1986 was a watershed year as far as the structure of the women's tour went. Since the return of the Australian Open to true slam status in 1980 it had been held later in the year in the months of November or December.
It was decided that from 1987 the Aussie would be held in January. Suddenly the WTA was confronted with a tour essentially finished by the US Open in September. The solution? Move the WTA Championships from March (which was always confusing, as players qualified earneing points from the previous year) to October/November-providing a fitting fall climax.
Thus when one looks at the record books for 1986 they will see two WTA Championships-the first in March, and the second in the fall.
So due to calander shifts there was no Australian Open for 1986 and 2 WTA tour Finales. Got any questions?
One thing was unquestioned, and that was Martina Navratilova's continued stint atop the women's rankings. As usual Martina won the indoor tour finale in New York. Her only hiccup early in the year was losing to fellow serve and volleyer Kathy Jordan in Oakland.
Early spring belonged to hurricane Steffi. As of late 1985 she had been consistent without winning a tour level event. In a matter of weeks that all changed. First she beat Chris Evert for the frist time to win the prestigious Family Circle Cup. Graf would never again lose to Evert. She followed that with titles at Amelia Island and the US Clay (surviving match points vs Kohde). Then came the real shocker. Before a hometown crowd Graf crushed Martina 6-3 6-2. She was now a bona fide contender for the French Open.
Paris ended up with the same result as in 1985: with Queen of Clay Chris Evert walking away with her 7th French Open. After a disastrous first set she turned the tables on Navratilova. Evert's victory secured her a grand slam for the 13th consecutive year. No one else in women's tennis has even come close to the record.
In the quarters Hana Mandlikova upset Graf after surviving a match point. She was unable to capitalize however, tameley going out 6-1 6-1 to Chris in the semis.
John Barrett's World Rankings (Financial Times-London)
01. Martina Navratilova (US)
02. Chris Evert (US)
03. Stefi Graf (Ger)
04. Helena Sukova (Cz)
05. Hana Mandlikova (Cz)
06. Gabriela Sabatini (Arg)
07. Pam Shriver (US)
08. Zina Garrison (US)
09. Manulea Maleeva (Blr)
10. Kathy Rinaldi (US)
Still editing summary of year........
Journey back in time as we celebrate 1986!
A nice look at Martina on the David Letterman show in 1986.
Tennis Roundup : Turnbull Finds Competition Too Quick in Loss to Rehe
September 27, 1986|MARC APPLEMAN
RANCHO BERNARDO — Stephanie Rehe outquicked Wendy Turnbull Friday. Years ago, that would have been saying something, but time and a few pounds have slowed Turnbull. Still, Rehe hasn't forgotten the Rabbit.
"When I was growing up I remember hearing about how quick Wendy was," said Rehe, after her 6-1, 6-2 victory in the first round of the $100,000 Audi Challenge at Rancho Bernardo Inn. "I was really aware that she is fast. That's why she was nicknamed the Rabbit."
Rehe, 16, is ranked 13th in the world. Turnbull, 33, is ranked 15th. This was their second time Turnbull faced Rehe. Turnbull won, 6-1, 6-1, two years ago in Princeton.
"That match was real quick," Rehe said.
So was Friday's match, which lasted 1 hour and 3 minutes.
"I was surprised how well she moved," Turnbull said. "She's very agile. . . . She is one of the best players in the world."
Rehe has been working on her volley since she lost to Melissa Gurney in the Virginia Slims final at the San Diego Beach and Tennis Club in August.
Rehe, 5-foot 11-inches, had not developed a net game under her former coach, Robert Lansdorp. Now she is coached by Olaf Merkel, who specialty is a serve-and-volley game.
"You can't win by staying on the baseline anymore," Turnbull said. "You have to learn a net game, and I think she's doing that."
Friday, Rehe came to net five times and won four points, including one on an angled cross-court winner.
Once again, Turnbull--who has had more success recently in doubles than singles--found herself at the mercy of a rising star.
