On Monday’s Order of Play at this week’s Champaign Challenger, I couldn’t help but notice there were four (4) (FOUR!) different players named Dennis (or Denis) (or Denys) playing that day.
And the last names are almost as similar: Zivkovic, Novolo, Novikov, Molchanov — you could practically spell all these surnames with the same rack of Scrabble tiles*. There’s also a Dennis Novak in the Top 400.
Add Denis Kudla and Denis Istomin to the list, and you gotta whole lotta Den(n)i(y)s goin’ on. And you wanna see something spooky? OK:
|Dennis Nevolo||Dennis Novikov|
|C High Was||10/28/13||08/12/13|
|Best surface||Clay & hard||Clay|
|College||Illinois||UCLA (now pro)|
They’re practically the same player**. Hell, they were the only two Dennises to even play collegiate tennis in the U.S. Plus, all these guys I’ve mentioned are right-handers with two-handed backhands. Methinks a field guide is in order! Follow me as we distinguish and differentiate all of tennis’s Dennisses***. In order of ranking, we have:
Denis IstominNationality: UZB Age: 27 Ranking: 45 Career High: 33 Career High Date: 8/27/12 Best Junior Rank: 412 Best surface: Hard Identifying marks: Trademark goggles Frequently seen with: his mother, who is also his coach Interesting fact: He once won a refrigerator for winning a tourney.
Denis KudlaNationality: USA Age: 21 Ranking: 113 Career High: 90 Career High Date: 10/28/13 Best Junior Rank: 3 Best surface: Hard Identifying marks: Blonde hair Maybe you can see him with: his USO Runner-up and Eddie Herr trophies Interesting facts: Used to write all tweets without punctuation. Andy Murray had a dream he was playing Kudla in the Wimbledon finals. Also was one of my 2011 Players to Watch (though I’m not sure that last one really counts as “interesting”).
Denys MolchanovNationality: UKR Age: 26 Ranking: 261 Career High: 206 Career High Date: 5/6/2013 Best Junior Rank: 70 Best surface: Hard Identifying marks: Shoulder-length brown hair Frequently seen with: Headphones (main listed interest is: Music). Interesting fact: When you google him, you get a Denny’s ad as part of search results.
Dennis NovakNationality: AUT Age: 20 Ranking: 365 Career High: 365 Career High Date: 11/11/13 Best Junior Rank: 29 Best surface: Hard Identifying marks: Frankly, I don’t feel comfortable revealing this. Frequently seen with: Ping pong paddle (enjoys table tennis). Interesting facts: Protege of Gunter Bresnik, trains with Dominic Thiem.
Denis MatsukevichNationality: RUS Age: 27 Ranking: 554 Career High: 234 Career High Date: 9/26/11 Best Junior Rank: 80 Best surface: Carpet, indoor hard Identifying marks: I seriously have no idea. (Why did I start this category again?) Frequently seen with: Thinking cap (enjoys computers and learning languages). Interesting facts: Per his Wiki bio: “he sweeped five singles Futures titles in his career”
Dennis NevoloMostly see above chart, but also: Frequently seen on: the banners at Atkins Tennis Center Hobbies: tennis (per ITF bio). Interesting fact: 2 time All-American with the Fightin’ Illini
Dennis NovikovMostly see above chart, but also: Occasionally seen with: Red Foo Hobbies: Computer programming, boxing, basketball. Interesting facts: Captured the singles and doubles titles at the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships in Kalamazoo, played junior hockey for six years, born in Moscow.
Denis ZivkovicNationality: USA Age: 26 Ranking: 797 Career High: 292 Career High Date: 3/18/13 Best Junior Rank: 37 Best surface: Clay. Identifying marks: Please stop asking me this. I’m just not gonna continue if that’s how you’re gonna be.
So that does it for your handy field guide. Isn’t it all so much clearer now? (Don’t answer that.)
Lastly, let me leave you with this handy chart that you can print out and carry with you in case of emergency:
*Although you’d probably lose, since proper names are not allowed.
**Not really, but let me have my narrative.
***In the top 800. After that, you’re on your own.
****My favorite color of Foo!