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Facing Greatness: Michael Ray Pallares

Our next subject in the “Facing Greatness” series is Leonia, NJ native Michael Ray Pallares, who played at the University of Alabama and achieved a career best ATP world ranking of 1183.

What would you say were the two best performances of tennis played against you, where you thought the opponent played lights out tennis?

Michael Ray Pallares: “It took me a while to remember matches like that. Because you probably try to block those matches out of your memory banks [chuckles]. I started to think back…the two best performances against me, what I would consider lights out tennis, I guess a couple of times I felt pretty bad on court. One was in my first ever Futures tournament. It was in Lafayette, Louisiana (1999). And I was going to school there (Univ. Louisiana, later Alabama), a freshman in college. They just happened to have a Futures tournament there. I signed up for qualies. I won my first round qualifying match. Then I lost my second match 63 64. But I got into the main draw as a lucky loser and I played Grant Doyle, who was from New Zealand or Australia. At the time he was ranked (373). His best ranking was (173). He was a pretty high ranked guy. I lost one and one. I had no pro experience. I felt kind of lost out there. It felt like he took everything early, came to net a lot. I felt rushed.”

“Another time I felt like that was in Portugal. In the first round of qualies I beat a pretty good guy from Spain in three sets. He was ranked 900 or 1100 something. I felt confident. Then I played against a French guy with one or two ATP points. So I felt confident. I lost like 61 60. Who is this French guy? Sometimes these really good players just come out of the woodwork. Sure enough, within a year he was ranked like 150 in the world. It felt like he was slapping the ball into the corners. It was tough to get into the points. Those two matches I felt like, shocked on the court, or the opponent played lights out tennis against me.”


Pallares turned pro in 2004 and played his last ATP match in 2018. He has trained with many pros at Saddlebrook Academy in Tampa, including Isner and Blake. On the ATP Futures circuit he played against the likes of Juan Sebastian Cabal, Santiago, Giraldo, Prakash Amritraj, Thiago Alves and Jarmere Jenkins. He will turn 40 tomorrow so this article is a small birthday present!

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