College Tennis/Team USA expert
Join Date: Sep 2004
Re: WTT- World Team Tennis
McEnroe's competitive fire still burns
By JANE MCMANUS
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: July 20, 2007)
MAMARONECK - John McEnroe has not lost his famous temper. Even at 48 years old, the owner of seven Grand Slam titles can get just as annoyed by line calls as he did when his brown curls sprung from his striped headband.
It's just that his competitive drive is running a little faster than his legs these days. That fact, he said, will eventually limit his ability to play exhibitions and even World TeamTennis matches.
"I can't see myself maintaining because there's a certain time when the mind doesn't do what the body tells it to," McEnroe said.
He said he still has two years before making a final decision, but last night at Sportime Stadium in Mamaroneck's Harbor Island Park, the crowd still cheered for him in a 21-19 loss to the visiting Boston Lobsters.
McEnroe lost the men's singles in a tiebreak to Nikita Kryvonos, and in the process launched a ball out of the stadium, threw his racket, and when his last backhand sailed behind the baseline, stormed off the court to a secluded tent and spent about 10 minutes sitting on a massage table with head down and his hands on his knees.
"It's not just an act?" one woman asked as she caught a look at the closed tent with a security guard posted outside.
No, it's not. To his credit, McEnroe regained his composure and headed out on the court to give out 10 scholarships named in honor of his friend Vitas Gerulaitis, who died in 1994. McEnroe beat Gerulaitis for the 1979 U.S. Open title, and as he handed the certificates to the little boys and girls, McEnroe started to smile again.
Storms might have battered other parts of the region, but skies in Mamaroneck remained placid as the players hit around before the match. The fans weren't out in the same numbers as Tuesday, when Wimbledon champion Venus Williams played, but they came from far and wide.
Michelle Munro drove an hour and 45 minutes from Hampton Bays to watch the legend, even though she wasn't watching tennis during the years McEnroe was on top.
"He gets the crowd going - he's a character," Munro said.
McEnroe certainly looks a little stiffer than he did during his heyday. It was hard for him to bend to get to balls, although his hands were still deft at the net. He and Jesse Witten won the men's doubles 5-1.
Even though he gets frustrated at times, he still sees his ability to play as part of being a tennis ambassador.
"Me going out there at an older age and still getting a kick out of that," McEnroe said.
Ashley Harkleroad, who has played three events most nights for the Sportimes, was out last night after hurting her right shoulder Wednesday night in the loss to Delaware. She had a cortisone shot last night and said it was pretty painful, although she expects to play tomorrow.
She called Ansley Cargill to substitute as a singles player last night. Cargill, 25, turned pro in 2001 and was ranked as high as No. 90 before going back to Duke to finish her degree. Both Georgia natives, Harkleroad knew Cargill was working in the city and called her to play women's doubles with the Sportimes, now 5-5.
Ashley hasn't play since last thursday and tonight saturday.
Singles: Won ITF Contrexeville '10, ITF Yakima '12, ITF Medellin '14, ITF Monterrey '14, ITF Asuncion '14, ITF CH-YEC '14, Dubai '16, U.S. Open '17, Tokyo PPO '17 (as Q), Quebec City '18
Doubles: Won Bad Gastein '10 (as Q), Quebec City '10 (as Q),Wimbledon '11, ITF Kansas City '11, ITF Nassau '12, ITF Yakima '12, WTA 125 Hua Hin '15, Hong Kong ‘16 (as LL), ITF Dubai ‘18, Strasbourg ‘19