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Influenced by Agassi, Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz has evolved into a disciplined tennis player
The 42-year-old bassist—who hit at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden this week and spoke with us exclusively—admires Federer, Serena and Nadal while also embracing what Kyrgios and Sabalenka bring to the court.
Published Mar 19, 2022
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INDIAN WELLS, Calif.—On Practice Court 9 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, musician Pete Wentz is enjoying a friendly doubles game with a few mates, all under the supervision of their tennis coach, Chris Crabb. Come June, Wentz and the band for which he writes lyrics and plays bass, Fall Out Boy, will head to England and Europe for the Hella Mega Tour. But that’s months away. On this March morning in the desert, Wentz is eager to crack some balls and then watch a pair of men’s quarterfinal matches at the BNP Paribas Open.
The 42-year-old Wentz calmly lines a forehand through the middle of the court for a winner. Wentz’s compact, quick swing is reminiscent of one of his tennis heroes, Andre Agassi. “Agassi influenced me a lot,” says Wentz. Besides Agassi’s technique, Wentz admires his bygone rebellious qualities. Naturally, this leads to a discussion of tennis’ current enfant terrible, Nick Kyrgios. “I like him a lot,” says Wentz. “He’s athletically off the charts. I like a little wild side, a little personality.” Another Wentz favorite is Aryna Sabalenka. “I love her intensity,” says Wentz.
Regarding his own tennis, Wentz says, “Your perspective changes as you get older. I love how in tennis, you’re out there by yourself and have to figure it out . . . I was more physical ten years ago—but not a lot of discipline. Now I see it a little differently.”
As Wentz explained in a 2021 GQ interview, “When I was around 35, I started taking my oldest kid to tennis. I’d played with his coach before, but I'd never gotten serious. And I got way more into it. I was like, ‘I need to jam it to 10,000 hours.’ There was a lot of repetitive stuff, like drop volleys or footwork. My brother lived out here, so we would play together a lot. You gotta find your way in. I read Agassi's book, and then I was wearing vintage Agassi stuff. I had a whole summer where I got into continental grip, and I double-faulted an entire summer. But now I’ve got it, and I feel great.”
Asked to describe the musical styles of certain tennis players, Wentz first cites Roger Federer. “He’s a guitar solo,” says Wentz. “When you see him play, you’re seeing something that is so incredibly beautiful.” Then there are two other legends Wentz admires, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. “With them it’s impending doom,” he says, “heavy metal, relentless, coming out like a train, just super heavy.”
Crabb’s private court in Los Angeles is one of Wentz’s tennis venues. He’ll also often head to various public parks and pick up games with players of all ages and stages. Speaking of these facilities, Wentz told GQ, “You have people yelling at you, and sirens and police helicopters.”
Back at Indian Wells, all is tranquil. Crabb is offering advice to the players on everything from court positioning to shot selection and the need to make grip changes. He has high praise for Wentz, calling him “as smart about understanding the game as anyone I’ve ever worked with.” Just after Wentz’s partner hits a deep forehand, Wentz darts forward to the net to clip a forehand angle volley winner. Everyone in the foursome smiles. And then Wentz gets ready for the next point.