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Eubanks: Biggest Lesson Learned from Miami Surge

By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, March 30, 2023

MIAMI—Head room was scarce as Christopher Eubanks walked onto Hard Rock Stadium Court.

The 6'7" Eubanks' aqua Asics baseball cap nearly grazed the top of the tunnel he stepped through onto the stadium.

More: Medvedev Moves Past Eubanks Into Miami Semifinals

The American qualifier showed a high ceiling in his 6-3, 7-5 Miami Open quarterfinal loss to Daniil Medvedev.

In an inspired run through the draw, qualifier Eubanks reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal, cracked the Top 100 for the first time, received a pep talk from his friend, actor Jamie Foxx, and rises to a career-high ranking of No. 85 in the live rankings. 

Eubanks gained something even greater than ranking points: The self-belief that he belongs on these stages facing the best.

"[It] is that I can compete with some of the best players in the world, and I know that now," Eubanks said of his quarterfinal performance. "Whereas before, we can go and practice all day and practice with, you know, Frances [Tiafoe], I have practiced with Daniil back in 2019 in Australia, I practiced with some really good guys, but it's always different when you're rolling the balls out in an actual match.

"I think now the belief for me is stronger, because I have seen it, I know that I can do it, and I think that's probably the biggest difference is now when I'm going into matches I think from here on out, I'll have an expectation of a higher level, a higher expectation of myself and what I want to see from myself and maybe just even higher confidence."

Tennis is all about adjustments and the Atlanta-based all-courter has made some massive ones throughout his tennis career.

The 26-year-old Eubanks grew up playing with two hands off both sides, like Monica Seles and the young Rafa Nadal, before opting for a one-handed forehand at about the age of 10.

Four years later, he dropped his two-handed backhand in favor of a one-hander for one simple reason: His tennis hero Roger Federer played with a one-hander.

"It's a bit of a running joke now between me and some of my friends, my dad, when I switched to the one-handed backhand," Eubanks said. "I wanted to do it because I loved Federer.

"Now I go to my dad, Why did you let me do that? You had no idea guys would just go throw balls above my shoulder for my entire career. You know, it's how it goes."

Still, Eubanks' variety, his willingness to attack net, and the slice, when it's working, make him a different stylist than most American men.

Whether this committed Miami run is career-changing remains to be seen, but Eubanks believes it has altered his place on the game—and reinforced his belief he has even more room to grow.

"I was down a set and break to Borna Coric in the second round, and now I'm sitting here in the quarterfinals. To some degree, it's like, wow, I could have been at home a week ago.

"So I think having that perspective is important. I certainly don't want to say satisfied that it's like, oh, I definitely went out there wanting to win and expecting that, you know, to have a game plan to put me in a position, I would say, to win.

"But, you know, that's just tennis, you know. There is only one winner every single week. You kind of have learned to take the lessons from each loss as they come and hopefully you can take one loss, move on to the next week and say, all right, now I just continue to build and build and build."

Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty