By Steve Pratt
While Alex Rybakov says he is committed to fulling his four-year eligibility at TCU and returning for his senior season, the 21-year-old Florida resident admitted this week that his summer results will play a role in his decision to return to the Fort Worth, Texas, campus and his Horned Frogs teammates.
Did someone say Cameron Norrie?
After another All-American season at TCU, Rybakov took some needed time off, and then got right back at it winning back-to-back USTA Pro Circuit Futures events the past two weeks on his favorite surface, the Har-Tru green clay.
Rybakov has now won 10 consecutive matches, after a second-straight singles title at the Sargent & Collins, LLP Men’s Futures event in Buffalo, followed by a $15,000 victory in Rochester.
“I’m playing great tennis right now, and moving in the right direction,” said Rybakov, who chose to take Week 3 off in Pittsburgh and instead answered a few questions while relaxing in California.
Just one year ago, although it was already decided before he skipped the NCAA Championships to turn pro, Norrie left TCU following three seasons and had a summer to remember, eventually breaking into the ATP World Tour Top 100 where he currently sits at a career-high No. 79 in the world.
Could Rybakov repeat the feat and follow Norrie’s lead?
“I’m committed to coming back, but of course you know with results that can change,” said Rybakov, who broke into the world Top 500 with his 10 straight wins.
He will have a golden opportunity later this summer as he has been awarded a wild card into the ATP 250-level Newport, R.I., Tennis Hall of Fame Championships
“I’m really looking forward to playing some Challengers,” Rybakov said. “Last summer I qualified for a few and won a couple of rounds, so I’m looking to do a little bit better this time.”
Rybakov, who was named to the All-Big 12 singles and doubles first teams for the third straight season, credited his TCU coaches David Roditi and Devin Brown with setting his summer schedule and counseling him through the start of the long and winding summer Pro Circuit season.
He will split time between his USTA home base in Orlando but never staying away from the familiar surroundings that the TCU community provides.
“I’ll go back to hang out and hit with the guys,” he said. “But the USTA has also been great to me and a lot of the young pros are there so it’s really great to have two places to call home.”