BUCHHOLZ'S BABY GROWS UP TWO-WEEK LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS A HIT WITH PLAYERS
The Miami Herald
Sunday, February 9, 1986
Butch Buchholz's year-old baby no longer wobbles, as it did while taking those first steps last February.
It's standing taller in a new home, albeit a temporary one. And it got a booster shot Friday when a favorite uncle, Jimmy Connors, decided to visit.
Buchholz's $1.8 million Lipton International Players Championships begin Monday and continue through Feb. 23 at Boca West, 10 miles south of last year's site, Laver's International Tennis Resort in Delray Beach. One more move is planned, probably next year, to Weston, a new development west of Fort Lauderdale where Buchholz's kid will have a permanent home.
Last year's Grand Slam-style tournament was the first new two-week men's and women's event since the French championships began in 1926. John McEnroe and columnist/commentator Bud Collins called it an intrusion; Chris Evert Lloyd and Martina Navratilova called it ingenious.
The latter opinion has proved more popular. Last year, 42 of the top 50 men and 47 of the top 50 women entered the 128- player draws; this year, it's 43 of the men and 46 of the women.
That's the first sign of permanence in a tournament that virtually is run by the players through the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women's Tennis Association. Last year, the Lipton drew 175,000 fans and earned $175,000 for each association.
"Every player who plays the Lipton feels he or she has a share in it because it's the players' tournament," Evert said. "There has been a lot of pressure by the WTA and ATP because it's their event.
"But playing two weeks is tough. You have days off and feel nervous and can lose your rhythm. It takes a lot more concentration. But it's a big tournament and is worth a lot of points in the season-long standings.
"It's not a Grand Slam, but it's right under them."
The women grabbed the headlines last year. A flock of teen-age whizzes, such as Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini and Mary Joe Fernandez, pulled surprises, and Navratilova beat Evert in the final. The men's field lacked McEnroe and Connors, and top- seeded Ivan Lendl lost in the fourth round, resulting in a lackluster final between Tim Mayotte and Scott Davis.
This time, the men may attract more attention. The four Grand Slam winners are here -- Lendl (U.S. Open), Mats Wilander (French), Boris Becker (Wimbledon) and Stefan Edberg (Australian) -- and Connors entered Friday, citing a need to play more matches. Connors has been plagued by back problems since October and returned to action only last month.
Lendl, the No. 1 seed, will play his first match Tuesday evening. Fourth-seeded Becker plays Monday night. Connors, the third seed, will play Wednesday.
McEnroe decided to pass up the Lipton again because he doesn't like South Florida's fickle winter winds, but he's not playing any tournaments for two months because he says he needs a break.
Mayotte, last year's champion, suffered an abdominal injury last week that forced him to default the final of the U.S. Pro Indoor tournament at Philadelphia. The injury cast doubt on whether he would be back to defend his title, but he was a late entrant and is seeded eighth.
Navratilova is skipping the Lipton because it would have meant playing seven of 10 weeks and because she needs to compile more points in Virginia Slims events to qualify for the yearlong bonus pool that ends in March. Even if she had entered, she might not have been 100 percent; a severe case of the flu forced her to pull out of the Virginia Slims of Florida on Key Biscayne.
Hana Mandlikova, who withdrew from the Key Biscayne event with a shoulder injury, also will miss the Lipton.
Evert, who looked as sharp as ever in winning last week at Key Biscayne, heads a women's field that includes four top 10 players who didn't play there -- Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, Pam Shriver, Zina Garrison and Helena Sukova. Also entered are Graf, Sabatini and Fernandez, a 14-year-old Miamian who turned pro last week.
Evert, the top seed, will play Tuesday.
Buchholz refuses to fret about players who aren't entered.
"When we started, I said a single player could not sink this entire plan," he said. "Boris Becker was asked the other day if he ever considered not playing. He said, 'No.' The young kids are going to make this an automatic stop."
ABC again will televise the women's final (Feb. 22) and men's final (Feb. 23), and ESPN will carry several earlier sessions.
Several promotions are planned: Tuesday will be women's team tennis day, with every two women getting in for the price of one; Wednesday will be a two-for-one senior citizens' day; and Friday, Valentine's Day, anyone who brings a sweetheart will get two tickets for the price of one.
A fast-serve contest will be held next Sunday and Monday for Lipton players at the Boca Pointe Fitness and Racquet Club. Winners will receive a free ride on the British Airways Concorde to London.
BERNSTEIN PULLS UPSET
Laura Bernstein of Hollywood upended fifth-seeded Anna Maria Fernandez of Torrance, Calif., 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, Saturday in the second round of qualifying for the Lipton Championships.
In other women's upsets, Monica Lundqvist of Sweden eliminated No. 6 Jane Young of Canada, 6-2, 6-4, and Emanuel Derly of France defeated No. 8 Marcela Skuherska of Czechoslovakia, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).
The top four men's seeds -- Bill Scanlon, Jay Lapidus, Marko Ostoja of Yugoslavia and Shlomo Glickstein of Israel -- advanced to the third round. Eight women and 16 men will qualify for the main draw today.