Texas tennis star Spizzirri’s dream month ends with legendary matchup at US Open

Ross Fisher, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 24 flipbook.

Texas tennis sensation Eliot Spizzirri went from packing his bags to head back to the Forty Acres, to unpacking his bags in a locker room brimming with tennis’ greatest players.

Spizzirri had been awarded a wild card spot for men’s singles qualifying at the US Open last month, a realization of a boyhood dream for the Texas tennis star. He then went on to knock off the No. 163-ranked player in the world in the first round of qualifying, before barely losing out to the No. 130-ranked player in the second. 

But his journey would not end there. As Spizzirri was bracing himself to return to reality, he got the news that his dream month was not yet over. 

He and his longtime friend Tyler Zink were awarded a wild card spot for the US Open doubles main draw — and they would be taking on a French duo with five grand slam title wins, including the 2021 French Open doubles title.

Just two college kids in a hotel room messing around; Spizzirri was joking with Zink, a Georgia tennis sophomore, about the prospect of taking on the legendary French duo. Then Spizzirri checked the U.S. Tennis Association’s website to see the doubles draw, and he could not believe what he saw.

“I was in the hotel room, with (Zink) actually,” Spizzirri said. “I opened up the US Open player website and knew the wild cards came out around 12 or two. I checked the little file and saw that we were on it.”

“It was funny because we were joking like, ‘Who do you think we’re gonna play?’ and the first team that came to mind for me whenever I think about doubles is (Pierre-Hugues) Herbert and (Nicolas) Mahut. And of course a couple days later, the draw comes out and that’s who we were playing. So it was cool to be playing two guys I consider doubles legends. It was funny that we were playing the guys that I felt were probably the toughest team to face in terms of experience.” 

Herbert and Mahut, the No. 3-seeded duo in the US Open, dispatched Spizzirri and Zink in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4. 

Spizzirri was initially just happy to be there, but after realizing he could hold his own against the world’s best, he was desperate to play more top-level competition.

“Coming off the court, it was like, ‘Shoot, I wish we had maybe gotten a little bit easier of a draw, so we could have gotten a shot of getting a win under our belt,’” Spizzirri said. 

Despite the second round exit in singles qualifying, and the first round exit in the doubles main draw, Spizzirri relished the opportunity to play in a stadium full of fans and be among so many legendary players, whom he had previously looked up to.

“Sharing the locker room with some of the greatest in the game, and getting to meet them, pick their brains a little bit — I mean, I could go on and on about how cool it was to be in that environment and how inspiring it was as well,” Spizzirri said. “Just being able to watch those guys practice and get the chance to hit with some really high level players, I definitely enjoyed it.”

After his US Open run had come to a close for certain, Spizzirri finally got the chance to reflect on his journey.

“I was able to sort of look in the rearview mirror and appreciate how far I’ve come and understand that it was not too long ago that I was a little kid, watching through the fence, just trying to get to watch some of the top players and dreaming of playing there,” Spizzirri said. “An opportunity like that only makes you want to work harder, so I’ll definitely work to get back.”