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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday July 10, 2020

Street poetry, sublime shotmaking, lyrical cadence, frenetic footwork  – add it up and you get a double-threat, on court or off.

Corentin Moutet is what one might call an enigma wrapped in a mystery, an evocative talent on the ATP circuit who happens to be just as comfortable in a recording studio as he is on the baseline sweating it out with the sports’ alpha dogs.
Lucky Letcord Podcast: Corentin Moutet on How Music and Tennis are Separate and Vital in His Life 

Corentin Moutet Social:

Instagram (Music)
ATP Profile
Instagram (tennis)
This spring, when the world was locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Moutet refused to let his progress be stopped. He put the racquets to the corner and stepped up to the microphone. The world was falling apart at the seams but the Frenchman had something that could keep him together: the music.

No matter the discipline, there is one constancy in Moutet’s forward motion: the desire to think and act in sequence. Moutet can dazzle with his shot selection on the court, connecting dots in rallies as he dashes and darts into corners. Variation is one of the key elements of his tennis repertoire, and he does the same as a lyricist, banging out rapid fire rhymes in French with a frenetic energy.

Tennis fans, particularly in France but lately pretty much everywhere, have been aware of his talent on the court for a few years now. Of all the players in the world 21 and under, Moutet ranks No.10, and second in France. But behind the mic he’s just getting his feet wet.

Most recently, the 21-year-old has taken advantage of the time granted by the coronavirus pandemic and furthered his foray into the world of music. Moutet, who has a separate social media feed for his expanding library of recordings (Instagram: @corentinmoutet_music), said he used to be shy about his music because he was too busy with the business of tennis and didn’t want to be questioned about the other side of his personality on match days.

But suddenly, in March, he found himself in Paris, with nothing but time, a notebook full of lyrics and a chance to make some sense of this crazy moment in time.

“I did not know how to mix tennis and music, I really wanted to separate that, so for me it was hard when I was playing every week, being in tournament every week, seeing players all the time, so it was tough for me to put something on Instagram, and then the next day be on the center court and play a match because I knew that after the match I will have to answer about the music,” Moutet told me.

“So for me it was the perfect time to just introduce myself as a musician.”

Moutet was always active on Instagram during the quarantine, and it was obvious that he had completely immersed himself in the music. Quite often he would release “freestyle” raps in small teaser clips, or post pictures of his studio gear, or talk about music during one of his many IG live sessions.

He says he is now tapping into a vital part of himself. It was something he simply had to do. For the last four or five years, writing and rapping have become a necessity for the Paris native.

“I wanted to do it since a long time, so I feel so much better every day in life, because I had this feeling that I had something in me and I couldn’t express myself totally,” he says. “So I feel better on court. I love the music and it’s a good balance for me, I have to do it. I need to do it, or else I won’t feel good mentally if I don’t do music.”

By mid-June when he took off for the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in the South of France Moutet had released two singles.

The first one, titled Petite Frère, was written as a tribute to his little brother, who is 11. Moutet says it was strange to be back in Paris in lockdown, so close to him, and with so much time on his hands. The only problem was he couldn’t see his brother because of quarantine restrictions. So the conversation he wished he could have went straight into the track.

“My first single I had to do something about him,” Moutet said. “So that’s why I did this one. And I’m pretty proud about this one because I wrote the song in maybe one hour or two. But yeah, I was in a really good mood and it’s really an emotional song for me, and I wrote it directly, it was the same as if I was speaking to him directly, so it’s a nice feeling.”

His second track tackled the topic of racial inequality in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May. Moutet is one of the white voices in sports that has come out in support of #BlackLivesMatter and equality, and against police brutality.

It’s impressive to see a young man say what so many feel—in this sense his music is more powerful than even his tennis.

“Okay of course George Floyd was maybe the one where everybody said it’s too much now, we have to say something we have to do something,” he said. “I wanted just to tell them that okay, I see the inequality between white and black people, it’s unfair, totally unfair, and I’m with you, because for me everybody has to be together no matter the color of the skin or the religion or whatever, so that’s why I wanted to write this song because I was mad at this.”

Anger is an energy with Moutet and it’s no different on the court. He’s a tempestuous athlete, a perfectionist that can hit his boiling point when things don’t go his way, and his temper can sometimes sabotage his tennis. But he is actively aware of the situation and believes he can conquer his demons and develop his mental game to where it is an asset rather than a liability.

“No I think, honestly, it’s hard for all the players, because as you can see on the tour, everybody is playing good tennis, everybody is practicing, everybody is fit,” he says. “That’s why the mental part is so important in tennis now. Because everybody is playing good and the difference is only small. That’s why I said that I have to stay calm, I have to control my emotion. Because it is so important. And, yes, I think it’s the hardest part for all the players to manage that.”

Moutet can feed off the fire as well and that’s one of the things that makes him such a fun watch. He’s nicknamed the Tornado at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, and it really is the perfect name for him. He flies around the court, guided by his intensity. He’s not a power player, but instead relies on quickness, intellect, incredibly soft hands and a shotmaker’s savoir faire.

As a player that grew up in the shadows of Paris it is not hard to imagine him becoming a huge fan favorite at Roland-Garros. He reached the third round there last year when he upset Guido Pella and that victory is one of the reasons he’s now ranked close to a career-high at 75 in the world.

This January he took out Stan Wawrinka in Doha and reached the final as a qualifier, another sign that Moutet’s game translates to the big tour.

With his talent and his desire to keep improving, he has the potential to become a Top 20 player. He’ll also benefit from the wisdom of a few French legends that he now considers friends. Moutet regularly spends time with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils and he says that both have been super helpful to him, dispatching wisdom and treating him like one of the guys.

“It’s amazing—I mean I couldn’t think about this when I was, I don’t know, 8 or 9, watching them on TV in a Grand Slam and then … if someone told me that 10 years later I would practice with Gael Monfils or Tsonga, or I don’t know, even text Tsonga on Whatsapp or anything, I would not believe it,” he said. “You know it’s amazing. It’s amazing because they are all amazing people. They are athletes but they are good humans as well.”

Moutet has his work cut out for him, like all young players who have yet to crack the Top 50, but his progress over the last year and a half has been impressive. With his game and his personality he could be one of France’s biggest stars in the years to come.

Quarantine has been hell for many of us, but Moutet made the most of his difficult situation, and there’s a lot to like about that. He believes there are valuable lessons all of humanity can learn from it as well.

“I think quarantine was terrible of course, with all the people who died and all those things,” he said, before adding: “But I think it was a good thing for all the world to realize that just to even walk outside is a luxury, and that just simple things are luxuries, and we couldn’t see it anymore. And now that we are in the apartment for one month, two months, we can see that just to have a drink with a friend or, just the simple things in life, we have to enjoy it because it’s a luxury.”


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