I’m excited we’re now carrying Athletic DNA at Tennis Warehouse. Aside from the bold use of color, sweet logo and “make it happen” attitude the brand exudes, there’s another reason I’m drawn to Athletic DNA. Simply put: Athletic DNA is us. By us, I don’t mean Tennis Warehouse. I mean tennis players. Athletic DNA knows that competitive tennis players even at the junior level are often on the road traveling to various tournaments, and Athletic DNA wants to be at some of those tournaments to offer support to its athletes. And just like the juniors playing in those tournaments, ADNA hits the road to get there.
Like I said, the guys over at Athletic DNA know tennis and what it takes to be a tennis player. They know the dedication it takes to rise to the top of the tennis rankings, and they’re dedicated to helping their players get there. To get ADNA players the support they need, someone has to be dedicated enough to make the trip — or as the case may be, the drive.
I got the driver of the giant ADNA RV (like all the acronyms?) to share a bit about himself. Meet Evan Zeder, director of sales and marketing, tennis player and all-around good guy.
How did you get started in tennis?
I started in tennis because everyone on my mother’s side played tennis. All of her brothers played college tennis, and when I look back, I think the only reason she got me started was so I could eventually beat my uncles!
What was your tennis life before joining ADNA?
Before ADNA I played junior tennis growing up, and then went on and played for the University of Illinois. Knowing how much of a grind the junior circuit was when we played, and really wanting to do something different on that level, was a lot of the inspiration for our brand. Luckily, I played on a great college team and one of my closest friends and teammates, Mike Calkins, helped bring me into ADNA, and we also have some of our pros on Tour wearing the brand that were former teammates of mine and Mike’s.
How did playing college tennis prepare you for life after graduation?
Playing college tennis did an unbelievable job helping me for life after graduation. It’s like having a full-time job on top of all of the school work you have to finish. I would say the areas it helped me the most were organization and work ethic. I went to regular high school and never had home schooling, and as a result I was just used to showing up to school, going to class and then leaving for practice. When I went off to college it was a big adjustment for me to learn how to effectively set up my schedule and maximize my time on and off the court for tennis and school. Illinois did an unbelievable job at giving us constant support from our coaches, advisers and teammates to help us work through this process, and our coaches were also great about making sure we worked hard but didn’t burn ourselves out. Without that support, it would have been very difficult to figure out how to balance everything on my own.
What’s your best tennis moment, college or otherwise?
My favorite moment in tennis was my senior year of college. Illinois was hosting the National Indoors in Chicago for the first time in school history. We played Georgia in the quarterfinals, who were ranked higher than us with players like John Isner, and we split the doubles on courts 1 and 2. I was on court 3, and we had a huge crowd that was mostly Illini fans going crazy after each point with the match tied 7-7. We then broke them, and I had to serve out the match. I had my serve going that day and served an ace on match point, it was one of the only times I had a match come down to my court in college, so it was pretty memorable for me. It is actually scary how I can remember each point, but that’s tennis. I can easily go through each point of the tough losses too, but I’m happy you didn’t ask about those!
Did you ever think you’d be driving such a big RV as part of your job?
Absolutely not. One of my partners called me and told me the idea and I thought he was joking. After seeing it, and realizing how much of an impact it could make, I just got in it and took off. I would say I have a love/hate relationship with it now, although it’s been behaving for the last couple of months so it’s getting on my good side.
Any great tales from the road?
Too many to fit here! The RV may look impressive when it pulls up, but it doesn’t always cooperate with me! One of my favorites is when I was in Midland, TX, and had left the RV at a storage place for three weeks. When I left, apparently Texas went through an uncharacteristic cold front, and the temperature had gone under freezing for a week straight. Apparently when you leave an RV and it gets cold, you are supposed to “winterize” them, something I would’ve loved to know when I started driving it. When I turned the RV on, I heard water gushing onto the ground below it and realized it was going to be a long day. Apparently all of the pipes had frozen while I was gone and now I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with a busted RV. After calling the only 3 places in town, luckily the last one picked up and a guy came out to meet me. The RV could only drive about a mile without breaking down, so I would drive it, it would shut off, then I would restart and go another mile. Once I arrived at the guy’s RV site, he told me he would be lucky to fix it in a couple days, and with no car, and no hotel anywhere around, I asked if he could just lock the gates and let me crash in it. He said no problem because they lived on site, and for the next couple days I helped him fix it and ate dinner with him and his wife. I definitely lucked out meeting great people who were willing to help me out, they knew I was clueless as to what was going on!
What’s the best part being on the ADNA team?
The best part of being on the ADNA Team is knowing that I am working for something that I am extremely passionate about and is bigger than myself. Being a part of a brand is like being on a college team, your team is working as hard as they can to have the brand reach the highest level possible. Even though tennis is an individual sport, I have always loved the team aspect. ADNA has that feeling, and everyone who puts the gear on is part of that movement.
What inspired you to be part of ADNA?
In my opinion, tennis hasn’t had a brand truly showcase the athletes that play the sport, and I feel like we are doing that. In a way it is almost selfish, because I know how hard I worked growing up, and I also have seen how hard my teammates, friends and competition have worked. There is a stigma attached to tennis that it doesn’t have the best athletes, which I feel is completely false. It is one of the reasons I love our name because yes we do make clothing that tennis players wear, but we are an athletic apparel company, that just happens to be starting in a sport that has some of the best athletes on the planet.
What so you see in the future for ADNA?
I think we need to walk before we run, or even better, crawl before we walk. We are young, and we need to not look too far ahead. I think our women’s line was a big step for us. We have wanted to do it for a while, but have needed to make sure we come out with quality product. Once we continue to improve on that line, I think we will work on evolving each line to include items that will allow our customers to wear our product not only for tennis, but also for hardcore training and fitness, as well as having on and off court gear. I think when you put on our gear, whether it is training, tennis or wearing it off court, you’re still an athlete, so having that “athletic dna” should be showcased at all times.