Tennis Prose



Pros Discuss Why They Love Playing Tennis

I did this experiment feature to ask several prominent tennis champions and figures of the sport to answer one simple question: Why do you love playing tennis?

I asked some recognizable tennis pros the simple question: Why do you love playing tennis?
By Scoop Malinowski

Novak Djokovic: “The feeling of winning a match or winning a tournament. The feeling of winning a tennis match is irreplaceable.”

Roger Federer: “I guess, you know, it’s myself to blame if I win or lose, which I kind of like. And that it’s one on one, or if you like, in doubles two on two. But there’s a distance, so there’s always a lot of fair play. There’s no ugly plays in that way. Good sport to watch on TV. Good sport to watch live. It’s athletic and has a bit of everything. I think it’s really nice.”

Justin Gimelstob: “I think tennis is the greatest sport in the world. Because, first of all, it’s based on merit on the court. It’s a combination of physical, mental, technical and tactical skills. It’s one on one. It’s international. And it’s just a great feeling hitting that ball cleanly and purely.”

Su-Wei Hsieh: “It’s difficult, because when we are young, we, the Asian, we come into the tennis by the family. They bring you to the court, they coach you. It’s difficult to say if you like it when you are really young. You keep playing. I like the family, so I try to figure out if I like it or not. But I say, Oh well, tennis gave me a lot of stuff. Not from the book. I went on, I learned English, like this, talking with you, talking with other people. So it’s really interesting. I think really I do enjoy tennis, I do like it.”

Xavier Malisse: “It’s a nice game to come out here and play. It’s a different sport, it’s one on one, it’s physical, it’s mental. It’s just a great feeling to be out there on the court and just grind it out.”

Bethanie Mattek-Sands: “It’s something I like because I’m good at it. I don’t like to do things that I’m not good at. Like, I would be the person, I would literally go practice before I do something. Just like kinda be good at it – I’m not a big, First time if I suck, oh well. Like, I hate to be bad at stuff. So the fact that I’m good at it. And it’s something – there’s always a next tournament. The individuality of it is great. I played team sports when I was younger. I did okay [laughs]. Got a little mad at my teammates if they weren’t up to standards. So I think tennis suited me well. But I like playing in crowded stadiums. I think that’s the coolest part. To see the crowd get into it. Everybody having a good time. Playing a great match. Me and my opponent playing high level tennis. And it’s just a great match. I think that’s the best feeling you can get. It’s just competition.”

Jelena Jankovic: “I love playing tennis. I love competing. Being in front of crowds and winning matches. And I love the fact when you work hard and then you go and sometimes when you win tournaments, you lift the trophy, the hard work has paid off. And many things as well. I get to travel the world, I get to meet different people, see different cultures. So all of this, it’s kind of, you get all of this when you are a professional tennis player.”

Samantha Stosur: “I just always have. I think it’s a great life and I’m able to do something that I love to do. So whether it’s competing out on the court or seeing different places around the world or meeting new people, I think whoever can do this is very fortunate.”

Rafael Nadal: “I love the competition. Yeah. I love the support in general, all the sports. Tennis is my sport. So I like the tennis and especially I love the competition.”

Jim Courier: “I get to chase a yellow ball around the court. It’s a game. I’ve always loved playing games as a kid. Anything with a ball, I was very happy to be doing. And tennis turned out to be my calling. And the best part of it is it’s a sport that I can now play at 48 years of age and play for fun and competitively. And also, if I live long enough, to sort of be 75 and 80 and still be able to go out and play with my friends, and have fun doing it. So I think the opportunity to be able to play something that you loved for your entire life is something that I love about tennis the most.”

Vijay Armritraj: “Tennis is something that I enjoyed immensely. I had great passion for it. It was a form of entertainment that I could never substitute. It gave me more in my life that I could have possibly imagined. Whatever education I could have possibly had. And if I had to change anything over my career, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Thomas Johansson: “It’s an individual sport if you win. You have yourself to give credit and if you lose, you have yourself to blame. But I love the fact, between two players, it’s almost like boxing, you’re alone out there. But it’s still a nice sport and a fair game, that’s why I like it.”

Adrian Mannarino: “I think it’s a really interesting sport. We move a lot on the court, we need to have good tactic, technique. I think that maybe the main reason that I love the sport is because I’m good at it [laughs]. I like to win. I’m a good competitor. Yep. Maybe that. The love of the win [smiles].”

