Is it better to choose a partner who compliments you or complements your game?

April 12, 2021

Although the majority of tennis reporters focus on singles, doubles is a unique and complex art within the game of tennis. Doubles matches offer fast-paced, entertaining points and rely on teamwork during critical moments. The Bryan brothers, consisting of Mike and Bob Bryan, were the most dominant and high-profile doubles team on tour. Over 26 seasons, they captured 119 doubles titles that include all four Grand Slams and all nine ATP Masters 1000s events. The Bryan brothers are mirror twins, meaning that Mike is right-handed while Bob is left-handed. Their physical advantage yielded superior court coverage while their celebratory chest bump revealed their unquestionable chemistry. On the women’s side, the iconic duo of Serena and Venus Williams remained at the top of the doubles game for nearly two decades. With 14 Grand Slams and three Olympic gold medals, the Williams sisters have an incredible doubles resume despite having different game styles. While Serena is known for her impressive power, Venus combines power and finesse. Not everyone has a sibling who can serve as a teammate on the court. Thus, there are many considerations when selecting a doubles partner. Many believe athletic compatibility is the most important component of a successful (more…)

Why does tennis repeatedly get bageled at the movies?

January 23, 2021

Tennis courts have long been used for iconic photoshoots. Since its inception in 1976, the Tennis Girl poster sold over two million copies and became a pop-culture classic. The image is credited with helping to increase global awareness of the sport. Over time, the concrete space with white lines served as the backdrop for photographs featuring well-known names in sports fashion. Even Kylie Jenner took to the court for a recent shoot featuring a black Chanel workout set matched with a Chanel tennis racquet. The tennis court, however, has not enjoyed as much success in the movies. Wimbledon stars appealing leads Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany yet the film loses credibility as soon as the actors swing a racket. Match Point stars Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The film was nominated for an Oscar yet once again, the on-court scenes feature bad tennis. There has been a recent resurgence of tennis movies in Hollywood. Yet these practice and competition scenes are still plagued by an inauthentic portrayal of tennis action. I am left to consider…. Why does tennis repeatedly get bageled at the movies? (more…)

What is the most important trait in selecting a favorite player?

November 29, 2020

As long as professional tennis has existed, fans have followed top players on and off the court. Some select a favorite player who looks like them. Others select a favorite player who plays like them. Roger Federer and Serena Williams are often top choices for both fans and fellow players. For some, personality influences which athlete fans idolize. An SB Nation article took the liberty to characterize personas based on favorite players. Some descriptions were harsh. A fan was labeled as a “complete failure” for selecting Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and another was stamped as a “brat” for choosing Serena Williams. Yet the fan who followed Federer was “charming.” For others, game style can be a factor in the selection of a favorite competitor. An all-court player may choose Roger Federer while a defensive specialist may side with Rafael Nadal. On the women’s circuit, offensive players often associate with Serena Williams while Simona Halep is popular among many counterpunchers. Other attributes, such as fashion sense and country of origin, may also influence this choice. The process of selecting an on-court idol is more complex than we may realize. I am left to consider… What is the most important trait in selecting a (more…)

Is it possible to respect your opponent too much?

October 18, 2020

Tennis players have searched the ends of the earth for any advantage on the court. From the newest training routines to the latest gear, we are quick to adopt strategies that promise success. In competition, we strive to play our best tennis. We strive, of course, to win.  We have also been warned to never underestimate our opponents. After all, our opponents push us to raise our game. Yet in order to achieve success on the court, we find ways to minimize the opposition to convince ourselves that our opponent is not invincible. But what if the opponent is too accomplished to be diminished?  During this year’s French Open, current world No. 131 Sebastian Korda reached the fourth round of the tournament where he faced none other than the king of clay, Rafael Nadal. Korda, who named his cat ‘Rafa’ after the 13-time French Open champion, was delighted to face his tennis hero. Before the match, Korda called Nadal his “biggest idol” and said he would be “the happiest person on planet earth” if he saw Nadal on the other side of the net. Korda lost in straight sets by a score of 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. After the match, he asked Nadal for an (more…)

When did the rules stop applying to everyone?