"Playing someone half your age has become a way of life on the tour,"
Turnbull said. "I used to laugh at Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals when they played someone half their age. Now, I'm laughing at myself."
Friday's second match was even more one-sided than the first.
Top-seeded Pam Shriver, who has spent more time promoting her new book "Passing Shots" than playing tennis the past week, needed only 33 minutes to beat Kathy Horvath, 6-0, 6-1.
"She didn't miss a ball and I couldn't hit a ball," Horvath said. "It was a terrible day.
"I tried so hard just to watch the ball and it was just one of those days where, like, forget it. . . . I had like two good points all match. It was like comedy hour. Gosh, I really tried my hardest. But people will look at you and say, like, right."
Stephanie Rehe. In 1986 In 1986, she received the WTA Most Impressive Newcomer Award and was voted Tennis Magazine Rookie of the Year
LATimes article on the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles
Tennis / Julie Cart : Melissa Gurney Is a Member of New Brat Pack
July 27, 1986|Julie Cart
The Virginia Slims of Los Angeles could be one of the best tournaments this side of the U.S. Open. Entered in the $250,000 event, Aug. 11-17 at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach, are Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert Lloyd, Hana Mandlikova, Pam Shriver, Claudia Kohde-Kilsch and Helena Sukova.
The tournament also features a group of younger tour players, the teen-age pretenders to the Navratilova-Lloyd dual-seated throne.
Leading the charge of the youth brigade is Gabriela Sabatini, the 16-year-old Argentine, now ranked No. 11. Another 16-year-old, Stephanie Rehe, is entered in the main draw. She is ranked No. 12 and has done well since turning pro in 1985.
And then there is Melissa Gurney of Palos Verdes, 17 and with one year as a pro, who received the last wild-card entry to the main draw. In October of 1984, in the Slims of Los Angeles, Gurney, then 15, took Lloyd to three sets before losing.
Gurney's odyssey from amateur to pro has a familiar ring. In 1984, Gurney won the hard courts, grass courts and nationals in the girls' 18s. There was, as she says, "Nothing left to do in juniors." She turned pro the next year, one day before her 16th birthday.
"Looking back, I'm not at all unhappy with my decision (to turn pro)," Gurney said. "I feel pretty good about it now. I'm still in school, so my tournament schedule is limited. The only thing that has changed was, before, I intended to postpone the tour and play in college, now I am not going to do that. I do want to go to school at some time, but for now it's going to be the tour full time."
Gurney has finished her junior year at the Chadwick School, where she is an honors student. Her father, Ram, teaches history at the school.
"It's very important to my father that I graduate," she said.
Accordingly, Gurney's tournament schedule is arranged around her classes. She has played in only 11 tournaments this year, but she uses the summer school break to catch up.
"I feel really good right now," she said. "With school out, I can do more. I have more time for practice. At the moment, I'm just working on general things. You can't try to change your whole style right before a major tournament."
Gurney is a baseliner who is trying, like others with her style, to play more of a serve and volley game.
Gurney's baptism into the pros took an added dimension with the publication of a book by Karen Stabiner entitled "Courting Fame," an in-depth look at the junior tennis scene. Gurney was one of the players featured in the book, which takes a tough look at the pressure placed on young female players.
"I think it (the book) was a little on the negative side," Gurney said, choosing her words carefully. "I think it might scare some kids off, which would be too bad. There really is so much that's fun--the traveling and the camaraderie. I'm really very happy with this life."
Melissa Gurney was one of the elite 16 at the fall version of the Virginia Slims Championships.
Graf caught fire indoors in the fall of 1986. Only Martina was able to stop her at the dissapointing Virginia Slims/WTA finale event in New York.
The Zurich final: Graf d Sukova (last few minutes, includes award ceremony)
The Brighton Final: Graf d Lindqvist 6-3 6-3
41 minutes of video-a rare look at the stylish backhand of Caterina.
I haven't finished 1983 or 1992. Why am I starting 1986?
VIRGINIA SLIMS PERSONNEL HAS COME A LONG WAY
Wednesday, January 15, 1986
This is a tale of three women -- Peachy Kellmeyer, Carrie Fleming Cromartie and Ana Leaird -- who will be largely responsible for the success of the Virginia Slims of Florida tennis tournament.
The tournament will be Jan. 27-Feb. 2 at the Sheraton Royal Biscayne Hotel in Key Biscayne. The really big three -- Chris Evert Lloyd, Martina Navratilova and Hana Mandlikova -- will get most of the headlines, particularly on the weekend of Feb. 1-2. But it is the behind-the-scenes threesome who have done the most for the tournament thus far.
Peachy Kellmeyer, perhaps the best-known of the three, is the director of operations for the Women's Tennis Association, based at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.
Kellmeyer is a University of Miami graduate with a master's degree in education from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
After receiving her master's, Kellmeyer became physical education director and tennis coach at Marymount College (now College of Boca Raton). While at Marymount, Kellmeyer, with the assistance of Fort Lauderdale attorney Ted Hainline, led a successful fight to repeal the National Education Association's statute prohibiting females from receiving athletic scholarships.
In 1964, Newsweek profiled Kellmeyer, who was playing tennis for the University of Miami's men`s team.
Looking back, Kellmeyer says she never intended to be at the center of any controversy (the team's No. 1 singles player threatened to quit when Kellmeyer made the team). All Kellmeyer wanted was to pursue her favorite sport. But when a 20-year-old woman earns even the No. 7 role on a successful tennis team (the team had a 126-match winning streak when Kellmeyer joined), people take notice.
Yet, even after her UM years, even after combating the NEA, Kellmeyer refuses to consider herself a pioneer of any sort.
"(Working for the repealment of the NEA statute) is what I am most proud of...but I don't consider myself a pioneer," Kellmeyer said recently at the Holiday Park Tennis Center. "When I think of a pioneer, I think of someone like Billie Jean King, someone who really put everything on the line for women."
As a junior singles and doubles player, Kellmeyer was ranked in the top 10 nationally. She played Wimbledon in 1962, and Evert was once her ballgirl.
After a successful coaching stay at Marymount, Kellmeyer became tournament director for Virginia Slims in 1973, and later, executive director for the Virginia Slims tour in 1976. She worked the first Virginia Slims championship tournament at the Boca Raton Hotel.
She joined the WTA as assistant executive director in 1979. She has since become director of operations, where she oversees player commitments and staffing of tournaments. With Evert, Navratilova and Mandlikova coming to South Florida, the player commitment part of her job has been a success.
"It's great to have players like that at a local tournament," Kellmeyer said. "I think we're very lucky here in South Florida, to be able to attract the top players. And it's nice to work with (veteran tennis tournament producer) George Liddy. From the WTA's standpoint, we know that we have no need to worry during one of Liddy's tournaments -- it's always a very peaceful week and we know that players will be taken care of. Some weeks on our tour, of course, are not so easy. But (Liddy) has done a heck of a job."
Carrie Fleming Cromartie also endorses Liddy. Fleming, a former player, is vice president of George Liddy Associates. She also works as tournament director for the Virginia Slims of Florida.
"We're very lucky to have Chris, Martina and Hana here again," Fleming said. "Last year we felt like we were welcomed with open arms. The field of players we had helped."
Improved competition -- and increased parity at the top -- should again breed success at the tournament. The Miami event is now one of only four Virginia Slims events with a $250,000 draw, up from $150,000.
"They were pleased enough with last year's results to increase the prize money," Fleming said, "so they obviously thought a lot of the tournament. It's been a pleasure to work on a tournament like this."
Overall, Fleming says, her four years with George Liddy Associates have been "a pleasure."
"It's been a good four years," she said. "I came in knowing a lot about tennis but not much about the business of promoting tournaments."
Now, she knows a great deal about both.
Ana Leaird described the tournament's significance on a personal level by saying "It'll be like old home week for the three of us."
