After being restricted to just practices for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bahamian professional tennis player Justin Roberts will be back on the hard courts next month, competing in the exclusive Pro Tennis Invitational at the Birch Racquet and Lawn Club in Keller, Texas. That event is set for August 6 to 9.
Roberts, the number-one ranked Bahamian tennis player, is one of eight top pro circuit players in the world who will be competing in the four-day competition that includes singles and doubles.
“I feel good. I have been training Monday through Saturday and sometimes on Sundays, putting in the hours. I feel great and I have improved over the last couple months. I look forward to being able to compete again. It has been just practices since the beginning of March, so I am ready to play,” Roberts said.
The other competitors include Mitchell Krueger, Luke Bambridge, Nathaniel Lammons, Jody Maginley, Evan Zhu and Amy Zhu.
In the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Rankings, Krueger is at number 195 in singles, Bambridge is at number 52, Evan Zhu is ranked at number 429 in doubles, Lammons is ranked at number 107 in doubles and Maginley is ranked at number 626 in doubles. Amy Zhu is ranked at number 584 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Rankings.
The Bahamian, who is ranked at number 788 in the ATP Rankings, said he is not nervous and is looking at the tournament as practice.
“It is not a big deal,” Roberts said. “It is just a good chance to get some matches in. I look at it more like a practice. It will be nice to make some money. It will be fun. I am not nervous – I get a chance to do what I was working on in practice and try to get better.”
When the pandemic reached this side of the world earlier in the year, Roberts was keeping busy by honing his craft at Dent Academy in Keller, Texas. He was working at improving his game and he believes he has gotten 10 to 15 percent better during this time.
His main plan for the rest of the year is to move up in the rankings.
“It looks like on this side of the world, they are looking to start back up in September. I have this invitational and wait about three or four weeks and then try get on tour and join tournaments and get my ranking up for the rest of the year,” Roberts said.
This is Roberts’ first year as a professional athlete after graduating from Arizona State University (ASU) with a Masters Degree in Sports Law and Business. Before attending ASU, he was at the University of South Florida. At ASU, he won the Southwest Leadership and Sportsmanship Award. He also helped ASU to their best finish in 15 years, when they exited the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Tennis Tournament, losing 4-1 to Texas Christian University (TCU) in the second round. Roberts came away with the only win for ASU in that round.
This was expected to be a busy year for Roberts. He was set to represent The Bahamas in Davis Cup play, playing alongside Marvin Rolle, Kevin Major Jr. and Baker Newman – one of the strongest teams to be assembled for The Bahamas in Davis Cup in recent years. However, that event was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.