Btw, I am still mad at him for choking so badly against Peliwo at Wimbledon
Getting to Know: Mitchell Krueger
TENNIS.com @tennis 7m
Mitchell Krueger, a junior French Open and Wimbledon semifinalist; discusses his game & life with our gear editor: http://ow.ly/jzAQs
Not long ago, I spoke to Mitchell Krueger, a 19-year-old native of Aledo, Texas whoís making his way onto the ATP World Tour. The teenager, among other topics, talked about his decision to turn pro, the nature of his game, and his passion for the sport.
TENNIS.com: I understand you call Texas home. Did you grow up in a tennis family? Do your parents play?
Mitchell Krueger: Yeah, both my parents played at a junior and collegiate level. My mom teaches at a club in Dallas. And my dad, actually, his main job is with Lockheed Martin, the aeronautics company. But he umpires a lot of college matches on the weekendsóBig 12 matches, mostly. He actually used to umpire at the U.S. Open. It's definitely a tennis family.
TENNIS.com: For a while last year, it seemed like you were going to play at Texas A&M.
MK: Yeah, I committed to Texas A&M. My dad played tennis there. If I was going to go to college, it was going to be there, 100 percent. But at the beginning of last summer, I was contemplating what I wanted to do, and I decided after Wimbledon to turn pro.
TENNIS.com: How did you come to that decision?
MK: I had a really good summer playing the juniors at Roland Garros. I lost in the semis. At Wimbledon, I lost in the semis, too. And I got a lot of exposure and some help from the USTA. Theyíve been helping me out a lot in the past year, paying for a lot of training and travel and coaches, stuff that can be pretty expensive. And I just felt like I was ready.
TENNIS.com: Were your parents leaning one way or the other? Did they prefer that you go to college or turn pro?
MK: I think they were pretty good in not trying to influence me either way. They left it totally up to me, just to do whatever I wanted to do, and were supportive of my decision. And they understand that I feel like this is my time to show what I can do. And I can do it. They both support me no matter what.
TENNIS.com: When youíre out on the court, how would you describe yourself? Whatís your demeanor like?
MK: Iím pretty calm on court, for the most part. Not too fiery. I like to think that I donít get too mad on the court. I keep a pretty even demeanor. At least, thatís what I try to do. [Smiling]
TENNIS.com: But thatís just on the outside, right? Whatís going on inside?
MK: [Smiling] You know, everyone gets frustrated, and everyone gets excited and happy. The key is finding how you can channel it in a positive way that will help you.
TENNIS.com: What do you think is unique about your game?
MK: Iím pretty aggressive on the court. I like to come to the net a lot. I have pretty good volleys. Always kind of looking to move forward and take it to my opponent.
TENNIS.com: So do you have, like, a shot clock in your head?
MK: I mean, not really. I try not to make dumb decisions with every shot, so whatever comes of that.
TENNIS.com: Playing a point, how would you describe the state of your mind? Do points develop naturally for you?
MK: Yeah, once the pointís started, itís all like Iíve done it before. Itís all my instinct. I try not to think about it during the point, because once you start thinking about things, thatís when you start losing your focus.
TENNIS.com: Tell me: How do you try not to think?
MK: Thatís kind of complicated. [Laughter] I started tennis when I was three years old. Iíve been playing a long time, and have had a lot of experience. All the guys, weíve just hit so many tennis balls and played so many matches. Weíve done it so many times that itís just instinct. You donít even have to think about it anymore.
TENNIS.com: So you started playing at age three. But when did you start taking tennis seriously?
MK: Well, I played tennis and baseball both at the same time until I was about 11, when I stopped playing baseball. So I guess that was probably when I really started getting serious about it.
TENNIS.com: At one point, you were taking baseball just as seriously as tennis?
MK: Yeah, I played baseball just as much as I played tennis. I was traveling for tennis tournaments and playing baseball, like, every week. I got to the point where I had to make a decision, and I chose tennis.
MK: Once again, it was all my decision. I liked baseball just as much as I liked tennis. But I was probably better at tennis than baseball, I guess. Iím glad I chose it. [Laughter] I think I made the right decision.
TENNIS.com: Do you think playing baseball had a hand in developing your tennis game?
MK: Maybe hand-eye coordination, which comes with hitting the ball and catching. I think when youíre young, itís good to play a lot of sports and just be active a lot.
TENNIS.com: What positions did you play on your baseball team?
MK: Played pitcher, catcher, and shortstop. I was pretty active on the team.
TENNIS.com: So you were throwing a lot.
MK: Yeah, I was. I think a baseball throw is really similar to a serve. If you can learn how to throw with the proper technique, it definitely helps your serve a lot.
TENNIS.com: You have a lot of tournament experience. What kind of advice would you give to other kids who want to reach your level?
MK: I think, youíve just got to have fun. If youíre having fun, youíll get better. You know, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication if you want to be good, but you still have to enjoy yourself while youíre playing. And as you get older, you start traveling more. You have to like to travel. But, you know, just competing and having fun is important.
TENNIS.com: Do you always look forward to going to the courts?
MK: Yeah. I mean, everyone has days when they feel like they donít want to play. But I think itís how you do on those days that really makes you a lot betterówhen you donít want to play, and youíre out there, playing hard.
TENNIS.com: So a typical training day for you is likeó
MK: In the morning, probably about two and half to three hours tennis and gym work. And then school. And then more tennis in the afternoon, probably about two more hours. So everyday, five hours of tennis, give or take.
TENNIS.com: But youíve finished high school, right?
MK: Yeah, I graduated last May, so Iím done. I donít have to do school for the time being. Obviously, my parents, no matter how my career goes, would like me to get an education past high school. Right now, Iíve not decided on anything. Depending on how my career goes, I could do school online, or I could do it when Iím 40 years old. [Smiling] But Iím enjoying just playing tennis right now.
TENNIS.com: Do you have any hobbies outside of tennis? What do you enjoy doing when youíre not on the road?
MK: I mean, I just like to be normal. Like when I go home, Iíll just hang out with friends, go to the movies, go to the mall. I try to enjoy being home when Iím not traveling. Itís just good to be home.
TENNIS.com: So youíre not seriously committed right now to anything outside of tennis.
MK: No, thereís nothing else. I donít play like an instrument or anything like that, or do other sports. Iím 100 percent to tennis.
TENNIS.com: This is your skill.
MK: Yeah. [Smiling and laughing]