After playing three years with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and establishing himself as one of the nation’s best college tennis players, Christopher Eubanks turned pro in 2017 and recently won his first ATP title at the 2023 Mallorca Championships. Before he began competing in the 2023 US Open, I met with Eubanks at Parker’s at Thompson Central Park — a craft cocktail bar in the lobby atrium redesigned by Thomas Juul-Hansen and named after Jazz legend Charlie Parker — where we discussed his warm-up music, playing Pickleball with Jamie Foxx and the power the crowd can have during a tennis match.
Do you have any pre-game rituals or music that gets you ready for a match?
Just music typically — I’m not too superstitious. It changes with how I’m feeling on the day. There’s been a lot of Drake these past few months. ‘Jimmy Cooks’ has been a good one. J. Cole and Bas have a song ‘Hunger on Hillside’ which is a very good song. I try to keep a few Atlanta artists in rotation. I love old OutKast and T.I. and Jeezy and stuff like that.
Is there a cut-off point before a tournament where you’ll have your last glass of wine or cocktail?
Not particularly. I’m pretty good about measuring myself timing-wise to make sure that things don’t go too far too close to a match. Very rarely I may do a glass of wine on an off day in a tournament but it doesn’t go past one drink if I do.
What are your favorite drinks?
Bourbons are typically my favorites. Red wine —typically I lean more towards Cabs. Or a nice Tequila. It’s usually one of those three.
Which is your favorite Bourbon?
Brown Sugar Bourbon, which was started by Jamie Foxx who is a good friend of mine. That kind of sparked my interest in Bourbon just being around him. Because of the success of one of his songs ‘Blame it on the Alcohol’ he wanted to find the perfect one to put his name to and BSB was that. That’s always been the one I’m drawn to.
How did you two become friends?
One of his friends, Alex Avant, is a massive tennis fan. We got in contact some years ago and we hit it off really well. And he said “anytime you’re in L.A. I’d love to connect you with Foxx, he’s a massive tennis fan.” Sure enough, I go out to L.A. a few weeks later and he organizes for us to meet. We go play tennis and then the friendship was formed from that.
When you’re playing tennis with a superstar do you have to ease up a bit to keep the friendship going?
(Laughs) Actually, no. He’s a pretty competitive guy. We went out on the court and I served full on. We actually bonded a little bit over Pickleball — where the playing field is a little more even. We always have a good time.
As a pro tennis player do you enjoy Pickleball?
I enjoy playing and Jamie is the reason I gave Pickleball an honest try. I tried it during the pandemic and hated it. I thought it was a dumb sport. But he was such a Pickleball fanatic. We got on the court and I realized it’s a fun sport. You don’t have to be of similar caliber on the tennis court to have fun and be competitive in Pickleball. And he’s a pretty good Pickleball player.
Do you play Pickleball with other pros?
Yeah we play and it’s funny — you’ll see us trying to play tennis while on the Pickleball court. Certain shots are really similar. Others aren’t that similar but you can see we’re trying to read the game the same way. We know when to keep shots in front of us, when to open up the court and things like that.
How did you get into Cabernets?
A strength conditioning coach that I worked with is a massive wine connoisseur. I would go over to his place for dinner and he would ask if I was into wine. I would say not really, but he would say ‘let’s see if you like this type.’ Originally I wasn’t too fond of it but it’s amazing how the taste grew on me really quickly. One of the first ones we tried was a Sassicaia.
Not really. I’d rather have the taste of a nice soda over a mixed drink. I’m not as big into cocktails as I am for just the taste of a Tequila or Bourbon on the rocks. I wanna get straight to it. I want to taste the essence of the spirit and not try to mix it with others things.
Which Tequilas are your favorites?
Don Julio 1942 is probably one of my favorites. I bought a house earlier this year and in the process of getting a nice bar together. I’m going to be using that as my way to try various things. Lobos and Teremana, Kevin Hart has a tequila Gran Coramino, I want to try a lot of those.
What went into designing your home bar?
I didn’t want something very extravagant by any means, but one that will contain a case of wine plus varying types of spirits that I think people would enjoy. It’s more for entertaining purposes than just for myself. I just think it adds a little bit of culture to my place — and gives more options to just water and whatever’s in the refrigerator.
Who have been your mentors in the tennis world?
I got the chance when I was 15 to travel with Donald Young all over the world as a practice partner. We went to Morocco, Monte Carlo, Paris, London, Germany. He gave me the opportunity to see what professional tennis looked like up close. That’s an opportunity that a lot of people at 15 didn’t have.
Jarmere Jenkins was probably the first tennis player I ever looked up to because he’s from Atlanta. He’s someone that’s always looked out for me, given me advice and said ‘here are things I struggle with, these are some tips so you don’t have to make the same mistakes maybe that I did.’
What’s the hardest part of tennis that people don’t know about?
The travel that it takes. Most people think travel is such a nice thing to do for work, but then you’re gone for 35 to 40 weeks a year. That’s tough from multiple aspects of your life, whether it’s family or friends. You don’t really get to be there for birthdays and graduations and things like that. So that can be a bit tough.
Was there ever a special drink or meal you shared with one of your idols?
I don’t want to be redundant, but I’ll say Jamie Foxx. Before actually meeting him I was a massive fan. My favorite movie to this day is ‘Ray,’ and one of my other favorite movies is ‘Dream Girls.’ I’ve seen every episode of ‘The Jamie Foxx Show.’ So when we met it was like a dream come true.
He’s taken me out to countless dinners but the most special thing is when he was in Atlanta filming a movie a couple of years ago. I invited him to my parents’ house for dinner. He came and he sat out with my parents and my older brother and just told stories for four hours. He’s such a good storyteller. He also played our piano and sang.
What did he sing?
‘No Weapon Formed Against Me Shall Prosper’ by Fred Hammond. He’s an incredible singer so that was really special.
What effect can the crowd have on a player during a match?
Massive. You can feel the energy, especially in those moments in which you have a little bit of doubt. The crowd can really give you that extra push that lets you get through those tough times. Over the course of a match there are going to be ups and downs. When you get into those downs the crowd can give you that juice you need to get things back up as quick as possible.