When Joey Atas qualified for his first ATP U.S. Open Series event, he had spent the previous four days relaxing and going to the beach. So it should come as no surprise that with his debut in the professional tennis world approaching this week, Atas planned to take it easy at a time when most players in his position would be working out.
"I'm just going to go home and take a couple of days off," Atas said early last week before returning to his home in Baltimore.
Atas, who never lost a match at Calvert Hall, will play in his first professional tournament at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, which begins in the main draw today at the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Washington. Atas will play doubles with Matt Scott.
"For tennis purists, he's the ideal player," doubles partner Scott said of Atas. "He likes to attack the net, and he's got a great volley, so if he keeps that aggressiveness, he'll go far."
Atas, 20, already has demonstrated his assertiveness. Even though he won the Big Ten men's singles championship as a sophomore at Ohio State in November, Atas was frustrated with his position on the team and transferred to Duke, where he'll play this fall.
"He played No. 3 when he should have played No. 1," said Lenny Scheuermann, Atas' longtime coach and president of the Tennis Institute at the Greenspring Racquet Club.
"I wanted to go to a school that had a great tennis team and great academics," Atas said. "If I hadn't have gotten into Duke, I don't know what I would have done."
In the meantime, Atas plans to work on his game with Scheuermann, who has coached him since he was 12, and play in tournaments all over the country to build his skill and experience. Atas plans to get his degree and turn pro.
"He needs to play more tournaments, and he needs to believe that he deserves to be out there," Scheuermann said.
At this point, Atas still sees tennis "more as an opportunity to have fun than anything else."
At a glance
What: Legg Mason Tennis Classic
Where: William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center, Washington
When: Through Sunday
Who: Field of 48 singles and 16 doubles teams includes five-time champion Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Tim Henman and James Blake
TV: ESPN2 (Friday, 3 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m.)