Wes Moodie: Team tennis
Originally published on: 05/01/12 10:51
Being tall isn’t necessarily a dream combination for doubles, but it helps.
Having weapons is what matters. Me and Dick Norman [who’s 6ft 8in] had a successful partnership; perhaps a little inconsistent at times, but we had some good results. When we were firing on all cylinders we could be very dangerous. There seems to be less feel and more power in doubles at the moment. It’s about having a good serve and swinging big on returns – and generally the bigger guys have bigger weapons.
It’s a lot easier to move in the team game.
When I played singles I wasn’t the best mover out there. When you’re 6ft 5in, like I am, it helps to only have to cover half the court, but the smaller, speedier guys can still make you pay by using quick reflexes and faking you out.
My serve was crucial to me in my singles career.
My whole game was based around it. My theory when playing singles was that no matter how many returns or forehands I missed, I still had a chance to win. You have to do a lot of other things very well if you don’t serve well, so I made sure to practice my serve a huge amount when I was younger. Now if I serve too much it feels like my arms might fall off.
I was pretty intimidated playing above my age group growing up.
I was a late developer. I played very well at under 14 level but found it very difficult going up one age group where guys were a year older – and much bigger – than me. They hit the ball a lot harder than I did at that age so I was a little overwhelmed, but I went to college in the States and had grown three or four inches by the time I had finished.
My former partner Dick Norman is 40.
I’m only 32, and I seem young when I look at some of the other guys on the doubles tour. But I’ve got children – my oldest daughter is four-and-a-half – and that comes into the equation now. It wasn’t easy to have her come along to hotels and tournaments. We had to make sure she was kept entertained – and we’ve recently enrolled her at a school in South Africa.
I didn’t like the US Open initially.
When I first went there as a qualifier I stayed in cheap hotels and they sent massive buses to pick up all the qualifiers. They only came every hour and I found the whole set-up a bit of a grind. Once you make it into the main draw they take care of you a lot more. Now I’ve got a lot of fond memories and I’m always very excited to go to New York.
A lot of people don’t know how to play doubles at social level. They think of the game as ‘this is my half and that’s my partner’s half’. I see that a lot in social tennis. I think if you are to play as a team, a lot of the skill of the game comes from understanding where the opponent is going to hit the ball. You want to try and be there, regardless of whether it lands in your or your partner’s half.
You should try to play both singles and doubles.
Many of the singles guys play very good doubles now. The singles game is progressing in such a way that there aren’t many bad volleyers out there. Rafael Nadal volleys very well, and though he doesn’t get to play as much doubles, when he comes off a break [in his schedule] he likes to play to some to get match practice.
You can make a nice life out of playing on the doubles tour.
There’s a lot of money to be made in doubles and I think the guys that are able to play both forms of the game will do it. Obviously if you can make it in singles, go for it. But if you can’t, doubles is a good option. It’s good money, camaraderie and it’s better than sitting at a desk!
‘Team tennis’ featured in the November 2011 issue of tennishead magazine. To subscribe, click here.