The best tennis mustaches of all time

Playtester Spencer and I with our Movember mustaches in full display

In honor of the great month of Movember, I wanted to take a look at the greatest mustaches to ever grace the tennis world. Here are some of my favorites that we can only hope to look half as good as…

John Newcombe
Maybe the godfather of the “mustaches in tennis” family, John carried the Australian flag and dominated men’s tennis in the late 60s and early 70s. His powerful serve and volley game propelled him to 26 Grand Slam titles, including 7 major singles titles. He was an Australian tennis legend, but here’s another fun fact about maybe the most famous tennis mustache of all time…according to an article by the UK newspaper The Telegraph, he was revealed to be in the car with former president George W. Bush the night that Bush was charged with a DUI in Maine in 1976.

Photo from Robbie Mendelson

Stan Smith
As a two-time Grand Slam singles champion in the early 70s, he was a rival of John Newcombe not only for his on-court success, but for his successful facial hair growth as well. He also had a very successful Davis Cup career, winning the illustrious crown eight times for the United States. However, his Davis Cup career didn’t start as well as you might expect…he was rejected from being a ball boy as a kid for a Davis Cup match because event organizers thought he was “too clumsy and uncoordinated”.

 

Photo from Bobby Voicu

Ion Tiriac
Former professional tennis AND ice hockey player, Tiriac went on to become a successful businessman, and I assume he would attribute most of his business success to his fantastic mustache. He played on the Romanian Olympic ice hockey team in 1964, and then shortly thereafter switched to tennis as his main sport, where he teamed up with countryman Ilie Nastase to win the French Open men’s doubles title in 1970. Currently, he’s best known for running the Madrid Open, where he introduced a new blue clay surface for 2012 to make the tennis more visually    appealing to spectators.

Photo from tennis.com

 

Marat Safin
The talented Russian is the most modern tennis player to sport the mustache, among many other facial hair designs during his career. His man-tastic display was not as robust as his predecessors, but arguably just as stylish. He won two major singles titles, but was maybe most known for his emotional outbursts and racquet throwing antics. Currently, Marat is a member of the Russian Parliament.

 

 

Much respect goes out to all of you out there who have grown a mustache for this great month of Movember. It’s important to remember that this is all for a good cause, to raise awareness for men’s health issues. Click here to learn more about Movember and to donate money for research towards better treatments and cures for men’s health issues.

Thanks for reading!

AG

Meet the Playtesters- Sean Hemmer

Howdy!

Our next featured Tennis Warehouse Playtester is Sean.  Sean can be seen on  playtests of all different racquets and shoes. He is a certified Master Racquet Technician and is a supervisor for our Customer Service department. Check out his interview below.

Click to view Video Footage of Sean

Racquet of Choice: Head Youtek Prestige Pro
String of Choice: Kirschbaum Pro Line II Black
Shoe of Choice: Nike Court Ballistec 2.3
Apparel of Choice: Preferably no shirt in the California sun but more  often than not I gravitate towards Nike

When/Why did you start playing tennis?

I started getting into tennis as soon as I moved out to California in 7th grade about 12 years ago.  My dad got me into tennis after my little league baseball career in Texas ended in failure.  I’m also not much of a team sports person so tennis worked out in that regard as well.  My theory is if I win I want all the glory and if I lose I want all the blame which is why I much prefer singles over doubles.

Who inspires you to play tennis?

Everyone who I play against inspires me to continue to improve.  My competitive nature on the tennis court drives me to constantly want to become a better player and when I don’t play well or are straight up outplayed, it makes me want to come back stronger the next time.

What is your favorite shot to hit and why?

I love hitting my forehand when I’m on the run and can barely get to the shot.  Because my forehand is so wristy, I’m able to come up with some pretty amazing passing shots from that side both down the line and cross court.  That look of disbelief on my opponent’s face brings a smile to mine.

What racquets have you used  (not tested) during your tennis career?

My first racquet was definitely a Head Titanium Ti.S6 (wonder where I developed a power oriented game).  In high school I moved on to using the Wilson Hammer 5.2 frame with the sweet orange paint job.  After that my local pro shop hopped on the Babolat band wagon and my coach convinced me to try one out.  I ended up with the Babolat Drive Z-Tour which I still have a few frames of to this day.  In an effort to replace those racquets I was using a customized Babolat AeroPro Drive for a while until I settled on the Head Youtek Prestige Pro about 6 months ago.

If you could compare your game style to a pro’s (past or present), who would it be and why?

It’s too difficult pick just one player that I like to tailor my game after.  It’s more of a combination between Michael Chang speed, some Rafa buggy whip forehand, some Fed slice backhand in there, and a serious case of Safin temper.

