If there is one thing the tennis world has learned about Ross Hutchins over the past two years, it’s that he's not afraid of a challenge.
In 2013, Hutchins was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While the recovery process sidelined Hutchins for the entire season, it did not keep him away from the sport he loves. From raising money for the Royal Marsden Hospital, where he underwent treatment, to co-hosting a daily webcast at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Hutchins approached each opportunity with an open mind.
Having returned to the courts in January, the Wimbledon native remains passionate about his journey in all avenues of tennis. Among his new endeavors include serving as tournament director at The Queen’s Club…and playing Mylan World TeamTennis.
When his close friend Jean-Julien Rojer went down with an injury the day before the Mylan WTT season began, Hutchins received a call about stepping in. Without hesitation, the 29-year-old hopped on a plane later that day and made his League debut 24 hours later for the Springfield Lasers.
“If it wasn’t something I was excited about, I wouldn’t do it. Everything right now involving tennis is so upbeat and buzzing,” Hutchins tells tennis.com. “Anything that is directed my way seems to get me going. If it does that, I say yes. Juls ranted and raved about Mylan WTT. He loved everything, from the crowds to the publicity in the United States. Any opportunity I had to be a part of it, I grabbed with both hands.
“There are certain things you can’t say no to. The things you mentioned, whether it is tournament director or media work or now playing Mylan WTT, are part of a journey I’m enjoying right now and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
The Lasers began the season 0-3, coming out on the losing end of two Supertiebreakers. To no one’s surprise, Hutchins never lost faith and accepted the slow start as yet another hurdle to clear.
“What I love about WTT and it’s a great concept, is that you are never out until the last ball is played. Even if you’re down in the last set, you still have a chance,” says Hutchins. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 games down. That’s the best concept for me. I also like that it covers every element of tennis: singles, doubles and mixed with men and women. You can’t really do more than that when it comes to showcasing tennis at its best.”
Thanks to the experience of longtime head coach John-Laffnie de Jager and the warm embrace of the Springfield community, Hutchins and his teammates found their footing. On Wednesday, the Lasers secured the final playoff berth, clinching the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
“There is great team chemistry and that’s down to our coach, owners and staff,” Hutchins says. “They are brilliant. They make it enjoyable. JL has been around a long time for the Lasers.”
Hutchins has the chance to help his team erase last year’s disappointment of finishing one match short of claiming the King Trophy. Should the Lasers knock off the San Diego Aviators on the road in Thursday’s Western Conference Championship, Springfield will host the Mylan WTT Finals on Sunday. Hutchins would love nothing more than to deliver a maiden championship to a fan base that has provided him with endless encouragement.
“I wouldn’t want to play for any other team,” declares Hutchins. “Everyone seems to know about the Lasers in Springfield, whether it’s wearing t-shirts and caps or seeing billboards. There is a buzz about WTT there. It’s everywhere you go in Springfield and that’s what’s so amazing.
“There is an eerie silence when the opponents win a point, but when we win one, everyone gets roaring. They really are supportive. Springfield is a great place. I had never been there before, but it has everything you need.”