I was named after Jackie Chan.

My parents decided he would be a good person to name me after.
There was another Hong Kong singer named Jacky Cheung - alas, singing was never for me.

The Spelling and Legend of Jackie Chan

This was when his kung fu action film audio was still being dubbed into English.
Before he became famous, the original spelling was a "y" instead of "ie".

"Jacky" (with a Y) was the OG spelling of Jackie when he was still filming in Hong Kong. 

For roles he could not play in life, he would try to play one in a film. If you can't be a doctor, just play one on TV. He likely wanted to be a police officer judging from Police Story and Rush Hour.

Combining Multiple Skills

Jackie Chan always learned all of the skills, not just in martial arts but also in filmmaking. He improvised a lot! Even behind the camera, he was wearing many hats on set!

This was mainly out of necessity because his films had a much smaller budget than Hollywood.

Jackie Chan's YouTube advice on how to be a good director. He adopted quickly and learned to operate his JC stunt team in Hong Kong like a start-up entrepreneur.

He always stayed hungry and humble. He even did some of his own editing and singing his own songs!

Pain never stopped Jackie

Obstacles and rejection did not slow him. That was his superpower.

Action! James Bond island selfie made with a backpack, timer, and some hops!

At Jackie's HK house, once upon a time.

The Value of Play and Pivots

Jackie has done it all, plus broken it all (bones and joints) through trial and error.
Behind-the-scenes clips from Jackie, the Stunt Director.

Yes, even during rehearsals and training. Accidents happen.
Jackie has always been good at getting out of these "physical pivots."

Mastering Footwork and Balance. Performance (as a prop) with young acrobats

Tennis and Michael Chang

I've always loved tennis. Being a professional tennis player was briefly a pipe dream of mine as a teenager. Even when I first saw an Agassi-Sampras Final on broadcast TV, I always wondered why they kept the funny scoring. I learned from a tennis coach named Ronald McDonald (no joke). Developed my game by playing summer tennis with a senior officer I met at TJ.

After Michael Chang won the 1989 French Open, my dad registered me for tennis classes and wanted to model my game after his. He bought a Prince oversized Graphite (POG) to practice hitting with me.

I was so young at the time and just enjoyed running around outdoors. It was similar to playing tag but with a ball and racket! I could use both my hands and feet - even my head. So I kept playing friends as a teenager.

Later, I decided to keep my tennis hobby associated with a real business. I needed to find ways to combine what I loved with what I knew - and I'd figure out the rest or hire an A-team to collaborate.

My next big, audacious goal is to find and spark the next Michael Chang here in the USA
For Asian-American Tennis, the epicenter is Southern California - specifically, Irvine, CA and near RCI.

TopCourt = Tennis + Movies

Filming on set with TopCourt
I am incredibly proud of our TopCourt team and film crews. I was at Indian Wells on March 7, 2020, when the music died. The tennis world shut down for COVID-19, so we found a creative way to keep the industry alive. I began inquiring after seeing Facebook ads around the Summer of 2020.

This is the company I wish I had started myself if I had the right people and money. Their pitch deck and presentation looked very polished.

Startups - Hard Work and Griding it out

TopCourt got seed capital from real tennis players like the Bryan Brothers, Lindsay Davenport, and Genie Bouchard. It is a company operated/taught by the pros and coaches together as a team.

Drawing and talking about the perfect tennis technique or form is theoretically easy. Demonstrating that perfect technique on the court in front of 4K cameras just before real high-stakes tournaments - now that's hard. This is the natural proving ground of a true touring professional player behind the scenes.

Grit: our all-weather film and 'stunt' crews from Aether Films

Whether it was the 105+ F afternoons of Indian Wells, the frosty breath of Laver Cup in Boston, or Miami's near 100% humidity. Our Indy film team was like the US Post Office. They all pushed their limits for every take with each athlete for all the full shooting days to maximize our daylight.

Camera operators and their assistants on every shoot were walking the court on the receiving end of ball strikes. Repeating for the best close-up footage possible.

Several times the crew got "tagged" by an errant ball.
Bengay, take two!

Even when pain is a given, our suffering is a choice.

