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Discussion Starter #681
Tennis: Romanian undaunted by Lendl challenge
The Times
London, England
June 22, 1987

Christian Saceanu vowed yesterday to give Ivan Lendl, the world No. 1, a run for his money when they meet in the first round of the men's singles at Wimbledon.

The Romanian-born teenager, who came through the qualifying competition at Roehampton this week, features in the first match on the All England Club's No. 1 court today, knowning he has nothing to lose. 'Lendl is the No. 1 but I look at it that he is just another player who has to be beaten and I'm going to give it my best shot,' he said.

Saceanu, who holds a West German passport, has been coached by Gunter Bosch, the man who guided the Wimbledon champion Boris Becker's early development before their split during the Australian championships earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Patrick McEnroe's quest to maintain the family interest at Wimbledon - brother John withdrew this week - ended on Saturday when he and fellow American John Sadri were beaten in four sets by Russell Simpson from New Zealand and Larry Stefanki of the United States.

Officials have placed a ban on questions about tennis players' private lives being asked during post-match interviews. Instead journalists have been ordered to restrict their questions to tennis only. The ban follows stories in the British press yesterday about the off-court relationships of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.

The attendance record at Wimbledon is again expected to be broken after last year's all-time high figure of 400,032 for the fortnight, including 39,813 for the first Thursday of the tournament, a record attendance for one day.
 

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Discussion Starter #682
Tennis: The Championships Wimbledon - Tournament under a cloud of gloom - Weather 'the worst in memory'
The Times
London, England
June 22, 1987
JOHN GOODBODY

Boris Becker, of West Germany, the No. 1 seed and champion for the last two years, will play Karel Novacek, of Czechoslovakia, in today's traditional opening match in the men's singles on Centre Court, amid fears that, the weather will sharply disrupt the world's most celebrated tennis tournament.

Alan Mills, the Wimbledon referee, said yesterday that the first few days of the championships will be 'a test of character for players and officials,' because of the forecast of, at best, unsettled weather and, at worst, heavy rain. 'Players and offocials will be backwards and forwards between the courts and locker rooms.'

Today's weather forecast from the Meteorological Office is for 'some residual light rain or drizzle in the early morning. But as the temperatures climb towards 20 degrees centigrade, this will bring thick clouds and more general rain, bringing the day to a dismal end.'

Tomorrow will be cooler, with intermittent sunny periods and showers. Weather for the rest of the week is also likely to be changeable.

Because of the recent bad weather no grass-court facilities were available yesterday. The 14 practice courts at Aorangi Park are still unusable and Queen's Club's grass courts are closed.

'On Friday evening, 30,000 gallons of water were removed from Aorangi Park courts and they are still soaked. The last three weeks' weather is the worst I can remember in the built-up to Wimbledon,' said Mills.

But the courts themselves at Wimbledon are impeccable. Jim Thorn, the groundsman, has had all 18 courts covered at night, and whenever rain has threatened for the last 10 days.

The Centre and No. 1 courts are below enormous tarpaulin tents with fans blowing beneath them to ensure there is a flow of air to take off the moisture from the grass.

The other 16 courts are covered with reinforced plastic coverings (each costs Pounds 10,500), which have been individually tailored for size. Each one has air blown underneath it, creating a balloon effect.

When I walked on Centre Court beneath the tarpaulin yesterday, the grass was moist but the surface was perfect.

Thorn said: 'The grass is a little too green and the courts will be slow. The recent rain has just made our jobs a little more difficult.'

The first man through the gates aiming for the unreserved standing area on Jacobs, aged 40, an accountant from Feltham, who started the queue at 9:30am yesterday morning with a sleeping bag and polythene sheet.

He has spent part of his annual holiday watching Wimbledon for the last 11 years and has been first through the gates on seven occasions. He usually queues overnight on alternative nights, going home on the other evenings to wash, change his clothes and have a proper sleep.

'There is a tremous camaraderie about the people in the queue. Some of the same faces turn up every year, some from as far away as Canada and New Zealand. The one thing we really want is a decent day,' he said.
 

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Discussion Starter #683
Umbrellas up for a soggy week at Wimbledon
The Times
London, England
June 22, 1987
A Staff Reporter

Tennis fans planning to attend the opening day of Wimbledon today would be well advised to use public transport and to take an umbrella.

Torrential rain over the past week has turned the car parks into mud baths so the number of spaces will probably have to be reduced considerably, according to Mr Christopher Gorringe, chief executive of the All-England Club. And there are more showers on the way today.

In this torrential month, one of the wettest place in Britain has been Manchester with five inches of rainfall, while even those among the driest, including Stornaway, Aldergrove and Tynemouth, have had about one-and-a-half inches.

The London Weather Centre has predicted a wet Monday likely to be followed by a wet week, so the best hope for the crowds at Wimbledon and for cricket fans hoping to see the test match at Lord's is for intermittent sessions of play.

