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#TennisAtHome Takes Off As ATP Players Get Creative During Suspension

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2020

#TennisAtHome Takes Off As ATP Players Get Creative During Suspension

Skills challenges, fitness and family time… See what ATP stars are up to

“There’s always a way to get some exercise in,” Stan Wawrinka posted on social media. “What are you guys doing to feel better in these strange times? #StayHealthy #StaySafe” 

With the ATP Tour now suspended through June due to the continuing outbreak of COVID-19, ATP stars are getting creative and staying engaged online while social distancing. Tennis players worldwide have taken to social media to partake in skill challenges, share how they’re staying fit and playing tennis, and document how they’re making the most of their time at home. 

Get the latest on #TennisAtHome here, and be a part of the trend. Share what you’re doing using the hashtag #TennisAtHome and tag @ATPTour.

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Pospisil Shares How He’s Helping Flatten The Curve

Skills Challenge
Gael Monfils and Vasek Pospisil attempt football’s #StayAtHomeChallenge, playing keepy uppy with a toilet paper roll, before nominating peers including Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic.

Galo Blanco, Karen Khachanov, Andrey Rublev (Instagram) and Albert Costa try out the tennis version, the #20TouchChallenge, using a racquet and a toilet paper roll.

Japan’s Taro Daniel goes a more traditional route, showing off his skills with a racquet and ball. 

Playing Tennis
No court, no problem for Yannick Noah, Lucas Pouille and Frances Tiafoe. Noah, taking part in the #Entre4Murs challenge for Fête le Mur through which people record themselves playing sports at home, gets creative with a variety of poses and celebrations as he hit against the side of a house. Pouille and Tiafoe take the tennis inside. “Indoor tennis, nouvelle version ! ?” tweets Pouille.

Staying Fit
Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Pablo Carreno Busta are among the players who have shared ways they’re working on their fitness at home, but the award for most creative workout may go to Australian John Millman, who gets a special assist from his nephew. “Easier working as a team,” Millman tweets. 

Wawrinka plans to share how he’s staying fit on an on-going basis, and has encouraged others to do the same using the hashtag #StayFitStan:

“Step 1: Workout
Step 2: Post it or add a Story with #StayFitStan
Step 3: I will repost on my page highlights #StayFitStan

Jamie Murray has also shared four exercises for home workouts.

At Home
Extra time at home has come with some benefits, particularly for new dads Andreas Seppi and Jeremy Chardy. “Family time is the best time • ?❤️” shares Seppi, who is enjoying the break with wife Michela and their newborn Liv in Boulder, Colorado. Chardy, who has been bonding with his newborn son Stone, would certainly agree: “❤️The best feeling ever!”

Fabio Fognini has conquered cleaning with style during this down time, while Chef Stan Wawrinka extends an offer to share ‘Stanley special lasagna… over FaceTime of course’. 

Finally, Australian Alex De Minaur does his own PSA, reminding people to #StayAtHome: 

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Pospisil Shares How He's Helping Flatten The Curve

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2020

Pospisil Shares How He’s Helping Flatten The Curve

Canadian gives fans an update from his home

If you asked Vasek Pospsil at the start of the month about what he expected to be doing last weekend, driving 1,400 miles probably wasn’t on his mind.

But the Canadian did just that as he made a long-haul trip from Indian Wells to Vancouver. Pospisil has been laying low since then by practising social distancing and picking up new hobbies.

”I’ve been doing a self-quarantine. I haven’t been going out. I’ve got two weeks of groceries and have been learning how to cook, working out indoors,” Pospisil said in a video posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday. “I think it’s very important that we’re all responsible, stop the spread of this virus and flatten the curve.

”Social distancing, self-quarantine, do whatever you can to help the community… We have to work together and get through this together.”

Pospisil made the trip to Vancouver in order to spend time with his family. After continuing to gather information on COVID-19 and learning how seniors are at a higher risk for picking up the virus, he made the difficult decision that their interaction would remain virtual for now.

”For that reason, I won’t be seeing my parents. I came here to be close to them, but I won’t be making any contact with my family until this all passes,” Pospisil said. “It’s not worth the risk at this stage.”

