Neil Oberleitner: “Volleys Are A Strong Part Of My Game!”

Neil Oberleitner (photo: Florian Heer)

VRHNIKA, June 3, 2024

Neil Oberleitner has been traveling across the Balkans in recent weeks and reached his first ATP Challenger quarterfinal at the Macedonian Open in Skopje. There, he faced a tough battle and eventually lost to US-American Ryan Seggerman.

At last week’s Vrhnika Open in Slovenia, the 24-year-old from Vienna, currently ranked World No. 559, also made it to the quarterfinals. During the ITF World Tennis Tour M15 event, we had the opportunity to sit down with him for an interview.

Tennis TourTalk: You reached your first ATP Challenger Tour quarterfinal in Skopje. How was the experience in North Macedonia?

Neil Oberleitner: It was incredible. It was the best tournament I’ve played so far. Unfortunately, I narrowly missed making it to the semifinals despite having match points. That left a bit of a sour taste, but in the end, I’m happy to have made it to the quarterfinals and it shows I played good matches. Of course, those missed match points stay in the back of your mind in following tight matches, but I’ve managed it well so far.

You’re currently on a small Balkan swing, traveling with your girlfriend and your own car. Where is your actually based?

We just bought the car this week, so these are our first days traveling with it. Having my girlfriend with me is a dream, as I usually travel alone all year. Now she gets to experience a bit of my world. I’m based in Vienna, where I started at Michael Ebert’s Ballschule. I also trained with my father for a while but I have been working with Alexander Peya for about two years. We’re also allowed to practice at the Austrian Tennis Federation, where Joel Schwaerzel is active. Training with such a good player helps elevate my own level.

Does Alex accompany you on tour?

He has already done two tournaments with me this year. Last season, he was with me for about a dozen. It’s not easy for him, as he has a wife and kids aged ten and twelve at home. However, our work together is going very well. I know he needs to be flexible, and I am very relaxed about it. We complement each other perfectly.

How would you describe your game style?

I definitely look to approach the net. I see my volleys as a strong part of my game. Over the years, I’ve also improved my baseline game. Alex has a similar playing style, which helps as he can put himself in my shoes and understands my strengths and weaknesses. I feel very understood by him. When I can play my shots with confidence, things go well. If I hesitate and my footwork isn’t quick enough, it doesn’t look as good. There are thousands of players better than me in those areas. I need to impose my aggressive game on my opponents to be successful.

Do you receive support from the Austrian Tennis Federation?

I don’t receive financial support from the federation, but I can train there at a fair price, which I’m very grateful for. Having Jürgen Melzer around to give tips is also beneficial. Additionally, I get wild cards for tournaments in Austria. I benefit greatly from this collaboration.

What are your goals for 2024?

I aim for a new career-high ranking. I want to establish myself in Challenger tournaments and hope to make it into many qualifying draws.

What’s your schedule for the next few weeks?

I’m playing in the German league for the Rochusclub Düsseldorf. Which tournaments I get into often becomes clear only at short notice. After that, I plan to have a week of practice, as I’ve been on tour for a while now. It’s nice to come down and see my family again. Then there are several Challengers in Austria that I’ll definitely participate in.

Thank you and all the best.

Interview: Florian Heer