At 14, Krajicek enrolled in the IMG Academy in Bradenton, where Nick Bollettieri famously produced future champions under the often sweltering Florida sun. At 18, Krajicek won the U.S. national junior championship in Kalamazoo, Mich., and flirted with turning pro. He chose instead to attend Texas A&M, to give his body and his game a few more years to develop. In 2011, he won the NCAA men’s doubles title.

Then it was time to start playing for his next meal.

The journey to the tennis big leagues has a few stops in major world capitals like Paris and London, but players can spend many more nights in destinations like Binghamton, NY; Aptos, California; Rimouski, Quebec; and Gimcheon, South Korea. There are terrible hotels, a lot of bad food, and a lot of empty high-rises. Or no levels at all.

Krajicek was a newly minted pro playing in a minor tournament in Champaign, Ill., when he met Kedzierski, a senior tennis player at the University of Illinois. A friend of Kedzierski fell in love with Krajicek but was too nervous to reach out. Kedzierski got his number and texted him on her friend’s behalf only to find out that Krajicek was interested in Kedzierski.

They had their first dinner two months later in Maui, when they realized they were both there for tennis competitions. Nice guy, she thought.

After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles to work for a stylist in the entertainment business. Krajicek, a master couch surfer who often stayed in the vacation homes of wealthy tennis boosters, used Los Angeles as a training base. He started staying at Kedzierski’s place, showing up with his tennis bag and suitcase, training for a week or two, and then going back on the road.

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