Leaird, a resident of Deer Creek Country Club, is director of worldwide operations for Virginia Slims. Like Kellmeyer and Fleming, Leaird grew up in South Florida and is enthusiastic about a tournament so close to home.
"Not only do we know the players," Leaird said, "but we know most of the linesmen and the umpires. And that's pretty rare. Most of the year, I find that I don't have friends in the other areas of the country. But (in South Florida), I have a lot."
Those friends include her best friend, Evert.
Leaird, a native of Cuba, came to Fort Lauderdale at the age of six. She grew up with Evert and accompanied her to junior tournaments.
"Chris and I went through grade school and high school together," Leaird said, "and we really hit it off in high school. That's when I began traveling with her. I've been able to maintain close ties with Chris."
Because of her prominent role as worldwide operations director, Leaird knows she will have to watch the tournament with an objective eye. As much as she might like to, she would not feel comfortable cheering for her close friend.
Leaird wonders if the same will be true of her family.
"My family tends to get excited for Chrissy," Leaird said. "I have to tell them to maintain some impartiality, so they don't shout too loudly for Chrissy."
All the shouting begins Jan. 27. In addition to Evert, Navratilova and Mandlikova, three other Top 10 women's players -- Steffi Graf, Manuela Maleeva and Bonnie Gadusek -- will be on hand.
For tickets and information, call the tournament office at 565-7115.
IMPROVED CONFIDENCE KEEPS EVERT SWINGING AWAY
The Miami Herald
Saturday, January 4, 1986
January 1985: Chris Evert Lloyd, the longtime queen of women's tennis, has lost 13 consecutive matches to Martina Navratilova. It is the third straight year Evert has gone in ranked No. 2 behind Navratilova, and there is speculation that this might be her last year.
"She's still No. 1 and tough as nails," Evert says of her rival. "I'm still looking for that one win. It's more or less confidence with me now."
January 1986: Evert again comes in ranked behind Navratilova, but with a new air of confidence. She finally beat you-know-who in 1985 at the Virginia Slims of Florida in Key Biscayne and at the French Open final, temporarily regaining the top ranking.
"Up until I beat her last year, I didn't have confidence," said Evert, 31, during a news conference for this weekend's Pringles Light Celebrity Pro-Am at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. "Now I know it's possible.
"I was still a consistent No. 2 the two previous years, but I had been No. 1 for a while and people began talking. I always believed I could regain No. 1, but a lot of people didn't."
It wasn't until Navratilova beat her last month at the Australian Open final that the year-end ranking was decided. Unless Evert announces a quick retirement, which she claims is not in the immediate future, the Chris and Martina show will play on.
But if they should meet again in the final of the Pringles Light tournament, it would be under much different circumstances.
The doubles tournament, which begins today at 10 a.m., pairs pros with celebrities and other amateurs. Volleying with the likes of Ted Koppel and Sonny Bono is a welcome respite for Evert and other tour players, who will return to Key Biscayne Jan. 27.
"Sometimes we get tired of playing tournaments all the time and being competitive," Evert said. "I'm sure everyone looks at this as relaxing."
Afterward, Evert will hope to top one of her most satisfying years. In 1985, she won $972,782 on tour compared with Navratilova's $1,328,829, and kept alive her streak of at least one Grand Slam victory a year since 1974.
Although Evert lost to Navratilova in the finals at Wimbledon and Australia and to Hana Mandlikova in the U.S. Open final, she served notice that she isn't through yet.
"I was pleased this year," the Fort Lauderdale native said. "My training was more intense. But instead of just winning one major tournament, I'd like to win at least a couple. I'm getting the tennis practice and going to the gym. It's past the physical -- now it's a mental thing. It's the belief that I can do it."
While Evert knows Navratilova is human, she also knows "it's possible to lose to more players like Hana, Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini and Claudia Kohde-Kilsch. There are more confident players."
This could be the year when more of them rise up and disturb the Big Two. If that happens, Evert may be inclined to retire and have children with husband John Lloyd, as she reportedly desires.
"I'm 31 ... I can't wait till I'm 50," she says. "My husband keeps looking at his watch all the time."
