Team USA Wheelchair Spotlight:
Erin Maher | May 4, 2018
In honor of National Mobility Awareness Month in May, USTA.com is highlighting members of the Team USA wheelchair squad. Six men and women will represent the U.S. at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup final, the wheelchair tennis equivalent of Davis Cup and Fed Cup, in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, from May 28-June 3. This week we caught up with world No. 50 Chris Herman.
Chris Herman is fresh off the 2018 Wheelchair Tennis Collegiate National Championships, where the rising junior from the University of Florida dominated play. The 20-year-old was the highest overall points earner during the championship weekend, sweeping both the singles and doubles titles at the event.
Herman, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., was a former member of Team USA’s two-time winning BNP World Team Cup junior wheelchair team, and he has recently ascended to the men’s team. ADVERTISEMENT We recently sat down with him at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., where he trains part-time, to talk tennis, the World Team Cup and juggling it all as a full-time student.
USTA.com: Going into the World Team Cup Americas Qualifications, how confident were you that Team USA would win?
Chris Herman: I was actually very confident. Our team is guys that have been around for a while. One of the guys I play with was on the junior World Team Cup with me when we won two championships, so we mesh. We’ve known the third player that we brought in for a long time, and we’re all really good friends, so we have that team bonding. Looking at other teams, I was just confident that we were the strongest team out there.
USTA.com: You notched a tough 6-4, 6-4 win over Chile’s Francisco Cayulef at the Americas qualifications. What do you think was your biggest obstacle in getting the win that day?
Chris Herman: It was definitely overcoming mental hurdles. I was kind of struggling a little bit the whole week. This is something that goes back to the team bonding because they helped pull me out of that slump. In doubles, they cheered for me. I think them lifting me up brought me out of that mental slump.
USTA.com: You’re currently balancing your part-time training here at the USTA National Campus with school. What are you studying in school?
Chris Herman: Economics.
USTA.com: Is there anything specific you want to do with economics?
Chris Herman: My dad is actually a financial advisor, so I’ve been interested in pursuing that line of work. So the goal is to maybe do economics, then grad school and maybe get into the line of work my dad does. But who knows? It’s kind of a rough plan right now. We’ll see.
USTA.com: What is your training schedule like?
Chris Herman: So at school, I do at least an hour of gym work, and on top of that, an hour to two hours of tennis, five to six days a week – about 15 hours of training a week, I’d say. It’s pretty busy along with school, but I get it in.
USTA.com: When you started playing tennis, did you ever think that you would be competing in the World Cup and playing in such elite events?
Chris Herman: For me, actually, it was a very quick transition. I started playing when I was 11. That involved borrowing a chair, hitting once a week and stuff like that. I really started focusing when I was 12 and started going to tournaments. It was a quick transition because the very next year, 2013, I went out to the junior World Team Cup in South Korea. So it was a quick transition for me. But when I first started? No way. I was a C-level player. I didn’t know the professional side at all. I did not expect to come this far in tennis.
USTA.com: What team do you think will be your greatest obstacle at the World Team Cup?
Chris Herman: There are a lot of good teams. It’s just going to take us playing well to overcome them.
USTA.com: What do you hope to accomplish at the World Team Cup next month?
Chris Herman: This is our first year re-qualifying, so our big goal is to keep that direct qualification for the next one.
USTA.com: Do you prefer singles or doubles?
Chris Herman: I prefer singles. I like doubles; I like the team aspect. But in the end, singles.
USTA.com: What would you tell anyone trying wheelchair tennis for the first time?
Chris Herman: I would say stick with it. It could get frustrating, but in the end, it’s one of the greatest sports you’ll play, and you’ll meet the best people of your life through tennis. Just stick with it, and try to go to tournaments as much as you can.
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Pictured above: Chris Herman competing at the 2018 USTA National Collegiate Wheelchair Championships.
Photo by: Erin Maher, USTA.com