By: Gabe Taylor '12
Worldwide tennis players debate the toughest surface daily, especially during the French Open, being played in early June. French natives think John Lamble's game would transfer over well to a true red clay court. The ball travels at a slower pace after colliding with the ground, making points harder to come by.
Bronco sophomore John Lamble will have the opportunity to find out where he stands on clay when he visits his teammate Nicolas Vinel in France over the summer. From the span of late July to mid August, Lamble and Vinel will train, partake in tournaments and even coach while working at the IBS Academy near Nice, France.
When he set his eyes on summer, Lamble knew he wanted to journey overseas with his racket in hand. Having a copule teammates from France the past two years made his decision that much easier. But that hasn't prevented him from disregarding the possibility of culture shock.
"It's going to push me out of my comfort zone," said Lamble.
Lamble finished the year at 25-7 this season, helping lead Santa Clara to a 22-6 record and final ranking of No. 33 (highest ranking ever to finish a season). In addition, Lamble helped the team defeat Texas in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Lamble won both of his NCAA singles matches, including a top 25 player from Stanford. He is ranked No. 123, but the final rankings come out June 6 where it is expected he will move up considerably.
Finishing off a fantastic season with finals next week, Lamble will be in France for the first time this summer. He will be introduced to an unfamiliar surface. And he will be playing men.
Lamble's experience playing on clay is limited. During his junior season in high school, he competed on Har-Tru, or "America's version of clay." Even though it is meant to resemble its French counterpart, the surface enables the ball to reach an increased speed.
"It's something I have to get used to and prepare for," said Lamble, who helped lead the Broncos to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with two wins in the No.1 doubles spot and two wins at the No. 2 singles spot.
Having never been to France before, Lamble plans to include being a tourist on his itinerary.
"I hope that Nico will take me out to see France when we have free time," said Lamble, adding that he's heard how picturesque Southern France is in the summer.
As a sophomore, Lamble is in a situation to help maintain the momentum Santa Clara's built up with the team's first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. After knocking out Texas in the first round, the Broncos came up short against Stanford despite Ilya Osintsev and Lamble's stellar performance as a duo.
"It was a great experience and I gained a lot of confidence from it," said Lamble.
With Kyle Dandan graduating, Lamble will be counted on to deliver another NCAA appearance. Going to France is part of his plan to do just that.
"All that experience that I hope to gain will make me a stronger and mentally tougher play," said Lamble. "I can use that to help me next year."
It's just a matter of how he responds to the clay.