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.

You See? I Wasn't Lying!

You See? I Wasn’t Lying!

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
NATIONALITY USA USA
Age 23 20
Rank 579 625
Plays RH RH
Backhand 2H 2H
Career High 566 457
C High Was 10/28/13 08/12/13
Jr High 102 30
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:

What Istomin of This?

What Istomining of This?

Denis Istomin

Nationality: 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.
 
I'm A Kudla Not A Fighta

I’m A Kudla Not A Fighta

Denis Kudla

Nationality: 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”).
 
Molchin' It

Molchin’ It

Denys Molchanov

Nationality: 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.
The Other Novak!

The Other Novak!

Dennis Novak

Nationality: 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.
 
 
Chop Matsui

Chop Matsui

Denis Matsukevich

Nationality: 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 Nevolo and the top of Mike Cation's Head

Dennis Nevolo and the top of Mike Cation’s Head

Dennis Nevolo

Mostly 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 Novikov With RedFoo*** - courtesy of Tennis Panorama News

Dennis Novikov With RedFoo**** – courtesy of Tennis Panorama News

Dennis Novikov

Mostly 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.
 
"Psst - is your name Denis Zivkovic?"

“Psst – is your name Denis Zivkovic?”

Denis Zivkovic

Nationality: 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:

Player Nationality Age Rank High
Denis Istomin UZB 27 45 33
Denis Kudla USA 21 113 90
Denys Molchanov UKR 26 261 206
Dennis Novak AUT 20 365 365
Denis Matsukevich RUS 27 554 234
Dennis Nevolo USA 23 579 566
Dennis Novikov USA 20 625 457
Denis Zivkovic USA 26 797 292


*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!

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