The forecast shows cloudy, showery weather with occasional sunny spells for today and a similarly unsettled outlook for tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday.

A cautious hope of more settled weather is held out for Friday and the weekend, but until then there is likely to be rain every day almost everywhere.

But it is not quite as bad as it may seem, as this is not the wettest, dullest or coldest June on record - so far. In London, for instance, there have been three inches of rainfalls this month. That compares with 5 1/2 inches in June 1958, and seven inches in June 1903.

In Manchester, however, the five inches already recorded is only half an inch off the record June figure since records began there in 1942.

Temperatures and hours of sunshine are certainly below average, but not yet in the record-breaking league. In London, there has been an average of four hours sunshine per day so far, comparing badly with the normal June average of seven hours per day. But the current low average would have to drop still further if the June 1909 record of just 105 hours is to be beaten.

According to the London Weather Centre, the reason for the bad weather is the scarcity of spells of high pressure to counteract the steady steam of rain-bearing fronts coming in from the Atlantic.

Weathermen blame a rogue jetstream, at 25,000 feet above the Atlantic which has been too weak to push the bad weather far to the north. Instead, westerly winds have swept the rain over the British Isles and much of Europe and will bring more wet and unsettled weather.

Bookmakers William Hill, who have been offering odds of 33-1, face a Pounds 100,000 payout if rain interrupts or prevents play on the Centre Court at Wimbledon every day of the tournament.
 

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Discussion Starter #684
Monday Page: They also serve who drive - Driving Wimbledon tennis stars
The Times
London, England
June 22, 1987
MARY WATSON

Wimbledon fortnight begins today, which means the start of a logistical marathon for Pat Edwards and the team of drivers charged with makeing sure that the star players get to the court on time. Mary Watson reports

At 8am today a series of famous people will be picked up outside a number of plush hotels by a string of anonymous women, some of whom will probably lose their hearts, if only temporarily, to at least one of the men over the next fortnight.

All of which is perfectly legitimate and above board, being one of the less well-known rituals associated with the Wimbledon tennis tournament. As with other types of ritual, prayers have been offered up in advance: that no car shall have a puncture twixt W1 and SW19; that no-one shall inherit the trait of the mercurial Ilie Nastase, who tended to oversleep; and that delays caused by motorists scraping alongside to gawk at the stars shall be at a minimum.

Patricia Edwards, who has organized the drivers for 15 years, is in charge of avoiding such dramas; she also hopes the famous player who left his rackets back at the hotel last year will remember them this, thus avoiding a hair-raising trip back through the traffic.

'I said I couldn't see why the player couldn't use someone else's rackets, but everyone was appalled at the idea,' she says.

Edwards will be at the nerve centre of the operation every day at 7:30am, with no hope of leaving again before midnight. Headquarters is a wooden-walled marquee near the centre court, lined with ruched white fabric and swags of emerald green, which emerald chairs and carpet - a far cry from humble beginnings in 1972, using 'a caravan and a cubbyhole. '

She will send her 116 drivers, all but 20 of them women, back and forth like workers bees to the official tournament hotels, practice courts and other places all over London. Including a high proportion of the 600 players, they will chauffeur 1,000 people a day over the next fortnight.

Wearing white jackets, white skirts or trousers and white t-shirts, they will work either of two eight-hour shifts up till midnight, will earn a minimum of Pounds 250 and have the fun of driving top stars - and even seeing some of the tennis.

Edwards takes it all calmly. With her ash-blonde hair, huge grey eyes and stylish clothes she could be mistaken for a glamorous tennis wife or celebrity. Crowds often puch forward when they spot her in an official car and then exclaim: 'Oh, it's no one.'

Her china doll appearance belies a toughness which commands respect among the young drivers 'We'll be instantly dismissed if we let her down badly,' one told me, and Edwards has indeed had to sack several drivers over the years. 'One kept trying to finish early and another reversed into a car which demolished a wall and then went forward into another car.

'Their cargo is very precious and their job a responsible one. It's PR job, too - they must sense when to chat and when to shut up, especially if a player has just lost a match.'

'Yes,' interjected one girl, 'when one player lost he sobbed that his life was ruined and that he wanted his mother. I gently tried to reassure him.'

This year the drivers include students, housewives, models, air hostesses and secretaries. Alison Dixon, who was secretary to Princess Michael for two years, is doing her first Wimbledon. Several good drivers are secretaries but often Edwards finds that those who are used to a sedentary 9-5 job are not as good as those used to odd hours.

The men include a sculptor, a doctor, a dentist on annual leave and an Australian salesman who was a chauffeur at last year's tournament; he enjoyed it so much that he has flown back specially.

'We're not after dolly birds,' Edwards says, 'but they have to look pleasant. Over 40, we look at them very closely indeed. Some are in their early fifties, but you'd never know.