"Schadenfreude" - laughing at our own Blooper Reels

Jackie's teaser video blooper reels at the end of movies always feature a lot of retakes.

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong...as the "Murphy's Law" saying goes. Nothing wasted. We can save that for the end credits!

At TopCourt, I've seen a pro's racket swung so hard on a serve, its frame slipped and cracked on contact the pavement. Wardrobe malfunctions, cameramen bruised up with ball tatooes, and video equipment with the value of a small car dangled on overhead cranes. Photobombing by wildlife, background ambulance sirens, and bleeped scenes we've had to delicately edit out later.

People love it. Always plenty of B-roll.

This is what the Germans called "Schadenfreude".

No CGI. No stunt doubles. All Action!

Even during the height of COVID-19, the tennis tour was basically shut down.

Anyone from Netflix (shooting films like Bullet Train) can tell you the shooting conditions those days. Our number 1 priority was finding ways to keep everyone safe yet keep filming.

Editing and post-production work was done whenever we could not shoot. Scouting players, signing players, and boosting their media presence, both young and old.

They are good at Tennis Moneyball: discovering the next Iga Swiatek before she wins her first French Open or Leylah Fernandez before she made it to the US Open Final.

Learn through Teaching: as a coach, I get better at the skill when teaching someone else. I wanted to be a coach to translate how tennis appears in the novice's mind.

All live-action shots in 4K. Multiple high-speed cameras, body cams, and remote drones.

Lights. Camera. Action!

Growing up with sci-fi films like "The Matrix" inspired me.

The John Wick series harkens back to old-school Hong Kong cinema with action sequences and fight scenes. John Wick 4 is how the Matrix trilogy should have ended. It is the result you get when you let two stunt directors surprise you and run a new film.

Keanu was the action hero willing to go that extra mile and put in an extra dollar.
YouTube Example: Cameramen were embedded in the stunt team to flow with the action.

Entrepreneurs as Troublemakers

As a child, Jackie Chan was always getting into trouble.
He had trouble standing still and listening to teachers.

When I was in Catholic pre-school until about 2nd grade, I was sent to the principal's office almost routinely.

I enjoyed pranks much more than my audience. Noisemakers under my father's truck tires for the early morning wake-up calls. Or leaving the showerhead nozzle left on the full blast setting,
I was the Calvin to his Hobbes.

The Co-Founder of Waze wrote the book "Fall in Love with the Problem." He openly admits he was fired from every company he ever worked for. Every one.

Entrepreneurs "have nothing to lose, so they'll take more risks."...

"They're not good corporate employees."
You hire me to test and, if need be, break the system.
Test the edge conditions. Reverse engineer the process.

Setting a new stage for yet-undiscovered talent to shine

TopCourt merely amplifies player stories.

It is their narrative. Their voice. Their origin story.
They select the showcasing shots of their own unique talent set. 

Lacking a big budget or social media presence, media capital should allow talented contenders to find sponsorship money to keep playing. The tennis stage should enable them to shine and be discovered by more tennis fans.

Like talent scholarships for student-athletes, giving young aspiring talent just starting out as pros with this small investment of attention even when hardly anyone knew your name.

Team TopCourts has the core group of angel investors, leaders, and legends - an alumni network of former World #1's. Together, we help graduate another cohort class of champions each year.

We compliment sports agencies with marketing templates for early-stage branding and social media awareness to prep the fan pages and sponsorship opportunities. Later, for those hungry individuals, this can grow into a Nike, Yonex, or Uniqlo deal.

Once they are rich and famous, maybe they will forget all about us. I dream that a few will pay it forward to the next boy or girl who loves tennis.

Making Partner at TopCourt in 2021, along with Venus

By March 2021, I decided to take a cross-country red-eye to see TopCourt on the ground floor during their week of filming in Miami. I wanted to meet and talk to the core team in person.

After the trip, I was convinced I wanted to increase my stake as an invested partner plus be an advisor to them in building the platform business. Ironically, this was the same week that Venus joined us.

We recruited many active tennis pros at WTT events to be our influencers.

