For Fitz & The Tantrums drummer John Wicks, playing at the U.S. Open's opening ceremonies Monday night was a combination of his two passions -- music and tennis.
Wicks finished second in the state in doubles when he graduated from high school in Bainbridge Island, Washington., and always dreamed of playing on the stadium court.
He just thought it would be with a tennis racket rather than a drum kit.
"It's my favorite tournament to watch," said Wicks, who can proudly claim that he once hit with the great Bjorn Borg. "It's so New York. I like the yelling and the heckling."
There was no heckling last night as he and his band performed their two modern rock No. 1 hits “Out of My League” and “The Walker,” along with their new single “Fool's Gold,” at the U.S. Open’s opening ceremony for the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd and live on ESPN.
“We’ve done so many crazy things as Fitz & The Tantrums,” singer Fitz said on the red carpet before the performance, where they had an adorable run-in with Semase Street's Grover and Abby Cadabby. “This is one more we never thought we’d do.”
Wicks said he’s able to take all the band’s various gigs in stride, in part, because of the tennis coaching he received in high school, which helped him cope with the pressure of playing the individual sport.
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"When the game isn’t going well, they tell you to focus on the thread of the ball to get back into it," he said. "Sometimes, when I get distracted or I can hear how my time is wavering, I look at my right hand and something about hearing the wood against the metal snaps me right back into focus."
All the focus and hard work is really starting to pay off for Fitz & The Tantrums. In addition to the chart and radio success, the band is set to headline its biggest tour yet, after a lengthy stint opening for Bruno Mars on his arena tour. (They play Terminal 5 on Nov. 12.)
"We just try to put on a big dance party," Fitz said of the upcoming tour.
"There's going to be a lot of sweating," promised singer Noelle Scaggs, who added that the whole band is rooting for Serena Williams.
“And Roger Federer!” Wicks quickly added.