Former ATP pro Ryan Thacher, who now works as a first-year orthopedic surgery resident at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, New York, spoke about his journey on the professional circuit to the ATP Tour website recently.
Thacher, who is now 30 years old, says, "I feel like I had a very successful career as a tennis player and I have a lot of moments and tournaments that I can look back on fondly and feel good about what I was able to accomplish.
I feel fulfilled in the job that I do and excited for the future. I think that’s about as much as anyone can ask for”. Amongst his more memorable experiences was playing Kei Nishikori, who was then 17 years old, at the Los Angeles ATP Tour event 13 years ago.
“There were some rumblings I recall that he was a really promising up and coming, young player from Japan. I didn’t know much more about him than that, I hadn’t seen him play… I had some fans in the crowd and I remember I came out and I think the first couple of games were pretty close… I actually thought I was playing really well.
I was like, ‘Gosh, this guy is so solid. I had a pretty good serve and I was serving and volleying a little bit and I felt like I was playing really well, and I was having a really hard time winning points”.
Nishikori won that match 6-1, 6-4.
“He was incredibly polite and really friendly and I actually saw him a few times after that match.
He remembered me and we would just say, ‘Hello’. That was very meaningful and very telling of what kind of guy he is”. That same year, Thatcher says he also got to practice with tennis legend John McEnroe at the US Open where he was playing the boys singles draw.
“That was a pretty cool experience. That was different. He’s not one of the contemporary guys, but he still hit the ball so clean. He was still really good,. He was trying to tune his game up and stay sharp. That was obviously, for a younger kid, such an incredible experience."
Thacher reached No. 528 in the doubles rankings and No. 974 in the doubles rankings.