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#TennisAtHome Takes Off As ATP Players Get Creative During Suspension

Pospisil has also been finding unique ways to pass the time. He took part in the online #StayAtHome challenge and called out several of his fellow players to do the same, including Novak Djokovic, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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The Biofile: Tommy Paul

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2020

The Biofile: Tommy Paul

American talks about his tennis inspirations and why he loves the sport

Tommy Paul has established himself as one of the fastest-rising players on the ATP Tour.

The American has jumped more than 30 spots this season in the FedEx ATP Rankings to a career-high standing of No. 57. His 2020 highlights include advancing to his maiden ATP Tour semi-final in Adelaide, achieving his best Grand Slam result with a third-round finish at the Australian Open and scoring his first Top 10 win against Alexander Zverev in Acapulco.

Paul shares some of his tennis memories in this Biofile with Scoop Malinowski.

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Tennis Inspirations: Andy Roddick. Straight up, favourite player.

First Tennis Memory: Probably at the Athletic Club Courtside in Greensboro, North Carolina, where I grew up. I saw all the old people out there playing doubles. I was like, ‘All right, I’m gonna get out there and do that.’ And then I remember trying to play out there [at age six]. It didn’t really go too great the first time.

Nicknames: T-Paul.

Most Painful Moment: Definitely had some losses. Maybe like three summers ago. I played a few [ITF] Futures tournaments and I lost in the first round on one of them. That was coming back from one of my injuries. That was pretty painful to me in my career.

First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: Paul Goldstein at the US Open.

Last Book Read: I actually read Tim Tebow’s book not that long ago. I have trouble finishing books. I probably read three books at a time, but I’ll read about 20 pages and then switch to the next book [laughs]. I’m not too good at finishing one.

Funniest Players Encountered: All my friends that we hang out with are really funny – Reilly Opelka, Taylor Fritz.

Strangest Match: I played against Denis Kudla and we played a three-set match – 6-2, 0-6, 6-0. It was a pretty strange match.

Why Do You Love Playing Tennis: I’ve always loved it since I was little. I’ve loved how competitive it is and one-on-one, gotta find a way to win.

Favourite Ice Cream Flavour: Vanilla.

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: Probably swinging and missing at a ball and getting really embarrassed.

Best You Ever Felt On Court: At some point in the 2017 Citi Open. I beat Casper Ruud, Lucas Pouille and Gilles Muller, and then I was up a set and a break on Kei Nishikori. Blew it. Ended up losing that match [laughs]. That was tough. That was some of my best tennis, I think.

Favourite Sport Outside Tennis: NFL football to watch, basketball to play.

People Qualities Most Admired: I like funny people, sarcastic. I think sarcasm is so funny.

Courtesy of Scoop Malinowski, Scoop is the author of “Facing Andy Murray”, “Facing Marat Safin”, “Facing Sampras”, “Facing McEnroe”, “Facing Nadal”, “Facing Hewitt”, “Facing Federer” and “Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew,” all available on Amazon.

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The Day That Rafa Showed He Is “A Very Good Friend” To Marc

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2020

The Day That Rafa Showed He Is “A Very Good Friend” To Marc

Rafael Nadal and Marc López conquered Indian Wells ten years ago

“Rafa has shown that he is a very good friend.”

Shortly after winning the title at the BNP Paribas Open, the first words of thanks from Marc López were for his teammate in the first ATP Masters 1000 victory of his career. It was 20 March 2010, the same day that Rafael Nadal had lost his semi-final in the singles after a difficult third-set tie-break defeat against Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(1). But the man from Manacor reached the doubles final at Indian Wells alongside the Catalan and they would be crowned champions.

Nadal put behind him the bitter taste of his tie-break defeat, where he had been just one point away from reaching the final after two hours and 35 minutes.

“Rafa was back in the zone just hours after playing his semi-final match”, continued López’s account after they won their second ATP Tour doubles trophy together (also Doha 2009). “I’m very grateful to him.”

