Big-serving Brenda out to give it one more go
By Claire Middleton
The British grasscourt season got off to the most untraditional of starts yesterday when the sun shone at the Surbiton Trophy. However, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, who is attempting a comeback at the age of 35, will have to find another route if she is to fulfil her dream of "one more good Wimbledon".
Schultz-McCarthy, or big-serving Brenda as the 6ft 2in Dutchwoman is probably best remembered, was a top-10 player whose huge delivery earned her countless scalps, especially at Wimbledon where she was regularly in the last 16.
Every year from 1990-97 she was the fastest server - her personal best was clocked at 123 mph - so perhaps it was no surprise that her career would be halted by back trouble.
A herniated disc in 1998 stopped her in her tracks and though she tried to return the following year, she had to quit at the peak of her powers. Upset at being unable to set her own agenda when it came to retirement, she is back on the tour and hoping for a decent swansong.
So desperate was she to play again that she repaid a whopping chunk of an insurance policy, which had paid out after her injury. "It was most of my prize money," she shrugged, which was remarkably philosophical considering her earnings topped £1.33 million and the cheque for yesterday's 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 loss to Japan's Seiko Okamoto was a princely £227.12. "My husband wants kids, I want kids, but I have to do this first," she said.
The owner of a tennis academy set in 360 acres of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, she was coach to the Dutch Fed Cup team last year - until she discovered that she could beat the players and decided to re-start her career.
Ranked 606 in the world, she came through qualifying here and had hoped for a wild card into qualifying for the DFS Classic at Edgbaston next week. She was denied, which seems a bit churlish given that she won the thing back in 1992.
"You can't get the winning feeling at an academy and I still want to win. You can't beat that feeling but that means risking feeling the pain of losing too," she said.