White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – On a rare day off, Tennys Sandgren got up close and personal with nature—so up close that he could taste it.
"Got a little dirty which was the goal," he says. "Didn’t flip the UTV, which was also the goal, but probably wouldn’t look good for The Greenbrier."
With a visit to The Greenbrier's Off-Road Adventures, he got into a utility terrain vehicle (UTV) for the first time for a bumpy four-wheeled drive through the woods. His driving experience involves cruising behind the wheel of his black pickup truck, a gift he bought for himself after winning his first ATP title in Auckland last year.
"I don't really celebrate stuff like that, but I was like, you now what, I probably should," he says. "I was thinking I'm not really a car guy, but a big truck would be nice. Tennessee, Nashville, come on, what are we going to do? I had to buy the truck."
The UTV terrain was more challenging than Tennessee highways, and it was the puddles that got the most attention as the vehicle would get repeatedly drenched in mud. The world No. 55 took it well.
"Fairly wet, fairly muddy, fun actually," Sandgren says. "It's fun to drive though puddles and get splashed by dirty puddles. It's great actually."
On cleaner terrain inside Creekside Stadium, Sandgren has been impressive for Orlando all season long in singles, doubles and sometimes even mixed doubles. He's embraced the busy season by getting a ton of match play under his belt moving into what should be the restart of the ATP tour in August.
"It's nice to get into a rhythm and play a bunch of points and feel like you're finding your feet," the 29-year-old says. "It feels familiar versus having two or three weeks, or two or three months ahead of you, and you're like I don't know what I'm doing, I'll just practice some, I guess."
Sandgren was one of the players who quickly accepted and adapted to the shutdown in March by embracing the chance for extra "pre-season" training. After finding out the news in Indian Wells, he almost got a little too creative with what to do with all his spare time.
"I handled it well," he says. "I thought about buying a bike and just biking home from California to Tennessee. It crossed my mind actually because I was like I've got nothing to do for the next two months... I didn't because that would have been crazy for me."
A UTV would have been less crazy now that he knows how to drive one.
Sandgren's Orlando Storm began the season with a 3-4 record and has since won seven matches in a row to sneak into the second seeding position for the playoffs. They'll take on Chicago Smash on Saturday at 5 p.m. for a spot in Sunday's final.
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