KRAMSACH, July 13, 2017
Lenny Hampel is one of Austria’s biggest tennis talents. The 20-year-old right hander is currently ranked at World No. 408 and captured his first two titles on the ITF Pro Circuit, lifting the trophies in Heraklion and Telfs earlier this season. Hampel is seeded fourth at the $15,000 ITF Futures tournament in Kramsach, where he is looking to continue his good form.
After winning his opening match on Tuesday, we spoke with the promising youngster.
Tennis TourTalk: Congratulations, Lenny! Great start into the tournament. What was the key to success today?
Lenny Hampel: I struggled a bit with my returns at the beginning of the match, but I was able to hold my service games and eventually found my rhythm in the second set. That was key.
You are currently in good shape. How satisfied are you with the first part of the season and have you changed anything compared to last year?
I am very confident at the moment. Winning matches, which I didn’t play that well, makes the difference compared to previous seasons. Last year, I lost a couple of close as well as important matches but this year I am able to fight a lot to eventually leave the court as winner. Overall, I am very pleased with my current results. I also took the title at the Staatsmeisterschaften (Austria’s National Championships).
Do you set yourself any goals, maybe in terms of ranking positions?
I will crack the Top 400 next week and I hope to finish the season ranked about World No. 240 or 250. Then it would be possible to enter the qualfiying at the Australian Open, which is my goal for the year. In general, I want to get inside the Top 100.
Tennis in Austria seems to be very popular at the moment, as Dominic Thiem is very successful. Have you ever met him?
I know Dominic a bit. He is a really great guy and I also had the chance to practice with him once. I benefited from it a lot. It is unbelievable how aggressive his tennis is on the court. What he has already achieved on the tour is outstanding, as he is just a normal guy from Austria, who worked hard for his success. He is my role model, as he shows that it is indeed possible to get to the top. I think that he also started a kind of a tennis boom in Austria, which is great for our sport.
Your game looks very powerful. How would you describe your style of playing tennis?
My game is to play aggressively from the baseline. I am able to serve pretty fast but I need to be more consistent. There is still room for improvement in terms of my defensive skills. However, I always want to set the tone on court, trying to put my opponent under pressure.
Are there any particular things you are working on at the moment?
There are lot of tournaments coming up in the next couple of weeks, so there is not that much time to practice intensively but during the pre-season starting in November, December, there is time to analyze certain things, to understand what went well and what made me struggle. Then I will sit down with my team and we will start working hard to improve things.
Where do you practice? Do you have a base?
I practice in Vienna at the Pro Tennis Academy with Michael Oberleitner and Martin “Gatto” Gattringer. Gatto attends a lot of my tournaments, but I also enjoy being alone on the tour from time to time. This is actually a pretty useful experience. You learn self-discipline, as you have to manage a lot of things on your own. I think that is important. However, during the more important matches, in particular at Challenger level, it is great to get some support.
How does you schedule look like the following weeks?
After the tournament in Kramsach, I am going to play the $25,000 Futures in Brno next week. Depending on the outcome there, I will play the ATP Challenger in Prague or I will have some days off for practice, followed by another Challenger in Liberec or the qualifying of the ATP event in Kitzbühel.
Of course, there is not much time for you off the court, but do you have any hobbies besides tennis?
I am not a big football fan but I support Fc Barcelona during the Champions League season. When there is time, I simply enjoy spending time with my friends at home in Vienna.
You are an eye-catcher on court, in a very positive sense. Do you get any special reactions or responses due to your appearance?
Of course, you notice the one or other reaction. Some people compare me to Gael Monfils but I do not feel pressure by this. I just see it in a positive way.
Thanks a lot for the nice chat!