#NextGenATP Atmane's Pokémon Collection: 'One Of The Biggest In France'
Terence Atmane would be happy to demonstrate a magic trick with playing cards, talk about his 158 IQ score, or comment on his two recent titles on the ATP Challenger Tour.
But mention the Next Gen ATP Finals contender's lifelong Pokémon card collection, which he started in 2007, and the 21-year-old Frenchman lights up.
“I have one of the biggest collections in France,” Atmane told ATPTour.com. “I [am] planning to put a video on my Instagram showing the collection that I have by the end of the year with some subtitles and everything. Like 10, 15 minutes to show people what it is about, so they can learn a little bit more about me and my collection, the story all about it and how it started and why.
“When I was a little kid, I was watching Pokémon on TV. It came pretty naturally, at school and everything, people were talking about these Pokémon cards and it was pretty famous in the world at that time. I remember I was playing with my friends in school and then somehow I started collecting this when I was a little boy. And this little boy still has his collection from that time.”
Atmane's favourite card in his collection is the 'Kyogre ex' from the 2007 Crystal Guardians set.
“It’s like the highest grade that you can have for Pokémon cards," Atmane said. "I bought it from a friend of mine. Once he received the card I told him, ‘Okay, I want to buy it because it's one of my favourite cards of all time.’ So I was like I'm going to [pay] the price no matter what's the price."
The #NextGenATP star loves all things anime, manga and video games. Ironically, if it were not for video games, Atmane may not be a professional tennis player. The lefty started playing the sport at age seven, thanks to the PlayStation game Virtua Tennis and Wii Sports.
“I was playing all day every day. One day my mom came back home and she said, 'Okay, enough of video games, I'm going to buy you a tennis racquet and then let's go to a tennis club and try,'” Atmane said. “Since then, I've never stopped playing tennis.”
Now Atmane is one of the fastest-rising stars on the ATP Challenger Tour. In the past 12 months, he has soared more than 200 spots in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and currently sits at a career-high World No. 149. Atmane has collected two ATP Challenger Tour titles within the past month: Zhangjiagang and Guangzhou.
During each title run, Atmane rallied from the brink of defeat. In Zhangjiagang, he fended off six match points in the opening round en route to his first Challenger trophy. Two weeks ago in Guangzhou, Atmane saved three championship points to defeat Australian Marc Polmans after three hours in which the Frenchman was suffering from cramps.
Terence Atmane wins the Challenger 75 event in Guangzhou, China. Credit: Guangzhou Nansha International Challenger
“I knew that when I was going to come back on hard court that I was going to play good, but playing that good? No, I wasn't really ready for this,” Atmane said. “I played five Challengers, two semis, two titles, so I guess the hard work is paying off. On one hand, I'm surprised. On the other hand, I'm not really surprised because I was ready to play good on hard courts.”
Nicknamed 'The Magician', the 6'4" Atmane could also be called fearless. In his ATP Tour debut in Zhuhai, Atmane raced to a 6-0 lead against eighth seed Yoshihito Nishioka before the Japanese star mounted a comeback. Despite Atmane's loss, fans were introduced to his aggressive style, in some ways akin to his idol, former World No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez.
"I'm going full on everything, I try to take every opportunity that I have, every short ball that I have to destroy the ball," Atmane said. "I try to serve as fast and as hard as I can. I have a pretty big forehand... It's extremely risky and it's also really intense, physically and mentally."
Atmane, who is 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah, is aiming for maiden qualification at the Next Gen ATP Finals. He is one of four Frenchman in the Top 12 of the Race To Jeddah and with only eight spots up for grabs, Atmane is hoping to continue his success and potentially be in Saudi Arabia alongside his best friend Arthur Cazaux, who is currently in 10th place.
“We're talking about it pretty much all the time like, ‘It would be awesome if we were both there,’” Atmane said. “But I told him every time that it’s not a big deal if I'm not there and if he's not there, it doesn't mean that we're not good players. We try to play our best tennis and see by the end of the year if we are both in the Next Gen.”