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The response from the Balearic Islander was immediate: “For me it’s a pleasure to play with Marc. He’s a good friend and we understand each other well. After losing an important match in the singles, this victory in the doubles makes me very happy. It’s always nice to win a tournament, so the title is very important to me and to Marc.”

Ten years after that unforgettable gesture from his doubles partner, Marc López went into the finer details for Without a high enough FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking to play in an ATP Masters 1000 tournament — he was the World No. 88 — he received a new proposal from Nadal to play in Indian Wells. It was a risky idea, but a winning one. The gamble lay in the fact that he would be travelling to the United States just to play in the tournament in the California desert, as Nadal was not planning on playing doubles in Miami.

“My schedule wasn’t very clear, because I was at a time of transition in my career, and I was close to not going. He told me that in Miami he wouldn’t play in the doubles, so I would only go to the U.S. swing to play one tournament. I wasn’t sure, but thankfully I thought about it hard and it’s clear that you can never say no to a chance to play with Rafa,” the Barcelona native now remembers with the peace of mind of knowing that he made the right decision.

After bouncing back in a tough opener against Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy, the third seeds, 6-4, 3-6, 10-6, the Spaniards would not lose another set in the tournament.

“I remember that I was very happy about winning that first match,” López says. “In the end, it was a unique feeling for me winning each match, because I had barely played in the Masters 1000 tournaments.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

In the second round, they defeated countrymen Feliciano López and Fernando Verdasco. In the quarter-finals, they saw off Michael Llodrá and Andy Ram, and in the semi-finals they cruised past Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley.

In the final, Lopez and Nadal put the cherry on the cake against top seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, coincidentally the same opponents they beat for their first title in Doha the year before.

“It was my first big tournament. We were playing some really great games and the final was against the same two we beat in the final in Doha. It changed everything for me. I entered the Top 30 in the world and was able to play in Miami with another partner (Thomaz Bellucci).”

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

It was a special tournament. Not only did Marc have the chance to win alongside a friend, win his first Masters 1000 title and seal a place in Miami, but it also proved to be the final step in believing he was good enough to win big tournaments and establish himself among the elite of the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings.

“I remember that I wasn’t sponsored by any brand: I was wearing Wilson shoes, a Babolat shirt… let’s just say my outfit was not that of a first-class professional tennis player, but I remember it with great affection.”

That Saturday, Marc proved that he had made the right decision and Rafa, as well as a friend, had an excellent doubles player beside him.

“We didn’t plan on winning the tournament here, so we’re very happy. We really enjoy playing together, it’s our second title. It will probably be difficult to repeat, because it’s a very big one”, Nadal said.

Did You Know?
Lopez and Nadal won their second BNP Paribas Open doubles title together in 2012.

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How Zverev's First Serve Fixed His Second-Serve Woes

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2020

How Zverev’s First Serve Fixed His Second-Serve Woes

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers looks at Zverev’s improved service stats during the Aussie swing 

Alexander Zverev averaged hitting almost three second serves a game at the 2020 ATP Cup and lost all three matches he played. Too much exposure to second serves led to too many double faults.

Fast forward to his next tournament, the 2020 Australian Open. He averaged hitting just one second serve per game, which was the tournament leader, and produced a career-best Grand Slam result in reaching the semi-finals. The moral of the story is simple: Too much exposure to second serves is lethal to your winning aspirations.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the average number of second serves hit per game by the current Top 10 through the Australian Open revealed that Zverev and Gael Monfils were the only two players who averaged less than two second serves per game. Zverev was at 1.61, while Monfils was at 1.91.

The Top 10 average was 2.18 second serves per game. The other four players that all sat below that average were Novak Djokovic (2.02), Rafael Nadal (2.03), Stefanos Tsitsipas (2.10), and Roger Federer (2.15). The four players above the Top 10 average of 2.18 were Dominic Thiem (2.34), Matteo Berrettini (2.38), Daniil Medvedev (2.52) and David Goffin (2.77).

Zverev’s two tournaments to start 2020 were polar opposites in this specific metric.

