Ashley Watling was an All-American tennis player at the University of Tulsa. Roughly two years removed from his college playing career, the Great Britain native finds himself competing in tennis once more. The USTA Tulsa pro Championships are being held at the Philcrest Hills Tennis Club all this week. It's the type of event to feature some of the "up-and-coming" major professional players.
"This opportunity popped up and I thought I'd come out here. I won the main draw and I won my first match on Tuesday," Watling said. "Then I won the next round so I'm back out here again on Thursday."
Whether this is the start of something bigger for Ashley has yet to be seen. But it's through USTA tournaments such as this where future stars earn ATP ranking points in order to qualify for the more prestigious events.
"We have players ranked in the top 300 in the world [in this event] who are trying to make it in pro tennis," said Russell Warner, the Executive Director of the Philcrest Hills Tennis Club. "A lot of these guys are on the cusp of breaking into 'big time.' Some of these guys, you'll probably see on TV starting next year."
What may be Watling's greatest strength aside from being an immensely talented player: He's competing with the mindset that he has nothing to lose. "I've surprised myself to say the least. Because I really haven't training a whole lot," Watling admitted.
"I always knew that I was good player. I've always had a lot of self-confidence and belief in myself. If I do well here, then maybe I'll carry it on and see how it goes."
Dimitar Kutrovsky defeated Watling in straight sets (6-1, 6-4) and in doubles, Jared Donaldson/Fares Ghasya defeated Watling/Daniel Manilow as well (6-3, 6-4.)