Junior Slam winner with Kyrgios, Harris makes the climb back

Andrew Harris, a junior doubles Grand Slam winner, had struggled to get going after successive back injuries. Having returned to the professional circuit in 2017, the Aussie made his first Challenger final at the Chennai Open.

Chennai Open 2019 was Andrew Harris' first-ever appearance in the final of a Challenger event.   -  R. Ragu

Andrew Harris is a name that isn't particularly well-known in the tennis circuit. The Australian shot to fame when he teamed up with compatriot Nick Kyrgios to win the Wimbledon and French Open boys' doubles title in 2012 but faded into obscurity soon after. Two successive back injuries – the second one was right after the Wimbledon triumph – saw him occupy the sidelines for close to 26 months.

Looking to recover and get some much-needed game time while pursuing an education, the Melbourne-based Harris joined the Oklahoma University in the USA. His main reason for relocating to Oklahoma was because the coach handling the tennis team there was a certain John Roddick. The surname does ring a bell and he is indeed related to American tennis icon Andy Roddick – he's the elder brother.

READ | Moutet reigns supreme in Chennai Open

Harris graduated with a degree in Business and Marketing in May 2017 and returned to the professional circuit. But it has been a tough ride since. He struggled to find success, well, at least until this week.

The Australian went on a rampage to beat three of the top five seeds, including top seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran, to reach the final of the Chennai Open Challenger – his best result on the ATP Tour. Though he came short to second seed Corentin Moutet in the final, his remarkable run here will serve as a springboard for the upcoming year. The final appearance sees him pick up 48 ATP points and will take him to a career-best ranking of 327.

“This is the best result of my career so far. I had a very tough year last year and wasn't playing great and mentally was struggling a bit. This result means a great deal for me,” he says.

The game runs in the family

Harris has tennis in his blood. His mother Anne Minter was a professional tennis player herself, who attained a career-best ranking of 26, and it was only a matter of time before Harris followed suit. He picked up his first tennis racquet at the age of four and trained with his father in the tennis court in their backyard. Yes, they had an actual tennis court in their backyard!

Harris and Kyrgios with the boys doubles title in the 2012 Wimbledon. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

His father worked on his game until he was 14 and he subsequently went to train at the National Academy in Melbourne to take the leap into professional tennis. It was during this phase that he played against Kyrgios in the U-16 circuit and the two struck a close bond. “We travelled together a lot and that's when we got to know each other. Off the court, he's a good guy. I think, obviously, on the court it's a different story and he brings criticism on himself, which is at times unfair. But he was always this way, he has been a character since a young age. It's not like he changed after the fame,” adds Harris.

The two remain in touch and often spend time in Melbourne. “I stayed at his place when I played the Canberra Challenger [First week of January]. He loves to get the car and play pop music and go for drives. He's got these nice cars that just fly, it's scary! (laughs) We just hang out in his house, watch a bit of NBA and play video games.” 

While Kyrgios has scaled loftier heights since their exploits as juniors, Harris is eager to get going. “I'm focusing on singles at this point and want to be top-240 by the end of the year. I want to be playing the qualifiers of all the three upcoming Grand Slams. I hope to get my ranking up to a position where I can make it to the Davis Cup team,” he says.