For those who don’t think tennis translates to athletes in other sports, think again. In many ways — some odd and some simple — tennis is being utilized on courts and fields all over.
One recent example is a little more unique, coming from the New England Patriots’ practice field just two weeks ago. The Patriots, preparing to face the Houston Texans in NFL playoffs, armed defensive linemen with tennis racquets before some of the passing drills. The idea was for the linemen to hold up the racquets as quarterback Tom Brady prepared to throw, getting in the way of passing lanes and acting as a distraction.
Seems odd at first, but the drill’s aim was to prepare the offense to play against All-Pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who has an incredible 82.5-inch wingspan
The drill worked, as the Patriots took down the Texans, 41-28 to move onto the next round.
But the tennis connections don’t stop there. In fact, pro athletes in several sports were close to making it big on the tennis court. Of the group, perennial NBA All-Star Dirk Nowitzki stands out among the most well-known.
Nowitzki, who stands at a booming 7-feet-tall, was a star on the courts as a youngster in Germany. But he got tired of his competitors constantly questioning his age because of his height and eventually picked up a basketball instead. That turned out pretty well for Nowitzki, who is an NBA Champion and 11-time NBA All Star.
One of America’s other favorite athletes, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, also has some skills with a racquet. As a young athlete in Texas, Brees was a standout tennis player who even spent time on the court with a player very familiar in the tennis world: Andy Roddick.
“I remember the most annoying thing was that Drew played about twice a week,” Roddick said to the San Diego Tribune. “I was hard-core. I was playing every day, every weekend. I could never beat the guy.”
Safe to say things have changed, and things have worked out for the best for both players.