“I lost every time,” he said. “I didn’t want to try again.”
And yet, in the midst of all this online game pessimism, there’s Cressy, all 6ft 6in, plus a messy blond mop that gives him an extra inch or two. He comes in after his first serve, his second serve, and his opponent’s serve whenever he feels the chance. He enters the game after every short ball he sees, and even after his opponent overtakes him on three points in a row. He believes in pitching and firing with the fervor of a cult member, even if it is a cult of one of them.
“This style can take me to the top,” he said after losing the first round of the French Open, and when he says “to the top,” he means No. 1.1 ranking. After all, this loss was on the ground, which has long since become kryptonite for pitches and volleyball players.
Cressy struggled with conventional wisdom for a decade trying to master the serve and volley when he was a promising young player in France. The French Tennis Federation actually told him to cut it out, as if he was fooling around during practice. If he was going to play like that, they didn’t want anything to do with him. Cressy did not move.
“I loved it,” he said Tuesday night after knocking out Auger-Aliassime, the sixth seeded Canadian and trendy dark horse at Wimbledon, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(9), 7. -6(5). He will play another American, Jack Sock, in the second round on Thursday. “If it’s something I love, I can do it and do it as efficiently as possible.”
Cressy trained at the academy in his senior year of high school and was recruited by UCLA, where the coaches saw some potential in him in doubles. They were right, and in 2019 he became the collegiate doubles champion.
But Cressy never stopped believing that his sport ignored a style that could be incredibly effective for a singles player with big serve, ability to move, deadpan confidence, and a willingness to run, run, stoop, crouch, crouch and reach for balls up to how they land. Hence the pain in the ass after the match on Tuesday.