by John W. Weber
Q: Finally–professional tennis in Austin! How did this come about?
“Bryan Sheffield has an incredible passion for tennis and, thankfully, the resources to help give the Austin community the high level of professional tennis it deserves. These two tournaments are a start. Bryan is looking to build on this experience to make Austin a top-tier venue for tour-level tennis. He has launched DropShotLLC to make it happen, and I’m part of that and the tournament director for these two events.”
Q: These are USTA Pro Circuit events. What does that mean?
“These events provide players with an opportunity to gain the professional ranking points they need to compete on the major pro tours. The demand for this is incredible. We have 46 players accepted into our event and 189 are still trying to get in.”
Q: Diego Schwartzman, Pablo Carreno Busta and some guy named Rafa Nadal all are past winners of what used to be called “Futures” events.
“…And Andy Roddick. We’ll have players from 26 countries! This tournament has a great international feel to it. And it’s free if you register in advance.”
Q: What else is DropShotLLC doing to develop these young players?
“Every year, in between tournaments, we will select some of the most promising players and bring them to Austin to train and get some elite coaching from former tour professionals like myself. I and many others got a lot of help growing up and we need to pass it on.”
Q: H-E-B is your chief sponsor on the women’s side. What about the men’s tournament?
“Yes, we really appreciate H-E-B joining us on this exciting journey, but we still need a major sponsor for the men’s tournament. If you’re a business person or part of an organization that’s looking for some great exposure–and your heart tells you to help tennis players achieve their dreams–we would love to talk to you. This is only going to get bigger and better.”
Q: You had singles wins over some of the greatest players of all time: Sampras (straight sets at Wimbledon), Connors, McEnroe, Becker, Lendl.
“Here’s the secret: I had very good people around me and I put in a lot of hard work. Twice a year for one week I would practice with Lendl in the Bahamas. Sessions would be four times a day and on Saturday afternoon we rewarded ourself with one scoop of ice cream. (Laughs.)
Q: You employed a very aggressive style of play, always attacking the serve and coming to the net. Who on the tour most reminds you of yourself, today?
“Frankly, no one on the men’s side. Players are more well rounded today. And with the racquet technology and all that, players find it hard to come in all of the time. The player who reminds me most of me is Taylor Townsend. She came to the net 106 times in her US Open match! That’s how you get it done.”
To learn more about good programs and pied piper pros, visit the CATA website.
Author John W. Weber is a writer, communications consultant and USTA team captain who lives in Lakeway. He moved to Texas from Arlington, Virginia in 2016. His son is an enthusiastic participant in Aceing Autism.