While being stuck in the colder parts of the Western hemisphere over winter with little opportunity of playing tennis in the great outdoors, we decided to hitch a ride with our friend and New York-based photographer Matt Genovese to Curitiba, the largest city in the southern region of Brazil.
Forever curious about how tennis is experienced, played and communicated in any part of the world, we ventured off to the local tennis club where we met locals Eduoardo Carneiro, 52, and Marcel Oliveira, 48, for a chat about Brazilian tennis culture, how the pair got to rally together and more.
How did you start playing tennis?
Eduardo: “My parents became a member of a tennis club in my hometown when I was eleven. I was there on a weekend and saw an announcement saying ‘Class for children under twelve’, so I enrolled myself and that’s how it started.”
Marcel: “I started when I was a kid, playing at the local club in my hometown.”
What do you find defining of the tennis culture in Brazil?
Marcel: “I think it really started to grow when a Brazilian first became number 1 on the ATP list. Our Guga: Gustavo Kuerten. Things really started to kick off from there.”
Eduardo: “To me, it started with the great champions of the past. The likes of Maria Esther Bueno, Tomaz Kock, Meligeni, Oncins and, more recently, Meligeni and Guga. They pushed the culture of tennis in Brazil forward and spread the joy of playing tennis.”
How did the two of you end up playing tennis together?
Eduardo: “When I joined the club at Circula Militar, Marcel was the top 1 player in the ranking. My goal was to dethrone him, which happened about two months later… We played a lot together during this period and have done so ever since.”
Marcel: “We first met in tournaments, yeah, as opponents, then started playing together and that grew into a great friendship on and off the court.”
What does playing tennis together mean for your friendship?
Marcel: “It means everything. Each game improves us as players and as friends. Receiving criticism from a friend helps you grow your game because you know that the criticism you receive is sincere and only serves to help you.”