Go back to Virtua Tennis

Written by: Rik

Date posted: February 5, 2007

Virtua Tennis features a handful of vaguely famous real names from the world of tennis. While you could argue that none of them are particularly big names, at least some of them should be recognisable to those with more than a passing interest in the real game. Still, it can pretty hard to keep track of who’s who in the world game if, like me (and 99% of the British public), the only tournament you ever watch is Wimbledon.

You’d think that having signed these guys up, the makers of Virtua Tennis would be keen to make the most of their achievements on the game packaging and in the manual but sadly this isn’t the case. In-game, the players don’t have any kind of statistics to differentiate them either, and instead you’re forced to make your choice based on an extremely vague (and short) statement which is intended to sum up their abilities. Luckily, I can summon the awesome power of the internet so that the FFG readership may learn a little bit more about these mysterious ‘internationally ranked players’…


Jim Courier

Courier is actually one of the more well-known (and top-ranking) players featured in the game. Following a huge winning streak in 1992 he ended the year at number 1 in the world rankings and his titles include the French Open in 1991 and 1992, and the Australian Open in 1992 and 1993. He reached the Wimbledon final in 1993, losing to Pete Sampras, and his star gently declined throughout the 1990s. He retired in 2000.

Virtua Tennis strength: ‘VARIOUS SHOTS’


Tommy Haas

Never heard of him. Apparently, though, Haas was an extremely promising junior player who was once ranked number 2 in the world (2002). In recent years he has been troubled by injury and family crises but remains Germany’s top player. Has yet to win a Grand Slam, but was three times an Australian Open semi-finalist – in 1999, 2002 and 2007.

Virtua Tennis strength: ‘STRONG FOREHAND’


Tim Henman

‘Tiger Tim’ has had to put up with a lot over the years, not least the massive weight of public expectation each time Wimbledon comes around. Despite annual character assassinations, with highbrow broadsheet articles speculating whether his latest failure to achieve victory highlights a broader problem in British society, and widespread mockery of his trademark ‘fist-pumping’ celebration, the fact remains that he is by far the most successful British tennis player of recent years. Aside from four Wimbledon semi-final appearances (1998, 1999, 2001, 2002) he also made the semi-finals of the French and Australian Open tournaments in 2004.

Virtua Tennis strength: ‘VOLLEY MASTER’


Thomas Johansson

Johansson had a solid but unspectacular career behind him when he unexpectedly won the Australian Open in 2002, beating Marat Safin in four sets. This victory remains his career highlight, briefly forcing him into the top ten, and although he did reach the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2005, recent injury problems have seen him slide down the rankings.

Virtua Tennis strength: ‘FAST RUNNER’


Yevgeny Kafelnikov

For someone who exists in most British people’s heads as ‘some bloke who Henman had to beat at Wimbledon once’, Kafelnikov actually had a pretty successful career, winning the French Open in 1996 and the Australian Open in 1999, after which he briefly attained the number one world ranking. He was also a pretty handy doubles player, winning three French Open titles. Retired in 2004.

Virtua Tennis strength: ‘STRONG BACKHAND’


Carlos Moya

Another former World number one, Moya was at his peak during the late nineties, winning the French Open title in 1998. Although further Grand Slam success has eluded him, Moya has had some success on clay surfaces since 2000, and helped Spain win the Davis Cup in 2004.

Virtua Tennis strength: ‘POWERFUL SHOTS’


C├ędric Pioline

A solid but unspectacular player, Pioline never won a Grand Slam, although he did make it to the US Open final in 1993 and the final of Wimbledon in 1997. He retired in 2000, after learning that no gamer had ever chosen to play as him in the Arcade version of Virtua Tennis.

Virtua Tennis strength: ‘ALL-ROUND PLAYER’

All very interesting, you may say, but are their different strengths and weaknesses noticeable during the game? Well, frankly, it’s difficult to say how something like ‘VARIOUS SHOTS’ (yes, the capitals are necessary) manifests itself, but the virtual ‘Tiger Tim’ is certainly more effective at the net than on the baseline, and serving to Kafelnikov’s backhand isn’t the wisest course of action ever, either. Some more detailed statistics would have been nice, though.