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In conversation with the founder of Topspin, an app that helps you find tennis partners in Toronto

Tennis provides a great ability to socially distance while getting active during the pandemic
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Topspin is a new app that will help you meet tennis partners. PHOTO COURTESY OF WALLY GOBETZ/FLICKR
Topspin is a new app that will help you meet tennis partners. PHOTO COURTESY OF WALLY GOBETZ/FLICKR

Topspin is an app which started out as Richard Wu’s passion project, but it has quickly grown into a great way for many Torontonians to find tennis partners ready to serve in their area. After struggling to find tennis partners at his skill level in his area and practicing on his own for hours, Wu decided to take things into his own hands — and so Topspin was created.

Topspin mixes the swipe mechanics of Tinder with tennis matchmaking in order to allow tennis players to find partners and tennis courts in the Toronto area. Users of the app can post about public tennis matches that fellow tennis players can join, match with tennis partners to hit the court together, and find information on courts near them. Think of it as a one-stop shop for tennis!

The Varsity: How did you come up with the idea of merging Tinder’s swipe mechanics with tennis matchmaking?

Richard Wu: When I was looking for a tennis partner, I would do the typical thing you would do, which is go on Google and search up tennis partners in Toronto. The biggest pain point I came across was scrolling through a bunch of people and trying to figure out who to message, if they’re the right fit, if they’re around my skill level — it was just very cumbersome. So, I thought of ways to perhaps improve the experience. I tried to apply some of the filtering aspects that Tinder might use for the relationship filtering system and apply them to tennis. Obviously, you don’t want to play with someone that’s 40 kilometres away, but perhaps you can play with someone who’s 20 or 10 kilometres away, who you can feasibly walk or drive to a nearby court together with.

TV: How would you convince a U of T student who’s interested in trying out tennis to use your app?

RW: I’d say if you’re into tennis, or if you want to start playing tennis, it’s a pretty socially distanced sport currently, so the courts are open in the city. If you ever wanted to play tennis at some point and always had the issue of not having someone to play tennis with — it is one of those sports that you kind of need someone to play with or it gets kind of boring — this is the app for you. We have a fairly big community — we have over 350 active users now in Toronto and we’re growing by 50 every week. So, it’s probably one of the most active and dense communities within Toronto of tennis players, both for beginners and for people who are more advanced.

TV: How important is a socially distanced sport such as tennis for residents of Toronto who are coming out of a lockdown?

RW: I think any sport in general is pretty important, especially the sports where you play with other people. Once you’re fully vaccinated, or you’re comfortable playing with other people, I think it’s incredibly important for people to start getting back into doing normal things — things where you actually talk to other people whom you wouldn’t normally talk to, or you have some common interest to bond over and feel like life is returning back to normal. I think it is important for our mindsets while getting over this pandemic.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.