Eubanks reminisces about Young’s days as his march continues in Miami

American Christopher Eubanks continued his stunning run at Tuesday’s Miami Open, beating Frenchman Adrian Mannarino to reach his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

The Atlanta-born, 26-year-old is a late bloomer and has received plenty of congratulations during his breakthrough week in Miami, where he survived qualifying, including actor Jamie Foxx, who took to social media to offer his support.

“Blood, sweat and tears and real hard work paid off for my good friend.” Foxx wrote after Eubanks defeated Gregoire Barrere in the third round, a result that secured his promotion to the top 100.

But while Eubanks enjoyed much-needed attention, with television interviews and text messages from figures across the sport, he made it a point to highlight the man who convinced him he could pursue a career in tennis and offered him a rare opportunity.

Donald Young, who reached the fourth round of the US Open in 2011 and 2015 and still plays on the second-rate Challenger Tour, has been more than a mentor to Eubanks. He took him all over the world to give him a unique tennis education.

“Donald was like a big brother. I’ve had the privilege of training and traveling with him since I was 15. He actually took me to tour the world with him on the tour,” Eubanks said.

A twist of fate saw the Young family take over a tennis center next door to the Eubanks family home in Georgia when the 15-year-old developed a real taste for the game.

“I can remember like it was yesterday. On the way to school, we’re driving and my dad is leaving, you’re going to start going to the Youngs after school,” he said.

Eubanks helped teach tennis to other school kids and then got some one-on-one sessions with the Tour pro.

“Donald came out around six and we practiced for an hour and a half and that was about it.

“But then when I got better, he said, ‘You know what, do you want to come and travel with me?'”

Eubanks had to ask his school for time off, but after it was granted, he packed his bags and set off with Young to tournaments around the world.

In exchange for being Young’s training partner, he was able to see tournaments like Wimbledon and the French Open from the inside.

“I actually turned 16 in Madrid. I didn’t play junior tennis the whole time. I just traveled and trained with him and saw professional tennis up close.

“I think that allowed me to really believe that this is possible. I can play professional tennis because if you don’t see it, it’s such an abstract thought unless you can see the level,” he said.

In addition to learning how Young approached tournaments and games, Eubanks was able to build relationships across the sport.

“I had to be in the dressing room with the boys. By the time I got on tour, I already knew a lot of the guys just because I got to travel with Don,” he said.

– trust –

The following year, Eubanks shifted his focus to youth tennis and was successful in earning a college scholarship. He played three seasons at Georgia Tech before turning down his final year of eligibility to turn pro.

His progress since turning pro in 2017 hasn’t been quick, but in Miami he showed he has the skills and attitude to hold his own against top players.

He defeated world No. 20 Borna Coric of Croatia to earn the biggest win of his career so far to advance to the third round, then defeated Barrere in straight sets.

Eubanks broke down in tears after that win as he realized the importance of his breakthrough in the rankings, but he took his latest triumph in stride.

“It feels more like I’m here, I have faith, I’m playing well, let’s see how long we can keep this thing going,” he said.

And amidst all the praise heaped on him, he took the time to call Young.

“I definitely told him there was no way I would be here without him and his family. No way in the world,” Eubanks said.


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