Tennis Prose



Biofile: Eric Butorac Interview

butoracEric won his 18th ATP doubles title yesterday in Estoril with Scott Lipsky – This Biofile was done with Eric in 2008 —

By Scoop Malinowski

Ht: 6-3  Wt:  180 pounds.

DOB: May 22, 1981 in Rochester, Minnesota

Tennis Inspirations: “My dad and my college coach, Steve Wilkinson – who also coached my father and taught him everything he knows [smiles].

Hobbies/Interests: “All sports…I love going to and playing all sports and learning French. Fantasy sports. Sightseeing.”

Nicknames: “Booty, McBooty, the Boot, Boots – my brother then became Mini-Boots – so I became Full-Size Boots, Buddha, Puss and Boots, Buto and my favorite courtesy of Snoop Dogg – Bootylicious [smiles].”

Favorite Movies: “Pulp Fiction, Usual Suspects, Old School.”

Favorite TV Shows: “Seinfeld, Entourage, The Office.”

Musical Tastes: “Rock and a little hip-hop.”

Last Book Read: “Playing For Pizza.”

First Tennis Memory: “Winning a trophy when I was eight.”

First Job: “Stringing racquets for my dad’s pro shop.”

First Car: “Oldsmobile Calais. It was a gem, think it cost about $800.”

Current Car: “Borrow my parents’ Accord.”

Pre-Match Feeling: “Butterflies in my stomach, no matter the occasion.”

Favorite Meal: “Chicken Tikka Masala.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Cookies ‘n Cream.”

First Famous Tennis Player You Encountered: “That’s a tough one, can’t remember meeting anyone too famous when I was young. When I was in Tokyo in ’06, my first year on Tour, I spent fifteen minutes in the training room talking to Federer, that was interesting.”

Greatest Moment of Career: “Winning the ’99 Minnesota state high school tournament.”

Most Painful Moment of Career: “Losing in the NCAA D-III team semis in ’02.”

Favorite Tournaments: “Aussie Open, Stockholm, Queens, Indianapolis.”

Favorite Players To Watch: “Federer, Nadal, Murray, Nieminen, Santoro, Dancevic, Edberg, Rafter.”

Closest Friends on ATP Tour: “Ashley Fisher, Travis Parrott, Fredrik Nielsen, Dave Martin, Scott Lipsky, Ross Hutchins.”

Funniest Players Encountered: “Andre Sa, the only guy I’ve seen who everyone on Tour loves. The Spanish speakers love him, the English speakers love him, obviously the Portuguese speakers. Singles players respect him, dubs players love him. He is the man.”

Toughest Competitors: “This may surprise people, but I’d say Andy Roddick. The guy is so competitive. Whether it’s U.S. Open or small tournament in France, the guy is always fighting it out. In doubles, its the Bryans. They show up to play every single week with high energy and the belief to win the tournament. Put Bjorkman and Mirnyi in there too.”

Funny Tennis Memory: “Last year in Monte Carlo, the sun was very low and we were looking right into it. Jarkko Nieminen had a short forehand and ripped it right at me. It caught the tape and as it went up I lost it in the sun. I thought it went up over my head and I turned and ran like I was chasing a lob, when apparently the ball sat up right in front of me. Benny Becker, my partner, didn’t even react because he expected me to hit an easy forehand winner and certainly didn’t expect me to go running away from it!”

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: “Crying my eyes out on court my first day in France trying to play pro tennis cause I thought I couldn’t play on clay.”

Last Vacation: “Can’t remember. It’s tennis, tennis, tennis. All my vacations are going home to Minnesota!”

Best You Ever Felt On Court: “Memphis semis in ’07. I fought off match points to Benneteau/Johannson and won 13-11 in the super-breaker. I had my parents, girlfriend and four of my best friends in the first row. To have them seeing me play my best tennis was one of the best feelings you can have….and we went on to win the title. The biggest of my career.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “I’m pretty humble for a pro athlete…and I think people can relate to me pretty well cause I’m just a normal guy who happened to make it in tennis.”


( **** This updated Biofile interview was done with Eric in Delray Beach last year **** )

First Tennis Memory: My father owned a small tennis club in Minnesota. All my early tennis memories are playing at the club, hanging around and causing trouble [smiles].

Tennis Inspirations: Learning from my dad. Learning to fall in love with it. How much passion he had for it. He never pushed me, never said I had to play. But just seeing his love for it and all the smiles he put on people’s faces. That’s what I think made me like the same so much.

Last Book Read: David & Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell.

Greatest Sports Moment: Was finals of Australian Open. Grand Slam finals don’t come around often, so. When you get to play one of those it’s pretty special.

Most Painful Moment: Losing in NCAA semifinal. And I was last match on the court and I let my team down and we lost 4-3. So that was pretty bad.

Strangest Match: Once in Indian Wells, Rafa hit Feliciano Lopez in the back of the head with a serve, 130 miles an hour off his head and it went out of the stadium.

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: One was when I was watching at one of my first ever ATP events – I was looking for a seat. Some people invited me to sit in their luxury box and I didn’t know who it was. I sat the whole match sitting with Federer’s parents. (Where?) Basel – his hometown. That was horrible. I didn’t know till the very end [smiles].

Favorite Tournaments: Stockholm and Queens. I like some of the old tennis clubs. You see some of the history, the traditions of the sport. A lot of times we play in real, like, modern venues. It’s nice to see some of the old courts and look up at the posters of Borg and McEnroe and Lendl. Some of these tournaments have been held for a hundred years. It’s neat to see.

First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: No memory from when I was young. Probably first year on the ATP World Tour, Agassi was finishing up his career. So getting to meet him just before he finished his career was really cool. (Where?) At Indianapolis.

Favorite Sport Outside Tennis: Basketball.

Three Athletes You Like To Watch & Follow: Hockey – Henrik Lundqvist, goalie for the New York Rangers. Growing up I liked Chris Mullin (NBA shooting guard). I like how he handles himself off the field, leadership-wise – Russell Wilson (NFL).
Best You Ever Felt On Court: Australian Open is one of my best tournaments. Down there I always feel great. The one year we beat the Bryans. Then the following round we beat Nestor/Zimonjic 2 and 4 on Laver Arena. To beat the top two teams in the world back to back, pretty handily, was probably the best I ever felt.

Funniest Players Encountered: It’s pretty serious these days. Everybody is pretty focused. Surprisingly, a lot of people never see the side of him but behind closed doors in the locker room Federer is more of a jokester than anyone would imagine. (Do you have a little anecdote that will possibly illustrate that?) No [laughs]. I’ll let him keep that to himself. There’s a reason he only lets it out in the locker room [smiles].

Fiercest Competitors Encountered: Bryan Brothers. Every time – nice guys off the court – and on the court they want to rip your head off every time, so [smiles].

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  • Scoop Malinowski · May 2, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    A lot of cool insights into pro tennis provided here by Eric –

  • Thomas Tung · May 3, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Thanks for the BioFile, Scoop — it’s nice to see some of the doubles guys get some time here, even if we’re mostly singles people 🙂

  • Harold · May 3, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Cant believe Rafa serving 130 in dubs. A little embellishment to juice up a story

  • Michael · May 4, 2016 at 1:08 am

    I actually never saw this guy play and only heard of him fairly recently which I guess says something about how my interest in doubles has waned since JMac/Fleming left.

  • sharoten · May 4, 2016 at 1:45 am

    Eric’s blog is really interesting.



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