2016 Player Bios:

Matt Wuller

How can someone who has taken maybe 5 private tennis lessons in his whole life be considered one of Hilton Head's top players? The answer, watch Matt Wuller play. While others are feeling the older they get the better they used to be, Matt is feeling that he is still coming into his prime. As evidence, he has had several winning streaks on Court 1 in Pro League, including on last year's team when he was undefeated going into the finals.

Matt's start in tennis was not like most. As the baby of 6, he did not start out with a racquet in his hand, rather he was the family's designated ball retriever. Around the age of 10 he decided to play a few junior tournaments. His dad drove him to his matches and gave him his most memorable piece of advice, "Get to the net!" Matt explains that not many kids that age ever get to the net, but he did exactly what his dad told him to do.

Like most athletic kids, Matt grew up playing several sports including baseball, basketball, golf and swimming. Though he played tennis at Western Kentucky University, after 2 years he decided to come back home to play for the University of New Orleans when the once dissolved tennis program was back up and running. Although Matt modestly admits to getting to the round of 16 in the New Orleans Collegiate Regional Rolex Tournament, he says his best tennis experience is "helping people reach their goal."

When Matt's best friend asked him to go on an adventure with him to Montana, he did so with full force. Once there he said he went from "dish-dog to top-dog" in a matter of a month. In other words he went from dish washer at a local spot, in Glacier National Park, to general manager of the camp store. A guy who goes from ball retriever to one of the Pro League's founders and top players, is the same guy who will tell you, "I can't believe I'm competing with these guys!" Well, for those of us that watch him play, we believe.

Tommy Shimada

Though Tommy retired from the ATP tour at age 30, there is a valuable lesson he lives by that he learned as a young player. "The difference between 'Good' and 'Great' is how you finish and this goes beyond your tennis career." He explained, "Anyone can get to 4 or 5 games, but finishing the set or match, as in life, is not only the most difficult part but the most important."

Taking time away from the tour due to an elbow injury, and with his ATP Doubles Ranking of 40th having slipped some, Tommy realized it would take another year-and-a-half to get back to where he left off. At that point, he said, "It was not in the cards." In 2005, he finished his touring commitments including winning his final Davis Cup doubles match. Again, "it's how you finish."

Tommy turned pro in 1993. Although it would take him six years to qualify for his first Grand Slam in doubles (1999 US Open), he considers it one of his sweetest tennis moments. "It was a culmination of everything you work hard for," he said. He then went on to have 3 career doubles titles, wins over the Bryan Brothers, and participated in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

As a kid, Tommy started out playing baseball. By the age of 12 he was the #1 tennis player in the US for his age group. Up until his freshman year of high school, he played every team sport from football to basketball to baseball. It was only when he broke his pinky finger playing basketball that he decided to just stick with tennis.

In high school, Tommy trained in Florida at the Rick Macci Academy for 2 years, but towards the end of his professional career, he considered the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy his training base. After his retirement, he completed his undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina, and is now the president of his family-owned real estate company as well as a part owner of Kurama Japanese Restaurant. Tommy is also a high performance coach at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy. It is not ironic he is "finishing" what he started, right here at home.

Eric Wammock

When Eric was 14 years old and on a family vacation, he learned one of the most relevant tennis lessons that he still abides by today. After completing a round on the ball machine, young Eric proudly looked up at Frank Froehling, whose son was a US Open semi-finalist, and with a smile said, "Well, what do you think?!" "That was the worst round of balls I've ever seen anyone hit," said Froehling. That day, Eric realized that it wasn't about looking good, but instead, it was about putting the ball in the court. It was his "Aha" moment in tennis.

Eric's father ran PGA Tour golf tournaments, so the last thing he wanted to do with his free time was play golf. As a result, Eric discovered tennis by watching his dad and mom play. At the age of 12, he entered his first tournament and was so nervous that he forgot to take the press off his wooden racquet. Though he lost the match, he got "hooked" on tennis!

Eric excelled in a large junior program led by Zdravko Mincek who had once reached the 3rd round at Wimbledon. After he graduated as a JuCo All-American in Florida, he finished his playing career at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he later became head coach. As the coach, he could not only beat every player on the team, but he could also beat many of his peers who were playing the ITF Satellite tour. "Going out to try and play Satellites at 23 is pretty old," he said. At the end of 6 months, he came to the easy conclusion that he was not "breaking through."

While working at a club in Richmond, VA in 1992, he brought a group of players to Hilton Head, and 2 weeks later, he decided to make the Island his home. During his 17 years at the Sea Pines Racquet Club, he played several former #1s in the world like Bjorn Borg and Conchita Martinez. Currently at Hilton Head Island Beach and Tennis Resort, Eric's company, Hilton Head Island Tennis, is building the strongest public junior program in the area. A man who was once voted USPTA South Carolina Pro of the Year is definitely "breaking through" right here at home.

 

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