On the Road With Chris Eubanks, Who Will Take Chick-Fil-A Over Escargot

Photographs: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte

Few people on earth travel as often as professional athletes. With On the Road, the GQ Sports Travel Questionnaire, they’re weighing in on everything from room service to flying comfortably to their favorite chain restaurants.

As the tennis world descends on Paris for the French Open, rackets, shoes, and tennis players themselves are in full travel mode. Chris Eubanks has his own set of travel-related quirks. Eubanks stands 6’7”, meaning airplanes and claustrophobic European lodgings can be a little tricky. But the Atlanta resident has made do, turning himself into a top-50 player despite spending a good portion of his life in hotel rooms that are a bit too small.

Another challenge for someone of Eubanks’ stature is finding the right clothes. It wasn’t until Eubanks joined forces with J. Lindeberg, he says, that things started to feel right. “For so long I just wore large, XL, whatever’s provided,” Eubanks explained. “I don’t think I fully realized that some of the stuff didn’t fit me proportionally as well as it fit everybody else. Now I have shorts that are made for me, and fit me the way they fit everyone else. The first time I put them on, it felt kind of weird! But when I saw pictures of me playing in it I was like, ‘Oh, this is how it’s supposed to look.’”

Before jetting off to Roland Garros, the sixth-ranked American called in to tell us all about the travel logistics of a professional tennis player. He actually did the interview from a hotel room in Acapulco, so being on the road was top of mind.

Eubanks uses his wiry frame to his advantage

BNP Paribas Open 2024 - Day 4

Eubanks uses his wiry frame to his advantage
Michael Owens/Getty Images

When you’re packing for a trip—tennis or otherwise—what are the things that you absolutely have to bring?

Ooh, the thing is, so much of my travel is predicated on tennis. I don’t have many trips that don’t involve carrying tennis shoes and tennis rackets. But, first off, any time I travel I like to do it in a sweatsuit. I love a good hoodie on an airplane. I typically grab a window seat, so I like to just put my hoodie up and lay my head against the window. Big hoodie guy, even in hot conditions. And then when you get inside, typically hotel rooms are pretty cold, so I love having a good hoodie.

After that, contact lenses. I’ve been caught a few times out of the country without contact lenses. I do a good job now of making sure that I have a lot in the suitcase, in the tennis bag, and a bunch in my bookbag. They’re all over the place. I cannot leave without those. From there it really depends on the setting. My shoes are usually the first thing that I pack. If I’m going somewhere where I might be outside—dealing with grass or dirt, or playing in certain tournaments—I pick and choose. For instance, during clay court season, I’ll bring a couple pairs that I don’t mind getting dirty. I love all shoes and just sneakers in general. Everything from Stan Smiths to Travis Scotts to Dunks.

Those are my main things: hoodies, contact lenses, and shoes. Everything else, I can kind of get by if I get caught in a tight spot. If I’m going somewhere for tennis and I don’t have something I need, then I can get a little bit uneasy. Things outside of tennis? I can adapt pretty well.

Do you get anxious about your equipment when you’re traveling? Are you super protective of your rackets?

Not super protective, no, but when I’m going to tournaments I always carry my rackets on. When I’m coming home from tournaments, that’s when I’ll be like, ahh, I can check ‘em. I haven’t had an issue where my rackets were damaged or anything, I just like to carry them on. It’s a peace of mind thing. I’ll put a pair of shoes and a couple outfits inside my tennis bag, too, just in case something happens and my luggage doesn’t arrive.

What’s your favorite tennis court to play on?

Favorite individual court? That’s good. I’d have to say Court 1 at Wimbledon. I had two really good matches there last year. I won my second-round against the No. 1 Brit, Cam Norrie, and lost in the quarterfinals to Daniil Medvedev on that very same court a few days later.

But that court is very special to me. Before my first-round match I got a chance to go out and take a look at the stadium when it was empty, just to take it all in before the match. So, I’ll definitely say Court 1 at Wimbledon.

Then, regardless of the courts or the actual tournament, where’s your favorite place to go for tennis?

Melbourne, Australia. I love going to Australia. That’s also the first Grand Slam where I had a good amount of success. I’ve played some of my best tennis in Melbourne. It’s a part of the world that I always look forward to going to. It’s just fun knowing that all my offseason training in December is gearing up to go to Melbourne in January. That keeps you going during tough training times.

