© Brandon Kuether/ATP Tour

Brandon Kuether is the lone contestant in the Nitto ATP Finals ‘Pick Your 8 Contest’ to have selected all players in the current ATP Race To London Top 8.

All The Way With RBA? Minnesota Fan Hopes So

The season finale will take place in London from 10-17 November

One American tennis fan believes more than ever that practice makes perfect.

As the lone contestant in the Nitto ATP Finals ‘Pick Your 8 Contest’ to have selected all players in the current ATP Race To London Top 8, Minnesota’s Brandon Kuether is reaping the benefits of his belief in the importance of intense practice… and his faith in Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.

Finalising his team well before Bautista Agut’s surprise run to the Wimbledon semi-finals, Kuether is one of just 5.8 per cent of contestants to pick the Spaniard, who is currently seventh in the Race. The nine-time ATP Tour titlist is trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

Kuether had faith in Bautista Agut after seeing him practise at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open.

“I went and watched and spent a lot of time on the practice courts. I watched his practice sessions and seeing the intensity at which he practised, the consistency, I just think that there’s a lot of people on the Tour who work really hard, but he’s sort of similar to like a Ferrer or Nadal,” Kuether said. “He pushes himself beyond the point of working hard. You see the intensity with which he hits every single ball.”

Not only did that event prove important for Kuether’s contest chances, but it is also the only professional tournament the American has attended.

“I’m not a man with a lot of money so I won those tickets and I jumped on the opportunity,” Kuether said. “That year I went to Indian Wells, Roger was injured, so I didn’t get to see him. [But] I saw Djokovic, I saw Murray, I saw Nadal, and I was within 10 feet of them. I got an autograph from Djokovic and I saw Wawrinka practising.”

Get Your Tickets For The Season Finale

Kuether, a 25-year-old from Minnesota, received an email last Thursday notifying him that he is the only participant in the contest who chose the current Top 8. At first, he didn’t believe it. The winner of this contest will earn the ultimate trip for two to London to attend this year’s season finale as a VIP guest at The O2 for the semi-finals and final of the world’s largest indoor tennis tournament.

“I was definitely very surprised. I saw the email and I’ll be honest, I had to check if it was spam. I was like, ‘Is this real? Am I actually the person who could potentially be in the lead for something like this?’” Kuether said. “I filled it out thinking maybe something would come out of it, but I didn’t necessarily think I would be the only person with the correct combination by any means.”

It would be particularly thrilling for Kuether, who has never previously travelled outside the United States. And not only would he get to do so, but he’d get to be up close and personal with the best players in the world.

“That would be honestly a dream come true,” Kuether said. “All these guys that were inspirations for me to not only continue with my game, but [they’ve helped me with] personal things that I’ve struggled with that I’ve read about them struggling with. I think to be able to feel that feeling again [of going to a professional event], especially if I got to see Roger, those things are bucket list, dream come true.”

Tennis is a big component of Kuether’s life. He got involved in it during middle school and eventually played high school and then college tennis. Now he works full-time at the Saint Paul Urban Tennis Program, where he is the Program Manager of Player and Coach Development.

Kuether focuses on curriculum development, training coaches and more to help give back to the community. The Minnesota resident says that many kids at the program eventually get their first job there after growing up through the program. Outside of a small registration fee, they don’t require anybody to pay, and no families are ever turned away.

“It’s a good blend for me, because it’s the avenue I use in my work life to achieve some of these things like teaching life skills through sports, teaching employment skills through sports,”Kuether said. “Without tennis, I think my life would be on a very different path and I’ve learned a lot of different life skills through this sport.”

And now, Kuether is just two months away from potentially earning the tennis trip of a lifetime.

“It’d be really cool if my picks did stick… for me it’s really not about who is winning, but rather I’d like to see close matches,” Kuether said. “I think it’s really exciting to see so many guys within 100 points of one another. That provides so much more inspiration to really dig it out towards the end of the season. If you can secure a spot at the [Nitto] ATP Finals, that’s a pretty incredible opportunity not only for the sake of Ranking points and things of that nature, but also just to get a week of tennis in against all the best players in the world. It’s only against the best, so you’re only going to see matches of the highest level.”

Did You Know?
The below is the prize the winner of the contest will receive subject to the terms and conditions of the contest.

A four (4)-day/three (3)-night trip for winner and one (1) guest to the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals consisting of round-trip coach/economy class air transportation from the major gateway airport nearest to the winner’s place of residence to London or round-trip transportation via train where possible, subject to ATP’s sole discretion;

· One (1) standard occupancy hotel accommodation (i.e. one (1)) standard room) for three (3) nights at the official hotel of the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals;
· Ground transportation to/from arrival point in London and the applicable hotel;
· Two (2) tickets for both semifinal sessions on Saturday 16 November 2019, as well as the final session on Sunday 17 November 2019;
· Hospitality access, inclusive of food and beverage, during each applicable tournament session;
· One (1) backstage tour at the O2;
· One (1) meet and greet with a Nitto ATP Finals player or doubles team;
· One (1) copy of the Official Nitto ATP Finals Programme;
· One (1) Tecnifibre racket;
· One (1) case of Dunlop ATP Official tennis balls;
· One (1) pair of Maui Jim sunglasses;
· One (1) Lacoste tennis outfit (one shirt and one pair of shorts)

More stories like this in: