Friday, November 6, 2015

Cutting to the Chase with Buchanan

Chase Buchanan has teamed with Tennys Sandgren to reach the doubles final at the 2015 Charlottesville Men's Pro Challenger. Buchanan, from New Albany, Ohio was once one of the best juniors in the country -- he won the 2009 USTA Boys National Championships without dropping a set -- and then excelled at Ohio State University, where he and Blaz Rola won the NCAA doubles championship his senior year.

Buchanan last year reached a career high singles ranking of #158 but he's struggled this year with poor results and injury. However, he's currently #172 in doubles, having won three challenger titles with Rola, culminating in an epic final at the Columbus Challenger, which they won 6-4 4-6 [19-17] over Mitchell Krueger and Eric Quigley on the OSU indoor courts.

I chased Chase down after his quarterfinal win with Sandgren.

Chase Buchanan © Jonathan Kelley, On the Rise

OTR: Congratulations, it was a very solid win. How did you feel about it?

CB: I felt pretty good. We played pretty well together. It was tough -- we were breaking each other a lot, and I didn't serve well. So it was kind of a mental struggle throughout the whole match. But we returned very well and I thought we took care of the points that we needed to whenever we got into a rally. It was good to get out in the second set and not have to go to a third set.

OTR: That tiebreak was a little touch-and-go but you got the mini-break and held on to it. Tell me about the last point [a forehand down the line off the return that landed in the doubles alley].

CB: Yeah he hit a great return and I was a little bit in trouble because they'd been poaching on a lot of the balls, and they kind of got deep cross-court and they were going middle. So I thought, "Well, I don't want to float this middle" so I kind of just bunted it down the line. And the guy, he went ... that was what I was banking on.

OTR: You've had some really great success in doubles the past few months. What is it that makes you a strong doubles player?

CB: I think I return really well and I enjoy playing with another person. It gives me a better perspective on tennis. I don't get as frustrated and I kind of want to be there for that person. So that's one of the advantages of doubles for me. And I end up having just a lot of fun with it. It takes some of the nerves out of it, and I also have been hobbled a little bit this year with this ankle, so I don't have to move as much.

OTR: Walk me through the final in Columbus.

CB: Oh my ... that was like 20 first serves in a row from 7-7 in the breaker until 17-17. I mean, it was incredible. The atmosphere and my family and girlfriend and Blaz's girlfriend. It was just a cool little atmosphere we had.

OTR: Is that one of your best memories in tennis right now?

CB: That's gotta be one. I mean, they're all special but that being my home court, and playing doubles there with Blaz in college was so much fun, so being able to do that again was great.

OTR: So if you had to choose would you take Blaz over Tennys? (You don't have to really answer that.)

CB: [Laughs] No chance I can answer that! They're both like brothers to me. I love playing with both of them.

OTR: Did you grow up near Tennys?

CB: No, but just have known him since junior tennis. I've known him since we were about 12 or 13 and we just ended up growing and getting to know each other more, and have really become best friends in the last, probably 3 years. So that's been a great relationship. Same with Blaz. It's been so enjoyable to play with them.

OTR: You played on some of the most legendary teams in Ohio State history, would you agree?

CB: Probably. We had one that was up there, that first year, my freshman year. If you look at our line-up, my junior and senior year ... we had Rola, me, Connor Smith, Peter Kobelt, Devin McCarthy -- all guys who got into the Top 600 in the world. I mean, it was an unbelievable line-up. Definitely a bunch of special teams there.

OTR: And you yourself won the national championship.

CB: Yeah, in doubles with Blaz. That year was really cool. We won All-Americans, then we won National Indoors, then we also won the NCAA tournament which hadn't been done before ever. So that was really special. That's one of our best memories.

OTR: Can you talk me through your singles year? You started off pretty well and since then it's been a rough haul.

CB: It's been a rough year, really. After Australia, kind of just mental struggles throughout the entire year, in combination with some tough timing of going down and playing on clay, losing some matches, losing some confidence. Then I went to the grass and I felt like I was playing well. But I had a tough draw -- I played Ebden in the first round of one of the challengers and then we went indoors instead of playing on grass in one of the tournaments, so that was a tough one. And then I got injured at Wimbledon [qualies] up a set and 2-1.

OTR: That was a bad injury.

CB: Yeah that was a high ankle sprain, so I was out for 3 months with that.  And since then I haven't really been able to move right.

OTR: Did you ever think about taking [a full six months] and getting the protecting ranking?

CB: I did. But it was going to be 3 months. I came back about 7/8 weeks ago and since I came back ... once you play one tournament you get screwed and you can't take a protected ranking. I mean, I probably would have thought about it but I played my first tournament, and once you do that you've sacrificed the ability to do that.

OTR: But now you're a solid Top 200 in doubles and you've had some incredible wins there.

CB: Yeah but now I'm in a bit of a tricky situation because my doubles ranking is going up and my singles ranking is going down. So I need to get my singles ranking back up.

OTR: Does that mean playing futures?

CB: Yeah eventually ... well, let's see how these next two [tournaments] go. Also depending on my ankle -- I may have to take more time off and evaluate things.

OTR: As it stands right now, you're not in the Australian Open qualies.

CB: That's correct. Chances are I won't be.

OTR: Are you okay with that?

CB: No. But I don't really have too many options unless I win one of these challengers. If I do that then I do have the option. But if not ... I think I'm going to have to do something with my ankle.

OTR: You were a really high-level junior and you decided to go to college. You look at these kids now who are out on court ... other than Noah Rubin who went for a year, for the most part they're not choosing college. Do you think there's a difference between your generation and theirs?

CB: They're definitely having a lot of success at the challenger level, where they would be a freshman in college. I personally didn't have that. Not that that should stop you or tell you you should go to college. I think it all depends on the situation that you personally have. And if you can financially, mentally, and developmentally do it for 4-6 years even if you don't have the success you want, then I think maybe the pro tour is the way to go. And if not, then college is a great tool to use in the meantime.

No comments:

Post a Comment