Former world No. 38 Donald Young recalls first meeting Christopher Eubanks, who from the age of 12 would compete in match play sessions hosted by Young’s father at the South Fulton Tennis Center in Atlanta. Everyone was allowed to play, and Eubanks’ father would always take him to participate.
“Then his mom wanted him to play and train at a higher level and whatever. So he started coming more often, and then my dad gave him a job at the summer camp to coach the kids and help them,” shared Young told ATPTour.com. “After he finished, me and my best friend hit him and we practiced with him. And then when he was going to be 15, 16, I was like, ‘Hey man, maybe you want to take it to the next level?’
Under his parents’ tutelage, Young had become the No. 1 junior in the world and later a Top 50 player on the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, competing on the biggest stages (he is still active). But the American lefty never had a mentor from a young age who was able to advise him as he climbed towards the top of the sport.
Young would be that mentor for someone, and Eubanks proved to be a perfect fit. He quickly began practicing with Eubanks, as did his friends, including former touring pro Andrew Carter and former Illinois State University player Skip Span.
“We have videotapes of it [Chris] at 13, 14, [us] just give him the business in play to 11 and 12 and talk smack,” Young said, cracking a laugh. “It was really fun.”
Donald Young and Christopher Eubanks” />
Photo: Donald Young
What made Young especially optimistic was that Eubanks’ father had built “quality technique” into his game. Young believed that hitting consistently with a top-level pro would help Eubanks improve much faster, so that when he would play against other juniors and get to college, opponents’ shots would feel slower.
When Young asked Eubanks if he wanted to join the Tour, the latter quickly said “Sure” and the rest was history. Eubanks traveled with Young starting in 2012 and continued to accompany him to tournaments for years, with the last of those events coming in Canada in 2017. As valuable a learning experience as it was for Eubanks, there are plenty of fun memories that they can look back on. also on.
“We were in Morocco and he had never really traveled outside the country like that. And I tell him what to eat and what not to eat. And I’m like, ‘Don’t eat that, that’s not what you eat over here, stick to the chicken, stick to maybe lasagna,'” Young recalled. “He says, ‘No, no, I want this, I want it.’ [He] ends up getting sick, throwing up, barely able to get on the plane….
“One [time] he overslept and missed practice in Paris and we gave him a hard time for that. And we played this game where if you were the last person with your ID on when you leave the site, you have to go up all the stairs to your room, and a couple of times he lost it. So it’s just little things like that.”
Eubanks has become known as one of the most well-liked players on Tour for his bubbly personality, which has also given him opportunities to broadcast for the Tennis Channel in his spare time. That has long been Eubank’s personality, according to Young.
“He always is [been] one of those guys, super helpful. ‘Donald, what do you need, anything? I have to pick it up. I take the ball. I’ll get the racket. What do you need? I got it. What do you need?’” Young said. “He’s just always been that guy. We call him the mayor, the governor, networking and talking to people, and he’s way more outgoing than I would ever be. So, to his credit, he’s doing very well.”
Young explained that he saw Eubanks’ potential on the field much more than his mentee did.
“He had no faith. He was accepting another 30 percent turn [the University of] Alabama,” Young said. “I was like, ‘Man, you’re better than that. I think you could do better.'”
Young told Georgia Tech head coach Kenny Thorne about Eubanks, who had played No. 3 on his high school team.
“It was very beneficial for Chris to have trained with Anders early on. Chris got used to playing against pro-tempo and against lefties early on. He actually didn’t play as many junior tournaments as many of the juniors do because he was training with Anders,” said Thorne. “My assistant Derek Schwandt and I [were able to] see him at tournaments. I just remember him hitting big leads and missing a lot.
“The good points he won, he wanted to win at a very high level. It was very interesting to me. I don’t think he knew how good he was.”
Christopher Eubanks and Donald Young” />
Eubanks and Young at the 2015 Atlanta Open. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
In 2015, Eubanks earned his first Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings points by reaching the semi-finals of the Atlanta Open alongside Young. He enjoyed a standout career at Georgia Tech, earning two-time All-American status before turning pro in 2017 after his third year at the school.
But it was only earlier this year that Eubanks broke into the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings. In Miami, the American enjoyed a dream run to the quarter-finals, supported by celebrities including actor Jamie Foxx and former NFL star Chad Johnson. Most telling was the emotion he showed when he took the win that secured him a spot in the Top 100.
“I think he appreciates it more because in the back of his mind, I don’t think he ever thought it would happen,” Young said. “So it’s kind of like, ‘Wow, this is really happening.’ But he can really appreciate it. It’s not like anything he expected… Everything means so much more, which is great to see because he’s living in real time. He’s enjoying the moment.”
Eubanks has proven over the last few weeks that he is still on the way. With his flourishing serve and forehand, he is becoming one of the most dangerous players on Tour, especially on grass. The 27-year-old won his first tour-level title last week in Mallorca and on Friday upset British No. 1 Cameron Norrie to reach the third round on his Wimbledon main-draw debut and climb to a career-high no. 40th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.
“His level at the moment and his confidence is unbelievable,” Norrie said. “He completely took the racket out of my hand today. I did what I could, but it wasn’t enough.”
You may also like: Inside The Rise Of Locker Room Favorite Christopher Eubanks
Eubanks blew the left wing off the field. Playing aggressively and sticking to his game plan has been a focus for the American. Young has been talking to the 6’7″ right wing about being this aggressive since before he attended Georgia Tech.
“He watched me play a lot. So when he was younger, he was like, ‘Oh man, I want to roll the ball like you,'” Young recalled. “I was like, ‘Absolutely not. You have to hit the ball as hard as you can all the time and just not give the guy any rhythm.’ And that was when he really started to take off.”
Eubanks has made clear his appreciation for everyone who has helped him get to this point. When he won in Mallorca, he immediately thanked several people who have helped him along the way, including Young.
“I traveled the world with him. And for me it was huge because it gave me the opportunity to train with a player who was Top 50 at the time, which not many 15- and 16-year-olds could do every single day, and it was something I was able to do,” Eubanks told ATPTour.com. “I think it also allowed me to see that playing professional tennis was a real possibility for me because as a kid I felt , that if you don’t know any professional tennis players, you don’t have access to any professional tennis players, it’s kind of hard to believe that you can be a professional tennis player, and he gave me that access.”
It was also one of the main advantages Young saw. Eubanks spent time and practiced with Young, but was also able to get to know other players, including Michael Russell, the current coach of Taylor Fritz, and Nicholas Monroe. Eubanks got the perfect education for what life would be like on the ATP Tour.
A decade later, the 27-year-old shines at it.
“It was just nice to take somebody from 13, 14, not believing they could do it, to show them that they can actually play,” Young said. “It was very cool.”