September 22, 2020

As we reach the end of an unusual US Open, it is difficult to ignore one of the most dramatic events of the past two weeks. For world number one Novak Djokovic, a moment of frustration resulted in a tournament-ending consequence. In the blink of an eye, Djokovic went from the undisputed favorite to capture the title to a spectator exiting the gates of Flushing Meadows in silence. Down 5-6 in the first set against Pablo Carreno Busta in the Round of 16, Djokovic flicked a ball behind him after losing game point… and turned around to the sound of a line judge gagging. The ball had hit her in the throat. After ten minutes of tense discussion between Djokovic and multiple officials, the 17-time Grand Slam champion was defaulted from the US Open. The USTA based this decision on the well-known rule that any Grand Slam competitor caught “hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences” is subject to default. These are the facts. Yet countless members of the tennis community came to the defense of the top seed. Former Top 5 ranked player and Tennis Channel commentator Brad Gilbert was quick to commiserate with Djokovic. Instead of (more…)

Will We Always Judge Professional Athletes for Changes in Body Weight?

August 30, 2020

As the summer months come to a close, the pandemic continues to highlight the divide between privileged and underprivileged communities. This socioeconomic partition yields unequal access to the social determinants of health, conditions that promote healthy living. Economic disadvantage often results in food instability and limited access to healthy foods. Without proper nutrition, it is difficult to maintain ideal body weight. For some, a lack of mental health resources can also present an obstacle to establishing healthy routines with food. Athletes frequently suffer from mental health struggles that lead to disordered eating. In addition, food security does not guarantee a healthy eating plan. In fact, elite athletes are often intensely focused on diet and exercise and thus are very susceptible to disordered eating patterns. These athletes are subject to both internal and external pressures to maintain the ideal body conditions traditionally correlated with peak performance in sport. The past six months have interrupted plans and disrupted routines of professional athletes as well as the greater population. Madison Keys, who achieved a career high ranking of world number 7 in 2016, has been open about her mental health struggles since revealing her journey with disordered eating on Behind The Racquet last (more…)

How do we know when enough is enough?

July 20, 2020

As the world continues to wrestle with the pandemic, there has been a shift in the professional landscape both on and off the court. Tennis has returned often with minimal staff and many empty seats. The glory of victory is muted and the trophies are rare… and comically petite. For many, the business office continues to be a childhood bedroom as companies work remotely throughout the summer. We now find ourselves staring at screens for countless hours. Stress is generated by a strained work-life balance coupled with feelings of isolation. Although necessary, the socially distanced lifestyle poses an even greater risk of mental health struggles as we are left alone with our thoughts and feelings for the majority of each day. It is tempting to keep our emotions inside as our attention is often directed to upsetting news and unsettling predictions for the future.  Yet now more than ever, it is vital to maintain a healthy outlook. Self-care routines are necessary for everyone and one of the most universal and beneficial techniques is sharing our emotions. Struggles and uncomfortable feelings are a product of living in uncertain times. The New York Times provides possible strategies we can employ when discussing (more…)

How Do We Convince Ourselves That Pressure Is A Privilege?

June 18, 2020

As we enter the fifth month of this new life as we know it, we can all take a piece of advice from Brad Stulberg’s New York Times article about the mental discipline of endurance athletes. Like the pandemic, long-distance races take time to complete. It is important to adjust expectations for the challenge ahead and maintain a steady pace throughout the event. A process-oriented mindset is helpful to establish a purposeful existence in the midst of uncertainty. Without established routines, the notion of being productive can become daunting. Scheduling time for short bursts of work and rest are often helpful to create routines and set manageable goals for each day. Completing small tasks can yield a sense of satisfaction and help offset the feeling of inertia that might accompany this time. While some of us remain in our homes, others are beginning to venture back out into the world of sport. Many local tennis courts are reopening and players are dusting off their racquets before cautiously returning to the courts, this time with a bottle of hand sanitizer. The official return of professional tennis was marked by the Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) Pro Match Series held in Florida. On (more…)