Jonas Bjorkman: “I don’t play much now. I stopped, more or less, competitively. It’s been two years now. I just started to hit on my own and practice. I mean, I play sponsor tennis. But that’s about it, more or less. I haven’t had time to play any for my own interest. And I didn’t really have any intent to play as well. Once I was finished, it was such a nice feeling not to practice, not to go to the gym, to run. I loved it because it was something that I started very young. And it’s all about winning. I think the passion of being out there and trying to win matches. The atmosphere around the court, for me, obviously, it’s you have to go in and do your job and try to win on court 18. But your goal was always to try to be on the show courts. And play in front of the big crowds. That was the passion and the love for the game – to go out there and try to perform in front of the big crowds. It was so much fun to be out there and try to win those matches. For me it was mostly try to find the way to win the matches. I mean, sometimes you go out and play with one game. If that didn’t work, you have to find a way to win and that could be plan B or plan C. If that worked, it was great. If it didn’t, at least you tried your hardest and tried to find ways to win. So, for sure, the excitement on the big court was something you felt was great.”

Bud Collins: “As a kid, I loved hearing the balls hit the racquet. The tennis courts by my home – that would be my wake-up call. And then finally I got to play. It was just a nice feeling to be out there running, to be hitting the ball. To be getting better. And being able to play almost anywhere I went.”

Mats Wilander: “It changes every day. (Many reasons?) No, it’s only one reason every time. They’re different every time. Sometimes it’s competing. Sometimes it’s hitting balls. Sometimes it’s the nervousness that it brings. Very rarely is it all three at the same time. Except when you are 22-years-old and you’re on the cusp of breaking through and being one of the best players in the world. And all three are at the same time.”

Guillermo Canas: “I think it’s a great sport. I love to play tennis. It’s my passion. I don’t play anymore and I still love this sport. I think it’s great. It’s incredible. You take the position. You’re alone. You’re there competing with someone else. It’s a great sport, I love it.”

Francesca Schiavone: “It was thinking, that space is just mine. I can decide, I can do everything that I want. Because when I play, I feel comfortable. I can enjoy and inspire myself on the court.”

Kim Clijsters: “I love the variety of tennis. I think that’s something I’ve always enjoyed. It’s never the same. That’s something I say to my coach and trainer – always have variety. What I’ve learned over the years – I need to have it mixed up. And I like the challenge of a lot of different players. And always trying to improve and physically trying to become better and stronger. In a world where people always try to compare everybody to everybody, but I feel like I’ve always been really good at not doing that. And just focusing on myself. And not comparing to anybody else. And do try to be the best Kim out there. And not worry about other things.”

Peng Shuai: “Well, when I was young I didn’t love it. Now I think I love it more than before. I think it brings me a lot of happiness but also a lot of tough times and sad. They are kind of together. I feel in the court, to play the match, a lot of time you are thinking how to play the opponent. I just love this game. Even if I lose, I really want to enjoy this short tennis career.”

Murphy Jensen: “Why do I love playing tennis? It’s what I’ve always done. That’s one reason. I’ve been playing since I was basically spoonfed tennis. But I like it because it’s given me a life beyond my wildest dreams. It’s kind of a loaded question. Because I could answer it 20 different ways. And then, on the court, physically, it’s wonderful. I stay in shape. It’s an art and a tap dance. Play with the ball. It’s really a beautiful sport. And it’s the only thing I have found where I must – if I can – stay in the moment. You have to be in the moment. Coaches can say you have to think three shots ahead. Baloney. Because if you don’t get the serve in the box, there’s no next shot. Just bouncing the ball that moment, just every shudder of time or whatever, that moment is everything. I love that about tennis. I’m doing deep on you. That’s what I’ve been into lately. I woke up the other day, I was hitting balls and playing the match. And I had to be in that moment. I didn’t really know that till I stepped away from the game for a while Started playing a lot again. And it was blowing my mind. This is really cool. A war could be going on. But on that tennis court, I feel safe and protected. That’s a pretty cool place to be.”

Luke Jensen: “To be honest, whether it’s a park, whether it’s a final of a slam or anything, I just like winning. I like going out there and someone’s gonna win, someone’s gonna lose. It doesn’t matter what you’re ranked, doesn’t matter what your age is, spin the racquet and it starts up, zero-zero. And someone’s gonna serve and someone’s gonna return. At the end of the entire contest, if you’ve put in the entire effort and you’ve put in the right tactics and you executed it, you’ve got a shot to win. And, to me, it’s about putting it on the line. And no one can pull you off the court, there’s no politics, it’s raw, it’s out there, it’s real. And it’s the best thing of all time. Once you leave that arena, it’s political, it’s who’s popular, it’s who you know. It’s not so clear. And this game is extremely clear. You’re winning or you’re losing.”

No tags

1 comment

  • Dan Markowitz · December 12, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Great comments. The immediacy and the total absorption in the moment; the feeling of hitting the ball right and the variety and of course winning.



Find it!

Copyright 2010
To top