O'Hara and Zamoff: the names sound like a law firm, but the only courts this pair of Wilson High School athletes are concerned about are ones where they can play tennis doubles.
Robert O'Hara and Mitchell Zamoff, both seniors at the Northwest school, formed their partnership two years ago. They are the Interhigh defending doubles champions, favored to repeat this year.
"We became best friends two years ago, and during the past two summers, we played a lot of tennis together," said Zamoff, who lives seven blocks from his partner.
"We felt that our personalities on the court were compatible, so when it was time to make the doubles assignments, we decided to give it a shot," said Zamoff.
"We do not have a typical doubles style of play as most doubles teams do. We are not as net-oriented as most doubles teams but we depend on a (base line-volley) combination."
Individually, neither has been as successful, but together, they combine their skills to cover up the other's weaknesses.
"We are not worldly talented on the court, but both of us possess good quickness. We try to play a smart consistent game, but above all, we know each other's habits on the court," said Zamoff.
In last spring's doubles championships, the Wilson duo easily defeated defending champions Quincy Vodi and Mike Pannell of Coolidge. O'Hara and Zamoff swept the first set en route to a 6-0, 6-3 victory.
"We knew that Vodi had a big serve and Pannell is a good player," said O'Hara. "But we went out and played our game."
Their game is one of consistency. "One of our goals or strategies during a match is to hold our own serve," said O'Hara. "If you can hold your serve, you will be able to break your opponent sooner or later because their serve will falter. We try to play to our opponents' weakness such as a weak backhand. We can afford to gamble during a match because of our quickness and our anticipation, which allows for one partner to cover for another."
This season, the O'Hara-Zamoff duo is undefeated, having defeated their toughest competition last week in a pro set (first team to win 10 games), 10-7, as Wilson defeated St. John's, 5-2.
"I thought they played their best tennis against their toughest opponents," said Wilson Coach Isom Upkins, who has coached the team for the last two years. "They volleyed and served very well -- better than I thought they would."
O'Hara's and Zamoff's versatility paid off against St. John's. O'Hara and Zamoff both started at the base line and rushed the net together.
"We tried to throw them off a bit by both of us rushing from the base line," said Zamoff. "Starting from the base line gives us more freedom to cross over while approaching the net. We felt that it was important to hold our serve because the competition was very good, so we changed our strategy a bit. It is not a great doubles tactic and our coach wasn't thrilled about us using it, but we had used it before and it has worked for us."
The pair is a perfect blend on the court.
"He (Zamoff) has a very good first serve which makes it easy for me," said O'Hara. "His court savvy and his consistency are also a plus."
"The weakest part of (Zamoff's) game is his ground strokes," Upkins points out. "But they aren't really needed in doubles play. He overflows with confidence and expects to win everytime."
The strongest part of O'Hara's game compensates for Zamoff's weaknesses. "Robert works well at the base line using ground strokes," said Upkins.
Zamoff concurs: "He has a good power game from the base line (and) a good forehand and backhand with good backspin."