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The Underdog

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CALVIA, SPAIN - JULY 01: ATP Mallorca Championships 2023 at Country Club de Santa Ponça on July 01, 2023 in Calvia, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images)

By Luke Jensen, French Open Doubles Champion

Tennis is absolutely on fire right now! The 2023 season has turned out some incredible play from the biggest tournaments in the world.

I want to focus my attention on the underdog; the competitor who goes beyond endurance and doubt to reach a level of performance of which only they can dream. These road warriors are not always on the stadium courts. They often can be found on the lonely outside courts, qualifying in the “big” tournaments while most of their travels take them to the smaller stops in the world of professional tennis.

Occasionally, these peaceful warriors do something special in the spotlight of the biggest stages in the tennis world. You can’t help but root for them. They are just like you, the fan, who dreams to play your best in the most pressure-packed moments. Where doubt was there before, now that’s replaced by confidence when you are serving for the match. When the same shot that went out in the last event now hits the line when you need it most.

The Tennis Gods gifted this player with thunderous bolts of lightning from every swing he possesses. The ability to hit decisive winners from any place on the court. He also possesses an extremely high tennis I.Q. that allows him to problem-solve even the toughest situations. Oh yeah … the kid’s got a cannon of a serve!

I’m talking about the most lethal weapon in tennis today: Atlanta’s own Chris “The Cannon” Eubanks! Chris won his first ATP Tour event the week before Wimbledon and took that momentum all the way to the quarterfinals and Centre Court Wimbledon. Along the way of that nine-match winning streak, his electrifying game and smile captivated the entire world. Chris was the first male player to reach the quarterfinals in his first Wimbledon since American Paul Annacone did it in 1984.

Chris began doing interviews beyond ESPN and Tennis Channel. It was Good Morning America (twice) and many other news outlets. It was not only his dynamic play but his calm demeanor on the court. Audiences gravitated to this supernova talent of power but cheered his humility.

When Chris arrived back in the States, the American audiences wanted everything Chris Eubanks. Chris played his first tournament after Wimbledon in his hometown at the Atlanta Open. When Chris stepped on the court at the Open the stadium was sold out! Celebrities were everywhere — from athletes, musicians and politicians. Chris did not disappoint and brought that same extraordinary, passionate play to his hometown tournament.

Chris has broken into the Top 30 on the ATP world rankings and is not stopping there. This peaceful warrior has a plan for greatness and the work ethic to accomplish anything. Along the way, he will inspire and impact the world around him with his message of self-determination.

He was not a highly ranked junior, and he was not highly recruited, but he landed at the perfect college culture to grow his talent at Georgia Tech. Head Tennis Coach Kenny Thorne is a veteran ATP player and accomplished coach. Georgia Tech helped Chris improve elements of his talent to All American accomplishments before turning pro after his junior year.

Once on the ATP Tour, it has been a roller coaster ride, but Chris never lost the relentless work ethic to find more game. All the pieces were there, but on the tour any weakness is exposed. Years of faith and belief in his destiny are paying off in the extraordinary outcomes we see from him today.

So, I say let’s cheer for the underdog who never lost the faith and kept going back to the practice court after heartbreaking losses because he knew one day the moment would come when he could “fire the cannons” on the biggest courts in the biggest tournaments against the greatest players in the world.

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