On Wednesday, University of Virginia alumnus Dominic Inglot will step onto Wimbledon’s famous grass courts hoping to build on what has already been a milestone year for the London-born tennis pro.
As part of Great Britain’s 2015 Davis Cup team – which also included current world No. 2 player Andy Murray – Inglot helped Great Britain win the world championship for the first time since 1936. This summer, he hopes to represent his country in the Olympics, pending final team selections on June 30.
Inglot, who specializes in doubles, played at UVA from 2006 to 2009, when he and partner Michael Shabaz became the first doubles team from the Atlantic Coast Conference to win the NCAA Men’s Doubles Championship. After graduating from UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce, Inglot joined the professional tennis tour, where his impressively powerful serve (averaging 140 mph!) earned him the nickname “Dom the Bomb.” He is currently ranked 30th among professional doubles players worldwide and has won four titles on the ATP World Tour and five on the ATP Challenger Tour.
In this year’s Wimbledon Championships, Inglot and partner Daniel Nestor are seeded ninth and scheduled to begin play on Wednesday. The pair is coming off a win at the Nottingham Aegon Open over the weekend.
It will be Inglot’s sixth time competing at Wimbledon. That’s not counting his appearance on the silver screen, when a young Inglot starred as Paul Bettany’s stunt double in the 2004 film “Wimbledon,” co-starring Bettany and Kirsten Dunst.
As Inglot prepared for a semifinal match at the Nottingham Aegon Open last week, UVA Today caught up with him to discuss his hopes for Wimbledon, memories of UVA and that Hollywood moment.
Q. Growing up London, why did you choose to hop across the pond and attend UVA?
A. I had been playing tennis in England, but knew that my game needed more work before I was ready for the professional tour. UVA gave me an opportunity to get that training while also getting a college degree and working hard as part of a great team. I had never even visited Virginia before, but after talking to [UVA men’s tennis coach] Brian Boland for about 20 minutes, I knew I was sold. I wanted to be part of what he was building. I was surprised by just how beautiful Grounds was, and really loved the whole town. I was also interested in finance and wanted the opportunity to attend UVA’s Commerce School.
Q. How did your finance degree help you as you dove into the professional tour after graduation?
A. Knowing quite a bit about finance and math has certainly been helpful in things like managing my money or navigating tax processes. But perhaps the most helpful thing is knowing that I have something to fall back on if tennis does not go well. In 2011, while I was injured, I got a work placement with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London. I really enjoyed it, and it gave me a taste of what I want to do after tennis.
Q. Any favorite memories of your time at UVA?
A. Lots, to be honest. Overall, it was really great being a part of something larger than myself. At UVA, you are part of a school where people wear UVA colors or gear proudly. In the Commerce School, we were happy working in groups to get things done. I was also very proud to be a part of the tennis team. On the professional tour, it can be quite lonely sometimes. The most enjoyable moments I have had – both at UVA and after – are when I felt like I was playing for something larger than myself. That is one reason I loved the Davis Cup, playing for Great Britain.
Q. What it is like making a living as a professional tennis player?
A. It can be a very fine balancing act. Obviously, you need to train rigorously every day. Fitness is extremely important. When you go on the road, it can be difficult to schedule the right things at the right times, whether that is getting sufficient sleep, sticking to the best diet or getting in enough practice in the right weather and court conditions. The very top players often have massive teams managing those logistics, but it can be difficult to manage yourself.
Q. What are some of your favorite memories from your professional career so far?
A. Playing my first Wimbledon tournament in 2010 will always go down as a great memory. I partnered with Chris Eaton, a guy that I grew up with in England. We were a wild card entry in the tournament but beat the No. 1 seed and defending champions, and made it to the third round. That was very unexpected, and it was great.
I also really enjoyed winning the 2012 Citi Open in Washington, D.C., where I partnered with Treat Huey, who also played at UVA. We played together for a few years, and it was great to have that Virginia support even after we had left UVA.
Of course, winning the Davis Cup was probably the highlight of my career.
Q. What was that like, bringing home a championship that was so highly anticipated?
A. Being a part of that winning team was so special. I am so proud to showcase that trophy in my living room. For Great Britain, it has been a long time coming, and I think many people were hoping it would happen soon. A big part of that, of course, was Andy Murray. He played such a critical role, and just being around him and seeing how he does things is incredible. For me to be able to offer something as well was just very special.
Q. What are you hoping for in this year’s Wimbledon Championships and the rest of the summer?
A. I am playing with Daniel Nestor, who is massively experienced and has won two Wimbledon titles. I am hoping to learn a lot from him, and to make it at least past the third round. Our preparation has been going well, and I think we can do it.
As for the rest of the summer, I am really hoping to play for Great Britain in Rio. Final selections are due by June 30, and I hope I will be able to join the team along with Colin Fleming, who would be my doubles partner for the Olympics.
Q. Finally, you’re a bit of a film star. What was it like to work as Paul Bettany’s stunt double in “Wimbledon”?
A. That was a really enjoyable experience. I was 15, training at the Queen’s Club in London. Pat Cash, a Wimbledon champion, walked by and asked me to audition for the film. He said they needed background characters for small shots here and there, but it turned out that they needed a stunt double for the main character, played by Paul Bettany. I actually look very similar to him, and so I ended up spending three months that summer filming every day, doing the shots they needed for the film. Some were quite difficult. Now, I can always say that I have been in a Hollywood movie.