By: Rick Limpert/ Special to the BB&T Atlanta Open
Playing 70's soft rock and competing in the sport of tennis have many similarities, says Nick Niespodziani, a member of the hottest 70s light rock tribute band in America, Atlanta-based Yacht Rock Revue.
"(Music) is similar to tennis in that there is a barrier to entry," explains the veteran musician. "The barrier to soft rock is you have to have fun and be "above" a certain level. You also have to be serious and musically educated. Tennis is similar in that you not only have to practice, but you have to be detail oriented. Soft rock is actually difficult to play, and anyone who has picked up a tennis racquet knows that's a tough sport."
|Nick Niespodziani was an all-conference player in high school.
Niespodziani should know. He's taken the tribute supergroup from playing backyards and small clubs to playing venues like outdoor amphitheatres, Turner Field, along with the Rose Bowl and BCS National Championship game.
During BB&T Atlanta Open week, Yacht Rock Revue will take to the Stadium Court on Wednesday Night following the matches for a free concert.
Niespodziani can taste the irony. Thinking back almost two decades ago, it's not how he envisioned what his first appearance on a stadium tennis court would be like.
Before he started belting out the hits of the 70s, Niespodziani was an all conference tennis player during his high school years in his home state of Indiana.
"I was ok," reflects Niespodziani. "But I got a quick dose of reality when a guy who had to walk on at Indiana (University) crushed me."
Just as Yacht Rock Revue has found a niche in the music industry, putting their own spin on and having fun with the light rock hits of yesteryear, a young Niespodziani found his calling playing doubles.
"I hate to say it, but I was better than my doubles partner and strong at the net. So when they started hitting all the balls to him, I would lose my temper like John McEnroe, much to the chagrin of his former coach, Scott Riggle.”
Today, Niespodziani's tennis is limited to playing socially with his wife, but he still follows all the majors and the progress of BB&T Atlanta Open defending champion, John Isner.
In addition to their concert at Atlantic Station, Yacht Rock Revue is looking forward to taking in some of the matches.
"I haven't been to a professional match in about 10 years," adds Niespodziani.
Another ironic twist, that match happened to be at the ATP stop in Indianapolis, which is now the BB&T Atlanta Open, after the relocation of the ATP World Tour 250 stop that also leads off the 2014 Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series.
Whether it be on stage in front of thousands of people, or on a public tennis court, the likeable Niespodziani says it's all about having fun.
When asked what soft rock hit might best describe his tennis game, the musician who today plays everything from Hall & Oates, to Chicago and Toto had a quick reply.
" 'Ride Like the Wind,' by Christopher Cross," answered Yacht Rock Nick. "I was always a good player in the wind."
Yacht Rock Revue started as a lark, and their explosion into an empire of smooth music defies easy categorization. Although YRR purportedly exists as a tribute to the light rock music of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, their forays into curated theme shows, original music and comedy keep audiences guessing.
Come see Yacht Rock Revue on Wednesday Night following Stadium Court play. You can purchase you tickets to any session of the BB&T Atlanta Open, running July 19-27 at Atlantc Station. You can find out more about Yacht Rock Revue at www.pleaserock.com.