Category: Interviews

One On One With Rising Star Kyle Edmund

Ahead of his semifinal match on Saturday versus Isak Arvidsson, I caught up with my third Player to Watch for 2014, 19-year-old British up-and-comer Kyle Edmund, at the Midtown Athletic Club in Weston, FL. We talked about his selection for the upcoming Davis Cup clash with the United States. Also: tennis drills, lessons learned and life on the road.

As ever, he has a lot of intelligent things to say.

Challenger Tennis: Congrats on your Davis Cup selection, what is this — the third team for you?

Edmund: Thanks. Yeah, the other two, I wasn’t in the squad or team. I was just there as like a hitter. So that was obviously against Russia and Croatia, but this is the first time I’ve actually been named on the team, which is a great feeling for me. The only one who’s definitely gonna play is Andy [Murray], so the other spots are still sort of open to play.

Obviously, it’s Dom Inglot and Colin Fleming for the doubles, and then it’s between me and James Ward for singles. So the playing spots are still not 100 percent, but to be there and for Great Britain to be in the World Group — I think the last time we won a World Group match was like 1980-something, so it’s a long time. To be there is definitely going to be a great experience.

Challenger Tennis: For sure. Have you seen pictures of the court construction as it’s being laid down in Petco Park?

Edmund: Yeah, I have, I’ve seen a few. The last one I saw they actually did half the court, I think. I saw half the clay court — obviously they have to do the other half — but it looked really good. To be inside a baseball stadium on a tennis court, I mean, the stage is set to be really exciting and amazing.

The Petco Dance: Davis Cup Court Construction in San Diego

The Petco Dance: Davis Cup Court Construction in San Diego

Challenger Tennis: So are you here by yourself now or is there anyone from your team with you?

Edmund: I’m here with my coach, my tennis coach, and also with my fitness trainer. But they’re also involved, they’re actually fitness trainer for the Davis Cup, and my coach is a Davis Cup coach, so it works really well. They’re here, and then tomorrow — win or lose — we’re gonna go tomorrow night to San Diego.

So it works really well, them being here helping me and then traveling over to meet the team there.

Challenger Tennis: I know you don’t like specific ranking targets, but what specific drills are you doing to maybe help with footwork or focus and the things you want to improve?

Edmund: I’ve been with my coach two and a half years now, and definitely being with him, we’ve done a lot of what we like to call our “core drills” — drills that make me tick, make me feel good and help my game.

If I know that these drills are working well, then I know I’ll play pretty well. And it’s really basic stuff. It’s just like crosscourts, but then if I get a short ball I’ll come to the net, trying to be offensive.

Recently, we’ve done a lot of movement, so we’ll do like “two-two” it’s called, where he sends one corner, I’ll hit two forehands and two backhands and two forehands and keep going for like two minutes. But it obviously gets quite physical, side to side. And then we do just lines.

So for the first part of the session, we do a lot of drilling, a lot of numbers almost, get a lot of balls in play and then start maybe doing some more shorter stuff but it’s more aggressive. I like to use my forehand, so we’ll do a lot of stuff working my forehand, coming forward. And then at the end of the session we’ll do serve and return.

Edmund Serve

It’s a bit different now, playing tournaments; you don’t do long hours on the practice court. But certainly when I was training with Andy, we were doing three hours on court each day.

Challenger Tennis: So, basically, all your on-court time is with specific drills in mind as opposed to just hitting.

Edmund: Oh yeah, for sure. I’m not going to do something that I don’t feel is relevant to me.

Challenger Tennis: You’ve said a successful tournament is one that you take something away from, and learning something is the main thing. Is there a specific match last year where you learned the most, and maybe what specifically did you learn?

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On The Road With Mitchell Krueger

Having just played his first full year on the pro tour in 2013, world No. 475 Mitchell Krueger may be one of the only Americans to have earned Platinum Frequent Flyer Miles while still in his teens. The nineteen-year-old from Dallas, Texas, achieved especial international geographical renown when he hit up four continents in four months beginning with the US Open last August.

Any pro knows that travel is a huge part of the men’s game. And on the Futures and Challenger tours, some of the destinations might be a bit farther flung than for those players in the upper echelons of the sport. I caught up with Krueger on a chilly day in Plantation, Florida, where he was kind enough to discuss the ins and outs of his hectic tour schedule with me even though I interrupted his lunch.

Mitchell Krueger - Man on the Move

Mitchell Krueger – Man on the Move

In your profile, you said that you have to like to travel when you’re on the pro tour. But give me your No. 1 Travel Nightmare Story.

MK: Getting from Traralgon, Australia to Korea, was a long haul. All by myself. It was like a train ride to Melbourne, then a long nine-hour flight to Hong Kong, a four-hour flight to Seoul and a three-hour bus to this tiny place in Korea.  The guy I was traveling with, Bradley Klahn, was still in Australia in the finals, and our coach was with him. So I was off on my own.

How do you put your schedule together, and is there any part of you that goes, “OK, maybe less travel this time”?

MK: I’ll sit down with my coach and then some of the other players, someone like Bjorn [Fratangelo] who I travel with a lot and come up with similar tournaments we’re able to play.

But we didn’t really travel that much this year until after the Open. We went to the Netherlands for three weeks before the summer, but other than that it was all in the U.S. To break it up, it wouldn’t seem like that much, but it all came at one time, kind of one after the other, so it felt like a lot.

I know you guys like to watch a lot of sports, so what’s the weirdest place and time — outside of the U.S. — that you ever found yourself watching a U.S. sporting event?

MK: When the Mavericks won the NBA championship three years ago, I was in Germany. So the time difference wasn’t terrible.

Dirk Nowitzki Hoists His Championship Trophy. Meanwhile In Germany...

Dirk Nowitzki Hoists His Championship Trophy. Meanwhile In Germany…

While we were in Australia last October, there would be like Monday Night games on Tuesday afternoon. So we’d be sitting at lunch watching the Monday Night game.

They actually show in Australia almost every [American] football game the same that they do here, so it’s good for us. I guess they love football down there too.

Now about eating, which I’m stopping you from doing — are there challenges to maintaining a consistent diet on the road? And what kind of eater are you — are you picky or adventurous or…?

MK: I used to be picky, but obviously you can’t be too picky traveling. I think Korea was pretty hard, more because it was in a really small place, three hours from Seoul. And Korea has different cuisine. Nothing against Korean food, it wasn’t terrible, but… in Seoul it was nice because there were more restaurants, but in this tiny town there were very few options.

One night I went to a gas station and got Instant Noodles, and Pringles and stuff.  Some of the guys in the tournament were doing that. But for the most part, it’s OK.

Do you have an overriding philosophy, or inspirational sports quote, that helps you when things are challenging on the court or on the road?

MK: I just know it’s a process. You’re not going to have good weeks every week. Some week’s you’ll win the tournament, some week’s you’ll lose first round. It happens to everyone. Just have to take it week by week and not get too down after a bad week or a bad match.

So what’s your travel schedule look like from here?

MK: This tournament, Maui, and then from Maui we go to Australia (for Burnie and West Lakes Challengers), and I think I might play a few Futures there as well right after. Then after that, I’ll come back to the U.S.

When asked the dreaded and dull question about targets or goals for the year, Krueger sounded philosophical. “If I put a number on it, I’m like #460 now, if I ended the year Top 200 I’d be happy. I guess that’s my goal. But anything up. As long as you’re moving up, that’s what’s important.”

Krueger Keeps Reaching Up

Krueger Keeps Reaching Up

With another busy travel schedule planned for after Plantation Futures, I’m guessing that Krueger will be experiencing a lot more upward movement in the very near future.

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