Evert repeated that she would not have a baby and return to the tour, as was the case with Margaret Court and, more recently, Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
"I couldn't do that," Evert said. "Evonne was in much better physical condition than I am."
Not that Evert is an antique, mind you.
"It's a great credit to her, the way she keeps herself and keeps her game up," said 18-year-old Kathy Rinaldi of Stuart, who is playing in the tournament. "Chris has played for so long, and she was at the top for so long, to see her have the same drive is unbelievable."
Thanks Mrs A:worship:
November 09, 1986
WORCESTER, MASS. — Mary Joe Fernandez was two weeks old when Chris Evert Lloyd reached the U.S. Open semifinals for the first time in 1971.
Melissa Gurney was 2 years old.
Fernandez was 6 and just beginning to play tournament tennis when Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon for the first time in 1978.
Gurney was 8 and had already been swatting tennis balls for four years.
Now, eight years later, when Evert and Navratilova glance over their shoulders to check who is chasing them this time, they see Mary Joe Fernandez, Melissa Gurney and a kiddie corps anxious to follow the Yellow Brick Road to Centre Court at Wimbledon.
This past week, Fernandez and Gurney chased Navratilova to the $250,000 Virginia Slims of New England, with familiar results. Fernandez and Gurney were ousted in the first round, while the 30-year-old Navratilova breezed into the semifinals. "Martina is just too good," Gurney said, a trace of awe in her voice.
Navratilova, who won the inaugural Virgina Slims of New England last winter at the Centrum, has won more than 1,000 matches and $10 million in her career.
Evert, who bypassed this event, has won more singles titles than any other tennis player in history. She or Navratilova has held the No. 1 ranking since the Women's International Tennis Association computer went on line in 1975 [sic].
No wonder most of the young players in this newest wave of talent don't even dream of upsetting the Top Two.
"Most of us are rivals with each other," Gurney explained. "Steffi Graf leads the way. She has shown that if you really work hard, you can do it. She`s 17, and she`s No. 3 in the world."
Graf, the West German wunderkind, has won eight tournaments this year. She beat Evert in the final of the Family Circle Cup last April at Hilton Head, S.C. She defeated West Germany's Claudia Kohde-Kilsch in the final at Amelia Island. She buried another teen prodigy, 16-year-old Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, in the final of the U.S. Clay Court championships. And she stunned Navratilova for the German Open championship.
Graf also lost to Evert in two finals before her smashing victory at Hilton Head and pushed Hana Mandlikova to three sets before losing in the quarterfinals at the French Open.
In the U.S. Open semifinal, Graf beat Navratilova in the second-set tiebreaker and then dropped the third-set tiebreaker 10-8.
"She's soooooo good!" Gurney exclaimed.
Catarina Lindqvist, Graf's latest victim, said, "I think Steffi can become No. 1 very soon, even while Martina and Chris are still playing." Graf considered playing this tournament, but she decided not to.
Sabatini reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, where she ran into Navratilova and lost. She also dropped semifinal decisions to Pam Shriver in New Orleans and Kohde-Kilsche at Amelia Island.
"I don't talk to Graf or Sabatini a lot. They're so much into tennis," Gurney said. Two other stars of the "Tennis 'R' Us" brigade who were in Worcester were Katerina Maleeva of Bulgaria, 17, and her sister Manuela, 19. Both lost in the second round.
Gurney's career took off in 1984, when she won the U.S. 18-under championship, earned a wild card to the U.S. Open and reached the third round. Agents from Advantage International in Washington and International Management Group in Cleveland courted the high-school girl from Palos Verdes, Calif.
"When you're thinking about turning pro, everybody wants you. It's so exciting," Gurney said. "It's kind of a whirlwind. They're always trying to be with you. They would take me or my family out to dinner. It got hard when I actually had to make a decision. Advantage or IMG. I hated that."
Gurney chose Advantage International and turned pro June 23, 1985.
For a high-school girl, life on the tour isn't always bright lights and five-star restaurants.
