In a week where Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic came together in attempt to support the lower-ranked and lesser-known tennis players during the coronavirus crisis, one set to benefit directly from their generosity has expressed his gratitude towards the ‘Big Three’.
Paul Jubb, the 20-year-old world No. 519 from Hull, had not heard of the trio’s plans to donate – and convince other members of the top-100 to do the same – to provide financial support to those in the lower echelons of men’s tennis before our phone conversation on Tuesday afternoon.
A letter, first published in Sports Illustrated, from Djokovic – who has since found himself making headlines for the wrong reasons due to his anti-vaxxer stance – outlined plans to give $10,000 to every player ranked between 250 and 700 in the world, with the top-100 players donating more than $1million of the required $4-4.5m.
‘That’s an extremely generous and nice thing to do,’ said Jubb. ‘It’s obviously great to hear that. It’s great they care about the rest of the tennis world.
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‘Everyone in the top-100 has been in the same situation where they’ve been outside the top-100 before so it’s definitely really nice to hear that even the top guys care about the rest of the world and have love for the game and want there to be a community, I guess. It’s really good.’
Jubb, who has now turned pro, will not be in as precarious a financial position as some of the other athletes lower down the food chain.
Metro.co.uk can reveal he has been selected for the Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) Pro Scholarship Programme (PSP), which provides financial support to the tune of £80,000-a-year to young British players who the governing body believe have realistic expectations of cracking the top-100.
Players on LTA Pro Scholarship Programme
Men: Jay Clarke, Jack Draper, Paul Jubb, Anton Matusevich, Aidan McHugh
Women: Katie Boulter, Jodie Burrage, Harriet Dart, Fran Jones, Emma Raducanu, Katie Swan, Gabi Taylor
Cam Norrie, the British No. 3, recently graduated from the scheme – which was introduced by outgoing LTA performance director Simon Timson, who is taking up a role with reigning Premier League champions Manchester City – after establishing himself as a top-100 player and Jubb has now been added to the 12-player group after pausing his studies at the University of South Carolina (USC) in order to pursue a professional career in tennis.
Jubb – who would consider finishing the remaining year of his retail management degree once he hangs up his racquet – is far from typical in the British tennis scene with regards to his upbringing.
Hailing from a council estate in Hull, with both his parents passing in his childhood, he has not been afforded the same privileges as many in the tennis sphere and there’s a sense of relief that he will be financially supported through PSP.
‘I think it in a way relieves some pressure,’ Jubb continues. ‘You’ve got less to worry about.
‘Worrying about financials has always been something throughout my career, now it’s a lot different in that I don’t have to worry about that nearly as much and can really focus on my tennis and play more freely in that sense.
‘Definitely for me, I’ll use it as extra motivation to succeed because they’re giving me the support and help so I want to make them proud and make it worthwhile – just as I’ve tried to do with anyone who has helped me along the way.’
It will also go some way to easing the pain of missing out on the full £45,000 first-round prize money he was due to receive by playing at Wimbledon last year.
He had been handed a wildcard at the All England Club after a string of impressive displays, which started with him winning the NCAA national singles championships for USC – following in the footsteps of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors – and finishing with a win over now world No. 14 Andrey Rublev in Eastbourne.
However, he was unable to collect the full prize money due to his enrollment at USC, and was instead only able to claim reasonable expenses, which came to less than £10,000.
‘So I can’t actually do any more with that money now,’ Jubb adds. ‘That money has gone. I can’t remember how much it was but I didn’t really get that much back, only what I used for expenses.
‘I worked closely with my university’s compliance to make sure I didn’t break any of the rules or take more than I was allowed to take so I could go back for this season and yeah, it was obviously…’ – he pauses to laugh – ‘a bit disheartening to watch all the rest of that money go away and not see it go into my bank.
‘Hopefully I can put myself in a situation again when I can play in a Grand Slam and keep that money next time.’
After his first-round defeat to Portugal’s Joao Sousa at the All England Club, Jubb operated on the ITF Tour until the end of the season, winning a first title at that level in Cancun in November.
Two months earlier, he practised with British tennis icon Andy Murray for the first time.
‘It was great,’ says Jubb. ‘It was the first time we’d really properly met so it was really good to share the court with him.
‘He’s such a great guy when you get to speak with him. After watching him so many times on Youtube and on TV, to share that live ball with him, have a hit and speak with him was definitely great.’
As well as the financial resources he is set to receive from the LTA and the world’s top-100, Jubb can now also count on pearls of wisdom from former world No. 1 Murray.
‘We didn’t really talk at the time when in person, it was more general conversation,’ says Jubb. ‘He was asking me questions actually about my college life and career and how it’s been going.
‘But yeah he has reached out a couple of times then just to see if I needed any advice or anything.
‘He said he was always available and an option to talk so knowing I can go to him for advice and definitely great and one I’ll be trying to use because obviously he’s one of the best of our generation so he’s a great and vital source to get some key information from.’
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