The first time I went down there was a bit weird. I believe I left on the 23rd and arrived in Australia on the 25th. So, when we arrived at the hotel, it’s 90 degrees and the people were saying Merry Christmas. I had never felt warm weather at Christmas before. You get there, you’re sweating, and you’re like, “What do you mean, Merry Christmas? What are you talking about?”

Have you had much time to travel for non-tennis reasons?

I haven’t. I can’t think of anything. Since I turned pro in 2017, I’m pretty sure 99% of my trips have been tennis-related. I’m having a hard time remembering a time when I went to an airport and didn’t have my tennis rackets. Even if I’m not playing or training, I’ll always have them just in case, and I tend to get a practice in.

Is there anywhere you want to go?

You know, I’m not a big sightseer. When I get off time, I prefer to just go home. I don’t get to spend that much time at home. When those pockets of time open up, I don’t want to have to get on an airplane. I can’t really think of a place I’m dying to go, because I don’t seek out information on places. I’m seeing tons of players go to Bali, my coach is from South Africa so he’s always trying to go to South Africa, but I’m perfectly fine just spending time at home in Atlanta.

If the ATP Tour came to you and said, “Chris Eubanks, where should we add a tournament?”, what would you say?

I’m pretty partial to the States. I feel comfortable there. There used to be a tournament in San Diego but it went away. I would love to have another tournament in San Diego, just because I love San Diego! The weather there is super nice. I love California in general.

The thing is, they’ve done a good job of putting tournaments in places that I enjoy. Miami, New York, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston—all of my favorite places, they really have covered. Maybe LA, actually. That would be cool. The only place we have close to LA and San Diego is Indian Wells [in Coachella Valley].

When you check into a hotel and get to your room for the first time, what are some things that you like to see?

Space. I’m pretty tall! I don’t like being cramped in small hotel rooms. I definitely need a thermostat that can turn the room pretty cold. I like sleeping in the cold. Honestly, I’m pretty easy. As long as the bed is there, the bed is clean—actually, good WiFi is probably the first thing that I check for. If I get good WiFi, a clean bed, and enough space, I’m pretty good.

I very rarely turn the TV on anymore. I’m usually on my computer or iPad, so I don’t really care about the TV. Closet space is nice, you’re not able to get that everywhere. If I know I’m gonna be somewhere for a while, I like unpacking. It just makes the morning routine so much easier. Those trips that are just two or three days? I call that the In-Between Zone. Do I really want to unpack? But for tournaments, unpacking is one of the first things that I do.

Every shower in every hotel is different, too. I never know what I’m doing.

We run into that as well. I find it to be most difficult in Europe. Sometimes you go in there to take a shower and you just can’t figure it out. The half glass thing, I don’t get it, doesn’t make any sense.

Do you still like hotels?

I don’t mind hotels! I don’t mind coming back every day and having my room made. I may not be the best at making my bed when I’m at home, so it’s nice to come back after a day of training and feel like your room is in perfect order. Living out of a hotel has never really been a problem for me, and I definitely have some that are my favorites now.

Are you a big room service guy?

That’s a great question. If there’s a restaurant at the hotel that has the staples—club sandwich, cheeseburger—I’m all about it. Go ahead and bring that up. I don’t have to leave? Just post up, watch shows, sit in my room with dinner, and go to bed? I can do that almost every single day. I’ve started to try and do a better job of getting out of that habit by going out to dinner with my friends. I don’t mind that, but I love my personal time. But I will order a good room service burger at the drop of a hat. If there’s any indecisiveness about what we’re doing for dinner I’ll say, “You guys figure it out, I’m going to order the burger and have a good night.”

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Are you an adventurous eater? With all the international travel that tennis requires, have you expanded your diet?

No. Usually when I go to a new city, I find a restaurant near the hotel on that first day. If it’s pretty solid, best bet is we’re going there a lot. I don’t really branch out. I’m very much a creature of habit. I like my routines. If they have a good lasagna bolognese? Alright, that’s going to be dinner for the next four or five nights, guys. I’m just going to get the same thing so I don’t have to think about it.

Never tried escargot when you’re in France?

Nah. I’m perfectly happy going to Chipotle.

Is that your comfort chain? Like when you’re traveling and need something easy and familiar, is that Chipotle for you?

No, if I’m in a tournament, Chipotle is one of them. It’s not something that I crave. But I know it’s reliable. My comfort is Chick-Fil-A. When I go home, there’s one right by my place. I’ll go there and think, it’s good to be home.

Originally Appeared on GQ