Expatriates year-round, professional tennis players travel the roads of the globe to skim the tournaments of the ATP and WTA circuits. An even more special experience for the young Franco-Brazilian Gabriel Décamps, currently 381st player in the world, who started on the professional circuit last year and is making good progress.
Franco-Brazilian tennis player Gabriel Décamps, 22, grew up in Brazil where he cultivated his passion until he was 18 years old. After four years of study in the United States, he finally embarked on the deep end of the ATP circuit (Association of Tennis Professionals) on which he has had some success over the past eight months. The one who had already delivered for lepetitjournal.com in 2015 when he was only 16 years old has now grown up well, and has again answered our questions with pleasure from Cannes, where he has been living and training since July. 2021.
What is your background as a Franco-Brazilian tennis player?
I started tennis in Brazil at the age of six-seven, my father and my two older sisters were already playing tennis. I lived there until I was 18, then I left to study in the United States. Eight months ago, I was still at the American university where I spent the last four years. Last year I was number three in the country and then decided to play on the ATP Tour. In July of last year, I had no points and therefore had no ranking, today I am the 366th player in the world (on the date of the interview, editor’s note). I have evolved to a very good level over the last eight months, I have surprised myself. I start to participate in Challengers, tournaments in which those who compete in the Grand Slam qualifications take part. I feel like I’m turning a corner.
Do you feel the influence of your different host countries in your approach to tennis?
I think I have more of a character specific to American universities, where you have to shout, put on the intensity because you play for a team, so my attitude is not very French but rather American and South American. But I try to acquire the French technique.
Do you feel more Brazilian or French?
I spent 18 years of my life in Brazil, I have Brazilian culture and I feel Brazilian. I am in full exploration of France and my French origins at the moment (he trains in Cannes, editor’s note). I really appreciate the country and its culture, which is my father’s, and I especially love the food here. But deep in my heart, of course, I’m Brazilian.
Aren’t professional tennis players expatriates all year round?
Absolutely, we never stay there. We are traveling all the time, every week we are in a different country. Soon, I will also chain Challenger tournaments in Italy, Mexico and then in Kazakhstan (at the time of the interview, editor’s note).
So far you have already taken part in tournaments in a large number of countries, which ones did you prefer?
On the occasion of the Rendez-vous at Roland-Garros, I played almost next to the Eiffel Tower, at the Champ de Mars. It was amazing, I think it’s one of my best memories. It was probably the best court I have walked in my entire life. But my favorite country remains Brazil, I participated in a Challenger in Rio in December where the 2016 Olympic Games were held.
Is it true that beyond the 100th place it is difficult to live tennis as a professional player?
It is very hard to become a tennis player. Getting where I am involves a lot of hard work and few financial rewards. Even though the ATP pays for the hotels, the trips cost us a lot of money. Despite everything, I was privileged during my four years of study in the United States, I didn’t have to pay anything because I benefited from a full scholarship. At the moment my parents have enough to help me for another year, and then we will seek the support of a sponsor because I am starting to have a very good level. But I almost didn’t play tennis because of this financial aspect. I didn’t want my parents to pay for me. I was already independent in the United States, I could find a quiet job there and avoid all this hassle. I finally decided to give myself a chance and I realize the difficulty of the task. Despite everything, I have known a good progression during the last months, with in particular a victory against the 176th player in the world.
There is no point in projecting too much into the future.
What are your future goals?
In the short term, my goal is to qualify for the US Open in August, which means I have to be in the Top 250 by then. In the longer term, I would like to join the Top 100, and from there continue to grab places and go ever further. You have to have ambition and work hard every day, but there’s no point in projecting yourself too far into the future. It is not good to put all the pressure on a single match by saying that by winning it you can reach the Top 100, you have to live one match at a time. Beyond that, my dream is to participate in the Olympic Games for Brazil. It would be a very special moment for me to try to win a medal for my country.