Pete Wentz is the King of the L.A. Tennis Scene
I grew up playing in the suburbs of Chicago. You know, where your parents drop you off at a local place and you’re doing frying pan volleys and the grips aren’t right.
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.
I’m not in movies, but I wanted to get to the level where, if I was in a movie and they were, like, “We need you to play tennis,” they wouldn’t have to get a body double.
How close do you think you are to that right now?
When I’m just rallying and hitting neutral balls out of a bucket, I feel super close to it. And then when I watch a video of myself playing, I feel astronomically far. But what I like about my level is now I know what I did wrong when I do it wrong.
What’s the L.A. tennis scene like?
Sometimes I’m playing and I’m, like, “Oh my god, Zach Braff and Donald Faison are playing doubles. I’m playing doubles against the Scrubs.” Especially during quarantine, there’s been a lot of people who have doubled down. I play next to Gavin Rossdale a lot, but we don’t really play together. Steve Carrell is a very good tennis player. He’s got a pretty wicked one-handed backhand. I play doubles with Jeff Probst all the time, and he’s very competitive. It’s good for me, ’cause my coach is, like, “Dude, you gotta care.”
The great thing about a game like tennis is you leave your accolades at the door. It doesn’t matter how cool you are or how funny you are or how good of an actor you are. If you can’t hold your serve you can’t hold your serve. Nobody can do that for you. It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters what you can do for three sets or two sets and a tie break.
Do you ever feel a little territorial towards people who only just got into tennis during the pandemic?
Not at all. I play at the park, so I wait for a court just like everybody else. It’s been cool to see people who haven’t really talked to me before asking, like, “What racket should I get?” “I wanna try this out!” I think that’s great.
Do you exercise outside of tennis?
I try to lift. Around 2015 I hurt my back, and my trainer said if we lift weights we’ll get the blood flowing and it’ll help heal the other muscles. We did rehab and stuff too. I was, like, “I just wanna get as big as possible.” Me and our guitarist had gone to Florence and I was, like, “I wanna look like one of these fuckin’ statues.” Which is hilarious ’cause I’m short and I don’t look like a statue. But I just wanted to eat a ton of protein and lift all the time.
Since then it’s gotten a little bit more normal, to where it’s a couple days a week. The cardio is good but if I don’t have a certain amount of muscle I’m not really burning fat. For my body type at least, and my age.