CONNORS YELLS FOUL OVER EXCESSIVE FINES
The Miami Herald
Wednesday, November 23, 1983
Every time reporters tried to ask Jimmy Connors a question Tuesday, his energetic four-year-old son Brett would poke his face in front of the microphone and pretend to jabber away.
Daddy didn't pretend. "I'm losing my love for the game," said Connors, who is irked with tennis officiating to the point that he's threatening to cut back on the number of tournaments he plays.
On Nov. 10, a surprisingly laid-back Connors lost to John McEnroe, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4, at Wembley, England. Just as fans were beginning to enjoy tennis' version of a heavyweight championship match, Connors said, in effect, "No mas."
Late in the first set, Connors was warned for an "audible obscenity," his second warning of the week. He appeared to lose interest in the match and made flippant comments to the fans and hit some loose shots. His fines for the week totaled $1,750.
"To be scrutinized by someone who has no common sense is a little bit difficult for me," Connors said Tuesday while his son sat on his lap and alternately giggled, squirmed, and threatened to snap a rubber band in Dad's face. "I'm not saying all supervisors are bad. I don't have problems with most. I understand he was trying to impress the heads of the Pro Council who were in the stands at the time. But don't take it out on me.
"And why do I get fined $1,500 while somebody else gets fined $500 for the same things? Just because I've done well, don't overcharge me. That's like you buying a steak for six bucks and I go in and have to buy it for 26 bucks."
Connors reportedly has just lined up $5 million in endorsements for five years, including $1.5 million and the use of two condominiums at Sanibel Island, Fla. Surely, he wouldn't drop out of tennis in light of this.
"I would cut down on a lot of tournaments," Connors said, "but I would play Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and a few I enjoy playing only because I enjoy going to the places and have friends there."
Connors, who will play in the Ilie Nastase/Hamptons Invitational in North Miami Beach Dec. 12-18, held a news conference Tuesday to announce that the Jimmy Connors United States Tennis Center would be built next year at the Sanibel Harbour Resort, Spa and Racquet Club on Sanibel Island. He envisions an academy being started there, plus tournaments and exhibitions.
And how would Connors teach discipline to kids at his academy? By the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do method?
"That's where I would have to hire somebody," he joked. "I was disciplined in some ways as a kid, but in a lot of ways, I wasn't disciplined."
Now, he is being disciplined by umpires trying to get tough with boorish behavior in the sport, and he doesn't like it. Connors is both wrong and right in his criticism of officiating.
He's wrong to say he shouldn't be fined for all obscenities, even if they are uttered to himself. But he's right in arguing that officials are not consistent in enforcing the code of conduct.
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What Chris Evert Lloyd needs to regain her confidence against Martina Navratilova is a match on clay. Evert has lost seven consecutive matches to Navratilova (six this year), with three played on fast hard courts and four played indoors, including Sunday's final in Tokyo.
The last time Evert prevailed was on grass in the Australian Open last December. And on clay, Evert is 7-0 against Navratilova, having lost just one set. The last time they met on clay, Evert won, 6-0, 6-0, in the spring of 1982.
The Tokyo match was Evert's last of the year. She's passing up the Australian because of fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue that connects the muscles at the bottom of the foot. "I've been plagued by fasciitis for several months, and after competing three weeks in a row, it has gotten worse," she said. "I've never been one to walk out on the court injured, and the Australian Open is too big a tournament to take the risk. I'm looking forward to starting 1984 healthy."
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Passing shots: The Easter Bowl junior tournament, held the past two years at Laver's International Tennis Resort in Delray Beach, will move to Tucson, Ariz., in 1984 under the sponsorship of AMF-Head. But tournament director Seena Hamilton hopes to alternate the event between South Florida and Arizona and is looking at Doral in Miami and PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens ... Fort Lauderdale's Brian Gottfried and wife Windy are parents for the second time. Windy gave birth to a girl, Kelly Michelle, Nov. 11. They also have a four-year-old son, Kevin ... Ilie Nastase, of all people, has been named a member of the South Florida Professional Tennis Umpires Association. "It was because of the way he handled the college tournament held last month in conjunction with the Invitational," publicist Howard Kane said. "He was umpire for the Division II singles final, and there was no swearing, and no line calls were questioned." Meanwhile, Mel Purcell and Adriano Panatta have been added to complete the 24-player field for the Invitational.