"Adjusting to school while being a pro was difficult," Gurney said. She attends two classes at Chadwick School in Palos Verdes and studies on the road while traveling with her coach, Robert Lansdorp, who coached Tracy Austin, or her mother.
She wants to make the top 25 by the end of the year. She was ranked No. 27 in mid-October.
"Eventually I'd like to be in the top 10 and hold it. Then we'll see what happens."
Let's start off 1986 with a little light entertainment...
EVERT, RINALDI, NAVRATILOVA IN 'CELEBRITY CLASSIC'
Saturday, January 4, 1986
Pringle's Light touring pro Kathy Rinaldi was asked about her chances in today's Pringle's Light Pro/Celebrity Tennis Classic at PGA National.
"Well, I'm in Chris' half of the draw and I have to play her in the semis," Rinaldi said.
"You are?" Chris Evert Lloyd asked, glancing at the pairing sheet. "You're kidding. That was a fix."
"I didn't hear that," said a tournament official.
The good-natured banter was part of Friday's kickoff press conference for the annual classic today and Sunday at the PGA National Health & Racquet Club.
Sixteen members of the Women's Tennis Association, including Evert, Rinaldi and Martina Navratilova will compete in the two-day event along with such celebrities as Olympic gold medalist Steve Lundquist, Ted Koppel of ABC News' Nightline, singer Barry Gibb and veteran race car driver Joe Ruttman.
The women pros will lead teams of four players, who will compete in a series of doubles matches. In addition to a pro, each team will consist of a celebrity and invited guests of Pringle's and the March of Dimes, the event's official charity. All proceeds will benefit the March of Dimes, which has raised more than $9 million over the last nine years with the help of the WTA.
Other WTA pros competing are Wendy Turnbull, Susan Mascarin, Lisa Bonder, Andrea Temesvari, JoAnne Russell, Michelle Torres, Marcella Mesker, Christine Jolissaint, Alycia Moulton, Nancy Yeargin, Barbara Jordan, Elise Burgin and Lele Forood.
Team Evert and Team Navratilova/Turnbull are the early favorites. Evert's team is actor Robert Hays, the daffy pilot in Airplane and Airplane II; Roberto Rosenkranz and Paul Gross. Team Navratilova/Turnbull consists of Gibb, lead singer of the Bee Gees, Kathy DeWindt and John Christensen. Navratilova is not expected to play until Sunday. Turnbull will play today's schedule of matches.
Evert said celebrity tennis is a good change of pace for her from the rigors of the women's pro tour.
"This event is great because sometimes we get tired of playing tournaments all the time, it's really competitive," Evert said. "This will be a fun event. Everybody is looking forward to this because it will be relaxing, but I'm sure it will be a little bit competitive. We have some really good celebrities playing."
Team Evert will play Team Jordan in today's opening round. Team Jordan members are pro Barbara Jordan, former Governor Ruben Askew, Richard Linder and Cecil Burns. Team Navratilova/Turnbull, on the bottom of the draw, will play Team Torres with players Michelle Torres, Ruttman, Jeff Bua and Billy Berry.
"The concept of this event is fun, yet competitive tennis will be played because of the caliber of pros and the celebrities invited play serious tennis," said Gibb, of Miami.
Evert said she is looking forward to watching tennis commentator and writer Bud Collins play on Robin White's team along with Ken Mularz and Keith Billups.
"It will be nice to make fun of him for a change," Evert joked. "I hope he wears white shorts and not those flowered pants of his."
Today's matches will be held from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. A dinner will be held at the PGA Sheraton Resort for the pros, celebrities and paying guests to benefit the March of Dimes. Beverly Sills is the honorary chairman and Collins will act as master of ceremonies. Ticket prices for the dinner are $125 and $250 per person, including tennis match admission. General admission to the tournament is $10. Box seats are $25 per day. Sunday the matches will be from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.
PRINGLE'S LIGHT CLASSIC
WHAT: Pringle's Light Pro-Celebrity Classic.
