Player Profile: Mats Wilander

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Source: Platform Tennis Magazine, Vol. 6, Issue 2, November, 2004

Mats Wilander is a tennis legend—and for nearly 20 years he has enjoyed playing platform tennis in his spare time. Mats won 33 career singles titles including 7 Grand Slams (Australian Open in ’83, ’84 and ’88, French Open in ’82, ’85 and ’88, and US Open in ’88). He was also a member of three champion Swedish Davis Cup teams.

Occupation? I’m still involved in tennis. I travel about 51h months a year playing the senior tour and exhibitions. I’m also the Captain of the Swedish Davis Cup Team.

When and where did you first start playing platform tennis? I started playing around 1986 in New York City. My wife lived in the city, and I played on a court in her neighborhood around 3rd Avenue and 23rd Street.

How often do you play? About 10 times a year.

Why do you enjoy platform tennis? I like any sport where you have a ball or a puck and something in your hand to hit it with. Hockey, ping-pong, paddle, golf, badminton, whatever. Paddle is also great because you have four guys out there. You can talk. It’s very social, and you can work as hard as you want.

What’s the best part of your game? I have a good return of serve. And my shots are flicky. It keeps my opponents wondering where I’m going to hit the ball.

Worst part of your game? My forehand.

Favorite shot? Backhand. One-handed, by the way. Not sure why people hit a two-handed backhand in paddle.

Patience or power? It depends. I don’t play paddle to hit winners. I was very patient in tennis, and I use that experience in paddle. But I don’t like just lobbing, especially on the return of serve. I like to mix it up.

Yellow or orange ball? We usually play with yellow up here. How old is your paddle? I finally stopped borrowing my friends’ paddles and bought my own about 3 years ago!

Do you think platform tennis helps your tennis? It definitely helps your volleys. And paddle trains your eyes. That’s very important for me.

Describe a perfect day. I would ride my snowmobile back into the hills behind my house and strap on my skis for a little downhill. Also, there are a couple of weeks in November and April here when I can ski and play golf in the same day. Toss in a little tennis or platform tennis and a round at the pub and you’d have a perfect day.

What’s always in your refrigerator? Swedish shrimp spread and fish eggs that my mother sends me.

What’s in your car CD player right now? I don’t actually have a CD player in my car. My friends made me a CD of my favorite songs for my 40th birthday, though, that I play all the time at home. Stones, Dylan, Clapton, Dire Straits, U2.

What do your friends find annoying about you? That I’m good at every sport they can find. Of course I only play sports that I’m good at!

What would people be surprised to know about you? I can’t swim. I mean if it was life or death I could swim, but basically I sink like a stone! While I was on the tennis courts as a kid, my friends were swimming in the lakes.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? I actually think my greatest accomplishment is in the future. I still like to put myself into situations where I’m challenged. But I do know when to stop. Really though, all of my accomplishments are not important compared to the fact that I have a wonderful wife and 4 great kids.