Missouri Valley / Kansas

Mann Brings Parody Video Humor to US Open

Kendra Wicks | September 21, 2020

The Opening Night ceremony for the US Open looked a little different this year, but that didn’t stop former USTA Kansas junior player Chris Mann from making sure his video performance brought light and laughter into the event.

Mann worked with Pam Shriver, a retired professional player and current commentator for ESPN, to create a parody music video about the struggles of returning to the courts after COVID-19 quarantine called “My Game Sucks and I Know It” to be shown during the virtual opening ceremony.

Throughout his career in the entertainment industry, Mann has found success as a singer and actor through his work performing on Glee, touring with The Phantom of the Opera, releasing studio albums and, most notably, coming in fourth place on the second season of The Voice. He began making YouTube videos this year when COVID struck.


“When quarantine started, I lost all my concert dates, so I started making parody music videos that got very popular. Now people think I’m a comedian,” Mann said. “I’m having a lot of fun making music, being silly, and making people laugh.”


Mann grew up playing tennis in Wichita, Kansas. He and his sister, USTA Kansas Executive Director Becky Samaniego, competed both in high school and in USTA programming throughout their youth. 


“I’ve always really loved watching and playing tennis,” Mann said. “I got second at state doubles. We lost in three sets after crushing them in the first set, and my sister will always remind me that she won at state and I did not.”


Today, Mann’s career in entertainment has taken him to Los Angeles, where he keeps up with tennis by picking up games whenever he can. He says that staying involved with the tennis community has allowed him to meet people who share a love for the sport and for the entertainment business.


“I’ve certainly had some interesting career experiences through tennis that I wouldn’t have seen coming. My first job in L.A. was on Glee, and I actually got that job through a tennis match,” Mann said. “I was playing with someone in the industry and they were like, ‘Hey I have this show if you want to come sing on it, I think you might like it.’ And that’s how I got my first session job.”


Mann has found many opportunities to combine the entertainment and tennis worlds, from playing in the celebrity tournament of the Indian Wells with Will Ferrell to his recent accomplishment of being asked to perform during the opening ceremony of the US Open. 


“I was very excited about that, because I was expecting to go and have a really neat VIP experience,” Mann said. “But as COVID-19 happened, USTA came back and said they were doing the event virtually. It only made sense to do something entertaining for this fundraiser.”


After deciding to create a song for USTA, Mann chose to parody LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It” into “My Game Sucks and I Know It” and USTA put him in contact with Shriver to star in the video as well.  


“I sent her all the instructions, but I also said since I’m here in L.A., if it’s easier for me to just put a mask on and come help film, I’d do that. She said yes and I was like cool, I’m going to Pam’s house,” Mann said. 


Mann says Shriver was excellent to work with, even contributing her own ideas and improvised lines.


The video was shown during the virtual opening ceremony, and Mann says he’s happy with the success of the video and the opportunity to partner with USTA.


“I have very fond memories of the USTA growing up, and now it’s come back into my life in this cool way,” Mann said. “And that’s just the magic of tennis, isn’t it?”

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