***Canada’s #2 doubles player from Pickering, Ontario, Adil Shamasdin has a career high ranking of #58 on the ATP tour doubles circuit. Adil has won a tour title, 6 doubles challenger events and 7 futures tournaments. An all-American and graduate of the Ivy League Brown University, Adil has been competing on tour ever since. ONcourt caught up with Adil at this year’s Australian Open.***
ONcourt: Congratulations Adil on winning yet another main draw match at a Grand Slam this year at the Australian Open. What does your tournament schedule look like for the year?
Adil Shamasdin: Thanks. It was a great experience in Melbourne, especially since it’s my first time in Australia. I was happy to get the first round win, however a bit disappointed for losing in the next round as I felt me and my partner Phillip Marx could have taken out the 8th seeds, Aisam ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer. We got a bit unlucky at crucial times as it was a close match. However, it’s another learning experience and many positive things to take from.
I usually play about 30-35 tournaments in the year so my schedule will be fairly busy again if I stay healthy. I will do a lot of traveling with the majority being in Europe as it’s a lot cheaper with many more tournaments close to each other.
ONcourt: What is the best thing about predominantly being a doubles player?
Adil Shamasdin: The first thing that comes to mind is that I don’t have to wake up really early to play matches. Doubles matches, for the most part, are in the afternoon. I am not a morning person so this helps my late sleeping habits.
But seriously, I think the best thing is that you are experiencing the wins and losses with another person who shares the same feeling (most of the time). I like the dynamic of a team event as growing up I played many team sports. It’s nice to have a team dynamic in such an individual sport like tennis. It’s a lot of fun!
ONcourt: Describe a typical 24 hour stretch in your life.
Adil Shamasdin: It actually depends on if I’m playing a tournament or not. But on an off day, it’s pretty basic and simple.
First is a struggle getting out of most of these hotel beds. They make them so comfortable these days and I love my sleep. It’s a quick breakfast and off to the courts. Since I am my own boss, I usually set practice around 11ish for my first practice. It will last about a couple of hours depending on the court time. I don’t have a coach travelling with me as it’s pretty expensive as it is, so I would just hit with other players and create drills as we go along that would help us in match situations. I would chill out with other players, eat some lunch, and maybe play various games (card games, video games) or just listen to some music or surf the internet. Then back to the practice courts for hit number two. I usually like to play practice sets or points against other players/team in the second hit. I try to take an hour or so in the gym after practice as my body is warm and ready to do either maintenance exercises or strength exercises. At this point it’s back to the hotel, and get ready for dinner with other players and friends. There ends up being a lot of downtime but I like to watch movies and other TV series. I try to not think about tennis all the time so doing other things like visiting the city or trying to connect with friends back home are always nice for a distraction.
On a match day it’s pretty light. I would hit once before the match and just relax. Post match I would finish up in the gym, something light to keep on improving physically.
In short – eat, sleep, tennis.
ONcourt: What would be the biggest misconception that you had about playing on the pro tour from before you started?
Adil Shamasdin: I didn’t realize of how much a business this sport can be for a player. I knew it would be a bit of a grind but didn’t account for all the smaller things that you have to deal with along the way, especially since I’m doing it all myself. For example, buying and changing flights last minute, coordinating hotel reservations, organizing transportation, media, managing where to play and what court or place suits you the best, finding the right partner… There are so many small things that add up and sometimes you forget that you still have to play tennis and get better on court without thinking about all the other distractions. It’s tougher than I thought but at this stage I’m able to manage it relatively well. Having been in university helped me manage and balance my time more efficiently.
ONcourt: Some people think it’s glamorous. Could you describe one or two different situations that you have been in that would demonstrate what it is really like to be on tour?
Adil Shamasdin: For doubles it’s tricky because sometimes you don’t know where you will go until the day before because sign in closes on Saturday for tour events and Sunday for challenger events (for that respective week). There is an online sign in for tour events two weeks in advance. However, some players might drop out and you get in last minute. There has been a couple of times where I have been at the tournament site and found out that I couldn’t get in one and had to call another couple of tournaments only to wait for which one I get into. At this point, I can’t be picky and have to get to the next destination as quickly as possible to be ready to play the next day. Most of the time it’s within the same continent, but sometimes you have to go to another continent. This happens to a lot of players on the doubles tour.
The most difficult grind would have to be on the futures circuit, where the tournaments don’t pay for hospitality and you are stuck for cash. Usually, players bunk up with two to three to even four players in one room to save money. These hotels are not the glamorous type you would be bragging about.
ONcourt: Being in so many different places, you must have seen much of the world.
Adil Shamasdin: Yes and no. I get to be in many beautiful countries like Italy, France, Australia, Morocco, South Africa and India. However, there is not much sightseeing. For the most part, it’s in hotel rooms, on tennis courts and eating at a few restaurants. Sometimes the tournaments provide some touristy things for the players to do, but ultimately we are there for business and I would rather focus my energy on winning tennis matches than being a tourist. If I lose early in tournaments and have an extra day, I use my off day to try to see as much as I can.
ONcourt: Tennis players seem to be quite superstitious. For example, Nadal having to line up his water bottles, or Novak bouncing the ball x amount of times before he serves. Do you have any superstitions?