Zverev at 2020 ATP Cup
•Win/Loss = 0/3
•Service Games / 2nd Serves = 31 / 91
•Double Faults = 31 in 9 sets
•Average 2nd Serves Per Game = 2.94

Zverev at 2020 Australian Open
•Win/Loss = 5/1 (semi-finals)
•Service Games / 2nd Serves = 99 / 118
•Double Faults = 14 in 20 sets
•Average 2nd Serves Per Game = 1.19 (tournament leader)

John Isner has been the single-season leader since 2015 in hitting the fewest second serves per game, and currently sits in fourth place in 2020.

•2020 = Tie C. Moutet/C. Ruud 1.55
•2019 = J. Isner 1.71
•2018 = J. Isner 1.96
•2017 = J. Isner 1.78
•2016 = J. Isner 1.82
•2015 = J. Isner 1.82

Hitting second serves in a match is inevitable. Averaging only one per game is other-worldly. Averaging three per game can prove fatal. The sweet spot seems to be slightly over two.

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Sinner: 'I Want That Feeling More And More'

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2020

Sinner: ‘I Want That Feeling More And More’

Italian star in safe hands with veteran coach Piatti

In the immediate aftermath, there was disbelief. Jannik Sinner was lost for words and Riccardo Piatti planted a kiss on his protégé’s head, before his phone started buzzing at the conclusion of the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals. Sinner, who had been unranked 21 months earlier and had attended the innovative 21-and-under tournament as a spectator in 2017, had little time to celebrate as he was committed to play at the Sparkasse Challenger in Ortisei, a short distance from his childhood home. But the triumph over Alex de Minaur in the Milan final left a distinct impression, with Sinner telling, “I was happy and excited that I’d held up under pressure in front of a home crowd in Milan, but in another way, I realised I wanted that feeling more and more.”

Piatti, who’d celebrated his 61st birthday a day earlier, had raised a glass to celebrate in the locker room, but the Italian was also looking to the future. “Jannik’s mentality is like the sport; he loves the sport,” Piatti told “I like my job and have done it for 40 years. He is the same, he loves his sport, and he wants to be better, improve and he is doing everything for that. He is watching a lot of matches, practising a lot, and not because he is obligated to do so. Because he knows what he wants. It’s very easy to dedicate your life for one or two years, but I’ve been trying to tell Jannik he needs to dedicate his life to the sport for 15 years.”

The following week in Ortisei, 6’2″ Sinner captured his third ATP Challenger Tour crown of 2019 (also Bergamo and Lexington), ending a season that had seen his rise from No. 551 to a year-end No. 78 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. “I was always searching for a higher level, wondering if I was good enough to beat guys at different levels: [ITF] Futures, Challenger and most recently, the ATP Tour,” says Sinner, who in 2019, became the youngest player in the year-end Top 80 since 17-year-old Rafael Nadal finished 2003 at No. 47.

“I was in good shape and felt well on the court, but it became less about confidence and more about executing my game plan: what I wanted to do, rather than be dictated to,” says Sinner. “A crowd can give you energy, which is very important for a player, then it’s down to staying calm and not being nervous. Winning the Bergamo title [the Trofeo Perrel – Faip] early in 2019, having twisted my ankle the year before, was certainly a trigger to improve again, and once I beat Gael Monfils [at the European Open] at Antwerp in October, I knew how far I could go.”

The former junior skiing champion hailing from San Candido, in northern Italy close to the Austrian border, decided upon tennis — forgoing football, alpine pursuits and being with friends — to move as a 13-year-old to join Piatti at his academy in Bordighera. Sinner’s parents, Johann, a chef in a chalet in Val Pusteria, and his mother, Singlinde, instilled the need for an education and to work hard from an early age, so their son’s initial trips to Piatti, prior to deciding to move to the tennis centre full-time in late September 2014, were well-considered.

“I never doubted myself about being a good tennis player, as I am a hard worker, but I was skinnier and smaller than I am now,” says Sinner, who initially lived with coach Luka Cvjetkovic, who had two sons the same age. “I was fast and came to the net, but I needed confidence to find my level. In tennis you can win matches or a tournament, and you can also lose three or four first rounds in a row, so the decision to play at higher levels than my age was a big decision. I certainly went down the tougher route, but it helped build the expectation and pressure that I put on myself. You feel you need to win this match, or this exact point and you overdo it, but you have to understand the outcome and it’s a learning process every day.”