My EdTech vision: 3 T's: "Tennis, Teaching, and Technology"

As a USPTA tennis coach feeding balls, I could reach a few dozen students a year. At best for those who could afford the lesson.

With TopCourt, I saw a chance to help shape the next "MasterClass of Tennis" - for hundreds of thousands each year, globally. A curated library of Netflix-caliber videos (where Education meets Entertainment) that bridges several generations and lifetimes.

Removing the ego of self, the spotlight is entirely on the young stars. Featuring players that can reach the hearts and minds of today's students. Players and coaches the audience will listen to and respect for tips. At the same time, it allows this next generation to add their verse of tennis truth to the world.

Moneyball: Iga Swiatek and Brandon Nakashima as teenagers

She became World #1, and he is now the reigning ATP NextGen champion of 2022, respectively.

Growing even the tallest Redwoods starts with the right soil, adding enough water, and nurturing it with our little green thumb startup garden (60+ tennis pros). Players like Casper, Felix, Alexander, and Andrey were signed long before they were in the ATP Top 10.

Feeding minds, feeding hearts, feeding stomachs.

In the end, it's about sharing a story.
Building a tale that outlasts the career.
Crafting the lessons which echo your history.

Tennis Careers: short and sweet

This is the timeline of a professional tennis player.
You're a prodigy at 15, a pro by 20, a journeyman at 25, a veteran by 30, and an old man at 35.

When we are too old to play, we coach.
When we're done coaching, we create a start-up that hopefully helps the next generation.

Some become directors of tournaments or commentators on TV.
Trying to leave a legacy behind while outrunning the hounds of oblivion nipping at our heel...


CEOs: Peace-time vs. War-time

"The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz
“In peacetime, leaders must maximize and broaden the current opportunity. As a result, peacetime leaders employ techniques to encourage broad-based creativity and contribution across a diverse set of possible objectives.

In wartime, by contrast, the company typically has a single bullet in the chamber and must, at all costs, hit the target. The company’s survival in wartime depends upon strict adherence and alignment to the mission.” (p. 226)

“Mastering both wartime and peacetime skill sets means understanding the many rules of management and knowing when to follow them and when to violate them.” (p. 228)

Nike Principles - "Air"

"Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat" - Fortune Favors the Bold

Push the boundaries. Do what they say you can never do.
Be Bold. Take risks, unafraid to fail, and always get back up.

Fail again. Fail better. Rinse and repeat.

That is what startup and entrepreneur culture is all about.
We aim to fail fast, learn fast, and pivot to the next step.
Always forward, running into the wind, facing the next wave.

Athletes and Achilles

In Homer's "Iliad", Thetis presented her demi-god son Achilles' two life paths:
"[H]er son's fate was either to gain glory and die young, or to live a long but uneventful life in obscurity."  - (Iliad: 9.410ff.) 8th century B.C., Ancient Greece
Achilles chose the path to glory and the Trojan War (Helen of Troy).

Ancient Athenian Agreement

We echo his name today and honor his choice when we read Homer in school.

You get the gift to live life; you don't choose it.
We don't pick Fate - it has a way of finding you.

Why do I also go by "Jack" or "John" or "JC"

Sometimes, folks prefer to call me "Jack" for short.
The more masculine form of my name.

As in Jack and Jill. Or Jack and the Beanstock.
Jackie Robinson was another important American, too.

Climbing the Matterhorn, my guide asked if I knew my Christian name was "John"?

I did not know that "Jack" is an alternative spelling for "John" from old English.
So many years since birth, I was happy to have learned something new.

As with St. John the Apostle, I was born a "Christmas Baby" during the 12 Days of Christmas.

In the Holy Year of 2021, I entered Europe that Summer with a journalist visa.
As one of the few Americans allowed to travel through Portugal - I entered Lisbon during Portugal Day and flew to Porto. Crossing the Duero River, here was the start of the Camino Portugués - to find some peace.

Camino Portugués - Cathedral of Porto (Sé do Porto)

JC are my initials.

Some use it as my nickname...
It lives on many arcade leaderboards of my youth.
A little bit of Church, a whole lot of Tennis.

JC + Tennis = JCtennis.

Welcome to the Neverending Story.