WHEN: Today, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
WHERE: PGA National Health & Racquet Club, 600 Avenue of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens.
WHO: Some of the celebrities expected include Chris Evert Lloyd, Martina Navratilova, Kathy Rinaldi, Ted Koppel, Barry Gibb, Lloyd Bridges, Sonny Bono, Steve Lundquist and Alan Thicke.
PRIZE MONEY: None. All proceeds benefit the March of Dimes.
FORMAT: Women's Tennis Association pros will team with 16 celebrities in doubles play. It also will include 16 Proctor & Gamble entries and 16 players who will donate $1,000 each to the March of Dimes.
TICKETS: At all BASS ticket outlets (977-BASS) and the PGA National Health & Racquet Club Tennis Shop (622-2348). $10 general admission; $25 per box seat, per day.
CHRISSIE, PARTNER LOSE TO 'SCHNEIDER' IN CELEBRITY MATCH
The Miami Herald
Sunday, January 5, 1986
Without a doubt, Saturday was one occasion when tennis champ Chris Evert Lloyd would have preferred to have seen court nemesis Martina Navratilova on the opposite side of the net.
Lloyd and her celebrity partner, actor Robert Hays, were trounced by tennis pro Lisa Bonder and television star Pat Harrington Jr. in the first Pringle's Light Classic Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament. All proceeds from the two-day event, which concludes today, will benefit the March of Dimes.
Oddly enough, Bonder wasn't largely responsible for the 4-0 whipping applied to the Lloyd-Hays team in the best-of-seven quarter final. It was Harrington, best known for his long-running role as building superintendent Dwayne Schneider on the television situation comedy One Day at a Time.
He sliced a screaming ace into Lloyd's court that surprised the usually composed tennis pro.
He popped drop shots back over the net that sent Hays and Lloyd scrambling.
And Harrington didn't rely on many cross court shots or lofty lobs to do away with the favored team. Mostly, he fired his returns directly at his opponents -- and in some cases, directly into his opponents.
When a discrepancy arose concerning whether a Harrington shot dropped outside the service line, Hays asked, "Are you going to believe a man (Harrington) who hits the ball into parts of your body?"
Throughout the set, Hays, who starred in the comedy hit movie Airplane, amused the grandstand audience with his playfully best John McEnroe imitation after a series of calls. His mockery of the tennis world's favorite brat, however, was the closest Hays got to anything slightly reminiscent of the game of tennis.
But Hays wasn't the only celebrity to underwhelm the crowd of more than 600 with his tennis prowess. Nightline anchorman Ted Koppel made it clear that his area of expertise was in the journalism field, not on the tennis court.
The award-winning newsman teamed with commentator-tennis pro JoAnne Russell in an unsuccessful qualifying round against Maeve Quinlan and two-time U.S Olympic pole vaulting medalist Bob Seagren. The Koppel-Russell duo were downed 4-2.
For the first few games, Koppel stayed crouched in his box, while Russell did most of the work. Except for one play when he ducked the ball, Koppel remained so motionless through much of the first set, it prompted weekend tennis buff Suzi Wadlington of Palm Beach to quip, "Maybe he's waiting for his cue to start. . . ."
Celebrity opponent Seagren had a better time of it, though a few sizzlers up the base line from Russell reminded the former pole vaulter who the professional player was.
Other celebrities and pros participating in the event include Navratilova, Wendy Turnbull, Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees singing group and former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew.
"This is more fun that just watching the pros play," Mark Radson of Palm Springs said. "It's kind of nice to watch famous people make fools of themselves on the courts for a change."
CELEBRITIES ENJOYING CLASSIC AT PGA
Sunday, January 5, 1986
Ted Koppel, host of ABC News' Nightline, grimaced and doubled over in mock pain as he watched his return shot go wide.
Olympic gold medalist Steve Lundquist started limping off the court when a tennis ball bounced off his ankle.
Actor and talk show host Alan Thicke asked what time lunch was being served every time he lost a point.
It was all part of Saturday's good-natured atmosphere during the Pringle's Light Pro/Celebrity Tennis Classic at PGA National.
