Sam Querrey had just won the L.A. Tennis Open on Sunday afternoon, and his coach, David Nainkin, figured the 21-year-old would like to celebrate with a cold beverage.
"Your victory drink is in the next room," Nainkin told him.
Querrey laughed. He already knew what Nainkin had ordered: a protein and carbohydrate shake to help in his recovery. Querrey's tennis schedule didn't include time for toasting bubbly, not with today's early-morning flight to Washington for the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.
That's how it goes when you're the next great thing in American tennis.
Querrey, who's from Thousand Oaks, certainly deserved a moment to bask in his hometown win. Querrey beat qualifier Carsten Ball 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 at UCLA, the court where he trains most of the time, for his second career ATP Tour victory.
It was more of a relief than anything.
Querrey was playing in his third consecutive final, but he didn't win either of the two previous finals and those were against lesser-ranked opponents, too. No American had made three consecutive finals since Andy Roddick advanced to four in a row in 2004.
Still, much is expected from Querrey. And much of that comes from Querrey.
"I would've been pretty bummed," Querrey said of the prospect of losing again.
"I would've been reallllly bummed. I don't know what I would've done."
He doesn't have to find out, but he could have earned the distinction as a player good enough to make finals but not good enough to win them. Querrey couldn't stop thinking about the other botched finals in the early going.
In the first set, he slammed his racket and a towel into the back wall. He yelled at himself in frustration. He slammed the top down on his water bottle during a changeover. He flung his racket in an exaggerated forehand motion in the air and threw a towel to the court.
He won the first set, but an even bigger victory might have been overcoming his emotions. He battled frustration in the second set, too, and he lost that one.
"I was really mad," Querrey said. "I had lost two finals previously and didn't want to lose a third."
Querrey is the next big thing, and Sunday's win was big for his development and confidence. You can't be the next "it" guy if you can't win the big matches. Querrey won his first ATP Tour title in Las Vegas last year but hadn't won again despite giving himself ample opportunities. He played in three finals before Sunday and hadn't won any of them.
It wasn't until the third set that Querrey figured out Ball, and he finished the match by using that big serve for two aces. He raised his right arm and hit a ball into the crowd.
"He's got to manage that, manage his own expectations for himself," Nainkin said. "A lot of times he makes himself his worst enemy. He was able to control it. He's a bit of a perfectionist. He's learning."
Querrey isn't perfect, but he is good. He's improved on grass courts and clay, but he's still best on hardcourt surfaces.
He's also best with his trademark fans, The Samurai Club, cheering for him.
The original group has seven members, most of whom are high school buddies of Sam. They cheer sans shirts and each has a letter in S-A-M-M-Y in facepaint on his chest.
On Sunday, the group had 14 members, plus Querrey's cousin and other friends who wore the white bandanas.
There were a couple of exclamation marks.
The group is perhaps more popular - and definitely more controversial - than Querrey, who rose to a career-high No. 26 in the world rankings today. Tommy Haas complained about the club heckling after he lost to Querrey in Saturday's semifinals.
"We add excitement," said Wes Burrows, a college student at UNLV and junior tennis friend of Querrey's. "Some people think we're obnoxious, but for every one person that thinks we're obnoxious, there's seven or eight who like us. We're exciting. It's good for tennis."
And so is Querrey, especially since he raised that trophy.