Tennys Sandgren has just about the perfect name for tennis, generating as much excitement among fans as it does confusion in bars and coffee shops.
Tennis star Tennys, from Tennessee, is not the only one with an eye-catching first name doing battle on the Wimbledon lawns.
Storm Sanders, Eden Silva, Desirae Krawcyzk, Raven Klaasen and Astra Sharma have all been swinging their racquets at the All England Club.
Meanwhile there’s competition coming up in the juniors with Blu Baker, Destinee Martins and Hurricane Black — whose sister is called Tornado.
Sandgren, who is named after his Swedish great-grandfather, said there was no way a man called Tennys could take up tennis and flop.
“I at least had to be good at the sport if I was going to play,” the 2018 Australian Open quarter-finalist told AFP.
His early enthusiasm for tennis came from his family being keen players — but his name possibly helped.
“Who knows, maybe there’s some sort of cosmic pull in that direction,” said the world number 94, who made the Wimbledon fourth round on Saturday.
Away from the courts, the American said the name had its challenges.
“Explaining it gets a little tiring, like when I’m trying to get a coffee,” the 27-year-old said.
“Or when I’m trying to introduce myself to someone of the opposite sex that I don’t know. That gets a little tedious, and I haven’t really figured a good way to transition that into meaningful conversation. If I’m explaining my name, I’m already on my heels!”
But around the tennis world, it usually generates a buzz in the stands.
“It can be challenging, but it’s fun, it’s entertaining and people get a kick out of it — especially at a tournament if they haven’t really heard of me,” he said.
“There’s always a bit of surprise and a positive shock — ‘like, really?!'”
Sanders visited a pub during the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne on England’s south coast.
“The guys were like, ‘no way your name’s Tennys!'” he recounted.
Sandgren showed them his ID — and drinkers still did not believe him.
“The bartender’s just laughing. He’s like, ‘OK, he’s Tennys; he plays tennis. Fair enough’.”
Australia’s Storm Sanders said her name could sometimes catch people off-guard.
“I love my name because it’s memorable,” the 24-year-old told AFP.
“People sometimes don’t know what to expect of me. It’s a bit quirky but I love it.”
When she was born, her parents were reading Wilbur Smith’s epic Courtney series of novels, tracking the lives of one family through the centuries.
“One of the characters is Storm Courtney and they liked the name. No crazy story with the weather!” she said.
Sanders said she had met a few other Storms.
“It’s always interesting to see what they’re like,” she said.
One pair she has not yet breezed into is Hurricane and Tornado Black.
“I’ve seen them but we never spoke about our names,” she said.
Could they join forces in a whirlwind doubles partnership?
“Maybe in the future, we’ll have to see!”
Sound of Eden
British main draw debutante Eden Silva, who is rising up the rankings, has her motto “stay fierce” tattooed on the back of her neck, following a career-threatening knee ligament injury.
When she was named, her parents liked the sound of paradise.
“It’s quite original and unique. It goes well with Silva,” the 23-year-old Londoner told AFP.
“They just said that they liked it and it sounded good with my last name.”
Meanwhile US doubles specialist Desirae Krawcyzk, 25, who made her Wimbledon debut in the mixed doubles with the livewire Nick Kyrgios, said her unusual first name was mostly her father’s doing.
“My dad is Polish and my mum is Filipina,” the Californian told AFP.
“My dad loved the French name Desiree but he wanted to spell it ‘ae’ and not ‘ee’. They just really liked the name.”
Sandgren might be streets ahead with the coolest first name in tennis.
However, the prize for literally the coolest surname at Wimbledon goes to Dutch doubles specialist Wesley Koolhof.