Piatti’s decision to thrust right-hander Sinner into competition with older opponents was vindicated. “He was working a lot and not dreaming,” says Piatti, reflecting on his early impressions of Sinner. “He went to some tournaments, losing 6-1, 6-0, but came back a day later to the Academy and trained the next day with the same attitude. He wanted to become good and kept going. We started with Futures and Challengers. He surprised himself about his level. When he started to beat a higher-ranked player, he understood his level and it was not a surprise anymore. When he won Bergamo, the first thing I told him was, ‘Very good, but the level of the other player was not as good. Don’t be surprised you won the Challenger, you’re better than the other, but now we need to find better players.’ It was always about playing older opponents. When he was 15/16, I also put him in a prize money tournament against older players in order to see if he could find solutions. I wanted to show him older players don’t give a s*** about him.”

Claudio Pistolesi, the 1985 junior World No. 1, who early in his own career was coached by Piatti, believes Sinner is on the right path. “He is very complete: physically, technically and mentally,” the Florida-based Pistolesi told “He was not only a skier, but, like Lorenzo Sonego, who played football until the age of 14, he has broken all the rules that you follow from an academy perspective, having done another sport to a good level. He brings some lateral skills to tennis from skiing in his movement around the tennis court, and he steps into the ball automatically.

“The Academy and Piatti can protect Jannik from the mistakes of the past over Italian player development. There is tutoring and mentoring, which Piatti is a good at, as well as using his network to prepare Jannik for training and the very highest level possible. It’s right that at present Jannik prioritises his own career, his team.”

The 18-year-old Sinner has developed terrific speed off both forehand and backhand — something Roger Federer picked up on last year — and is quick to move up the court, taking time away from his rivals. Piatti, who first noticed the potential when he watched a 12-year-old Sinner, recalls, “I was in Milan at a tournament and I saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, but he was the only player who tried to change his game. He had the attitude to win, not just put the ball over the net and hope. You could tell he was calm and could control his mind, he struck the ball nicely, but he didn’t have the power.

“His personality is now strong and, unlike many players I’ve coached, I can speak to him openly 30 minutes after a loss, rather than wait until the next day. I can speak with him for six hours about tennis and he loves it. He doesn’t get distracted and prefers to watch Nadal-Federer matches let’s say, than go to the cinema.”

Sinner is currently working on his fitness in Monaco, such are the concerns over the Coronavirus pandemic in Italy, where the number of confirmed cases has risen beyond 35,000. “He came back from the United States last Friday and he has since trained once in the morning and once in the afternoon,” says Piatti, who worked with Djokovic when the future World No. 1 was aged 17 and 18. “The Monte-Carlo Country Club, venue of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, is closed, but if the numbers stabilise and confirmed cases drop, we’ll return to Italy and the Academy. There won’t be any on-court tennis for another week or 10 days. We don’t know when the tournaments will begin, so as to step up our efforts in one area or another.

“A doctor has followed him and we expect him to grow a little bit more, around another four centimetres. He needs to play and work, but we need to find the right balance in not pushing him too much. When he’ll be 22, 23, he’ll be ready to compete in the bigger tournaments.”

Sinner is now learning that to win big — as Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have done for so many years — is complicated. “The focus is about consistency of performance, of application every day, and improving every shot, because in matches an opponent won’t let you always play your best stroke and you cannot play at the same speed,” says Sinner, who has practised with Stan Wawrinka, whom he lost to in his first ATP Tour semi-final at Antwerp in October 2019, David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov in the past as a way to gauge his level. “Piatti knows that I’m attentive and demand a lot of myself, but I do work hard.

“He asks for patience, so I need to be patient.”

