Junior Kevin King and sophomore Juan Spir have successfully made a name for themselves by playing for Tech’s men’s tennis team. The magic of the two athletes, however, is not to be found in a match-deciding single’s point but rather in the all too forgotten, but vital, doubles point. Since their beginnings in Spring 2010, they have risen in the rankings and are now No. 43 in the nation in doubles and have a 15-4 record in Fall 2010.
Upon first inspection it seems strange that the duo should create such a formidable team. The two are different years and come from different backgrounds. King comes from Peachtree City, Ga. while Spir hails from the town of Medellin, Colombia. They quickly found out that the two were more different than they had previously thought.
“Kevin and I are very different guys off the court. He’s a really disciplined guy, he studies a lot. I’m more relaxed with studies…We have very different personalities,” Spir said.
It also seemed that the two would never play together because neither player immediately chose the other to be their partner.
“When Juan came in as a freshman our coach Kenny [Thorne] told us that he was going to have us playing together. At first I was injured, so we didn’t play together until the second semester of [Juan’s] freshman year.
So yeah, Kenny just put us together,” King said.
In fact, the duo probably did not foresee having any doubles partner as both players had little experience upon coming to Tech.
“I played a little bit [of doubles] in Juniors, but they don’t focus on doubles too much before coming into college,” King said.
It is a surprising fact that Spir echoed.
“Before coming to college I had some doubles tournaments, but nothing that serious. At practices we focus on some doubles drills and I have definitely improved in doubles since being at Tech,” Spir said.
However, King and Spir do share one odd thing other than being doubles partners: they are the two tallest players on the men’s team. This can give the pair both a physical and psychological advantage over their opponents.
“In double’s it’s a big factor, being on top of the net, covering some space, and making you opponent feel like the court is small. If you’re a big guy and moving well, and you have your energy, you can get into their mind. But you still have to play. It’s not just intimidating factors, you still have to make the shots,” Spir said.
Their success and time spent together have brought the duo closer, and they are now roommates.
Spir and King are starting to get past the cultural barriers that they immediately faced and are now sharing some of the same interests.
“We just started playing guitar together, but that’s what we pretty much have in common besides studying,” said Spir.
Both King and Spir are excellent singles players as well, as King is the highest ranked American recruit to ever come to Tech and Spir finished Fall 2010 with a record of 11-4.
Though both have earned their respect on the singles court, they both agree that being successful at doubles is completely different than playing in a singles match.
“There are good things to [singles and doubles], but they’re very different, so they’re kind of hard to compare. There’s definitely more energy in doubles on the court and with the fans. It’s a lot quicker paced,” King said.
“Doubles can be more entertaining for the players and for the crowd. I would say doubles is a little more enjoyable,” Spir added.
In the men’s tennis matches, the doubles teams are the first to play. The three doubles matches also only count for one cumulative point out of seven with the other six coming from singles. Though this may seem disappointing for the doubles teams, King finds the one point to be crucial.
“The one point plays a big role just to get an early lead. It gives a lot of momentum. [Doubles] definitely gets you into the match. You have to work hard in doubles, and it gets you into the match atmosphere. Your intensity is up and you’re ready to play,” King said.
After finishing the fall season ranked No. 43 in the nation as a doubles team and having a record of 7-3 in the last ten games, the duo look to the future with high goals.
“We’d like to definitely finish in the top 10 at the end of the year. If it’s possible, it’d be nice to be No. 1. But our main goal is to be in the NCAA tournament and try to get a national title for the school. I think the most important of all is to get as many wins for the team as possible,” said Spir.
The duo will play next on March 6 at home against Florida State.
“Whoever wants to support us in our matches come on our, the season’s just starting,” Spir said.