Tennis' Funny Man at Home in Exhibitions

Tennis' Funny Man at Home in Exhibitions

Historical records aren't a tennis strength—at least not when it comes to piecing together the short, obscure résumé of a player three decades ago—but we know that Mansour Bahrami's singles career at tour level included between 22 and 33 victories. His peak doubles ranking was No. 31 in the world. And in singles, he reached No. 192.

 

Yet the prime of Bahrami's career is now, at age 56. And it's not a prime defined by victories: He is indisputably the master of making tennis tournaments fun.

 

In a single set of doubles, the opening act to a Tim Henman-Thomas Enqvist singles match at the Statoil STL.OS +1.83% Masters in London this past Thursday, the full array of Bahrami's skills and comedy talents was on display. He chased down lobs and hit smashes over his shoulder with his back to the net one point, and on the next, picked the net up when his opponents hit the ball while pushing it down for his partner.

 

He retreated to the back of the indoor court at Royal Albert Hall to casually retrieve smashes by his opponents with repeated lobs, all while trash-talking them, and then approached the net to hit a series of increasingly improbable volleys off shots blasted right at him. Bahrami was the star of the show, even playing alongside Andrew Castle, the former British No. 1, against a pair of Grand Slam doubles title winners.

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