Sixteen members of the Women's Tennis Association, including Chris Evert Lloyd, Martina Navratilova and Kathy Rinaldi are competing in the two-day event with celebrities and invited guests to raise money for the March of Dimes.
Playing for Team (JoAnne) Russell, Koppel and his partner Merrett Stierheim, the WTA's new executive director, forced a 9-point tiebreaker before succumbing to Olympic gold medalist (pole vaulter) Bob Seagren and invited guest Dianne Hoffman of Team (Maeve) Quinlan 4-3.
"I wish I could say I haven't played in a month, but I played yesterday," Koppel said with a sheepish grin. "You should have seen me, I was really hot. I'm hot on alternating days. Sunday I'll be great."
Koppel, a left-hander, has been vacationing with his family on Captiva Island. He drove four hours to make his opening match.
"I haven't had a chance to settle in," Koppel lamented. "I get here and the first thing I know I'm getting my brains beat out. I'm playing terribly. I'd have a lot more fun if I was winning. Whoever said losing is fun didn't know what they were talking about."
Lundquist was having his share of trouble on a nearby court.
"I want to win one," said the two-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer.
"How can that be?" Lundquist asked Thicke, who hit a winner past Lundquist. "You're not that good. I hate it when the ball hits the tape and you have to call it good. "
Thicke and partner Ron Wiggins were playing for Team (Kathy) Rinaldi.
The first day's action drew a good opening day crowd of an estimate 1,500 tennis diehards despite the Miami Dolphins playoff game against the Cleveland Browns.
Between sets, former New York Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik would sneak into the lounge to check on the score. Pisarcik had a brief stint with the Dolphins before being placed on injured reserve.
"Tennis is safer," Pisarcik said.
Pisarcik looked healthy during his opening round match with his team pro, Michelle Torres. On one point, Pisarcik nearly took Torres' head off with a forehand swing.
As husband John, wearing a Miami Vice t-shirt looked on, Chris Evert Lloyd had an easy time of it with her partner, actor Robert Hays.
"It was tough, but somebody had to carry the team," Hays said. "Did you see my partner? She was great."
Action continues today with the consolation final at 9:30 a.m., main draw final at 11 a.m. and an exhibition match at 1 p.m.
EVERT JOINS MARTINA IN LAUGHER
The Miami Herald
Monday, January 6, 1986
The last time Chris Evert Lloyd beat Martina Navratilova on clay, it was in the final of last year's French Open.
It happened again Sunday. Well, sort of.
Although tennis commentator Bud Collins was on hand, the rivals were about as far removed from an Open final as they could get. Evert teamed with television personality Alan Thicke for a 7-5 victory over Navratilova and singer Barry Gibb in a doubles exhibition at the Pringle's Light Celebrity Pro-Am at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.
"The highlight for me," Navratilova said with a laugh, "was when Chris hit a winner against me and said, 'I'm sorry.' "
That's because the objective in this event, which attracted a full house of about 2,700 in a two-day tournament to benefit the March of Dimes, was to keep the ball in play. At least until something funny happened.
Like Evert throwing down her racket in mock disgust after Thicke had missed a return. Like Evert double-faulting to start the set and Thicke responding, "Pressure getting to you?" Like Gibb hitting a winner and Thicke telling the Bee Gees member: "I preferred the Stones, myself!"
Or like Gibb perhaps taking the set seriously and Navratilova telling him: "I thought this was supposed to be relaxing."
After Robin White's team had beaten Lisa Bonder's team in the final, 22-11, Navratilova was hoping for a little R&R. Coming off a two-week ski trip, the No. 1-ranked player in the world returns to the grind this week in the Virginia Slims of Washington. Then she and Evert may face each other under more familiar conditions when they begin the Virginia Slims of Florida Jan. 27 on Key Biscayne.
"This wasn't to prove who was the best doubles team," Evert said. "We just wanted to make sure the celebs had fun. If you're a celebrity, playing tennis is the in thing to do now."
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