“He didn’t miss,” O’Connell said. “He’s riding on confidence and he’s playing some unbelievable tennis.”
Eubanks’s Journey Stands Out
It can happen at Grand Slams. A journeyman catches fire and plays himself into the deep end of the tournament, just months after toiling in the minor leagues. Even by those standards, Eubanks’s journey stands out, both in its unlikelihood and, now that it has happened, in the reason it did.
Go back to his teenage years, growing up in Georgia in the early 2010s. His tennis-loving father was a baptist minister, so his mother had to accompany him to most of his Sunday matches. Back then, Eubanks didn’t rate high enough with the United States Tennis Association to merit much in the way of support. That would come after college, when he received a $100,000 grant from the U.S.T.A. to help fund his pro career.
The Covid-19 pandemic arrived as Eubanks felt he was beginning to figure out his game. He had qualified for the Australian Open and picked up some wins on the second-tier Challenger Tour to gain some confidence. When the tour resumed after the pandemic disruption, he felt he had to start all over.
Eubanks and his agent had a heart-to-heart.
“I said, ‘Listen, if I’m still 200 by next year and injuries haven’t played a part, I can do something else with my time,’” Eubanks recalled after his win over Norrie. “It’s not that glamorous if you’re ranked around 200.”
That’s how Eubanks, who studied business at the Georgia Institute of Technology after starting out as an engineering major, ended up making occasional appearances in the Tennis Channel commentary booth, something he believes has helped him better analyze his own matches while he is playing them.
‘Doing All the Little Things’
Last year, Eubanks, who is 6-foot-7 and whose powerful style is described by opponents as a “big game,” decided to make some changes. After years of cutting corners and trying to build a tennis career on the cheap, he committed to a consistent routine, and he spent money on a full-time coach.