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Jacob Fearnley on his final season in America and what life looks like after college


As Jacob Fearnley enters the closing stages of his US college career at Texas Christian University (TCU), he reflects on his time in the States and looks forward to starting a new journey of his own on the ATP Tour.

The TCU Horned Frogs are currently ranked number two in the Division I rankings with their only loss coming at the hands of Ohio State in the ITA National Indoors final. The team were looking to win their third consecutive title at the event.

During his career at TCU, Fearnley has been fundamenal in the university's dominance and accrued a series of accolades, including topping the doubles rankings, assisting TCU to number one in the team rankings and winning back-to-back National Indoor Championships to name a few.

Simultaneously, Jacob has been climbing the ATP singles and doubles rankings with outstanding performances in the few tournaments he has competed in outside of his college schedule.

First of all, TCU just finished runners-up in the ITA national indoors, two championships and a second place in the last three years. How was the experience in NYC and how does that set you and the team up for the rest of the season? 

"It was a great experience playing in New York City, we were sad that we didn’t make it in the final, but I think it could work in our favour moving forward. The last couple of years after we won the National Indoors we were maybe a little complacent going into the outdoor season so having lost narrowly to the top team in the nation and having some very good wins over other top teams can set us up quite nicely moving outdoors."

You’ve been on form the past year on the college scene and on the pro tour, how have you found the transition from dual matches to playing and winning ITF Futures and ATP Challengers?  

"I think the transition from playing dual matches to playing pro events and back to dual matches is challenging. Playing higher in the line-up, all of my matches are very high level and a very similar level to the matches I've been playing on the (ITF) Futures tour. I think college tennis has set me up really well in that respect.

"One of the biggest differences is that in pro tournaments you have to play back-to-back matches whereas in college pretty often it’s just one match and then you’re done until the next fixture. That’s definitely one of the biggest adjustments I've had to make in managing coming from college to pro events."

Fearnley took the autumn semester off college tennis to compete on the pro tour. He picked up both singles and doubles titles at M25 Edgbaston, beating Kyle Edmund in the final, and M25 Esch/Allzette in Luxembourg during the few tournaments he played.

It’s your last year at TCU, how are you feeling about your last season, and what’s your outlook after you leave?  

"I’m really excited about my last season, so far it’s been really good and enjoyable. I’m just trying to make the most of it as I know I‘m not going to get these years of my life back and just being with the team one final time before going out there on my own.

"The outlook after college is to be full-time on tour, I'm excited to play for myself and play pro tournaments. It’s something I've always wanted to do since I was a little kid so very excited for that and looking forward to what’s ahead for me."

You’re playing at the top spot against some of the best players in college tennis, what have you learned about yourself to lead one of the best teams in the country?  

"Honestly, I think I've learned that I’m capable. I’m capable of playing at the top spot and beating some of the best players in the country and leading the team in that position. It’s something that, if you had asked me two years ago, I would have probably said it’s not possible for me, but I'm really happy that I'm getting the opportunity to play at the top of the line-up so hopefully I keep playing well and continue to play there."

Fearnley leads TCU at the number one singles position, where he currently has nine wins and one loss, five of which have been against top 20 opponents, including a win over top-ranked Eliot Spizzirri from the University of Texas.

"Also from a tennis standpoint, at that position you’re always playing good players so the need to be focused all the time, always on it and no lapses of concentration is one thing I've learned about myself and my game. You have to stay focused at all times, especially with the college format with sudden-death deuces, things can change so quickly."

What are you most looking forward to after you finish college? 

"It has to be the grass court season, if I can get any opportunities on there that’s what I’m most looking forward to and would be ready to jump at anything that comes my way so that’s plan A."

"I’m just excited to be back and playing and to put in a good summer of tennis, play more futures, the British (ATP) Challengers and obviously if I get another opportunity at Wimbledon that would be incredible. Hopefully I can build on what happened there last year, those were some of the most fun weeks of my life."

Fearnley teamed up with fellow Merchiston Castle alumni Johannus Monday last year and won the Nottingham ATP Challenger. The pair received a wildcard into the Wimbledon men's doubles draw, winning their first round before falling to current world number one pair Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden 7-5 6-3.

It must be tough balancing school, a full college season schedule as well as pro tournaments in the autumn. What do you get up to away from the courts? 

"It has been really busy; I took the fall off from TCU to play tournaments but this spring I have less classes which gives me some more free time. I just try and stay occupied, I write in my journal, watch some Netflix and go for walks.

"I spend a lot of time in the physio room and the weight room to focus and work on my body as much as I can. Once I leave here my schedule is going to get a lot more intense with tournaments so that’s something I'm trying to focus on away from the courts."

TCU head into their second half of the season where they'll look secure their Big 12 conference title and prepare to make a bid for the 2024 NCAA Division I Team Championships.

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