Danny Thomas on Life as a Pro: “There’s Something I Can Learn From All Of Them”
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
(Charlottesville, VA–October 30)–Danny Thomas lost in two sets to Britain’s Neil Pauffley in ATP Charlottesville Challenger second round qualifying yesterday, but he was in very good spirits after the match and wanted to talk. I guess 17-year-olds have more maturity than we think, and I give Thomas a lot of credit for not pouting off to the locker room like a 34-year-old (Frederik Nielsen, are you listening?). After reaching the Wimbledon Juniors Doubles Final in July, Thomas followed that up with a US National U18 Doubles Championship with Vasil Kirkov in August. That title also nabbed a US Open wildcard berth for the duo. Thomas promptly turned pro after the US Open.
Welcome to the bigs, kid.
I asked him what’s changed since the US Open appearance. “I think I’ve been playing with a lot more confidence,” he said. “Now, I’m obviously starting to play more futures and challengers. I think it was a real big boost for my game. It really helped me out mentally and I started believing in myself a lot more,” he told me.
But confidence aside, isn’t the level of competition a big step up?
“Yes, it’s rough,” Thomas told me. “You play guys that’ve been out here for a while and have a whole lot more experience. You know they’re coming out and don’t want to lose to a younger guy. So it’s tough, but I think once I get my rhythm and start playing more, I feel like I can do pretty well,” he said.
“I mean, these guys are just more consistent, they hit a bigger ball with a pattern, they’re much more disciplined, and there’s something I can learn from all of them,” he added.
Having signed with Lagardere only a month after the US Open, Thomas has gone all in. I’m hoping this means we can expect him to grab a wild card at Washington’s Citi Open, which is owned by the management and marketing representation firm. In the spirit of all things Lagardere, Thomas has teamed up with DC’s Denis Kudla for doubles in Charlottesville this week. Kudla was an early sign with Lagardere when he turned pro at 18 in 2010 before eventually rolling out with Sam Duvall and Topnotch Management last year. (Tip o’ the pen to @Parsa_Nemati for that fact check!)