Missouri Valley / Heart Of America

Pembroke Hill Players Meet ATP Tour Pro Nick Monroe

Sydney Hamilton | October 24, 2022

As tennis fans, most of us dream of attending a grand slam tournament and meeting the pros who inspire us. This dream became a reality for some Pembroke Hill School tennis players when they attended this year’s U.S. Open with their head coach, Scott Hanover.


Coach Hanover and his players took in some pretty amazing matches during their trip to Flushing Meadows, but one in particular was quite inspirational. It was the second-round Men’s Doubles match between the Italian team of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, and Americans Keegan Smith and Nick Monroe. While Smith and Monroe poured their hearts and souls into the match, they fell to the Italian team 6-7 (4-7) 2-6.


It would be the final match of Monroe’s professional career, as he would retire after 18 years on the ATP Tour.

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After the match, Coach Hanover and his players were able to meet Monroe. They spent time chatting, and Monroe even posed for a picture with the group. The conversation flowed naturally, in part because Monroe himself also attended Pembroke Hill in his youth. “It was great [chatting with the players]–it took me back to high school and all the memories of those days and preparing to be a pro tennis player,” Monroe said of meeting the players. “It was cool to think about them walking down the same hallways I did in high school.”


Monroe was born in Oklahoma City, where he started playing tennis at just four years old with his father as his coach. During his 7th grade year, he moved with his family to Olathe, KS, and started attending Pembroke Hill in 9th grade. While Monroe didn’t play tennis on Pembroke Hill’s varsity team–he was sponsored by Prince and was taking private lessons to develop his skills, which you’re not able to do and play high school sports–he was preparing to capture his lifelong dream of turning pro. 


After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2004, Monroe joined the ATP Tour. During his time as a pro, Monroe had many memorable matches, but a few stand out: “There are so many [memorable matches]! On the professional side of things, winning my first ATP title in Sweden. I remember every point like it was yesterday,” Monroe recalled. “Also, my first grand slam win at the U.S. Open in 2012, and winning first Wimbledon in a five-set match. [Wimbledon] was one of the first tournaments I watched on TV, so that was pretty special.”


With both his first and final grand slam wins taking place at the U.S. Open, the tournament is near and dear to Monroe’s heart. “It felt great to be home. Lot of friends and family came out. It was bittersweet, though,” Monroe said of his final match. “Tennis is and has always been my life. But with all the energy [of the crowd],  it couldn’t have been better.”


Monroe’s retirement doesn’t mean he’s out of the game–quite the opposite. He’s launching an all-new tournament, dubbed the All-American Cup, which will feature top 10 American players–five from the East Coast and five from the West Coast–battling it out for the top of the podium. The Bryan brothers will be the captains. The tournament takes place in San Antonio and runs November 11-13. To learn more, or to buy tickets, please visit allamericantenniscup.com


“This [tournament] is about giving back to tennis, the sport I love,” said Monroe. “It’s about kids wanting to watch American players and become inspired by it. We already have a high school coming to the arena from Amarillo by bus!”


Monroe will also be part of Elite Tennis Academy’s Lob and Learn event taking place right here in our district on December 3. Lob and Learn will feature current and former professional players who will participate in an exhibition match and kids’ clinic. “The event is about giving back to underprivileged kids in the Kansas City area,” Monroe said. “We’ll be bringing this special sport to them as well as education, and we’ll have some fun with it!”


As you can see, supporting the next generation of tennis players is something Monroe cares deeply about; it’s why meeting the Pembroke Hill players was so special to him. When asked if he had any advice for young players considering turning pro, Monroe shared some honest advice:


“I think the biggest thing is to one, enjoy the journey. Two, understand you have to work hard and [tennis] has to be your life–where you really enjoy being on the court and enjoy the training. There’s no secret to becoming a pro; you can’t just wake up and decide to turn pro. You have to work hard every single day. 


“It’s so fun to hit a ball over a net for a living. So, make sure to enjoy the moment and have fun with such an amazing sport. But to be a pro, it’s day-in and day-out training. It’s going to be hard work and you have to enjoy that.”




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