The occasional feel-good Cinderella story is one of the best parts about following sports. We wrote about how career minor leaguer Drew Maggi was called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates a few months back. The latest example is American tennis player Christopher Eubanks. Known as one of the nicest guys in tennis, Eubanks cracked the world’s top 100 earlier this year for the first time at age 27. That ranking continues to climb after Eubanks reached the final eight at Wimbledon. He eventually fell in five sets (6-4 1-6 4-6 7-6 6-1) to number three in the world Daniil Medvedev on July 12.
Career defining moment
Eubanks had never won an ATP tournament before this year and had never been beyond the second round of a grand slam. On his first trip to Wimbledon, he took the tournament by storm. His 6′ 7″ frame was ideal for the grass courts, and he tore through the draw with his lightning serve, powerful groundstrokes and serve-and-volley strategy. Breaking the record for the most winners hit during a Wimbledon run, 77th-ranked Eubanks knocked off such players as 12th-ranked Brit favorite Cameron Norrie and fifth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas.
He fell to Medvedev in the quarterfinals, losing the first set before dominating in the second set and winning in the third set. Things started to turn for him in the fourth set, where he lost a tiebreak. The fifth set was almost a foregone conclusion where the American had little tennis left in the tank.
The results are no fluke
Still, Eubanks is on a run in 2023. His overall ranking after the top-8 tournament finish will surge at least to 31 in the world after the tournament ends. Ironically, Eubanks claims that he didn’t even like playing on grass when he started the grass court season, even texting Kim Clijsters for advice on navigating the surface better.
It’s an unlikely story for a player not turning pro as a teen and not heavily recruited to play college tennis before going to Georgia Tech. While there, however, he was twice picked as ACC Player of the Year and was a two-time All-American. He turned pro before his senior year in 2017. Eubanks transitioned to the pros playing low-tier Futures and Challenger events to small crowds for little money. He was disappointed with his results and still worked on his game, hiring a full-time coach in 2021. The additional cost yielded benefits, and he started winning and doing damage as a qualifier, breaking him into the top 100. He won his first ATP tournament (the Mallorca Open) on July 1.
With the tour hitting the North American hard courts in the lead-up to the U.S. Open, Eubanks will be one to watch.