4 min read
Karue Sell (UTR Rating 13.39) made his comeback to competitive tennis this year with few expectations, and just three months into it, he's riding a 22-match win streak.
After wrapping up a successful collegiate career at UCLA in 2016, Sell didn’t immediately jump into a professional career. He spent a year coaching at Pepperdine before being lured into testing his skills at the ITF level with some local tournaments.
He would win the first tournament he entered, an ITF Futures in Claremont in 2017, and two more the following year, reaching No. 371 in the ATP Tour rankings.
“It was like easy to travel and not spend money because they were near home and I ended up just winning like my first one back,” Sell told Universal Tennis. “I was like, jeez, I guess I'm going for it.”
Around that time, the ITF was experimenting with a transition tour and changed up the tour format and rankings, giving Sell pause on what was realistic. After a year, he shifted his focus towards full-time coaching and joined Naomi Osaka’s team as a hitting partner for the better part of two years.
“It was pretty good — we won a couple of Slams together,” Sell said. “And then slowly phased out, obviously when she wasn't playing a lot of tennis anymore.”
His friend suggested starting a YouTube channel to share his tennis knowledge and his stories from the tour. He relied on YouTube to learn how to capture and edit footage, launching the channel My Tennis HQ, which has nearly 200,000 subscribers.
“It slowly but surely grew, and I used my connections from being around many high-level players,” Sell said. “It really grew to a place where it's really, really fun. We get a lot of people at tournaments asking about it, which is kind of crazy.”
This year, Sell started coaching Marcos Giron, a fellow UCLA standout who’s in the Top 100 on the ATP Tour. On top of his coaching and YouTube careers, Sell decided to try playing tennis competitively again.
“I’m around a lot of high-quality tennis, so that makes you want to play a little,” Sell said. “I'm still in shape to play matches. I had a week off, and Newport is so close to me.”
The Newport $25K PTT in February marked the 29-year-old’s first professional tournament since 2019. He won his first five matches in straight sets and capped off his comeback with a dramatic final win over Trevor Svajda in a third-set tiebreak.
"I love the format because I think the hardest part about pro tennis is obviously the early losses, not necessarily because it won't happen but because there's something about becoming match fit," Sell said. "To just be able to be in those situations so often that you can trust yourself when the pressure situations come... You play yourself into shape; you play yourself into trusting the tough moments."
A few weeks later, Sell entered another Newport $25K PTT, and won it again. This time, he would battle through four round-robin wins, then take out former Top 70 pro Ernesto Escobedo (who retired after the first set) and six-time PTT champion Maciej Rajski in the final.
Sell has kept on winning, taking first place at The 121st Ojai Tennis Tournament and then winning the Avila Bay Club Classic men's title to rack up 22 straight victories since his first match in late February. His goal this year is simple enough to say but not so simple to do: Earn an ATP point. That way, he can enter into ATP events as an on-site alternate when he travels with Giron.
"I'm in an 'I want to play' phase," Sell said. "So I want to get some matches in, and I want to see for how long that phase will last."