Burbank at the Burbank Tennis Center.
Just a few miles from his childhood home in Eagle Rock, it is as close
to a home court advantage as he will ever have.
It doesn't seem that long ago when Mamiit was taking lessons on the
concrete courts with metal nets at Glendale High as an eight-year-old in
1984. Now 15 years later, he has traveled the world as the No. 106 ranked
player on the ATP Tour but still remembers his humble beginnings.
"My cousins played the game and they convinced my parents it would be
good for me to give it a try," he said during a break from practice this
week. "It turned out the I had the right mentality and body type to be
successful as a junior player. I kept working hard and had a successful
year as a collegian at USC. "Now I'm just trying to duplicate that
success on the professional level."
Since he turned pro at the 1996 U.S. Open after winning the NCAA
singles title as a Trojan freshman a few months earlier, Mamiit has
pushed his 5-foot-8, 150-pound body through 18 to 20 events a year,
including all four grand slam events.
A self-described "grinder," Mamiit has neither the weapons or the
hit-out-at-all-costs mentality that make up the best players in the world
like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi at this point in his career.
Instead, Mamiit relies on his court speed and wit to wear down his
opponents until they buckle under his relentless ground strokes.
"Any time a guy steps on the court with me, he should be prepared to
run out every ball because I know I am," he said. "I may get blown out on
a bad day but on others I just grind it out until the other guy quits or
That strategy never worked better than in February of this year.
Mamiit beat both Agassi and Michael Chang before losing to Mark
Philippoussis 6-2, 6-3 in the finals of the Cybex Open in San Jose.
Not only did his ranking rise to a best ever of No. 72 after his
success in San Jose, but it gave Mamiit confidence that he could play
against the best players in the world.
"Burbank is not the U.S. Open or Wimbledon, but we love to have Cecil
here because he brings a lot of energy to the event and a lot of local