As I was putting together a database of Challenger and Futures players in the Top 500, I compiled just about every available piece of info I could find. And I found that one of the more interesting data fields came from the players’ “Personal Interests”, as listed on their ITF Biography Pages.
If you’ve ever tried researching players outside the Top 200, you’ll probably know how hard it is to dig up any info other than results for said players. While a large majority of the Top 200 enjoy a lavish paragraph or two on the ATP’s “Personal” profile tab*, often the only sense one can get of a tenniser’s multi-dimensionality comes from this part of their ITF page.
Now, a lot of these interests are fairly drab or predictable; almost 50% of players list either soccer or football, for example. Or 15% list “golf”, for another. But some are interesting and unique enough that they bear special mention, which is what I’ll do in this post, expertly dividing them into neat-o sub-categories such as:
A few players naturally list “girls” as one of their personal interests (although, predictably, none list them as “women”) — Marton Fucsovics and Brydan Klein among them (insert your own joke here).
But only two (2) (TWO!) players list them as “girls!” with an exclamation point: Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri and Israel’s Dudi Sela. If you’ve been following the news, you will find that to be either a remarkable coincidence or Proof Once And For All of God’s Unquestionable Existence.
Oh, and there’s one (very smart) player who knows on what side his croissant is buttered, and that’s Lucas Pouille. Because instead of “girls” or “girls!”, the 19-year-old Frenchman has: “Girlfriend.” Period.
As with Jaziri and Sela, I noticed that Moldovans like ATP #171 Radu Albot and #379 Maxim Dubarenco are the only people who list “walking with friends” as a favored activity. Not “hanging out with friends” or “visiting with friends” – walking with friends. Actually, Albot is even more exclusive than Dubarenco is, as he wrote “walking with best friends”.
Are you merely a good friend to Radu? Or are you a best friend? Find out by seeing if he walks with you!
This Moldovan pattern is either further proof of a Universal Order, or just an indication that the Moldovans copied off of each other’s ITF profile questionnaires when they filled them out.
In this increasingly digital age, where 1/4th of all players list one of “internet”, “computer” or “video games” as a main interest, it’s becoming rare to find readers on the tour.
Thus, I am singling out for special commendation Ricardas Berankis, Alejandro Falla, Andrey Golubev (who, in also listing “playing chess” as a favored pursuit, wins the title of Ultra-Nerd) and Uladzimir Ignatik.
Kimmer Coppejans lists “Manga” as an interest — that’s a kind of Japanese comic book, so I’ll give him half-credit.
One of the few luxuries of being outside the Top 100, I suppose, is that insurance clauses on multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements won’t limit you from your favorite, possibly career-ending adrenalized adventure pursuits. Yay?
So when Berankis isn’t reading he can go off to do some of his beloved spear fishing. Twenty-four-year-old ATP #148 Peter Gojoczyk can head out snowboarding, while 25-year-old #282 Hans Podlipnik-Castillo can go skiing or mountain biking, perhaps inviting 17-year-old junior Wimbledon champ Gianluigi Quinzi along to the ski slopes but letting the Italian teen go karting on his own while HPC recklessly careens down the bike paths.
Dominic Thiem, meanwhile, can indulge in some ski jumping (!), although crazy fitness trainer Sepp Resnik probably thinks that’s too wimpy these days and has him wrestling Yeti instead — who knows? Thiem’s countryman Martin Fischer enjoys Aprilia, which I had to google to make sure he wasn’t dabbling in the Dark Arts. Nope, it’s just a kind of Italian motorbike.
But Thiem and Fischer’s fellow Austrian, 23-year-old ATP #370 Marc Rath, takes the title of Ultimate Adventurer with his favored pastimes of skiing, ski touring, mountain biking and sport climbing. What could possibly go wrong?
And as for Rajeev Ram, who cites “calculator bowling” as one of his hobbies, well… maybe that’s more of a scholarly pursuit, come to think of it.
And lastly but not leastly we have:
Sure, most players list “music” as a favored pastime, and with so much time on the road (or in the gym), who could blame them? With all that travel, I’d bet headphones are the second most important item for players to bring with them, just (barely) behind rackets.
But other players have a more distinctive appreciation for The (non-Dark) Arts. When Dubarenco isn’t off walking with friends, he also enjoys playing guitar. And when Podlipnik-Castillo isn’t on the mountains skiing or biking, he retires to the theatre.
Of course, a French player like Laurent Lokoli knows how to cut loose with flair: he prefers “dance” as his go-to mode of artistic unwinding.
And Lamine Ouahab takes that even once step further — if you can’t find the Algerian, you need not look further than the nearest disco.
Well that’s all for now, but there’s plenty more where that came from. Stay tuned for upcoming installments of this ever-so-Interesting series.
*Or in Federer’s case, eight paragraphs.