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When a world title is on the line, sometimes friends have to face each other for a chance at the crown.
The World Championships of Court Tennis will be held this May in Melbourne, Australia. But before anyone gets a shot at 19-year reigning champion Rob Fahey, some incredibly talented athletes will have to face off in a series of elimination matches that are being held in tennis clubs around the globe.
On February 22, at the National Tennis Club, located within the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, a quarterfinal match-up between Camden Riviere and Tim Chisholm promises big excitement for fans of the regal sport. Both Americans stand high in the rankings, with Riviere in first and Chisholm in fifth, according to point totals.
What really has everyone teeming with anticipation for this match-up though, is that these two have been competing together as doubles partners since 2006. The pair won the U.S. Open together that first year. “I was relatively new to the pro circuit and Tim was the solid world number two,” said Riviere. “It was a huge honor to be out there with him, and I just tried my best not to mess up.” Chisholm and Riviere have even defeated current World Doubles Champions Rob Fahey and Steve Virgona during the French Open in 2011, though they have been unsuccessful in taking home the world title, which like the singles tournament is held every other year.
Rules of the International Real Tennis Professionals Association dictate that the current world champion is guaranteed the final match, so you can bet that Fahey will be keeping a close eye on this one.
“It will be fun,” said Chisholm about playing his partner. “We’ve been kidding around with the fact that we’re enemies right now, but [Camden] is also a close friend.” The veteran player joked that he enjoys how he is now the underdog. “When I was playing ten years ago I was always the favorite going into the eliminators. Now I’m the old guy that people hope doesn’t get hurt or embarrassed when he plays Camden.”
All jokes aside, Chisholm is a seasoned professional that has made it to the singles World Championships three times in his career. But he has never come away the victor. The veteran player has retired from the sport a time or two but just can’t seem to stay away for long. “[Court Tennis] is just one of those games that you end up having a passion for and get addicted to,” he said.
Chisholm works as the Head Professional at The Tuxedo Club in New York, where the final two matches of this eliminator will take place on Friday February 28, and Sunday March 2, if needed, as the tournament is a best of three series. Chisholm is excited to be making another run for the top, but he will have his hands full trying to getting past Riviere if he wants another chance to be number one.
Riviere began playing court tennis at the age of five and was competing by age seven. Last September, Riviere, 26, became the first American to ever reach the top ranked spot. The leftie even defeated Fahey in Newport last summer during the annual Schochet Cup, and he did so in definitive style with a final score of 6/2, 6/5, 6/3.
“I feel very confident going into this process,” said Riviere, “I have been working very hard over the past two years to put myself into a strong position for the World Championships.” As for facing his partner he offered, “Playing Tim will be very strange for me as we are normally on the same side of the net. That being said, we have also played against each other in a number of tournaments.”
Training together as partners since 2006 has given both players a unique perspective on one another. “I would say I know Tim’s game better than anyone, and he knows mine just as well,” said Riviere who also noted that playing doubles with someone can help to see areas of their game where they seem uncomfortable or lacking practice.
Both Riviere and Chisholm agreed that they hope to win, but would cheer on their teammate should they lose. The winner will have to face either Australian Steve Virgona, or Englishmen Bryn Sayers, who are set to start their own series on February 18, in Queens, U.K.
Tickets for the Riviere versus Chisholm eliminator start at $35 and are available now at the National Tennis Club at 194 Bellevue Avenue. For more information log onto www.nationaltennisclub.org or call 849-6672.