Catching Up With: Geoff Abrams

Richard Dunn

Now that decision time might be weighing more heavily than ever in

his second year on the USTA Futures tour, Geoff Abrams is trying not to

think much about Career Path II, even though being a doctor would

probably provide the world a bigger service than playing professional


A Stanford premed graduate with aspirations of attending medical

school and specializing in orthopedics, Abrams is trying to crack the

world's top 250 -- the "Mendoza line" in men's pro tennis and a ranking

that qualifies you for most Challenger events.

The USTA Challenger circuit, sort of the triple-A level of pro tennis,

is a notch above the Futures tour, which is a notch above the satellites.

Abrams, a former Newport Harbor High standout, essentially started his

pro career from scratch in June 2000, because he didn't play satellite

events in college.

But, as a premed major, he didn't have much spare time to play pro

satellite events. All Abrams did is achieve a 3.3 grade point average at

Stanford, where he finished his senior year as the Pac-10 champion and

the eighth-ranked college player in the nation.

"He's got the chance to be in the top 100," former USTA regional coach

for Southern California, Eliot Teltscher, said last year. "He has a

pretty good all-around game. For a big guy (6-foot-5), he moves pretty

well. But he didn't play much pro tennis in college and that hurts a

little bit."

For Abrams, 23, there's always medical school if tennis doesn't work

out. But that's part of the problem.

"I'm really not trying to think about it," Abrams said. "It's a

distraction. You can think, 'Oh, yeah, I don't have to win today, because

I have medical school.' So I try not to think about it. But in 1 1/2

years from now, I'll know. If I have the same ranking, I'll know to give

it up."

Abrams, who has one singles crown and two doubles titles on the

Futures tour, will be on display this week in the $15,000 USTA Costa Mesa

Pro Futures Tournament at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center. The event

concludes Nov. 18.

"I'm dealing with some injuries and trying to squeak out a living,"

said Abrams, who won the Claremont Futures singles title last year, as

well as doubles championships at Berkeley last year and Chico this year

with Diego Ayala of Coral Springs, Fla.

Abrams, whose ranking has hovered around 500, has won $7,008 in prize

money this year, $13,347 in his brief pro career. Chump change compared

to doctor's wages.

"If I travel bare-bones, I can cut back on costs and come close to

breaking even, but I've got to be frugal," said Abrams, who also plans to

compete in Futures events in Malibu next week and Laguna Niguel beginning

Nov. 26.

"I enjoy being close to home. Those events are good for me."

A smooth tennis player with soft hands and a booming serve, Abrams was

a junior phenom who was ranked No. 1 in the nation in the boys 14s. At

Stanford, he played on three NCAA title teams in four years and capped

his collegiate career by earning All-American honors in singles and

doubles. He owns the fourth-best winning percentage in Stanford men's

tennis history.

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