by Karla Araujo
Marriages fail. Business partnerships fall apart. Families feud. It’s no secret that getting along with any type of partner can be problematic. So why should sharing a tennis court be any easier?
Consider former number one doubles players Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza (aka “Santina”). They broke up this past winter at the peak of their career together — after winning 14 doubles titles, including three Grand Slams, and putting together a 41-match winning streak in just 16 months. Why would anyone ever ditch a partnership like that one?
Statistics don’t lie. At the club level, partnerships are even more precarious. In the U.S. alone, one amateur female doubles partner is dumped every two minutes. (OK, I made that up. Scientists are too busy studying whether Southern Rockhopper Penguins really mate for life to worry about our tennis games.)
But if world-class professional doubles teams like Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, and Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza dumped each other when millions of dollars are at stake, why should anyone put up with problem partners when we girls are just trying to have fun?
Based on input from women doubles players nationwide, I developed this self-test to help deduce if the time might be right to dump your own partner. Remember to be honest with yourself – the truth can set you free!
When You Should Part Ways With Your Doubles Partner
- Does she look cuter than you in your matching outfits?
- Does she refuse to take the blame for the shots you miss?
- Does she balk at spending thousands of dollars each month on clinics and lessons in order to move up 9/10 of a point in USTA rankings?
- Does she seem peeved when you offer helpful tips after each point on the specific shots she should have hit and where she should be standing on the court?
- Does she appear less and less interested in hearing about your upcoming African safari or your 23rd trip to Sandals Jamaica with your closest friends?
- Does she insist on contradicting your bad line calls, even when a critical point is at stake?
- Is her game going downhill as yours inexplicably continues to show dramatic improvement?
- Has she been cheating on you by playing in games or clinics you haven’t been invited to?
- Do you ever catch her looking longingly at the game on the next court instead of celebrating the great volley you just made?
- Does her performance seem to decline even further when you roll your eyes or sigh loudly after she makes a mistake?
If you answered yes to at least three of the above questions you should start shopping for a new doubles partner immediately. It’s obvious that she’s dragging you down and no longer respects your talents.
But take heart, the only doubles partnership in history that has lasted year in and year out is that of the Bryan Brothers. Bob and Mike, identical twins, have won more games, matches, tournaments and Grand Slams than any other pairing. They’ve played professionally together for more than 20 years. “Mirror twins,” Bob is left-handed and Mike is right-handed, giving them a leg up on many opponents. They seem to communicate without words, playing points seamlessly match after match. Never a dirty look or muttered profanity between them, they instead commemorate each significant winning point with a flying chest bump.
While few of us have been blessed at birth with identical twin doubles partners, we should never give up searching for a Bryan brother – or sister – of our very own. Why wait? Dump that heavy load you’ve been carrying and find the doubles partner that truly deserves you!