By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
Byron Talbot has traveled all over the world playing tennis. He has competed in each of the four Grand Slams, squaring off against at "who's who" list of legendary players. Yet the 49-year-old ex-ATP World Tour doubles specialist still gets amped when thinking about being part of a new tennis first in his life: challenging for a USTA League National Championship.
Now living in Dallas, Talbot is a key doubles fixture for the USTA Texas men’s Adult 18 & Over 5.0+ team, representing the T Bar M Racquet Club.
“I didn’t know quite what to expect -- this is just my first year,” said Talbot, who began work as a financial adviser following his retirement from the men’s professional tour in 2000. “I started understanding more about the system and how it worked. It was fun playing a Sunday afternoon match with the guys at the club. We mixed and matched new [doubles] partnerships, which was nice.”
Talbot also enjoys the physical aspect of playing on a USTA League team.
“I’ve got an office job now, so it’s nice for me to get out and have some physical activity and get the competitive spirits going,” he said. “I challenged myself against the younger guys and keep myself in shape and try not to get injured.”
After finishing his collegiate tennis career at the University of Tennessee, where he was a three-time All-American, Talbot turned professional in 1988 and found most of his success in doubles with partner Libor Pimek of Belgium. He reached a career-high doubles ranking of No. 20 in the world in 1996. A native South African who is now an American citizen, Talbot would win seven ATP World Tour doubles titles in his career and reached the Wimbledon doubles semifinals in 1993.
“I played all the top players in the 1990s,” said Talbot. “I actually have a nice win over Sampras and Edberg [at the Queen’s Club Championships] on grass, which was one of my personal highlights.” In addition to playing against Edberg and Sampras, Talbot also faced tennis legends Boris Becker, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Gustavo Kuerten and Roger Federer.
“I love this sport," he continued. "I was fortunate enough to do what I like to do and make a living at it.”
Now, Talbot is excited to finish his first USTA League experience with a trip to the Nationals.
“It’s great to be here," he said. "It’s more serious with the lineups. I’ll just try and do my best. I enjoy it when things get tight and I try to keep it fun and positive.”