Aug. 9, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
– Christopher Eubanks has had a week to reflect since being on the bottom of a lopsided loss, but when he and Donald Young lost, 6-2, 6-4, to Mike and Bob Bryan in the semifinals of the BB&T Atlanta Open, it was all good.
In about a week, Eubanks will be a sophomore at Georgia Tech. Young continues to make a living as a professional tennis player.
The Bryan twins remain the best doubles tandem of all time after banking their record 107th pro title in Atlanta a day after topping Young and Eubanks.
Chalk it up as a tremendous learning experience for Tech’s top returning player, who also played a singles match at the BB&T after drawing a wild card entry into the tournament as an Atlanta native.
“They just have like a sixth sense on the court, knowing where the ball is going to go,” Eubanks said of the Bryan brothers, who won their 942nd match together on Aug. 1 as Young-Eubanks were playing just their third. It makes you feel like the court is getting smaller.”
Eubanks scuffled a bit down the stretch of his freshman season, as the competition ratcheted upward. He dropped six of his last nine matches, yet went 25-21 for the entire year with six wins over nationally-ranked opponents on his way to earning second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors.
He was 24-16 as a doubles player, where the 6-foot-7 graduate of Westlake High uses his length to increase court coverage. He’s adept at the net, and from the baseline as well.
There are different levels of players out there, however, as he found out when falling 6-2, 6-2 to seventh-seeded service star Radek Stepanek of Czechoslovakia in his singles match.
The Bryans, who have won 16 grand slam titles together, were the ultimate. They have a knack for countering all forms of attack, and Young and Eubanks won just five points against the Bryans’ serves.
“It’s really tough to return,” Eubanks said. “I don’t think I’ll see anything like that in college.”
The BB&T was a rousing success. Young and Eubanks won two doubles matches, beating the fourth-seeded duo of Mate Pavic/Michael Venus, 6-2, 3-6, 10-5, and then topping Austin Kraijicek/Nicolas Monroe 4-6, 7-6(5), 10-2 in the quarterfinals.
Practice will begin soon after school starts next week at Tech, as the Yellow Jackets will prepare for the Southern Intercollegiate Championships beginning Sept. 12 at the University of Georgia.
Eubanks may have a jump on matters, thanks in part to his “pro” debut.
He was not allowed to pocket any prize money from the BB&T, although NCAA rules do allow for him to be reimbursed for expenses incurred. Most of those came as he had to purchase match clothing that was ATP-approved.
“You have to be dialed in on every point [at the pro level],” he said. “I’m just here playing for the experience, the fun. It [was] a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”
Or, maybe not.
Young, who met Eubanks several years ago when his parents began working with the younger Atlanta tennis standout, said he may even ask Eubanks to be his partner again one day if their schedules might allow.
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