Cameron Norrie, of Britain, pumps his first after winning a semifinal match Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/John McCoy)
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On Sunday, TCU’s own Cameron Norrie made history when he became the first British man to win the 2021 BNP Paribas Open title. Norrie defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, and he recovered from a set and a break deficit at the tournament in Indian Wells.

For the first time, Norrie is an ATP Masters 1000 champion. With this win at the Indian Wells, Norrie is No. 16 in the world and No.1 in Britain. At the beginning of this year, Norrie was ranked No. 74 in the world. He now stands in the 10th and final position in the 2021 ATP Finals, the men’s tennis championship tournament featuring the 10 highest point scores of the season. 

“It means so much to me, my biggest title. I’m so happy I can’t even describe it right now,” said Norrie. “It was a strange match today but absolutely massive for me and my team. If you’d have told me I’d have won before the tournament started, I wouldn’t have believed you, so it’s amazing.”

This win gets better as Norrie was forced to play his final at the BNP Paribas Open, the biggest match of his life, in new tennis shoes because his shoes were taken from his locker the night before.

“I looked all day,” Norrie said. “I had everyone looking. I don’t know what the people have against the Brits with stealing the shoes, but I didn’t manage to get them back. Just had to go out there with a fresh pair of shoes.” 

Norrie found humor in the event. 

Norrie has won 47 matches this year, the sixth most on tour, reached five finals and won two tournaments (Indian Wells and Los Cabos). 

The 26-year-old was not long ago a Horned Frog. Norrie attended TCU in 2013 and came in as one of the top 10 junior players in the world. While at TCU, Norrie went on to become a three-time All-American, the first player in TCU history to finish the season ranked No.1 in the Oracle/ITA singles poll after his junior year and the ongoing record holder for the TCU season singles winning percentage record (.955) after going 21-1 in 2017.

In 2017, the summer of his junior year, Norrie went professional and has been up the ranks ever since. 

“Cameron has built himself into a machine,” TCU men’s tennis assistant coach Devin Bowen said. “He has a phenomenal team around him in [coach Argentine Facundo Lugones], Julian [his physical therapist] and Vasek [his fitness trainer]. Cameron has always been coachable. This year he’s been willing to suffer a bit more in critical situations and the results are career-changing.” 

The icing on the cake is that Norrie is coached by former TCU teammate Lugones. Lugones played his last two seasons alongside Norrie from 2011-15. They both still train at TCU’s Friedman Tennis Center together during tour breaks. 

“I always thought he was unbelievably good,” Lugones told reporters. “It’s just a matter of when things are going to click and if he can stick to the things that are working and stick to the process. Just not giving up, not being let down by tough moments like we had in the past, some terrible losses, a lot of finals, a lot of really bad losses. It didn’t matter for him. He always had a bigger vision.”

The two have grown together and had each other’s best interest at heart. When Norrie’s shoes were taken the night before the final, Norrie may have found the event humorous, but Lugones did not.

“It’s a very strange situation,” said Lugones. “But credit to Cam. He never panicked. Even before the match, I was more pissed off than him. I tried not to show him. I just couldn’t believe it. For anyone who has played tennis at a decent level, it’s very tough to play with brand new shoes. They’re really hard, especially on these courts. You get stuck a lot. In a match, he was going to have to run like crazy to get every ball back. Then you come to play your biggest match of your career and you don’t have your shoes.”

With this win, Norrie has a good chance of reaching the ATP Final in Turin. 

“It would be nice to make it, but I’m going, keep taking care of what I can and handling what I can,” Norrie said.

Norrie intends to play in Vienna, Paris and Stockholm, the final three tournaments of the season.

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