Based on my observations of tennis doubles pairs that have had and are having success, a common underlying theme is the mysterious “Chemistry” – you either have it or you don’t!
This is the mysterious ingredient that,
- fuels the anticipation of having fun and camaraderie on the court, learning something new and constantly keep improving,
- makes a team look forward to and turn up for practice (at the end of a long work day or during a brief respite on a rainy day !! ),
- brings success in crunch situations, off days and the big points during competitive play
- gives the confidence and belief that you can take down a team of individuals who may be a notch or two above you in experience, physical and shot making abilities
As a kid and into my teens, I don’t know how many endless hours I have spent reading and re-reading the innovative genius of Goscinny and Uderzo – “The Adventures of Asterix and Obelix”. What is most glaring of course is the difference in their sizes (emphasized further by the choice of their names) and the need for the “Magic Potion” brewed by the cranky Getafix (Oh, how much I used to love and still love the play with the names by Goscinny and Uderzo !!!). The chemistry they shared during their adventures, while bashing the Romans and Pirates along the way, is what makes them such endearing characters and proves that “chemistry” means much more than just complementary skills,
- They really respect and enjoy each other’s company. (Obelix is funny and dependable while Asterix is serious and sometimes nutty)
- They complement each other amazingly well.(Obelix is super-human while Asterix has the smarts)
- They are both focused (In every adventure they have their fights, but always know and support each other against the common enemy and are back to being old friends again)
Here are a few quotes from real life successful doubles pairs which echoes these qualities,
The Bryan brothers:
- “Bob and I have totally different personalities, I’m more conservative, Bob, on the other hand, he’s a little flashier; he likes to go big or go home.”
- “If I said the same things I say to Mike to any other individual, the partnership would be done in five minutes, it’s why we’re able to keep our level so high, because we cut through the crap.”
The Bryan twins’ personalities complement each other on the court. Mike, who is right-handed and perhaps the best serve returner in doubles, plays the percentages. He makes few mistakes and doesn’t go for broke at the net. Bob, a lefty, gambles on aces and winners and loves to sneak over to Mike’s side of the court to poach volleys.
Martina & Leander:
- “Leander is a very giving person and is always worried about me being fine. It’s most important to have chemistry on court. We complement each other on court very well and I feel with him on court, nothing can go wrong. He is a great human being. As a woman, it’s important to feel safe on the court. He will protect my serve if I am not feeling well. Be it in a relationship or in life in general or on court, you need to feel protected. Last few years, we have come to know each other and I know that he can read my mind. With Leander, I know that I have won a great friend for life and that’s important. We are both very straight and he believes more in me than I do in myself sometimes. Also, we have respect for each other that is sometimes missing in the new generation of tennis players and that way, we are old school.”
- “One thing I do have is the guts. I will go for it. It’s been part of — my whole life is about perseverance, just trying to find a way to succeed. Sometimes the chips are against you; sometimes they fool you.What I love about this teamwork, to answer your question, is that in any partnership there’s got to be one person who brings the energy to the team. There’s got to be one person who takes all the pressure on their shoulder and drives the team forward. I know if I can keep Martina happy, if I can keep her relaxed, the tennis I don’t even have to worry about. This young girl is phenomenal on the tennis court and off of it. We actually have our best times when we are on the practice court.”
Martina Hingis, who ruled the top of the Women’s Pro tour has amazing groundstrokes and return of serves, better than most players of the modern era. Leander Paes on the other hand is a master doubles strategist with a great volley and court positioning skills, who can make his partner feel super comfortable and protected playing their natural game.
For the Love of Doubles and Tennis