Paul Jubb’s name has turned heads as of late. The twenty-year-old from Hull, England, won the NCAA Division I Men’s Singles Championships back in May, becoming the first Briton and player from the University of South Carolina to ever do so.
This achievement engraves his name next to that of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, who have lifted the same trophy during their college years. Jubb then went to beat Denis Istomin and Andrey Rublev to pass the qualifying rounds of the Eastbourne ATP 250 and received a wild card to make his Grand Slam debut at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, where he bowed out in four sets to world number 69 Joao Sousa.
In November, Jubb collected an ITF title in Cancun—his second, after he caught the first in Lithuania in 2018. Jubb is now ranked 534th player of the ATP’s singles list—he reached the 427th place in July, his highest yet—and seems to have a bright future with a wide horizon ahead of him.
But just like auspicious results are easy to see, the struggles behind a promising career tend to receive little attention. One of them—and perhaps the most underestimated in the list of sacrifices a professional tennis player has to make to succeed—concerns the social aspect of life.
Between constant travel, full-time-job training schedules, and a crucial need for concentration during important parts of the season, how do professional players manage their social life? While for some this is a difficult topic, Jubb seems to have found a balance.
“I still speak with my school friends, from my home home, in England, who I went to school with until I was sixteen,” Jubb told Tennis World USA. “I still talk with them, a lot through text messages, I’ll see them when I’ll go back at Christmas”.
The Briton—who will head to the United Kingdom after a two-week stay at the IMG Academy in early December—has been living in South Carolina since 2016, which still makes communication with his friends from early teen years quite tricky.
“Sometimes, we don’t speak for a while, but since we’ve been friends for so long, whenever I go back home, I always see them anyway. I’ll go six months without seeing them, and then, when I go back for Christmas, they’ll be the people who I’ll be with every day”.
But the twenty-year-old had a good idea of what was waiting for him on this subject since he was sixteen. “It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of commitment. You’ve got to be willing to give up some of your social life or your friends,” he had said, back when he still trained at the Nuffield Health Tennis Academy with Jonny Carmichael.
Jubb will finish his senior year as a Gamecock of the University of South Carolina when he comes back from Christmas break, “When I’ll go back to school and tennis, then I’ll be back around the people who I play tennis with—it’s a nice contrast”.
As for friendships on the professional tour, which he has been frequenting since 2016 as well, Jubb remains quite constructive: the key is to accept that sometimes you win and sometimes you eventually lose. “Once you get over that part, it’s no big deal”.
Jubb’s amiable character and positive perception of most situations are perhaps what makes it easier for him to combine a demanding career with the social part of his life. Jubb is currently playing Futures in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, recently making it to the semifinals of an M15.