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Struff: 'Keep On Working, It's Going To Work Out'

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2020

Struff: ‘Keep On Working, It’s Going To Work Out’

Big-hitting German star still improving, learning lessons every day

Jan-Lennard Struff has learnt to be patient, it’s part of his make-up. He first questioned if he could ever be good enough, then adhered to his parents’ plea for him to formulate a Plan B and subsequently pondered how he could break into the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings by the age of 23. Today, as his reputation has burgeoned, his outlook has also changed. So just what advice would he give to his younger self? “When I recall my younger self, coming to tennis after high school, I’d tell him now to ‘Keep on working, it’s going to work out,’” Struff tells “‘The work, the fun you had, just continue to do the same thing. It’s a great journey.’”

His commitment has never been questioned. His life has been about planning, looking forward and striving for his goals, but the 29-year-old has, at times, also been anchored to them. It is a pressure that Struff feels daily. “Whenever I step into a tournament or a season, I set up goals and aims,” says the German. “I think life without aims is very boring, you always have to push yourself and go for it. You may not always achieve them, but you can work towards them. If you’re aiming low, you’re not being true to yourself. I know what I want to do and put pressure on myself sometimes.”

Three years later than he had hoped, Struff would move into the Top 100 for the first time in June 2016, in large part due to working with Carsten Arriens, his coach, and fitness trainer, Uwe Liedtke. “When I switched to Carsten in the summer of 2015, I developed as a person and my game grew. I would have loved to have gotten to the Top 100 earlier, but I’m not one of the guys that has so much talent, I had to work harder. My connection to the net, my approach game, my serve went much better and my physical improvements helped me to get into the Top 100. When I beat my first top player, Stan Wawrinka, in Paris [at the Rolex Paris Masters] later in 2016, it gave me so much confidence. It was a very important win for me, to share a court with the best players, having admired them for so many years, watching TV. You’re close to beating them, then you beat them and it feels amazing.”

Last summer, Struff came within one victory of a long-held goal: breaking into the Top 30. He didn’t make it, losing to Mikhail Kukushkin at The Championships, Wimbledon, but Struff remains pragmatic. “Tennis is a sport where you lose almost every week, but you have to realise you can play well and still lose,” says Struff, who grew up on clay. “It’s very tough to maintain confidence and focus. We need to be happy for what we’ve achieved, but always push for more. I had my best year last year, but I like to set high aims. The worst thing is to set your goals too low, achieve them and think you’ve done okay. If you don’t reach your goal, but try, that’s okay.

“I started later than most and I wasn’t good enough at the beginning, so I worked step-by-step and fought hard for everything. I am happy that I have built up my game and gained experience every time. I am getting better on serve, my net game and playing more doubles. I feel that my groundstrokes are getting more safe and solid, and I’m pretty happy with everything.”

Struff, who beat five Top 10 players last season, took a break with his family in Cape Town prior to starting 2020 by representing Germany at the inaugural ATP Cup. “It was very nice, a great event,” says the World No. 34. “It was great to start the year with a team competition, your team-mates with you, fighting for the country and each other.” So far Struff has gone 7-5 this year – including victories over Felix Auger-Aliassime and Roberto Bautista Agut – hit 99 aces in total and won 84 per cent of his service games according to Infosys Scores & Stats.

Arriens told, “Before he was just following, not asking. Now it’s, ‘Why do we do this exercise, and what is it for? We should do it this way.’” Struff gives his input on match game plans as well. “Maybe we should do 1, 2 and 4 and not 3,” Arriens said. “When it’s clear, he’s coming back to it all the time. If he’s losing [the plan] for a game or two, he’s coming back to it.” The plan is working: come forward as often as possible, stay out of the corners, and keep the points short. Struff lets his emotions and the crowd help him as well. “I’m so much better now,” says Struff. “I feel like I’m getting better at covering the court. It makes it a lot of fun.”

When asked what he’d like his legacy to be, Struff admitted, when it’s time to stop, “I’d like to be remembered as a good person, a hard fighter and as a player, but most important is that you stay true to yourself and you gave everything to it. It would be a dream to be remembered for my playing career. It’s very important from being a little child to fighting for every point on court, that I tried my best every game and I enjoyed it. It’s most important.”

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