By Sam Crenshaw / 92-9 The Game Analyst
Across the country college student athletes have spent the last two months working on improvements. It doesn’t matter what sport, they have been seeking ways to get stronger, faster, bigger or leaner. Some will workout alone, some can be found on campus with teammates, some choose to workout with players from other colleges, and then there is Georgia Tech’s Chris Eubanks. The rising sophomore is spending this week playing in the main draw of the BB&T Atlanta Open.
Eubanks, who played his high school tennis at Westlake High School, has played at Atlantic Station before. He has twice played in the Qualifying tournament, but the BB&T Atlanta Open has made college participation a tradition. Last year Nathan Pasha, a player from Georgia, got to play in the main draw. 2015 would be Georgia Tech’s turn and while Eubanks was hoping he would earn the opportunity, he wasn’t sure that he would be his coaches pick to represent the Yellow Jackets. That changed once the season started and Eubanks rose to the top spot on the roster, much to his surprise.” My coach (Kenny Thorne) saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself “, said Eubanks.
Chris finished his freshman season by helping the Jackets advance to the NCAA Men’s Championships, they hitting the road to get a closer look at how the game is played on the ATP Tour. The 6-7 Eubanks spent June and early July in Europe as a practice partner for his friend Donald Young. The fact that Young, the former top ranked boys junior player in the world, has been on the pro tour for 10 years, makes you wonder where the time has gone. Eubanks helped Young prepare for the grass court tournaments including Wimbledon.” I learned a lot just by watching “, says Eubanks. “The great players like Federer and Djokovic don’t make unforced errors.”
Tuesday night at Atlantic Station was test time. Eubanks and Young played doubles before a College Night crowd that included Georgia Tech Basketball coaching legend Bobby Cremins. The hometown duo beat Mate Pavic and Michael Venus to the delight of the Atlantic Station crowd. An excited Eubanks admitted that getting to sleep afterward was hard, “Yes I was eventually able to get to sleep. It took me a while though.” The next day Chris was brought back to earth in his singles match against tour veteran Radek Stepanek. A tough lesson learned against a player who was once ranked 8th in the world. No shame in the singles setback, after all there is still more doubles to play on Friday.
A win by Chris Eubanks and Donald Young would propel them into the semifinals and a likely date with Mike and Bob Bryan, the most dominant doubles team on the men’s tour. It would also be two rounds worth of ATP paychecks, which Young can accept, but Eubanks cannot. Chris will go back to school this fall with something most other college players won’t have, the experience of practicing at Wimbledon plus playing and winning an ATP tour match. Some things you just can’t put a price tag on. Ring the bell, school is in session at the BB&T Atlanta Open.