One of the final six teams to qualify for the inaugural ATP Cup was Poland, led by Hubert Hurkacz. The 22-year-old was just inside the Top 400 in the ATP Rankings two years ago. But now, he is his country’s top-ranked player at World No. 37.
Hurkacz will lead the Polish charge against Argentina, Austria and Croatia in Group E play, to be held in Sydney. The 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier speaks to ATPTour.com about the pro from Poland who he got to spend time with at a young age, what it means to represent his country, and more.
What are some of your early memories playing tennis in your country?
I remember being on the court hitting some balls. I was very young and I had a bigger racquet. I loved competing. Playing all those matches and tournaments was a lot of fun for me.
What was it like to have your mom as a role model, since she was a junior tennis champion in Poland?
Yeah, of course. I looked up to her. I knew that she was good, so [I thought] I could also be quite good.
Which Polish players did you look up to growing up?
When I was older there was a friend of mine, Michal Przysiezny, who was in the Top 100. When I was 14, 15, I used to do fitness with him, which was nice. I was asking him some questions. It was good for me to have someone close to me who was very high in the ATP Rankings and that also gave me motivation.
When you first met Michal, how exciting was that for you as you were a junior dreaming of being a professional tennis player?
I looked at it that he’s a really great player. I wanted to become as good or even better than him.
How excited are you to help Poland qualify for the first ATP Cup?
That is unbelievable for us to qualify and we can play in this event. That is really nice.
What’s the coolest part about the event?
I think it’s a great timing at the beginning of the year. It’s played in Australia, so before the Australian Open we are able to play for our countries and we compete against each other, so that’s a fun part.
What do you like about being on a team?
It’s very nice because all the people you are around give you support, so it’s a little different than most of the time when you’re alone with your coaches, with your teams, but you don’t have that extra support from players.
Poland has another singles player who was in the Top 100 this year in Kamil Majchrzak, a doubles star in Lukasz Kubot. Do you spend a lot of time with the other Polish players on the road?
When we have a chance, when we play the same events, we spend some time together. It’s always fun to speak some Polish and know there are some other players from my country.
Is there a shot from another Polish player you’d want to add to your game and why?
Kubot has a great return. He hits it full power, clean and he gets a lot of advantages when he plays it so well.
What do you love about Poland?
It’s a great country. I love being there and the atmosphere. I grew up there, it brings me memories and my mind is always relaxed being there.
When you’re on the road, what reminds you of home?
Tough to say. Travelling, I am thinking about the tournaments and matches and all the stuff around. Speaking to my friends really is what reminds me of Poland.
How important is it to you to inspire Polish children?
That would be amazing. I hope in the future I’ll do some bigger results and inspire a lot of children to play tennis because it’s a really fun sport and I really enjoy it.
Travelling and seeing all these places and being at the great events and winning trophies in the future, that’s something really special. It’s a great way to live your life, so you can do something good after your career as well.
How much do you want to be a role model for them?
It’s tough to think that way. Obviously if I do good things then I hope they take something from those good things.