EVANS LOOKS TO COMPETE "AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL" WITH FREEDOMS
Evans explained that while the injury put a hamper on his play this year, the Michigan native enjoyed “solid” results last year. Ranked just outside the top 300 at the time --with a career-high ranking of No. 117 in 2009 --, he successfully qualified for the main draw of his first Grand Slam event at Wimbledon. On the way, he defeated three higher-ranked opponents in close three sets matches.
Evans, however, wouldn’t stop there.
He went on to win his first round match against the Netherlands’ Jesse Huta Galung in straight sets 6-3, 7-6(12), 6-3, taking just over 100 minutes.
Going into the round of 64, Evans faced No. 31 Albert Montanes, the highest-ranked opponent he played on the ATP Tour all year. Unfazed by his opponent’s seeding, Evans pushed the Spaniard to five sets before losing in a close 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), 1-6, 4-6.
Although he struggled with competing at that same level for the rest of year due to injury, he expressed optimism about the present. “I'm feeling great about my game right now," said Evans. "I feel that I am fully recovered from a back injury that I suffered at the end of last year. I have spent months rehabbing and training to get back to full strength and the effort I think has paid off.
Evans has recently trained with other American tennis players, factoring into his confidence going into the WTT season. “I am just coming off spending a couple of weeks with pros such as John Isner and James Blake training at a superb level. I feel incredibly fit and ready to have a successful run with my team during this season,” he said.
No stranger to playing with top U.S. talent, as a member of the Philadelphia Freedom this year, Evans will play alongside eight-time Grand Slam champion Jimmy Connors, who joins the Freedoms for a match against John McEnroe on July 14 in New York. “Getting the chance to play with such spectacular players this summer will be certainly be a highlight of my career,” he said. “I have always looked up to Jimmy and Lisa [Raymond] for all that they have accomplished.”
Evans said that Connors impacted his own love of tennis as a child and the way he conducts himself on court today. “Jimmy made tennis a sport of extreme popularity over three decades and was an inspiration to me throughout my youth," he said. "The fire and tenacity that he played with was masterful, and I always tried to emulate his intensity.
About his upcoming experience with WTT in general, Evans said that it “will allow me to have three weeks of constant competition at the highest level. I could think of nothing better for me to do to kick start my summer and power me through the rest of the 2011 year.”
Evans is also “ecstatic” about being a part of the “WTT family.” Although scheduling conflicts with other tournaments have kept him from competing in the past, he mentioned his excitement for the team camaraderie and with interacting with tennis fans. Additionally, he pointed to the unique atmosphere for which WTT matches are known. “With music blasting and PA announcers, the atmosphere is pure fun. I'm looking forward to a season full of fun competition,” said Evans.
Evans looks to improve his game and have a successful stint with the Freedoms. “I think our team has all the tools to have a fantastic season. I'm hoping that I can learn from my teammates and coaches and join with them to make a run at the playoffs and beyond,” he said.
Photos: Camerawork USA