Grit and Bear It: Notes From the Pro Tennis Hustle
The view of the US Open from on the grind, where Michael McClune remains—for now.
The 2012 US Open is now underway, but 22-year-old professional tennis player Michael McClune won’t be competing. Instead, he’ll be at home watching on television with the rest of us.
This wasn’t always the case. At the age of 18, McClune was the top ranked Junior and by virtue of winning the USTA Boys’ National 18s Tennis Championships in Kalamazoo, he was granted a wild-card into the 2007 US Open. Though he lost in the first round to Juan Ignacio Chela (who was then the No. 22 seed) 2-6, 1-6, 6-7(0), the future still looked bright for the hard-hitting young American. With lucrative contract offers from Wilson, Nike, and IMG, McClune declined a scholarship offer from UCLA and decided to turn pro.
A long five years later, McClune qualified for his first ATP event. Last week at the Winston-Salem Open, a 250-level ATP tournament held in North Carolina, McClune defeated Jeff Dadamo, Guillaume Rufin, and Jack Sock to earn his place in the main draw. McClune could be forgiven for seeing some of himself in Sock, a highly touted 19-year-old who, like McClune, was a No. 1 Junior and Kalamazoo Tennis Championships winner (in 2011). McClune called the win over Sock the biggest win of his career, but he wasn’t done there.
In the first round of the Winston-Salem Open, behind an unbreakable serve and an impressively powerful backhand, he beat No. 52 Alejandro Falla for the first ATP win—and the first top-100 win—of his career. In the second round, facing No. 36 Jurgen Melzer (who was a top-10 player only last year), McClune came back from a nerve-ridden first set to nearly clinch the upset, earning four match points before finally losing 2-6, 6-2, 6-7 (12).......read more