What has been your favorite match you have ever watched (live or on TV)?

One of my favorite matches off all time to watch on TV was the 2000 U.S. Open final when Safin completely outplayed Sampras to take the title.  By far the most incredible match I’ve seen in person was last year at the BNP Paribas Open tournament where Agassi / Sampras / Federer / and Nadal threw down on some epic doubles.

Do you have any superstitions before playing a match?

I actually hate the whole superstitions thing so much that I make a point to break all of the superstitious rules that I can just to prove to myself that they have no bearing on the outcome of the match.  I enjoy walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, not knocking on wood, throwing the entire salt shaker forward, and stepping on every line on the court.

Do you have pre-match meals you like to eat before a tournament?

I try to make sure to eat a huge meal the night before I have a match, usually some kind of pasta.  Of course now that I think about it, a huge meal of pasta is something I enjoy a couple nights a week, so nothing new there.

What has been your most memorable tennis match (win or lose)?

I typically remember the matches in which I become the most angry, at my opponent or myself.  I was playing an important doubles match in my high school playoffs and I had gotten on the other team’s case about sketchy line calls.  They took offense to this and decided to call a line judge over because he claimed our calls on his big first serve were complete crap.  I had a little bit of a Sampras vs. Courier in ’95 flashback and when I get angry I can play some fantastic tennis.  I took over and we dominated them for the rest of the match.  Definitely a gratifying feeling.

I also got to attend a charity even before the BNP tournament a couple years ago where I got the opportunity to play with some of the pros.  I played a few games with Ivan Ljubicic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Shahar Peer,  Jensen Murphy and Fernando Verdasco which turned out to be one of the more memorable tennis experiences of my career.

Have you had any injuries? For how long?  How did you deal with them?

Unfortunately I’m fairly injury prone when it comes to any activity outside of tennis but I’ve only had one real tennis injury that’s affected my ability to play.  A couple years ago I severely sprained my ankle to the point where I needed crutches to walk around normally, not that I actually used the crutches like the doctor recommended.  The injury kept me off the tennis court for 6 to 8 weeks which was just about the most frustrating part of the injury.

Who is your favorite TW playtester to hit/play with?

I know this is the politian answer to the question but I like hitting with everyone who playtests with me.  Tennis is a game where no two players have exactly the same style.  The challenge is to make myself such a complete player that I’m able to deal with all sorts of shots and styles.

Who is the TW playtester that gives you the most trouble?

My toughest matchup is definitely against Chris.  He uses all of these stupid drop shots that I can get to without problem but then he’s too good around the net for me to win the point without coming up with multiple great shots.  Plus, I’m used to getting some free points off my serve and Chris hasn’t missed a return against me in what seems like years.  I’m coming for ya Vlogman…

What has been your favorite review and why?

The Yonex V Core 100 S has been one of my favorite playtests to date simply because of how I was playing that day, not necessarily because of the racquet itself.  It just happened to be one of those days where I couldn’t miss a shot and every forehand I hit found a line.  If you check out the playtest, Brittany and I have some great points.

Do you have any nicknames from the TW playtest squad?

The Hammer, Hemmer Time, Sean “2nd Gear” Hemmer, that guy with the forehand

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Please check back next week when we feature another playtester in another installment of, “Meet the Playtesters.”

Ad out,

Brittany

The greatest racquet breaker of them all hangs it up

Being a tennis racquet just got a whole lot safer: Marat Safin has retired from professional tennis.

Safin, along with having a reputation as one of the world’s most talented players, also possessed a penchant for smashing racquets. Earlier this year when TW’s Spencer interviewed Safin’s racquet customization and stringing team, Priority 1, P1’s Nate Ferguson confessed to us that they always packed extra racquets for Safin — just in case his current batch didn’t survive practice.

Safin hits a backhand in this 2005 adidas promotional image

Safin hits a backhand in this 2005 adidas promotional image

Some people look upon racquet smashing as a terrible thing — a blight on an otherwise graceful sport. But I always held a certain respect for the way Safin tormented his racquets. The man from Moscow made breaking a racquet an art form.

Safin always played with his heart on his sleeve, and that was never more evident than when he turned his frustrations towards his racquet. Most players, myself included, will look like an idiot when breaking a racquet. For Safin, breaking a racquet was just part of what he did. Seeing Safin snap a racquet in two was as common as seeing a player stop to tie his shoe. Most impressively, those outbursts never seemed to be too detrimental to his play.

So, as Safin moves into retirement, the racquet population can breathe easy. The great racquet crusher from Russia is gone.

Yep, racquets are safe once more, until the next prolific breaker comes along. Now, who will that be?

Cheers,
Chris.