Nate Oinonen of Tennis Northeast is a bachelor with a great sense of humor and a passion for tennis. If love means nothing in tennis, it could have great significance in his future.
“... When I do get married,” says Nate, “if it's someone who loves tennis as much as me, I'd love to say our vows at the Tennis Hall of Fame grass courts (in Newport, RI). You know, so we could play a match after the ceremony. Obviously, Andre Agassi would officiate the wedding.
Until then, this DJ will continue to do his competitive best as a player in Tennis League Network (TLN), which he joined in 2008, when he saw a TLN flier. He has played in the Metro Boston league named TennisNorthEast.com ever since. He describes himself as a highly competitive player. And he is also much improved. His rating “was just recently bumped up from a 3.25 to a 3.5.” Does his competitiveness have anything to do with this improvement? You be the judge.
Nate will go to almost any length to win and he has some entertaining stories to tell about some of his TLN matches. Hear about those in his own words in this lively and candid Q & A, which should help you understand the relationship of his competitive will to win and his ultimate improvement.
TLN- How often do you play?
Nate- I play tennis almost every day. I play league matches about once a week in the winter and twice a week when it’s nice out.
TLN- What do you like most about it?
Nate- I like the competition. People really get into it. It’s fun to check out your stats online and see who you’re playing next.
TLN -Any memorable matches – good and bad?
Nate- Haha. Yes I have many. One of the best matches I’ve ever played was in the playoffs, fall, 2008. I played Matt Rogers, a good all around player with a nasty spin on his serve. The first set he destroyed me 6-1. He’s serve didn’t have much pace but I couldn’t return it with all that spin.
After losing the first set, I made up my mind that for the rest of the match I would play harder than I’d ever played tennis- or any sport for that matter, before. The next set went all the way to a tie-break which I won. In the third set, again, I gave everything I had. But Matt was just too good. He won the match after 3 hours of play at 6-1. 6-7, 6-4. I was disappointed but I knew I’d left nothing out there. Matt was just a better player. We had two other matches the next year, one of which I won.
Another great memory I had was playing in the 2011 National Championship (Key Biscayne, FL). I met a lot of cool people from other leagues around the country and I played pretty well throughout the weekend. After the first two days I had won 3 of 4 matches, which put me in the final day playing the unbeaten Karl Kuhnle.
I knew my chances were slim against this guy so I decided I would need to get in his head. That night in my hotel I googled Karl and looked for any advantage I could find. Well, I found it. The next day, while down in the match, I asked him about his pitching career with the 1908 World Series Champions, Chicago Cubs.
Karl played in the minors a few years back until he injured his shoulder, which subsequently ended his career. I think it’s actually the reason why he started play tennis. Anyway, I asked him about his pitching days in between changeovers and took some jabs at the Cubs whenever I could. It actually worked! His game started to slip! Even after the head games, I didn’t win. Karl was just too good for me. But I did get to a somewhat respectable 10-6 for the final score. I hope Karl doesn’t hate me- although I’d understand. I was sort of a punk. I definitely owe him a beer if he comes back to Miami this year.
TLN-Any league rivalries?
Nate-Other than Karl? Yes! My friend Jason Greenberg. We met through Tennis League a year ago and have played many matches since. Playing Jason is like playing an ugly, male version of Caroline Wozniacki. Like Wozniacki, he’s not the best when it comes to hitting winners but he is so damn consistent. He’ll get almost every ball back. Sometimes I’ll hit him a big inside out forehand to the back corner. Jason will be on the opposite side of the court but somehow chase it down. And he NEVER gets winded. I’m 2-7 against him officially but I’m pretty sure I’m 73-4 for the non-league matches we’ve played.
So, does this answer the question about Nate Oinonen’s competitiveness and his improvement as a player? I think it does. Do you agree? He gives a lot of credit to TLN.
TLN- We’d like to find out more about you. What is your occupation?
When I'm not playing tennis I'm DJ'ing. You can learn more about it at www.WhiteLabelDJs.net
TLN-What is your history with tennis?
As a kid, I grew up down the street from a tennis court. Tennis was the only sport I could really challenge my older brother at- so from then on, it was something I loved. But it was never really a constant in terms of playing regularly until about 4 years ago. At that point I decided I wanted to invest more time into it, instead of just playing a few times during summer. I started by hiring on my coach, Julian Mielniczuk. When I first met Julian, we were meeting three times a week. As someone who had never had a lesson before, I had a lot to learn. I don't do lessons often anymore but I still consider Julian my coach. He's always checking my standings, asking me about matches and sending me links to slow motion clips of Federer's backhand. I'm very thankful that I met Julian and I hope that I can hire him on full time when I finally make it to the pro circuit.
TLN- Do you have any other comments about your experiences with the league?
Nate-Just a big thank you to Steve Chagnon, who does a great job of making this all happen. He’s a swell guy and truly loves tennis. I’m very happy to be a part of the Tennis League Network and I hope to continue playing and improving every year.
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