Adil Shamasdin: I think most athletes are a bit superstitious, maybe wearing the same shirt or lucky shorts before a big match. I have a few, but for the most part, I like my routines. Since I’m always in different cities and hotel rooms, I like to keep some things consistent to remind me that things are still the same. Things like dinner time, sleeping with the same pillow, listening to the same kind of music before a match, or having the same warm up every time.
ONcourt: Can you describe the process of what it was like to come back from your shoulder surgery physically and mentally?
Adil Shamasdin: This was a big chapter and stepping stone in my career. It definitely wasn’t easy but I think it ultimately helped me in the long run, not only physically but mentally. Having been out for about one and a half years post graduation, I learned a lot about my body and the ways an athlete must always be keeping fit even during competition. In university it was the coach or fitness trainer who would tell you what to do and motivate you to do it. When I started out on tour, I didn’t have money for a coach or a trainer to be telling me what I should be doing in the gym or on court. After surgery I decided to pick up a trainer in Toronto who could help me get back into shape and get stronger so this wouldn’t happen again. It took a lot of dedication and hard work on and off the tennis courts from not only myself but for the people who helped me get there. I had a great team behind me with my trainer, Dennis Lindsay, my physiotherapists, Marlene Nobrega, and my coach, Dave Ochotta, all helping me to get to where I am today.
Being away from tournaments for almost two years made me think a lot. What if my shoulder never heals? Where am I going to get the money to travel? Am I getting too old? There were a lot of people questioning my moves and criticizing what I was doing with my life after an Ivy League education. It began creeping more and more into my mind. I had a few friends on tour who started doing really well in doubles and they always gave me the inspiration to continue. My family stood behind me in every way and that gave me the opportunity to choose whatever I wanted without any doubts. This was a huge help as they reassured me that whatever I do, I could do it, and they would support me in whatever way possible. This gave me a new spark and a better outlook on things. If I were to do it, it would be all in, physically and mentally!
It took some time before I was playing my best tennis but in the end, I think back and realize that I needed that time to figure out some ambiguous thoughts and reassure that this is what I wanted to do… And that was to play doubles full time.
ONcourt: What would you say is your major career objective?
Adil Shamasdin: Long term, it would have to be winning a Grand Slam and being inside the top 10. I think if I keep doing what I’m doing and continue to improve, it won’t be far away. Short term, representing Canada in the Olympics and Davis Cup team.
ONcourt: What do you look forward to the most when you come home?
Adil Shamasdin: Spending time with family. I’m barely home and this is the best part about coming home. Always being on the road and seeing so many amazing places in the world, my vacation is home! Got to love the home cooked meals instead of the standard dinners at restaurants or hotels.
ONcourt: To date, what would you say is your most proud moment in tennis?
Adil Shamasdin: There are a few but two that come to mind. One would be winning my first tour title with my good friend James Cerretani in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was an amazing feeling and a good experience, and I hope there will be many more to come. Second would have to be winning the first Ivy title for Brown University my freshmen year. It was the most exciting ending of a long hard season and winning it with a team made it all the more special.
ONcourt: We noticed that you played against the Bryan brothers in Houston last year. What was it like to play against arguably the best doubles team of all time? What did you learn from that match?
Adil Shamasdin: As much as it was cool to play them, I try to forget about this meeting. We got absolutely smashed in this match losing 0 and 2. The funny thing is that my partner and I were playing really well before this match. I barely played in this match as I was too busy watching what the Bryan’s were doing. I didn’t play many tour events or get the opportunity to play against players like this at the time, so I was still a bit nervous and awestruck with the style and energy they played with. I was busy watching how Bob would poach last second before I would hit my volley, and Mike moving right behind him as they move as one. After the first set, I was able to gather myself and play tennis. The second set was a lot closer than the score tells us as we had a bunch of no-add points go against us. This was a great experience as I learned that my level of tennis was not far at all. I’m not as scarred or nervous when I play bigger teams, and I’m looking to win matches and not just being happy playing against teams like this.
ONcourt: There is a very little amount of doubles tournaments in the Junior Canadian circuit these days. What are your thoughts on this?
Adil Shamasdin: I remember when I played juniors, and doubles was minimal as it was. If it weren’t for doubles, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Not only because I play strictly doubles, but it got me to a great school (doubles is very important in the college format) and it ultimately helped my singles game giving me confidence to play at the net. In today’s game you don’t see players coming into the net, but I think that developing an all court game will help you win at all levels of play. Doubles can teach a player to play at the net and finish volleys away. It is a little different strategy to singles, and it will help singles players think a little bit outside of the box. It would be great to see Canada develop tournaments strictly for doubles. Despite producing singles players in the past couple of years (which has been great for tennis in Canada), we should not forget about the Canadian tradition in doubles.
ONcourt: You are a reggae aficionado. Who are some of your favourite artists?
Adil Shamasdin: I listen to more of the conscious and roots reggae tunes. Artists like Beres Hammond, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, and of course, the legendary Bob Marley. They always put a good and positive vibe on my mood.
ONcourt: Thank you very much for this Adil. We wish you good health and a successful year. We will be following you closely.
Adil Shamasdin: Thank you.