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Paul Jubb Goes On Tour, But Money Can Wait

Before his last year at the University of South Carolina, NCAA Champion Paul Jubb decided to play ITFs and Challengers full-time as amateur

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Paul Jubb at Ilkley 2019 (photo Vanni Gibertini)

It’s almost incredible to say it, but the main attraction at the Ilkley Trophy, the most important Challenger tournament of the British grass court season, is a 19-year-old kid who is the worst ranked player in the draw at n. 576 and before last week had never won a match at this level. But Paul Jubb owes his fame to the NCAA title conquered a few weeks ago in Lake Nona, Florida, when he brought home the prestigious individual national title for the University of South Carolina.

 

Since he is almost a “local player” (he was born in York but he moved to Hull at the age of three to live with his grandma Valerie after both his parents passed away), the stands were almost packed on Centre Court at the Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club as Paul was playing his third round match with Austrian Dennis Novak, seasoned pro ranked n. 117. Jubb lost quite easily in two sets, the same way he had lost to the same player just a week earlier in Nottingham, but after the match, he had to spend quite some time taking selfies in the grounds as many spectators wanted a piece of him.

After postponing his press commitment to the end of the tournament, the new NCAA champion was glad to sit down with the reporters to talk about his newly changed life, now that he is embarking on a journey that will eventually lead him to become a professional tennis player. But not for at least another year: “I haven’t really thought about turning pro – said Jubb – I knew that I was going to take some time off until Christmas to play some pro tournaments, to improve my ranking, but I never really thought about turning pro”. So he will forego the €2,180 prize money for the third round reached in Ilkley, but most importantly the £45,000 first round prize money for the Championships, where he has been granted a wild card for the main draw. “It’s going to be something I’ve never experienced before; I’ll take it all in and enjoy it. I will consider the match to be a success if I am able to come off the court and feel I have done everything I can. It will also be awesome to see my grandma in the crowd cheering me up: she has been the biggest rock in my life, she has done everything for me, always made sure I stayed on the right path”.

During these “school holidays”, Paul is training at the LTA National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, and he is still deciding what the setup of his team is going to be as he is about to start playing the pro tournaments for the rest of the year: “I still haven’t made up my mind yet. These few tournaments would be about getting the feel for the right people to work with. Of course, I am used to my coaches in the States, Head Coach Josh Goffi and Assistant Coach Kyle Bailey, who have been incredible to me, but obviously I will need to find a different solution. But I have been in constant contact with the LTA ever since I started attending university in the States, I won Nationals when I was 15 so I have worked with them before and they are allowing me to train at the National Training Centre and have access to all of their facilities”.

Like any self-respecting boy growing up in Hull, Paul started playing football (or soccer, if you are reading from the USA) and for a certain period of time he kept playing both tennis and football: “But as I was growing up – Jubb explains – tennis started taking up much of my time and football started fading away. There were talks, when I was very young, to have me go for tryouts at Hull City, but you can’t really play two sports at that level. I was a mid left, a lot of speed on the wings, and that is reflecting on my game, as mobility is my best asset”.

And like any self-respecting young tennis prospect, he also had posters of tennis champions in his bedroom. “Initially I really loved watching Nadal play, but as I was growing up, I found myself being more drawn towards Djokovic, as I consider my game modeled on his”.

After his imminent Wimbledon debut, where he will experience his first contact with the big tennis stage (and especially for a Brit, that could turn out to be as brutal as it is fascinating), Paul Jubb will immerse himself into the anonymous grind of ITF Futures played on precarious courts in improbable locations, just to build ranking and experience as a base for when, after graduation, he will become a pro and will start playing not only for points but also for fistfuls of dollars or euros.

 

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Wimbledon: Quarter-Finalist Cristian Garin loves The Event But Not So much The Surface

The South American reacts to reaching his first major quarter-final.

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Cristian Garin (CHI) - Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

Just over a week ago, Cristian Gain admitted that he was ‘upset’ when he saw his draw for Wimbledon this year. 

 

The world No.43 was set to take on the formidable Matteo Berrettini in the first round who has won two grass-court titles in a row in recent weeks. However, the Italian was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Instead, his opponent was the much lower-ranked Elias Ymer from Sweden who he defeated in straight sets. Since then, Garin hasn’t looked back.

On Monday at The All England Club, he staged an audacious comeback to defeat Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(10-6). Not only did Garin bounce back from two sets down, he also saved two match points in the process. Becoming the first player from his country to reach the last eight of the tournament since Fernando Gonzalez in 2005 and only the fourth in history to do so. 

“It is something very special for me. Wimbledon is my favorite tournament. Every time that I play this tournament is something special I feel,” said Garin.
“To be in the quarterfinals is a dream. I will try to enjoy it. I will try to give my best in the next round.”

Ironically Garin comes from a country where there are no grass courts. This year is his fifth appearance at Wimbledon and it was at the event where he made his Grand Slam debut back in 2017. However, like many other South Americans, clay is still his preferred surface.

“I said Wimbledon is my favorite tournament, not my favorite surface,” he jokes. 
“I think the grass is very fun for me. I have to change a little bit the way that I play. I think here on this surface you have to be aggressive.

Garin is one of only five ATP players from Chile currently ranked in the world’s top 500. Since April he has been coached by Pepe Vendrell who previously worked as a mentor to Roberto Bautista Agut and served as Spain’s captain in the ATP Cup. 

