A lot of people want to be a broadcaster, and a lot of people dream of a career in tennis: What's better than covering and commentating about this beautiful game? But the committment needed to shine behind a microphone is intense, and few understand just how much preparation goes into calling just one match.

Mike Cation knows this well, because as the sole voice of the USTA Pro Circuit (or Challenger Tour as it is also commonly known), he prepares for up to six matches in single day. The amount of effort he puts he forth is staggering from a far and even more impressive up close, as he continues to tell the stories of the players who just might be tomorrow's stars.

He recently joined the Inside-In Podcast to discuss his increidble schedule, 10 years of pro tennis memories, and why he's doing exactly what he always dreamed of.


Cation's role in tennis happened through the perfect combination of opportunity and preparation. He went to school at the University of Illinois and got his broadcasting degree at the same time that Craig Tiley, now the CEO of Tennis Australia, was leading the school's men's program. Cation got his foot in the door and made his broadcasting debut at the Winnetka Challenger in 2013.

That set the stage for a grind the like's of which is virtually impossible to duplicate. The broadcaster calls six matches a day in the early rounds of a tournament, with some days lasting upwards of 15 hours.

"I know that these players, especially at the Challenger level, don't often get their stories told," Cation stated, as he explained his passion for putting in the long hours at each event. "I'm lucky that I get to see them and see that incredible talent. If I don't have an appreciation for that, I shouldn't be doing it."


A decade of broadcasting the Pro Circuit has provided Cation with many incomperable memories and moments. There was that viral moment in Sarasota involving Frances Tiafoe and Mitchell Krueger (You can Google it if you want); British tennis player Marcus Willis earning the nickname "Cartman" by eating a Snickers and drinking Coca Cola mid-match; and more than his fair share of weather interruptions.

Cation says he wouldn't trade anything about those experiences, which have provided levity in the midst of a grueling grind, and have given him the chance to become friends with the athletes he is covering.

"The friendship I've struck up with Noah [Rubin] and Chris Eubanks for example, and being invited to players' weddings is crazy to me," he said. "Those relationships are really what it's all about."

Tennis Channel Inside In - Mike Cation

Tennis Channel Inside In - Mike Cation

This summer at the XS Tennis Center in Chicago, Cation was honored at a Pro Circuit event for his 10th anniversary as broadcaster. The players themselves were the ones lauding praise and recognition on the voice of their sport, a moving sign of the respect that Cation had earned. Every professional longs to be successful in their careers, but receiving respect from your peers is as important and valuable as any form of currency. The competitors have seen Cation put the work in, prep for their matches, and deliver maximum effort week in and week out.

"All that matters is, I know that those players at least understand that I'm putting in the work to make sure that I represent them well on air. I'm very, very lucky that I've earned the trust of those players," Cation explained while recalling that humbling day for him in Chicago.

"That's the one thing that I always long for and I always take very seriously, is making sure that I'm telling the story of whomever is in front of me, the best way that I can on that particular day. I'm really happy that it shows through and those players understand that."


Cation has seen his hard work rewarded with more opportunities afforded to him. He works as an interviewer for ATP Media at select events, and calls matches on-site for the US Open and Australian Open, the latter of which will be special next month when he brings his daughter along for the trip.

Throughout the countless hours traveling, preparing, and following the ferocious pace of the game he loves, the broadcaster from Illinois continues to thrive. He embodies the lessons his parents taught him every day he speaks into a microphone; put your head down and do the work. The tennis world is lucky to have Mike Cation in a promimnent position, and the game could use more people built in his mold.