Junior Luke Gamble has started off the tennis preseason with a bang as the #21 doubles team in the nation with his partner, sophomore Alex Day. After the two clinched an impressive victory against the #1 team from Oklahoma State at the ITA All-Americans earlier this month, they continued their commanding level of play in the ITA Northeast Regional Semifinals at Penn this weekend, winning four matches before exiting in the semifinals to Columbia. This week, Gamble sat down with the Daily Princetonian to talk all things tennis.
Daily Princetonian: What makes you and Alex [Day] work so well as a team?
Luke Gamble: Alex and I have always gotten along personally really well. Our game style and personas are not super consistent. We tend to shoot high, but often we will miss, so we have that mutual understanding. We also have a lot of fun playing and find a lot of humor in things.
DP: How do you get into a good mentality on the court?
LG: For me having enough alone and quiet time is key. I need to have time to stretch and sit quietly and let the motivation sort of bubble up from within. I know listening to music helps other people but for me silence is the only thing that really charges me up.
DP: Any go to shots?
LG: In between the legs volley.
LG: No but you should write that. It shows that I’m cheeky.
DP: Why did you start playing tennis?
LG: Tennis is a family [tradition]. My grandfather played until he was 90 years old and my mom initiated my brother and me into tennis when we were young. I have lots of my memories of childhood summers of us all bouncing from one court or tournament to another.
DP: What’s the most challenging about being on the team?
LG: Honestly managing academics and tennis is hard for a lot of us on the team. We spend so much time together that we tend to take each other and the coaches for granted, and that can cause some sort of marital tension.
DP: What’s your hidden talent?
LG: The ability to consume endless amounts of ice cream.
DP: Best moment at Princeton?
LG: It has to be during the incredible snow storm of last year. We were all cooped up together in three feet of snow, but then a few friends and I decided to brave it for a while and make snowmen on Poe field.
DP: What’s the most dramatic moment you’ve had in a match?
LG: It has to be when we beat Harvard in San Diego after a four-year drought. I was the last match on court, and mid-cramps, I clinched the match. During that time, I had a real sense that I was doing it for my teammates, which was a unique and humbling feeling. Celebrating with them after that victory is not something I’ll soon forget.
DP: How do you celebrate a big win?
LG: I generally do the same thing after I win or I lose. Obviously, after a win, you want to sort of be in the moment, celebrate with your partner or team and hug your mom. But I’ve developed the habit of pretty soon after a match disappearing for a few minutes and sitting in the moment alone. It helps me appreciate and be aware of it all.
DP: What’s your favorite aspect of life at Princeton?
LG: I love the diversity of people. Every year I meet someone who makes me realize how inadequate I am in a new way. It’s oddly humbling and inspiring.
DP: Favorite thing about tennis?
LG: I enjoy how it’s demanding on so many levels. Physically, mentally, and even emotionally or almost spiritually. I’ve always said a tennis match is sort of a dose of life in concentrate. That for those two hours you kind of have to bring everything that’s in you to the table, or the court, in ways that are rarely asked of you.