The passage of time and the evolution of the sport has generated an avid debate among tennis fans: to defend that their time was better than the rest. Those who seek to discredit the current stage often pull a classic: “Now everyone plays the same.” The truth is that this phrase would be impossible to pose 25 years ago, where there were much more profiles and variety on the track. Today we will talk about one of the most peculiar cases, Luke Jensen, the man who was capable of taking 210km / h with both his left and right hands. Once again, the fantasy of ambidextrous lands on Break point.
Just three months ago we rescued the story of Miguel Ángel López Jaén, the Spanish who learned to play with his left foot after suffering a major elbow injury at the age of 12. That test would later serve to improve his setback, although everything developed due to a fortuitous emergency. Jensen’s case has a similar mystique, with the difference that the American began to investigate this dualism from an early age after recommendations from his father.
“When I was a child I played a lot of soccer and a lot of baseball. However, when I started playing tennis, I was only playing with my right hand. Then my father had an idea. Since he used to throw the ball with his left hand to play baseball, perhaps he could also serve with his left in tennis. That’s how we started working on it, ”recalls the one from Michigan.
The experiment went well, Jensen had the facility to serve with both hands, a talent that sometimes also used it when volleying. From a young age he began to attract a lot of attention in the United States when he saw him grab the racket with that fluidity, regardless of whether he did it with one arm the other. “Many coaches throughout my career tried to make me change, they wanted me to serve with only one hand, it didn’t matter if it was the left or the right, but I never listened to them. Other people invited me to play with two setbacks, all with two hands, but they did not convince me either, ”acknowledges the man who turned 53 yesterday.
His tenacity and confidence in this system led him to become a professional in 1987, going down in history as ‘Dual Hand Luke’. The story sold on its own, now it lacked to accompany it with successes. Former number 6 in the world in doubles, ten titles won in the category and a luxury that few can count: proclaim himself champion of Roland Garros 1993 partnering with his own brother, Murphy Jensen. In 1996 he would play two other Grand Slam finals (Australian Open and Roland Garros) in mixed doubles with Nicole Arendt.
He only lacked to shine in singles, where he could never access the top 150 group. Something that for many turned out to be a failure, since being a junior he came to play the No. 1 in the world in both categories. The Grayling tennis player would later find his limitations, although that way of playing would remain forever etched in the fan’s mind. “When I play, I vary the serves between the left and the right hand, the objective is to maintain the feeling on both sidesI don’t like missing a beat in either arm. People see it as an advantage but it also has its downside. For example, in my case I have to spend twice as much time as others training the serve. Then it is true that if a person can take five different ways with his arm, I have ten ways between the two, “he confessed in an interview during his first years on the tour.
What Luke did not know is that being left-handed would end up being one of the greatest gifts that nature could give to a tennis player, although this would only be confirmed over the decades. “It was really an unexpected trend to see how lefties started to dominate tennis. In our sport, the advantage part is the most important part on the track, where the key points are played. The left-handed player has a tactical advantage in this regard, it has the ability to get you off the track with a cut service, ”says the right-hander.
Jensen’s path on the professional circuit would be extinguished at the end of the last millennium, although his last official match as a dubber dates back to 2006, when he played the San José tournament with his brother, now 40 years old. A separate chapter with the sole objective of feeling the adrenaline of the circuit again. After collaborating with ESPN analyzing some tournaments, now the ambidextrous spends his days transmitting his knowledge to the youngest. His intention is clear: create a player as versatile as he was. “All the tennis players have played in the same way throughout their lives. When you work with me I want you to explore other areas of the game that you have never thought of, to start from scratch. The most important thing is that they have an open mind to try different things, that is the mentality that you have to adopt when you are struggling to get closer to a new goal. In this case, for adding a new beat to your repertoire ”.