Only a handful of players throughout history have been great singles players and great doubles players -- Althea Gibson, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova are among them.
Pete Sampras, Wayne Bryan says, did not have a doubles personality. Nor did Bjorn Borg. Oddly enough, temperamental John McEnroe, who has an ego the size of Manhattan, was able to play both beautifully.
Anna Kournikova, Wayne says, has a doubles personality. But she has been pushed to be a rock star singles player. Wayne knows because he coaches the Sacramento Capitals in professional team tennis and she is an occasional marquee player for his team. "I have watched her. She wants to play doubles."
He says, "We misunderstood her. Put her on a doubles court and she comes alive."
She has all the attributes of a great doubles player, he says. Good volleys, strong returns, and "she's a good poacher" -- knowing just when to invade her partner's territory to make a shot.
She has a great court sense of where her partner is and her opponent is not. "Doubles," he says, "has lots of angles to it."
You can be a great singles player with certain raw gifts -- a psycho-killer serve, a nuclear forehand, the stamina of a government mule. In doubles, you need all those skills and more.
"There are singles players who can't volley," Wayne says. If you can't volley, you'll never be a great doubles player.
It's hard to be a pro doubles player. The system works against you. Most mid-level tournaments, like the ones in Washington, Indianapolis and Los Angeles, hold their singles qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday, which usually overlap with the doubles finals of the previous week's event. So if you do well in doubles, you cannot qualify in the next singles contest. Most pros don't even bother with the doubles.