You’re Crazy if You Don’t Love Tommy Paul, The Spicoli of American Tennis
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
America builds characters. Like the guy from Celebrity Apprentice. Like future President Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Last but not least, like the lovable Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
One of tennis’ coolest characters has rocked our stage over the last week and a half. And his name is Tommy Paul.
Last week, Paul made his first ATP Tour-level quarterfinals in Atlanta after qualifying and then immediately proceeding to dispatch #56 Hyeon Chun and #73 Malek Jaziri from the main draw of the 250.
On Tuesday, he won Casper Ruud in retirement. Tonight, he beat world #19 Lucas Pouille in straight sets and shut down the more experienced Frenchman.
Here’s the kicker: Tommy Paul is chill AF. He’s the Spicoli of American Tennis. After scalping his first world top 20 ATP player, he’s like, oh yeah, that was good, right? I wish I had this guy’s blood pressure. The USTA and US tournament directors everywhere should just wild card him everywhere, because he calms everyone down in the venue.
“I just feel really good, been working really hard, it’s kind of paying off right now,” he told us after the match.
Asked how he scouted Pouille, Paul said, “I don’t watch much tennis at all.” He relies on coach Diego Moyano for all of his scouting tips. “I learn from him a lot about my opponents,” he said.
Though granted a wild card into DC, he seems to be tapped for the honor less than other young Americans. “I like to try and earn things alot,” Paul said. “A wild card’s obviously great. Hopefully, I can start not having to get wild cards and get in directly.”
On his ascension from the ITF events to the pro tour, he said “I like it a lot more up here obviously. The tournaments are way nicer, the courts are bigger, the amount of fans. These tournaments are bigger and I just enjoy it more.”
The only downside: “Sometimes you can’t warm up close to your match time. If you want to practice on the court you;re playing on, you’ve got to come 2 1/2, 3 hours early”, he said.
Paul committed to the University of Georgia, but changed his mind after winning the French Open juniors single title. “Alright, I think I’m going to try it out,” he reflected.
Paul takes on Gilles Muller tonight around 6:30 p.m.