Baby named Tennys, becomes professional tennis player

American tennis player Tennys Sandgren
Tennis player Tennys Sandgren

Did you know that there’s an American professional tennis player named Tennys? (It’s pronounced just like the sport.)

Tennys Sandgren, who was born in 1991, was technically named after his great-grandfather Tennys — a first-generation American whose parents were Swedish immigrants. That said, his parents were inspired to pass the name down largely because they were avid tennis players. (They first met at a tennis club, in fact.)

Sandgren told the New York Times that having the name “Tennys” made him feel obligated to become a reasonably good tennis player:

I had a little bit of expectations just to be not terrible, because you can’t be named so similar to a sport and not be at least adequate at that sport. I don’t think there’s been expectations to be really good, because my parents never put that kind of pressure on me, but I had to be at least decent.

He also admitted that he uses a fake name in restaurants:

When I order sandwiches or coffee, I don’t give my name, I’ll say ‘David’ or something. It’s just not worth it. They never mess David up. I just want my sandwich; I just want my coffee.

In early 2020, Sandgren played Roger Federer in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. During a humorous pre-match interview [vid] with John McEnroe, Federer discussed his opponent’s first name:

JM: Finally, Roger […] your next match is against a guy — I think he’s got the greatest name for tennis in tennis history, his name’s Tennys Sandgren. I don’t know why his parents named him Tennys, but God bless them, cause he’s in the quarterfinals. And he’s the only American left. So what do you make of that, coming up in a couple days?

RF: He was not gonna be a baseball player, that’s for sure, with that name. It’s unreal, actually. I’m looking forward to playing against him, I’ve never played against Tennys. I’ve played a lot of tennis in my life, but never against Tennys.

So far, I haven’t been able to figure out the etymology of the name Tennys. It could be related to the Swedish name Tönnes, which is a diminutive of Antonius. It also reminds me of the English surname Tennyson, which ultimately comes from the personal name Denis.


Image: Adapted from Tennys Sandgren Challenger of Dallas, Feb 2013 by Khall1323 under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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