Here is a thoughtful article by Nic Brown (assistant professor of English at the University of Northern Colorado, and the author of the novel “Doubles.”) about why most people only watch professional singles tennis but play doubles themselves. He says the teamwork required in doubles adds an element of camaraderie and joy that you just can’t experience by yourself. Personally I love the doubles net game, which in singles is just a minor part of the contest. What do you think?

WHAT’S the last great tennis match you saw? The three-day Isner-Mahut marathon at Wimbledon last year? Almost any Federer-Nadal pairing? Odds are you’ve caught a classic. During weeks like this, when the world’s best players descend on Flushing Meadows, Queens, for the United States Open, tennis can seep into the country’s consciousness through some sort of sport osmosis.

But unless you’re a genuine tennis fan, and a particularly odd one at that, it’s unlikely you can recall a single doubles match. Why should you? The sport’s neglected stepchild, doubles tennis receives little attention. You might have heard of Bob and Mike Bryan, American twins who hold 11 Grand Slam titles and are the only things close to real stars on the circuit, but I doubt you’ve seen them play.

There are some obvious reasons doubles doesn’t draw more fans. It’s harder to build allegiances to shifting teams than to a single player. And doubles suffers from a lack of star power. Once, this wasn’t the case. John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Arthur Ashe — all regularly played doubles. Now, few top players, under pressure to keep pace with the inexorable rise in the game’s physicality, can risk an injury moonlighting in doubles.

But there’s something deeper at work. Think harder, and I’ll wager you can remember a classic doubles match after all. Maybe that spring weekend when you and your wife played your neighbors in the park? Or in high school, when you and your brother challenged two too-tan girls to a game? I vividly recall the last doubles match I played. My friend Katherine and I were losing, but I wasn’t concerned about that; I was more worried about whether she was going to kill me because I kept running in front of her to flail wildly for the ball when it was clearly on her side of the court.

People spend more time playing doubles than watching it for a reason. Read the rest of this entry »

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