By John Frierson
Hamish Stewart rolled up to the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on a sunny Tuesday afternoon with a smile on his face. The Georgia men’s tennis graduate student was on his electric scooter, perhaps the best way to get around an increasingly crowded city and campus.
A 6-foot-3 native of Glasgow, Scotland, Stewart joined the Bulldogs this season after four good years at Tulane. He reached as high as No. 21 in the country in singles and doubles as a senior with the Green Wave, before coming to Georgia. He’s currently playing No. 1 in singles and doubles for the seventh-ranked Bulldogs and is ranked No. 17 in this week’s singles rankings.
During our Quick Chat Tuesday, two days after the Bulldogs went to Knoxville and knocked off the fourth-ranked Volunteers (there are four SEC teams in the top 7: No. 2 Florida, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 6 South Carolina and No . 7 UGA), Stewart talked about his start in tennis, the importance of Andy Murray in Scotland, attending his first Georgia football game, and much more.
Here’s some of what he had to say:
Frierson: How old were you when you started playing tennis and what got you interested in the sport?
Stewart: I probably started playing when I was 5 or 6 – my older brothers and I would go down to the local sports club and we’d play all different types of sports. One of my brothers played a little more tennis than the other and we always played together.
Frierson: Is it possible to measure the impact that Andy Murray on tennis in Scotland?
Stewart: I don’t think so. It’s massive, though. We all love him and I have a ton of respect for him. He’s grown it massively, a huge amount for sure.
Frierson: I have so much respect for him and the way he’s still out there competing with a new hip, just because he loves to play and compete.
Stewart: He’s an absolute warrior and it’s a shame to see him maybe not be able to play the same way he used to.
Frierson: If you could steal a shot from any player in history, is there one that comes to mind?
Stewart: That’s a tough one. I would say a (Pete) Sampras serve, maybe, or a (Boris) Becker serve. Something like that.
Frierson: I’m guessing you’ve watched those guys on YouTube because you’re a little young to have seen them play in their primes.
Stewart: My coach growing up was a huge Sampras fan, especially his serve, so he’s tried to teach me a little bit of that. It’s nowhere near it but my coach showed me one or two things.
Frierson: What other sports did you play growing up? Were you good enough at anything that you considered pursuing that over tennis?
Stewart: I always dabbled in a lot of sports. I really enjoyed golf but I never gave it enough time because of tennis. I played rugby, I was just too small and I got battered around [laughs]. I wish I grew quicker but I didn’t, which is a shame. I played cricket a little bit, but my heart and soul wasn’t in cricket.
Frierson: At what age did you start thinking about coming to college in the US?
Stewart: I wasn’t outstanding as a junior, I wasn’t great – I was OK but I wouldn’t have been recruited to Georgia or anything. I started thinking about it when I was 15 or 16, I thought it would be a great idea, and then when I was 16, 17 I was in a position to finally do it.
Frierson: What was it like to go from Glasgow to New Orleans?
Stewart: It was very different. New Orleans is a very interesting place; I loved it but it was a big adjustment at first. I really enjoyed my four years there but it wasn’t the biggest sports school and for my last year I wanted to experience a big sports school.
Frierson: What was your first Georgia football game like? I bet it was a little bit different from a Tulane game.
Stewart: I was definitely different from a Tulane game. It was incredible. I remember we all tailgated before the game and it was such an amazing day – I loved it. I love football now.
Frierson: When did you first learn the rules of American football? Or are you still figuring all that out?
Stewart: I learned a little bit before I got to college just through video games and stuff. Being in New Orleans, when I got there the Saints were still really good, so on Sundays everyone would watch the Saints. I’d always watch them and I got a good grasp of it. I grew to love college football and I’d always watch other teams.
Frierson: When you meet people around here and they hear your accent, where do they think you’re from?
Stewart: Ireland, almost always Ireland. They think I’m either English or Irish. Some people guess it right first but Irish is usually the first one they got to.
Frierson: Are you amazed at where tennis has taken you and the life experiences you’ve had because of it?
Stewart: Yeah, I saw so many places in Europe as a junior, which was fun, and then coming out here, with how much we travel you get to see so much of the country. When I first got recruited, I never thought I’d end up at the University of Georgia, but it became a reality.
I remember I played a tournament here my junior year and I just thought this place was incredible. When they reached out for me to potentially come here, I was like, wow. I remember coming here and falling in love with the place. I thought it was incredible.
(This Q&A was lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Assistant Sports Communications Director John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association and curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work by him at: Frierson Files. He’s also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.