Almanack: Loud volley from rocker Luke

Andrew Baker
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:39

LAST week Luke Jensen, a doubles player, was invited to address a tennis forum entitled 'The Fan's Experience' in Frankfurt. To the surprise of his audience, Luke let fly with some highly unorthodox suggestions, including the introduction of smoke, lasers and rock music. 'If I had my perfect situation,' he said, 'a tennis match would start out with a live band', and he summed up: 'Let's go crazy; let's go bananas; let's get rid of the white clothes; let's get out of the country club - people want to see out-of-control tennis.'

The organisers should have known what was coming: in sartorial terms, Luke Jensen makes Andre Agassi look like Ken Rosewall. Then there are his off-court hobbies: he plays bass guitar in a rock band with Jim Courier (drums) Patrick McEnroe (vocals) and John McEnroe (whatever he wants). And at Wimbledon last year the spectacularly coiffed Jensen asked officials if he could ride around the court before a match on his Harley Davidson, with his mixed-doubles partner riding pillion. They declined.

It is also worth noting that Jensen can actually play tennis - this year, he and his similarly weird but less verbose brother Murphy won the French doubles title. He is also, beneath the hair and the shades, rather nice. 'I just think he's fab,' says Penny Shock of Serve and Volley magazine, who met both brothers at Wimbledon this year. 'He only looks like a drug dealer.'

Tour officials are equally reluctant to criticise Luke, mainly because they realise that his suggestions may actually represent the way forward. 'In the forums we try to get a wide diversity of viewpoints', the ATP's Joe Lynch told Almanack, 'and Luke's views definitely tend towards the more, uh, extreme and, uh, innovative. But one thing the ATP is looking to do is to make the tournament experience more entertaining and, uh, certainly Luke was representing that viewpoint.'

Translation: if fireworks and Iron Maiden between games will put bums on seats, so be it. But what on earth will the Duchess of Kent make of it all?

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