Creating the perfect tennis doubles team is not as simple as one may think. Many practices and collaborations happen in the process of making a doubles team.
With the regular season in the spring, the team spends much of its time in the fall working on making the best doubles team possible.
The process of creating a winning doubles pair consists of each athlete playing with a different partner several times to see which two people work best. After practicing a few rounds with each person, the coaches and players talk about it, see who plays together the best and come to a final decision.
“It takes two players who are a little different and that bring different skills to the table,” explained head tennis coach Steve Barsby.
The personalities, the mental games and the types of players all play a role into creating the partnership.
“You have to have a balance,” Barsby said. “You play around and see what works.”
Besides the number of players on the court, there is a major difference between singles and doubles.
“Singles is more of an internal battle within the player,” Barsby said.
In doubles, the players must have a great sense of court awareness to know where their partner is. Doubles can be difficult because the players worry not only about themselves, but also about their partners. Barsby describes doubles as a relationship.
“When you get along and everything is good, you do well,” Barsby said. “If not, you usually break up.”
One of the doubles pairs from the women’s team is junior Valeria Lopez and senior Jena Kelly.
Lopez is a transfer from Spain, so she has been partners with multiple people throughout her tennis career. Lopez and Kelly have been partners since the first time they practiced together at the beginning of Fall 2017 because they seemed to click on the court. Lopez said she and Kelly work very well together.
However, when Kelly graduates, Lopez will have to find a new partner again. Transitioning partners takes a lot of practice.
“You have to learn how your partner works and which game is best for your partner in order to be successful,” Lopez said.
Lopez said she prefers doubles over singles.
“I enjoy doubles because you have someone to pick you up if you are down,” Lopez explained.
Senior Pedro Ecenarro from Spain and freshman Enzo Kohn from Brazil are one of the men’s doubles teams.
Ecenarro said chemistry and level of intensity play a part into creating a solid pair.
Both Lopez and Ecenarro said it is hard to spend time with their partners outside of their sport because of their busy school and life schedule. However, Ecenarro said they still see each other almost every day at practice.
According to Lopez, her doubles pair practices a few times a week depending on if they need to work on anything, such as drills or changes in their routine.
Based on the results of their matches, partners can change if there is a lack of communication or if they are not doing well.
“It can be a big change, but it just takes a lot of practice to understand that person and how aggressive of the player he is,” Ecenarro said.
The men’s and women’s tennis teams hope to make it to the NCAA Finals on May 9 in Surprise, Arizona.