I looked up yesterday and Sam “QBall” Querrey was 28. I said, “That can’t be!” I remember Qball when he was 18 playing the Forest Hills Challenger having a pizza delivered to him in the swanky Forest Hills bar/cafe. Actually, I remember further back to the year before when I saw the acne-laced Qball playing the Qualis at the US Open. This must’ve been 2005 when Qball was 17 or 18. I remember thinking I’d never seen a pro athlete or a fledgling one look so rail thin and like Jughead of Archie comic fame.
The following year, 2006, Qball actually beat Vince Spadea at the now-defunct LA pro tournament and received a wild card into the US Open where he beat Phillip Kohlschreiber in the first round (Qball’s chances of beating Kohly in the first round of the US Open in 2016 would be very small). It was also that year that Qball served 10 consecutive aces in a row (believed to be an Open era record!) in beating James Blake in the now-defunct Indianapolis event quarters.
In 2008, Qball reached the furthest he’s ever been in a slam, a 4th Rd showing at the Open where he demolished Tomas Berdych. Qball also went to the Rd of 16 at the Wimby 2010 event. It was 2009 where Qball suffered a terrible injury in Thailand where his arm was impaled in a glass table which just missed causing career-ending nerve damage. And really, he’s never been the same since then.
But here it is 2016 and Qball is still the third-ranked American and no. 37. He’s won 8 tournaments and nearly $7 million and has hit a serve 141 mph. And yet, when I think of Qball, I think of a player who came close to being a top pro (his career high ranking is no. 17), but never really met that mark. Maybe it’s his milquetoast demeanor. Maybe it’s because his fiancee left him (this kind of thing doesn’t happen to a top player, does it?), but in actuality, Qball has done far better than the player he’ll always be compared to, Donald Young, who was featured along with Qball in the documentary, “Unstrung” about top junior players, and is now dropping precipitously in the rankings, who is almost 27 and has only reached a career-best of no. 38, has won not yet $3 million and has won zero ATP tournaments.
So like a lot of players, maybe it’s unfair to judge Sam Querrey as a top 20 player, a potential slam semis player, because the very fact he’s made it as far as he has is quite extraordinary. And yet…Qball! You coulda been a contender if only you took Scoop Malinowski intensity lessons.