One of the main purposes of Prince of Tennis
appears to be to provide the fandom with lots
of attractive male characters to pair
in any combination they like. Not surprisingly, they do
- Takeshi Konomi himself is so aware of this that he actually parodied the trope in canon. Just watch Yuuji and Koharu.
- And one of the biggest wank sources in the fandom? How the fan-made Tezuka x Fuji couple got quite more fanservice and Ship Tease in both manga and anime than other couples. Three-episodes anime match chock full of typically shoujo symbolism, like Cherry Blossoms and Umbrella of Togetherness? Check. Said match finished by Tezuka and Fuji practically hugging and smiling? Check. Manga match between Fuji and Niou where he sees Niou as Tezuka? Check. Fuji kinda flirting with Tezuka after the finals? Check. Tezuka smiling at Fuji's pseudo-flirting and asking him to not tell anybody? Check. Inui saying Tezuka's "so naive" in a tone that sounds almost like he's their fanboy? Check.
- But Wait, There's More!! The anime-only duel episodes had a brief scene in which Fuji screams at Tezuka for playing against him despite being injured. Flashforward to some years, and during the Fuji vs. Niou match in the manga... Konomi actually slips some allusions to that until-then anime only scene. Konomi, you sly bastard.
- The image songs make some duets sound just So. So. GAY. Inui and Yanagi's duet is all about them being reunited after years and planning to take over the world together, in example. Makes some sense in the context of both being the Genius Bruiser type as well as Birds of a Feather, but still...
- Oishi and Kikumaru are another popular slash pairing because they play doubles together. They obviously care for each other as partners and it can easily be interperted as a romantic relationship. Their partnership actually hits so many tropes traditionally related to the archetypical Romantic Two-Girl Friendship that it's not funny.
- Same goes for Ohtori and Shishido, also Niou and Yagyuu.
- In fact, those late-night "training sessions" with Ohtori and Shishido are played up to the nth degree in the anime for various imaginations of the fangirls. It's even more blatant when you notice that Ohtori refers to Shishido as "anata", which is often used between couples.
- And let's not get even started on the musicals...
- And the fact that Smash Hit 2 actually takes the time to NAME the pairings...
- Ryoma and Momo are often slashed together as well. They are very good friends in the show and hang out a lot.
- In the fanbooks, Oshitari Yuushi and Mukahi Gakuto's first meeting has all the implications of a shoujo manga and more.
- Gakuto also gets somewhat teased with his kouhai Hiyoshi in the OAV's. They're seen having lunch and talking in a restaurant... full of romantic couples. They even get awkward about it.
- In the anime we have Sanada and Atobe attending a tango concert together, and somehow managing to sit right near each other, and having the tune of the concert stuck in their head. It's just a mass of implications.
- Also Sanada's devotion towards Yukimura reaches very high levels. Parodied in two scenes of one of the Chibi-family episodes.
- Also Tenimyu doesn't help to prove wrong, because all of their duets and setups came close to love song tune.
- The fact that Sanada resembles the archetypical Japanese male while Yukimura resembles the ideal Japanese *woman* simple can't be a coincidence.
- The Character Song albums and The Musicals also take it to another level, because every single song involving a duet by Sanada and Yukimura sound like a love ballad.
- Also another Fan-Preferred Couple is the Inui/Kaidoh ship. Inui starts asking Kaidoh to be his doubles partner (during a sunset, while Kaidoh is training shirtless at the river). Kaidoh at first refuses, but later Inui convinces him by helping with his training.
- In the Anime-Only episode where many of the teammates were Date Peepers (except for Momo and Ryoma, who were the ones on the "date", and Tezuka, who kept rejecting Inui's calls), Inui decides to call Kaidoh, who mistakes the call as an actual invitation for a date with Inui. Kaidoh spent all the episode considering to attend the "date" and ovethinking it instead of plain rejecting the idea.
- In the OVA, Kaidoh almost loses it when Kirihara starts to mercilessly atack Inui, to the point Kaidoh also reaches The Berserker mode, until Inui stops him. Later, Inui wakes to see Kaidoh waiting by his bed with a worried expression.