in two more, Austin Krajicek and Gabriela Dabrowski, just days into the season. Though they are last in the standings, Orange County nearly upset the leading Philadelphia team on Friday, falling 21-20.
And the Breakers are having a great time at the resort.
"We're so individual all year so for us to be part of a team is few and far between, so I enjoy these moments," Johnson said. "I've played the last six years for Orange County, just a few matches here and there. To have a chance to play the full season, it's been fun to get to know your teammates a little bit better."
Like most of the players in West Virginia, Johnson is capitalizing on the three-week season to train for what's next. He has the added bonus of having his coach Marc Lucero on site.
"I'm lucky that Marc is here doing the TV side of things. He's been out with me most mornings working on what we need to work on," Johnson said. "When you have a lot of self motivated people on the team it's easy."
While the world No. 63 is not sure what the rest of the ATP calendar holds for him, he knows that come December, life will change a lot. Johnson and his wife will even be moving into a new home in Manhattan Beach ahead of their daughter's arrival.
He's also not sure how pro life with a young family will look like for him, though he's gotten plenty of insight from friends like Querrey and John Isner.
"I think it's going to be hard to be away from the family like we are now 25-30 weeks of the year," Johnson says. "Depending on how the travel is, how the world is in 3-5 years, where I'm ranked–there are a lot of variables in there.
"Hopefully I can play for a few more years, but there's going to be a side of me that will be more at home than he is on the road."
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