The next test for Garin will be a showdown against the formidable Nick Kyrgios who defeated Brandon Nakashima in his fourth round match.

“He is for me one of the guys that I like to watch. He’s very good for tennis,” he said of Kyrgios.
“In these rounds, you play the best. For me, Nick is obviously one of the best on grass.”

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Last Brit Standing Cameron Norrie Urges Fans ‘To Get Behind Him’ At Wimbledon

The Brit says he is feeling more comfortable on the Tour.

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Cameron Norrie (GBR) - Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Cameron Norrie had the pressure of being the British No.1 at Wimbledon this year and now even more eyes will be on him following his milestone win. 

 

The world No.12 defeated Tommy Paul 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, in his fourth round match on Sunday to reach the last eight of a major for the first time at the age of 26. In doing so he remains the only home player left in the singles draw of either men’s or women’s draws. Heather Watson lost her last 16 match earlier in the day to Jule Niemeier 6-2, 6-4.

“To play the way I did and to handle the occasion, I felt really comfortable the way I was hitting the ball this morning. Definitely more comfortable than my other matches.” Said Norrie.
“It was good to get through that one in the fashion that I did. I was up the whole match, which definitely helped.”

Norrie’s run is the best by a British man at The All England Club since Andy Murray back in 2017. He is coached on the Tour by Facundo Lugones who first got acquainted with him at college in America. The two were teammates with Lugones being a senior and Norrie a freshman. Last year he achieved a win-loss record of 52-25 and won the biggest title of his career in Indian Wells.

A solid top 20 player on the Tour, Norrie’s popularity back home is steadily increasing. Even more so in recent days due to Wimbledon. Now he is the last Brit standing there is added pressure but he is taking it all in his stride.

“I’m the last one standing. But I think it’s even more reason for everyone to get behind me,” he said. “Even the atmosphere was great today and definitely helped me get over the line there. Especially on that last game, I was obviously pretty nervous. I was serving for my first quarterfinal of a slam. I wanted to get it done there. They definitely helped me a lot.”

Norrie will be hoping the crowd will out in full force for his upcoming clash with former top 10 player David Goffin who defeated Francis Tiafoe in five sets. Goffin has reached the quarter-finals of a major on three previous occasions, including Wimbledon three years ago.

“He’s a very experienced player. He really likes the grass. He’s played a lot of big matches. It’s going to be tough,” Norrie previewed.
“He’s a great competitor, a really good athlete. He’s got a very complete game. He must be playing very well, so it’s going to be a tricky one.’
“One thing for sure, I know that I’m going to get into a lot of rallies with him. He’s not going to come and serve me off the court, which is good. It’s going to be another physical match, which is great for me.”
“I’m looking forward to competing. It’s going to be another huge challenge.”

The only time Norrie played Goffin was last year in Barcelona when Goffin was forced to retire from their match in the second set. 

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Roger Federer Hopes To Play One Last Wimbledon As Icons Mark Center Court Anniversary

The Swiss Maestro said it is ‘great to be back’ after attending a special centenary event alongside other greats of the sport.

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Image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/

On the 100th anniversary of Center Court, a special celebration took place on Sunday that saw the return of Roger Federer.

Past and present champions congregated on the premier court during a special 30-minute presentation with a couple of notable absences. Nine-time winner Martina Navratilova and Pete Sampras were absent. Each walking on one by one, the biggest cheer occurred when it was Federer’s turn to take to the stage.

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a professional match since his quarter-final loss at SW19 12 months ago due to knee surgery. He has already outlined his plans to return to action later this season at the Laver Cup and Swiss indoors. Speaking on court, Federer said he hopes to play at Wimbledon again as he unexpectedly hints at retiring in the near future. 

 

“I’ve been lucky to play a lot of matches here. Different type of role, but it’s great to be here. This court has given me my biggest moments,” said Federer.
“I hope I can come back one more time.”
“I’ve missed it here. I knew walking out here last year, it was going to be a tough year ahead. I maybe didn’t think it was going to take this long to come back – the knee has been rough on me.
“It’s been a good year regardless of tennis. We’re happy at home. I didn’t know if I should make the trip but I’m happy standing here right now.”


Federer is the only man in history to have ever won the Wimbledon title eight times and was undefeated between 2003-2007. 

One player closing in on that record is Novak Djokovic who is seeking to win his seventh title this year. Speaking about Center Court, the Serbian said the venue has a special place in his heart that dates back to his childhood.

“This court has been truly special from my childhood and the first image of tennis I’ve seen when I was four or five-years-old I saw Pete Sampras winning his first Wimbledon,” said Djokovic.
“This is where dreams come true and I was blessed in 2011, probably the highlight of my career, to win the tournament and so when I step out on this court I relive these memories. Truly an honor.”

As for the female champions of the tournament, Venus Williams, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber and Margaret Court were all in attendance. So was Billie Jean King who is the co-founder of the WTA Tour and has won all three Wimbledon events on multiple occasions (singles – 6, doubles – 10, and mixed doubles – 4). 

“I played my very first match at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old. We started late so I had two days on this court. It was magical and wonderful and I knew I belonged here,” said King.
“I love history and I love the fact we have so many people here. Martina [Navratilova] could not be with us and she won nine women’s singles so I’d just like to say I’m sorry she can’t be here.”

In 1922 Center court was officially opened for the first time after taking just nine months to construct. At the time it was the largest-ever reinforced concrete structure. The addition of a roof didn’t occur until 2009.

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