March 9, 2017
Christopher Eubanks (as told by Justin Fedich)
“Our Stories” is a RamblinWreck.com feature that provides first-person stories from current Georgia Tech student-athletes on their journey through academics, competition and life once their athletic careers are over. These young men and women represent the ideals of what it means to be a STUDENT-athlete at Georgia Tech. These are their stories.
As long as I can remember, I’ve had a tennis racket in my hand.
My name is Christopher Eubanks, and I am a 20-year-old junior at Georgia Tech. I’m currently the No. 7 ranked collegiate tennis player in the country with eyes on reaching No. 1 and playing professionally. My success on the court is a result of the incredible coaching I’ve received and my ability to focus on my overall development rather than hanging my head after a lost match. It’s gotten me to the position I am in now, with a chance to be ranked higher than any Georgia Tech men’s tennis player has ever been ranked before.
Georgia Tech men’s tennis is having one of its best seasons in recent history. We are ranked 17th in the country, and we have won our last seven matches. I play No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles, and at 6-foot-7, I’m an opponent that opposing players need to plan against.
Growing up in Atlanta, my parents Mark and Carla encouraged me and my older brother to get involved in sports. They were both very active themselves, and they saw the value in dedicating yourself to sports, a value I learned early on. At a very young age, before I could play tennis, I used to watch my father teach my brother tennis. There was never a deciding moment where I said tennis was going to be my thing. It’s always been a part of my childhood.
I’ve been fortunate to have skilled and dedicated coaches throughout my years leading up to college. First and foremost was my father, who was there from the beginning. My cousin Trey Eubanks, who played tennis at Michigan State from 1995-99, lived in Atlanta for a few years and was able to help take my tennis game to the next level. And then there’s Donald Young Jr.
At the time of my training, Young was a professional tennis player ranked around 50 in the world. He padded his resumé with wins over top players Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray. His parents ran a tennis center close to where I lived, and it was through there that I befriended Young, as he mentored me and shaped me into the tennis player I am today.
I learned from Young how to be disciplined and very strict with how I behave on and off the court and how to be receptive and open-minded and willing to learn from anyone. I combined that with my physical skills, and it helped me receive an offer from Georgia Tech.
I realized around the age of 14 or 15 that I was good enough to play college tennis. My father and Trey realized it too, but they didn’t give me too much praise. They wanted me to stay humble, and that’s what I tried to do during my time as a student at Westlake High School.
Freshman year of college wasn’t easy. I lost a lot of matches, and it was frustrating. My coach Kenny Thorne has always emphasized not to focus on the short-term, but rather on the long term. If I lose today, I can’t sulk about it. The question is, did I get better? If the answer is yes, then I have something to work with.
I was getting better, and I began to notice it sophomore year. In addition to changing my major from industrial engineering to business administration, I noticed changes in the results on the court as well. I was winning much more, and it gave me confidence that the work I was putting in was paying off. I started embracing the big moments in matches, looking forward to the deuces and the tiebreakers so that I could show I was mentally tougher than the guy on the other side of the net.
The results of my strong sophomore year paid off last summer, when I competed in the Master `U BNP Paribas in France for Team USA. Three male and three female collegiate tennis players competed for the U.S., and we played against Ireland, Germany and Russia.
After beating Ireland, I found myself trailing 5-1 in a third-set tiebreaker against Germany with our team behind 2-1 in the match count. I proceeded to lead an improbable comeback in the tiebreaker, winning the match and helping our team get back on track to eventually beat Germany. We also defeated Russia in the title game, completing an experience I won’t soon forget and one that has propelled me to an even stronger junior year.
No Georgia Tech men’s tennis player has ever been ranked higher than No. 3, but in the rankings released on Feb. 8, I had risen to No. 4, the highest ranking of my career. Although I’ve slipped a few spots since then, I still have my eye on that top spot. Considering I’m still a junior, I know I can reach No. 1.
While I have individual goals, I am excited about what our team has accomplished so far this season. My teammate Andrew Li, a sophomore, has really started to come into his own and it’s inspired the rest of the team to continue to improve our games.
We are ranked 17th, but in the previous rankings we were 12th. Other teams aren’t used to seeing our name that high, but we’re not going to be satisfied with where we’re at. We have high aspirations this season, and with the current win streak we’re on, we are showing anything is possible.
I want to do everything I can to help my team achieve its goals, but when that’s all said and done, I want to play professionally. If I keep progressing at this rate, I know I can accomplish that goal.
I was holding a racket before I knew how to walk, and it’s my intention to make sure it stays in my hand for a while longer.