Tennis Through a Lens

After growing up in Iran, Kambiz Doonboli moved to Pittsburgh at age 17. It didn’t take long to find a hobby, a passion, and community — all on a local tennis court.

“Photography is all about the moment.”

doonboliThat’s the way Doonboli, now 31, describes his favorite hobby. And if photography is all about moments, think about the potential of a tennis match. Each game is laced with intensity, and each point presents hundreds of options of how to approach it.

That just might be why he seems to mesh the two together so perfectly.

“In a way, that’s the beauty of tennis, and one of the best parts about shooting it,” said Doonboli, a passionate player and volunteer. “You never know what one point can turn into.”

Doonboli picked up a racquet in his early 20s and hasn’t put it down since. He got involved with the Frick Park Tennis Program a couple of years later, and immediately became a staple on the rare red clay with both his racquet and his camera.

Kambiz Doonboli – A Different View

Where you’ll find him: Playing USTA League Tennis, USTA Tournaments, local leagues, or taking photos at tennis events throughout the city.

Career: Doonboli is an IT professional, and also an entrepreneur. Currently he’s developing a process to help tennis players learn from video clips of pros and other high-level players. He expects his website to launch in 2015.

Why tennis: “When I was a kid in Iran, I played ping pong, but never got into tennis. Tennis wasn’t a big thing over there. After I came here, one day I decided I wanted something extra to do at school, and I noticed the tennis club. I tried it out, and I fell in love with it.”

Feature photo - 1Favorite aspect of tennis: “There is so much to learn about the game. The more I play, the more I learn. I can look at the pros and take something from them. I need something that I can get better at, and that’s what tennis gives me. I also love the mental aspect of it: where to put each shot, how much spin to add, what angles to attack, and so on.”

Why photography: “My father was into it for years, and worked with professional cameras and other equipment. One day I bought a SLR (Single Lens Reflex) digital camera and started messing around with it. After a little while, I was doing weddings, portraits, and really anything else I could.”

hooting tennis at Frick Park:
“Frick Park has this beautiful landscape. Everything is so nice with the background. The color red is a great contrast in the photos, and in the fall you have leaves. In the spring, you have flowers and vibrant colors. There’s nothing like it.”

Approaching a tennis match with a camera: “Because I’ve played tennis and studied the game, I know what good shots look like and how points develop. It’s different when you’re shooting the semifinals or finals of a tournament vs. the first round, because you can anticipate what the player will do or what type of shot they might hit. I can take a photo of anyone hitting a shot, but if you can combine that with great technique and a good shot with a nice background, you’ve perfectly captured a moment.”

Feature photo 2The Story of Frick Park

The Frick Park courts are among the most unique in the country. Part of the Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation Department, the historic courts first opened in 1930, eventually evolving into one of Pittsburgh’s most popular tennis spots.

Nearly a decade ago, local volunteer Jose Mieres helped lead a group in saving the courts and bringing them back to fruition. Today, Frick Park Clay Court Tennis Club is a registered Community Tennis Association (CTA), offering low-cost and community-based play to kids and adults from all over the Pittsburgh area.

For more information on community tennis, visit To view more of Doonboli’s photography, visit his website.

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