UGA men’s tennis team junior Walker Duncan completed his sophomore season with only two singles losses in 21 completed matches over a span of three and a half months. His final individual record was 29-14, which included an 11-match winning streak.
Before he could return to the court for his junior season, Georgia’s fifth singles player had to take the longest tennis hiatus since his playing career began.
To complete his international business major by his senior year, he had the choice between three or four more Spanish classes or an education abroad. Duncan chose the London School of Economics for six weeks.
The “well-needed” six-week break from training on the court allowed Duncan to secure his seat as a spectator at the premier international tennis events.
First, a ticket to the Aegon Championships at the Queens Club, where Georgia legend and professional John Isner competed in June. Isner continues to follow the men’s tennis program at Georgia, and he and Duncan had a chance to speak briefly.
Next, he fulfilled childhood aspirations of witnessing Wimbledon. Duncan’s dad, who formerly worked in London, secured passes through a member of Wimbledon, and flew from the States to watch a few of the outside-court matches with his son.
In the later stages of the tournament, Duncan made a home of Henman Hill, the famed hill in the middle of the Wimbledon complex, where a screen is set up for those watching outside the court.
“We got to watch Federer, Murray, and Djokovic,” Duncan said. “It was on TV, but it was still surreal.”
Aside from tennis, Duncan took in a London atmosphere for the first time. His previous European excursions involved a four-month trip to Italy for tennis. A leisurely attitude set England apart from the United States for Duncan.
“The best part about London is the culture,” Duncan said. “The coffee shops, the pubs – everyone is a little more relaxed. The parks on a nice day. People in their full-on work attire in the park, hanging out.”
Counter to the laid-back environment, Duncan kept up with the Georgia fitness schedule to prepare for his return to school. Classes start Monday, and Duncan and his teammates will gradually return to a full tennis schedule as the individual spring competitions begin.
With an NCAA Championship semifinals finish and an SEC title to defend, the Georgia team boasts an unchanged roster entering the 2017 season.
“My time away from tennis,” Duncan said, “I was kind of trying to analyze my season, and figure out what went well, and what I really did. For me it was time to buckle down and play without any fear. I had won a lot of matches, and it seems like winning breeds winning.”