American Chris Eubanks has been the story of the men's singles tournament at this year's Wimbledon, and if you ask him, the support of Hologic WTA Tour stars Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka is something that's helped him get there.
The 27-year-old Eubanks, ranked outside the Top 100 at the start of the season, booked a spot in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal with a five-set upset of No.5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monday's fourth round. The Atlanta native also upset No.12 seed and 2022 semifinalist Cameron Norrie earlier in the tournament and came into Wimbledon on the back of his winning first career ATP title -- a victory he attributed to some well-timed advice from former WTA No.1 Kim Clijsters.
But after beating Tsitsipas from two sets to one down for his first-career win against a Top 5 player and his ninth straight victory, Eubanks noted how Gauff and Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner, have believed in his abilities even when he didn't believe in them himself -- and how his current form is, in part, a testament to their keen eyes.
"Being as close to Coco as I am ... being good friends with Naomi, I'm around enough tennis players to be able to pick their brain, hear the way that they look at certain things," Eubanks said. "I think the biggest thing, it's a common theme amongst both of them, they've been saying for a long time that they feel like I belong at this level.
"For a long time I questioned, again, whether or not I was consistent enough to play at this level really consistently. I knew I could come out on any match and maybe light it up, could cause some guys some trouble. I don't know if I really believed I could put it together match after match after match against quality opponents.
"That's something Coco has been telling me for a long time. Naomi even says the same thing. That's kind of been the main thing of just reinforcing and instilling confidence. 'Hey, you can play at this level, you just got to believe it.'"
Appropriately, Gauff and Osaka were glued to Eubanks' win over Tsitsipas. Gauff was with her parents in his player's box on No. 2 Court, and Osaka, on maternity leave at home, in front of her television. A quick look at their respective social media pages showed how excited they were for their good friend -- even if Osaka was armed and ready with some good-natured ribbing at Eubanks' expense at the end of the three-hour thriller.
"You were shanking so much at the end I got scared," Osaka said jokingly in the caption of her video recording of match point.
Eubanks, who played college tennis at Georgia Tech University before turning pro, also called the ambition of Gauff and Osaka "infectious."
"When I'm around them, to hear them talk about their belief," he said. "It does rub off on you.
"When they talk about their goals or what they feel when they go on court, I feel a little bit like the odd man out because I'm like, 'You guys are mentally different than I am. You guys are so much more locked in and confident when you step on the court.'
"I think it's slowly starting to rub off on me where when I step foot on the court, 'Hey, I can play at this level, I belong at this level.' I just have to go out there and actually believe it. Be OK with giving it everything I have. Whatever the result is it is."