Wednesday, July 22, 2015

An interview with Sekou Bangoura

Sekou Bangoura today reached his first career challenger quarterfinal, beating Jared Donaldson 6-4 6-2 in Binghamton. A couple of weeks ago in Winnetka, I talked with the 23-year-old about where he's at in his career, his new coach, and how it felt playing doubles with Frank Dancevic. The interview took place immediately following their quarterfinal win over Erik Crepaldi and Henrique Cunha. Bangoura lost in the first round of qualies to Farris Gosea, 5-7 6-4 3-6.

Sekou Bangoura, (c) Jonathan Kelley, On the Rise (a tennis blog)

Feels good to still be in the tournament? 
Yes sir, definitely.

I know your singles result wasn't what you wanted; how are you feeling about your singles game? 
Feeling a little bit better. Let's see, this is my fifth week on the road. I'm traveling with a new coach - Murphy Payne from Atlanta - so he's helping me a lot. I've just been out here practicing hard. Like you said, I didn't have the greatest result, but came back the next day and put in some work, so I'm still feeling pretty good about it.

Do you have any rankings goal for this year, or are you trying to focus more on the process? 
Just on the process right now, trying to get to that point, winning 2-3 matches consecutively; getting the confidence to hit through balls, and getting in those pressure situations and being able to pull through. So that's what I'm focusing on right now. Obviously running deep into tournaments is the goal but you know, Murphy told me you've got to take it step by step so that's what I'm trying to do.

What's it like playing with Frank?  
It's awesome. It's awesome.  He plays at such a high level, so I feel like I have to step my game up, and at the same time I'm learning from him, too. It's just fun. It's a lot of fun. [N.B. They reached the final, losing 6-4 3-6 [8-10] to Nicholas Monroe and Johan Brunstrom.]

Seems you tend to play up a lot in tournaments - you try to play a lot of qualies rather than just go through Futures. Why is that?  
I mean, I've played my fair share of Futures. But we figured that this was the time to try and get into the challengers, try and get used to this level, seeing these guys week-in and week-out. Futures are going to always be there. It's easy to go back and find a Futures in the US - there's a lot of them, so right now trying to play some Challengers, try to get some momentum, and get used to the bigger matches.

What would you say is the biggest improvement to your game since college [at the University of Florida]?  
Since college? Right now, my serve's looking good. Winning a lot more free points on my serve. Still got the base game - a lot of consistency. But I'm definitely hitting the ball a lot bigger, a lot heavier, than in college. And right now, I'm working on trying to develop some weapons, just make that push.

How's your fitness? 
Pretty good, pretty good. Haven't felt exhausted after any of my matches. I don't think that's really a problem, but I can always improve on that, too. Right now, just trying to work on the tennis game and when that gets where I want it to be, then I can work on the fitness a little more.

What's next for you after Winnetka?
Week off after this tournament, then I'll go to Binghamton & Lexington.

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