A double conversation: Camillone and Holiner
April 12, 2012
The ‘opposites attract’ rule even applies to the sporting world, and it’s one that Texas Men’s Tennis coach Michael Center followed when assembling his No. 1 doubles duo of Chris Camillone and David Holiner.
For instance, Camillone is stoic to the point of being described as a “computer,” while Holiner gesticulates sentences with his hands and appreciates a good chest bump. But the pair works well together and is currently ranked No. 26 nationally with a 10-4 record on the season.
The doubles pair advanced to the finals in the 32-team draw ITA Texas Regional Championship last fall where they faced junior teammates Ben Chen and Daniel Whitehead. Camillone and Holiner defeated Chen and Whitehead 6-3, 6-2, to win the event, which featured all of the NCAA Division I schools in Texas.
A 7-6 (8) tiebreaker victory over fifth-ranked Clifford Marsland and Ashley Watling from Tulsa on March 18 highlights Camillone and Holiner’s spring season.
With a critical match against rival Texas A&M on Saturday at Penick-Allison Tennis Center, Camillone and Holiner talked with TexasSports.com about the importance of a doubles pairing.
Why do you think coach Center paired you together for doubles?
David Holiner: I think he put us together because of our personalities. You know the saying “opposites attract?” I’m more fun loving and outgoing. And Chris is more analytical -- he gets down to business. So together I think it makes a perfect combination.
Chris Camillone: Given the fact that the team was brand new, he tried to find some sort of stability that he had seen before. And, we kind of complement each other. David’s very big and very powerful, and I’m not. I appreciate the craft, and so maybe he saw some ability to compensate for someone’s weaknesses. David obviously covers many of my weaknesses, such as being able to hit the ball big.
How do you guys prepare a game plan prior to a match?
DH: We’ve actually been using Longhorn Network to watch our matches that are televised. We’ll look at the tape, and usually Chris will decide if we did something good or bad. Then we use that to improve on it in the next match.
CC: We always get our notes from Coach before the match on who we’re going to play. But for the most part, we’ve seen them play, having been here for two, three years. We have a general idea about our competition, but we try to focus on what we do in practice all the time. We’re good and we can compete well, but if we don’t take care of our side of the net, then it’s pretty obvious that we can be taken down. We’ve lost a few already. So we try to focus more on taking care of our fundamentals, just keeping up the basics. We don’t try to get too wrapped up in what the other team does.
What do you like most about playing together?
DH: Chris is just very talented. That’s the first thing. The guy’s got some of the best volleys that I have ever seen. He’s really talented, and we get along together on the court. If it’s going badly, we can still talk it out. We’re not going to get mad at each other or anything like that. So we can just say what’s on our mind and go about our business.
CC: It’s pretty loose out there. We’re pretty honest with each other. If another person is feeling the pressure, we’ve played with each other enough that we can sense that. It’s playful out there. So you don’t feel as much pressure to perform for your partner. We’re not trying to impress each other. We’re just trying to do what we can to survive. We stay pretty calm out there. It gets pretty fast paced and we’re both pretty good at keeping each other on an even keel.
How do you two motivate each other throughout a match?
DH: We just tell each other to really stay aggressive. And that goes along with my singles too – you have to stay aggressive in order to succeed. We always tell each other to keep moving, because there are some points where if you’re not moving, you’re not going to get to the ball. Like if it’s a desperation shot, or something like that, if you’re moving and you’re ready to run and get the ball then you can keep some points alive that normally would be over. And that’s what I feel like we’re really good at doing – digging out hard points and that kind of breaks our opponent’s soul.
CC: It doesn’t take much motivation. When you’re out there playing doubles, you’ve got two teams on the opposite side of you, the guys in the stands and the rest of your team that you’re really fighting for. Motivation is pretty easy to come by. David and I are pretty good about playing for the team every time we go out there. We try to play as if it’s going to come down to us for the doubles point. We play for the team.
How do your roles change throughout a match?
DH: I’d say we’re both pretty vocal. We can both go through little phases where we don’t talk, and then go through phases where we don’t shut up. So it kind of varies throughout the match. When we’re both talking together though, I think that’s when we’re doing our best. When we’re both really encouraging toward each other and positive, that’s when we do our best work.
CC: David and I aren’t always the loudest team, so if we’re not playing well then we try to mask it with a little bit of energy and throw off the opponents with that. Also, sometimes one player is having a bad day and another player isn’t. So that’s one thing that we can do – if I’m not returning well, David returns well from match to match. We’re pretty good at covering each other. We like to think that if one person is down then the other person can help them and step up their game to get through it.
What has been your most memorable doubles match this year?
DH: We won the regionals in the fall. We actually played Danny (Whitehead) and Ben (Chen) in the finals. Chris and I hadn’t really played with each other before. So it was our first tournament, and we played amazing in the finals. I couldn’t believe it. During the dual match season, I’d probably go with when we beat Tulsa, because they were ranked fifth in the country.
CC: In the fall, winning the regional tournament was nice. In the finals we played Daniel and Ben, and it was nice to win that match. In the spring, the most memorable match was Tulsa. The doubles point was already decided, but it was a long, long set. We really wanted to win that one. They were a highly ranked team, and they had done well at the (ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championships) where we hadn’t done that well. So we wanted to prove ourselves, and it was really our first chance to prove ourselves on a national stage. It was just an unbelievable tiebreaker.
Do you two have a special handshake or warm up routine?
DH: We have a special handshake, but it hasn’t really been in commission lately. We haven’t been using it. I know that I tend to get a little too excited after we win a match. And maybe I’ll go in for the hug, and Chris will push me off or something. Which is really awkward. It’s kind of rude. I get my feelings hurt. He doesn’t really understand it I guess, but opposites attract you know.
CC: No we don’t, but we tried. Typically a lot of the guys have their own handshake. David and I have tried to do one, but we end up just forgetting to do it. We don’t really have one now. We don’t really do anything during the match, and before the match we don’t really do anything. Out of commission is a good way of putting it, but we’ve tried to but haven’t found the perfect one.
David said he got very excited after a big win and tried to hug you, but you pushed him away?
CC: That was actually against Tulsa. And like I said, that was a huge win for us. It was more of me being in a state of shock, and him being more aware of the moment. I had just hit this return, and one of the Tulsa players missed it. David knew what was going on, but I was just trying to gather myself, and he dove on me. It’s on video, and it looks like I turned him down. But I went for the high-five, and he went for the hug. It shows you how important that match was for us. We were very emotional -- had a bunch of match points, and they had a bunch of match points. No matter who you’re playing, if that team is No. 5 in the country or just any other team, playing that sort of tiebreaker in front of the rest of your team and a pretty good crowd that was there, you’re going to try and hug your partner after that one.
Describe the mentality of playing at the No. 1 doubles slot?
DH: You’ve got to have a short-term memory because you’re playing the best teams in the country. So you could have an off day and lose. You could win. But you’ve got to be ready to work every single day. Just be ready for that.
CC: I’m not a cliché guy, but it’s really more about bringing home the point for the team. David and I played at No. 2 earlier, and we knew the value of it. We knew we were at kind of a swing spot, and we lost it, and it was a terrible feeling. If the best spot for us to play is at No. 1, then we’ll play at No. 1. And if the best spot is for us to play at No. 3, then we’ll play at No. 3. We approach it where the doubles point may come down to us, even if both other matches are up 7-2, it could still come down to us. So it’s not really about playing at No. 1.
What about physically playing on the middle court of the three doubles matches?
DH: I like it. Because Chris and I are really vocal, we like talking to the other teams around us. Just really getting a good vibe going on all three courts.
CC: There is no way that I could lie and say that I stay focused on my court the entire time. I definitely check the scoreboards. And I do it whenever I’m on the court for singles as well. I’m pretty sure David takes his glances too. We like being in the middle of it. And when we have done well, that’s why we have done well, is because we’re okay with throwing ourselves into the middle of the chaos.
What individual strengths do you bring to your doubles team?
DH: I feel like my serve helps us. Because if I hit a good serve, then Chris has such good volleys that he can easily put away the next ball. And maybe my backhand lob, because you never know when it’s coming.
CC: I’m comfortable out there. Doubles can be a little faster-paced for some people, but I’ve always been comfortable with the pace. I like being at net. But if there is an overhead up there I’d rather have somebody like David take it. He’s a lot stronger than I am. He’s taller. I’m a bit more instinctual and maybe see the play a little bit better than other people.