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It’s You and Me, Honey: North Carolina Team Plays Couples

October 8, 2016 10:51 AM

Story and photos by Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern

Jody Droze bangs an overhead as her husband, co-captian Bryan, watches.

In top photo, from left: Bryan and Jody Droze, Brandon and Michelle Wright, Scott and Jill Griset, Frank and Leslie Masucci, and captain Jamie and Rosalie O'Rourke.

If ever  a captain needed a marriage counselor, Jamie O’Rourke might want to hire one full-time.

But, then again, maybe the marriage counselor might learn a trick or two from this North Carolina 40 & Over 6.0 team that plays married couples. According to their co-captain, they are happily married couples.

This team breaks the golden doubles tennis rule: Don’t ever, EVER, play with your spouse. They play with their spouses, over and over again.

Except for injuries or when they play two unmarried players, O’Rourke’s lineup is strictly people who just woke up in the same bed.

Co-captain Bryan Droze, who also captains a similar 18s 7.0 team out of the Blakeney Racquet and Swim Club in Charlotte, says they played with an all-couples lineup in the state championships, too.

“If we make it to nationals, we will play the same way. We talked about this (lineup) when we went to states and everybody agreed to stick to this formula. That’s why we work so well together,” Droze said.

“There are some things that help make our teams stronger - communication, body language, forgiveness - that holds the players together,” he explained.

His wife, Jody, said in her native Australian accent, “Playing together increases the level of commitment. We pick each other up. … It’s an advantage to always know who you’re going to play with. There’s no worry or anticipation about who your partner will be.”

As Bryan and teammate Leslie Masucci explained, the women were tennis players first, playing USTA League teams, mostly in the daytime. Then, they got their husbands excited about the sport and now they are on men’s teams that play after dark.

Masucci said her husband have played better this year. “We fought a lot more last season. But, my husband has gotten better as he’s played more.”

Later, her husband, Frank, asked, “What did she say about me? Did she say I am any good?” The couple had a good laugh about that.

Asked if having the men as the newbies helped with the team chemistry, Bryan thought about it for a minute and then agreed it had. “It is possible that the men were more patient with their wives because they were newer to the sport. Yes, it’s possible that that worked out better.”

Based on their positive experience, this team's members happily agree they'e far better suited to matching up on the tennis court rather than the divorce court.




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