Christopher Eubanks’ evolving relationship with grass-court tennis this summer can be aptly captured by a popular meme.
From initially calling it the “stupidest” surface in the sport, Eubanks now fondly refers to it as his “best friend” after securing a spot in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
Eubanks, a late bloomer in the tennis world, surprised the crowd by defeating Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday, achieving his first-ever Grand Slam quarter-final appearance in his inaugural Wimbledon main draw.
Overwhelmed with joy, the 27-year-old American exclaimed, “I feel like I’m living a dream right now. This is absolutely insane. I’ve tried to block everything out and focus on the next match. But, as clichéd as it sounds, it’s surreal, it’s unbelievable. I can’t believe this.”
Eubanks’ fortunes on grass took a remarkable turn after a text exchange with former world number one Kim Clijsters, a two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist. Seeking advice, Eubanks messaged Clijsters after a disappointing second-round loss in an ATP Challenger event in Surbiton.
In his message, he wrote, “Kim! Grass is the stupidest surface to play tennis on.”
Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam champion, responded with reassurance and a valuable suggestion: more footwork drills. Following this exchange, Eubanks experienced a remarkable transformation. He went on to win a title in Mallorca on the ATP Tour and has since continued his impressive winning streak at the All England Club.
Eubanks has now won nine consecutive matches on grass, propelling him into the top 40 of the world rankings. It is worth noting that until April, he had never cracked the top 100.
When asked about his infamous comment about the “stupid surface,” Eubanks smiled and confidently declared, “Those words will never come out of my mouth for the rest of my career. Grass and I had a strained relationship over the years. Right now, I think it’s my best friend.”
Eubanks has not only won over the grass court but also the Wimbledon crowd. After defeating British number Cameron Norrie in the second round, he received a warm ovation on Court One. The atmosphere was electric as he shocked Tsitsipas on Court Two.
Fans quickly embraced Eubanks, appreciating not only his game but also his personality and backstory. Standing at an impressive height of 6ft 7in, Eubanks relies heavily on his powerful serve, winning 89% of his service games and hitting a tournament-high of 85 aces so far. His thunderous groundstrokes further complement his game.
Eubanks holds the highest percentage of winners among all male players in the tournament, with 26% of his shots beating his opponents. Norrie, a semi-finalist last year, described Eubanks’ shots as “absolute rockets.”
In a sport often plagued by pressure, Eubanks stands out by visibly enjoying himself on the court. An entertainer at heart, he actively engages with the crowd, cupping his ear for more noise against Tsitsipas and expressing gratitude to the fans by forming a heart sign with his fingers at the end of the match.
Eubanks expressed his gratitude towards the Wimbledon crowd, stating, “The fans here have really, really supported me. Even in my match against Cam, I knew it would be a tough atmosphere. The crowd, rightfully so, wanted Cam to win and backed him. I felt that when I had good moments, they applauded and enjoyed good-quality tennis. Since then, they’ve really, really gotten behind me. I hope they come out in the quarter-finals and show me a little bit more support.”
Eubanks attributes his ability to feed off the crowd’s energy to his experience in the American college system. Having played for Georgia Tech, he joins the ranks of many current professionals, including Norrie, who have emerged from this pathway.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Eubanks credits his dad, a Baptist minister, for introducing him to tennis. He feels “extremely fortunate” to have grown up in a city with a strong tennis tradition.
Following his victory over Tsitsipas, Eubanks expressed gratitude for the support he received from his good friend Coco Gauff, who also hails from Atlanta and cheered him on from the sidelines. He also acknowledged other influential figures from the city, including Jarmere Jenkins, Serena Williams’ former hitting partner, and Jermaine Jenkins, brother of Naomi Osaka and her former coach.
Eubanks revealed that both Coco and Naomi had long believed he belonged at the highest level of tennis. He confessed to doubting his consistency in the past but credited his friends for reinforcing and instilling confidence in him.
“I knew I could come out in any match and maybe light it up, cause some guys some trouble,” said Eubanks. “I don’t know if I really believed I could put it together match after match after match against quality opponents. That’s something Coco has been telling me for a long time. Naomi even says the same thing. That’s been the main thing, just reinforcing and instilling confidence.”
With his newfound confidence and remarkable run at Wimbledon, Eubanks eagerly awaits his quarter-final match against Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wimbledon 2023
What is Christopher Eubanks’ performance at Wimbledon 2023?
How has Christopher Eubanks’ relationship with grass court tennis changed?
Initially referring to grass as the “stupidest” surface, Eubanks now considers it his “best friend” after experiencing success on the grass courts at Wimbledon.
Who did Christopher Eubanks defeat to reach the quarter-finals?
Eubanks defeated Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round to secure his spot in the quarter-finals.
What advice did Kim Clijsters give to Christopher Eubanks?
Kim Clijsters advised Eubanks to focus on footwork drills, which proved to be instrumental in his transformation and subsequent success on the grass courts.
How has Christopher Eubanks’ performance improved on grass?
Eubanks has won nine consecutive matches on grass, hitting a tournament-high of 85 aces and having the highest percentage of winners among male players in the tournament.
How has Christopher Eubanks engaged with the Wimbledon crowd?
Eubanks actively engages with the crowd, showing enthusiasm and gratitude. He cupped his ear for more noise from the crowd and made a heart sign with his fingers to thank the fans.
Who has influenced and supported Christopher Eubanks?
Good friend Coco Gauff, along with other Atlanta-based individuals such as Jarmere Jenkins and Jermaine Jenkins, have provided support and encouragement to Eubanks. He also mentioned conversations with Naomi Osaka as helpful in improving his game.
What is Christopher Eubanks’ next match?
Eubanks is set to face Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon.