by Mike Dunk
In whatever profession you choose, the usual starting position is at the bottom. In tennis that means campaigning on the Futures Tour to start with and Damian Hume has just returned from his foray into senior tennis having played in three Futures Tournaments on three different Indonesian Islands.
Exotic as it may sound this was hard work for the young Damian who, as a junior reached number 32 in the world, but this was a tough baptism into world of professional tennis. On the Futures Tour you are going to come across a cross section of players. Some will be “testing the waters” as to what life is like on the Tour and asking themselves, have I got it? And others will be on the come back trail from injury but have been out of the game for a while and their ranking has slipped to a point that will not give them entry into the bigger events. That is like starting all over again.
In the first event he had to qualify for the main draw, which he did. He then had a good run through to the semi finals and beat a young Indian player, with the surname of Singh, who is ranked around 550 in the world along the way. A good win and a confidence booster for young Damian. In the semi final he lost to an Australian, Colin Ebelthite, who is ranked at around 320. So a solid start for him on the Tour.
Unluckily for Damian, the decision was taken by the Tour Referee before the Tour started that regardless of your results in the first or even second tournament, no exemptions would be allowed. This meant that for Damian, despite a semi final finish in the first event, he still had to go through the rigors of qualifying for the remaining two tournaments. The upshot was that he played a lot of tennis and twice had to go for three and a half hours and once for four hours.
Taxing for anyone, let alone someone new to the Tour. His panache for being drawn against seeded players continued. Remember that at the French Juniors and Junior Wimbledon he “bumped” high seeds in the first round. Well, it continued here. In the second tournament he lost to the 6th seed in the first round. This was a man who had been up to 200 in the world but was now on the come back trail after injury. Then in the last tournament, he drew the top seed, again after qualifying.
Looking back on the tour Craig Berrenge, who accompanied Damian, said he “ was pleased with his performance in as much that he competed every single time. Perhaps he could have done a little better in the last two events but having to qualify took a lot out of him.” Just a pity that the Referees decision regarding exempt entry was made before the Tour started. It could have been all so different.
So Damian has tasted what life can be like on Tour. The experience will be invaluable and the disappointments are all part of the famous “learning curve” and I am sure he will benefit from the whole experience in the years to come.