On The Tennis Court With LED ZEPPELIN's ROBERT PLANT

Kevin O'Keefe of Tennis.com reports that on stage and in recordings, the voice of Robert Plant, lead singer of legendary British hard rock band LED ZEPPELIN, has rocked generations of adolescents. On the tennis court (photo), though, his singing can strike the wrong note. "One time I found myself uncontrollably encouraging my doubles partner to move her feet," says Plant, 55, an advanced intermediate. "I started singing this song to the melody of 'Happy Talk' [from South Pacific], except I made up words about happy feet. I was going, 'Pick your feet up!' After that I found out that a couple people [at my club] didn't want to play with me anymore." This year, Plant's solo CD "Dreamland" earned a Grammy nomination for best rock album. But it's the hits on the court that have him singing today.

First licks: "I was inspired to pick up a racquet about 15 years ago. I was watching Connors and saw the grit in this guy. It reminded me of the time I was a very competitive, boisterous, determined, and win-at-any-cost musician."

Stairway to heaven: "At the club [in England's rural Worcestershire County], we have a tennis ladder that I follow religiously. I want to see how everyone's been doing in my group. From the day I started playing tennis, I've embraced its competitive nature."

Silver spoons: "Unfortunately, tennis in England has been adorned with a level of class consciousness. I like that for the most part the kids at my club were not born with silver spoons. They're there because they have the skills. They're inspired by hard-edged players like Hewitt. I wish that was going on everywhere."

High note: "I've got a crosscourt topspin forehand that's deep and kicks up."

Rising son: "My youngest son is just coming into what we call the County standard [the equivalent of USTA sectional events]. For his age [11], he's very obsessed, wandering around the house with an invisible racquet shaping up nice little backhand returns."

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