After a successful US hardcourt season, 21-year-old American Christopher Eubanks proved he’s ready to take his game to the big stage at the US Open as he’ll make his Slam main draw debut next week in New York.
At the BB&T Open in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, he was able to knock off prominent American prospects Taylor Frtiz and Jared Donaldson in back-to-back matches before falling to Ryan Harrison in the quarterfinals. He received a qualifying wild card in Cincinnati where he was able to defeat Bjorn Fratangelo and former top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic, before falling to Ramkumar Ramanathan in the main draw first round.
At 6’7″ he showed that his serve is a serious weapon to go along with big groundstrokes, and a nice one handed backhand. In Atlanta he seemed to use the home crowd to his advantage and really thrived off their energy. When he takes the court at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center he’ll have to use the crowd to his advantage again as he tries to win his first ever match at a Grand Slam. Eubanks said “This is a tournament that I grew up dreaming about playing in and to think that I’ll actually be able to play in it is a dream come true. The hard work that I’ve been putting in this summer is truly paying off and all I can say is I am extremely blessed to be awarded this opportunity. I can’t wait to get there and live out my childhood dream on the greatest stage in the world and see what can happen.”
The decision to award wild cards can’t be easy for the USTA with so many prospects worthy of receiving one. Even though they have a total of eight to distribute, it’s not all in the USTA’s control. Tennis Australia and the FFT (French Tennis Federation) have a reciprocal deal where they get one of the wild cards and then give one to the USTA in return at the Australian, and French Open. The Australian wild card went to Alex De Minaur, and the FFT chose Geoffrey Blancaneaux. The USTA also awards a wild card to whichever American outside the top 100 accumulates the most points throughout the Summer, and that one went to Tommy Paul. They also reward a wild card to the boys 18 winner in Kalamazoo, which went to Patrick Kypson, and to the NCAA singles champion (if he is American), which went to Thai-Son Kwiatkowski. That only leaves them with three to distribute, which went to Americans Bjorn Fratangelo, Taylor Fritz, and Christopher Eubanks. As always, the wild card choices cause controversy. After Denis Shapovalov reached the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, many people thought he was an ideal candidate to receive one of the eight wild cards to the US Open. I believe the USTA made the right choice awarding their wild cards to American players as it can be a huge stepping stone for their career in the future. Shapovalov, who’s now inside the top 100, will have his fair share of opportunities in the future and will most likely qualify if he continues his form from Montreal. Shapovalov seemed to understand the USTA’s decision as well “’It would have been great to get a wild card, but I completely understand the USTA’s situation.”
Who knows, maybe a player like Chris Eubanks just needs an opportunity like Shapovalov got in Montreal? He certainly has all the tools that top players posses and it’s only a matter of time before he starts winning on the tour consistently. There would be no better time to make his mark on tour than next week as tennis takes center stage across the world in the last Major of the year in Flushing Meadows.
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