Before the renowned tournament began, the 27-year-old Georgia native’s odds of winning the prestigious tournament were 100 to 1. “Now, he’ll make his first-ever appearance in a major quarterfinal against world-ranked No. 3 Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday, where he’ll look to keep his Cinderella run alive.”
Eubanks was interviewed by on-court reporter Jenny Drummond, who said, “You’ve just beaten your first top-5 player, you’re on debut here at Wimbledon, and now you’re in your first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal,” continuing, “Are you living your best life right now?” With no hesitation, Eubanks responded, “I feel like I’m living a dream right now.”
The timing of Eubanks’ second-round win was also prophetic. Tuesday, July 10, would have the 80 birthday of trailblazing Black tennis superstar Arthur Ashe.
After beating Tsitsipas, “Eubanks became the third Black American man to reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon since the start of the Open Era in 1968.” The last time this happened was 27 years ago in 1996 by MaliVai Washington, a record previously only held by Ashe, ESPN reports.
Eubanks is now the 13th man in Open Era history “to reach the final eight in his main draw…and the first American man to do so since 1984.”
This was all so unexpected for Eubanks that he had to extend his hotel reservation three times during his stay across the pond.
It’s all the more remarkable considering Eubanks has never before won an Association Of Tennis Professionals (ATP) title, has not played in Wimbledon’s main draw, and has yet to advance past the second round while playing in a major. Even more incredible, Eubanks said that he “didn’t even like playing on the [grass] surface” (but that might be changing).
“Everything from realizing that I have two credentials at Wimbledon for the rest of my life [as part of Wimbledon’s ‘Last 8 Club’], to checking my phone and seeing my name as an ESPN alert, to realizing how much I disliked grass at the beginning of the grass-court season, to now look at where I am,” said Eubanks Monday night. “It’s been something that you dream about. But I think for me. I didn’t really know if that dream would actually come true. I’m sitting here in it now, so it’s pretty cool.”
This isn’t just the sign of a humble player. As a junior player, Eubanks wasn’t top-ranked, and Eubanks almost wasn’t even recruited by Georgia Tech. But luckily, fate intervened in the form of his mentor and fellow Atlanta native Donald Young, who reached out to Georgia Tech’s coaching staff on his behalf.
The son of a Baptist preacher, the 6’7″ Eubanks, who’s now garnered the nicknames of “giraffe and daddy long legs,” confessed that he almost retired after the COVID-19 pandemic. He recalled telling his agent, “Listen, if I’m still 200 by next year and injuries haven’t played a part, I can do something else with my time. It’s not that glamorous if you’re ranked around 200.” He was even planning a backup career as a sports commentator on the Tennis Channel. However, Eubanks never gave up on his dreams and decided to bet on himself.
“I think it’s slowly starting to rub off on me where when I step foot on the court, ‘Hey, I can play at this level. I belong at this level.” The world will be watching as Eubanks steps out onto the grass in tomorrow’s quarterfinal match against “No. 3 Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, for a berth in the semifinals.