'Applicants have a half hour interview and a three-quarters of an hour driving test, conducted by a school of motoring,' says Edwards. 'Many more failed the test this year; on one day all 14 applicants failed.'

Emergencies usually involve either the players or the cars rather than the drivers, but one year a girl was mugged as she was about to reverse. Two workers on a building site rescued her.

Players are said to be quiet before a match and subdued after it, if they lose. But the winners seldom brag. Drivers all say they are hoping they won't get a certain woman player who invariably says she is going to be sick. Top seeds Navratilova and Becker are unlikely to be passengers; the former, to the surprise of spectators, usually cycles in while Becker comes in his own car.

Everyone is hoping to drive Chris Evert or members of her family because they are always friendly, pleasant and giggly. 'We are sorry McEnroe is not coming,' says Edwards. 'He has not been abusive to us, though many are. Just before going on court he would eat a collosal meal of steak, hamburgers and chips.

'Connors and Nastaste used to enjoy egging on the teenyboppers but Connors has quietened down a lot.'

The girls are not allowed to accept dates with players. 'They all look alike with their suntans, highlighted hair and expensive casual clothes,' said one. 'But most of us have boyfriends and anyway the players are usually too exhausted. They get in the car and say, ''Where can I eat?'' '

Edwards is less than happy that this year, for the first time, the slogan 'Game for Anything' appears on the cars. It does not, she feels, convey the right impression.

'Wimbledon,' she says candidly, 'is something I dread, but it is enormously satisfying to see things running smoothly after five months of planning. And,' adds the woman who for the next couple of weeks will be running the biggest pick-up operation in town, 'it's where I met my husband...'
 

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Discussion Starter #685
Tennis: A room with the view to greatness
The Times
London, England
June 22, 1987
IAN STAFFORD

Centre Court is now a familiar sight to all tennis enthusiasts, but out of view behind and below the Royal Box, is the unknown territory where the off-court dramas of delight and defeat are played out .. the changing rooms, the waiting room and the short walkway to that most nerve-wracking arena.

Imagine the arrival of Boris Becker, the defending champion, at Wimbledon today. His chauffeur-driven car will take him inside the grounds of the All England Club and drop him at the steps leading to the main building. From there he will walk towards the centre court complex and turn to the door on his left, the Gentlemen's Dressing Room. Passing a photograph of Rod Laver, he will then enter the main dressing room, which is attended full-time by five trainer-masseurs.

The room is not unlike the changing area in any good sports centres, except this one has a small bar equipped with soft drinks and beer. Lockers surround the walls with blank cards waiting to be filled with the name of a player. There is no favouritism in this department.

The only place in Wimbledon where players can get away from each other is in the bath tub, housed in private compartments behind the lockers; there they can float with victory or wallow in defeat. It is in the dressing room, decked by white wash-basins and benches below coat hooks, that the player will test his rackets and limber up.

In contrast, the Ladies' Dressing Room, directly above the men's, resembles a beautician's salon. The room is so secure that very few men have entered it; they include the Frenchman, Jean Borotra, and a blind masseur.

The women's dressing room has pink doors and pink carpets, patterned curtains and small, quaint backless settees. During Wimbledon fortnight, the vanity units and mirrors are bathed in flowers. While the men change next to each other in the middle of their room, the women have the privacy of their own cubicles.

The walk from the dressing rooms to the centre court itself is short. Always accompanied by an attendant, the players see to their right a wall covered by large wooden plaques commemorating all past winners. To their left is a cabinet housing all the trophies. Ahead is a pair of frosted-glass doors. Above the doors is a phrase from Kipling, carved in block capitals into the wood: IF YOU CAN MEET WITH TRIUMPH AND DISASTER AND TREAT THOSE TWO IMPOSTORS JUST THE SAME.

During the early rounds, the players will go onto the Centre Court directly from the dressing rooms, but the finalists will use the players' waiting room found by the exit. It is here that they will sweat and fret and exchange a few strained words. That is about as much as they can do in a room too small to swing a racket. With its brown carpet, bleak silver-framed picture and three pale blue wicker chairs surrounding a tiny wicker table, the room has a purposeful bareness about it. For five minutes, at most, they will be left to themselves here before the doors open.

Before them lies the Centre Court, with the world's television cameras, the Royal Box and 14,000 spectators huddled around a small piece of turf.
 

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The Volvo Classic - Wednesday 21st October 1987 - Order Of Play

Court One

Z Garrison USA v K Jordan USA
S Parkhomenko USSR v K Maleeva BUL
B Bunge GER v N Tauziat FR
Z Garrison & L McNeil v I Budarova & A Henricksson
B Bunge & E Burgin v S Parkhomenko & L Savchenko

Court Two

E Burgin USA v R Rajchrtova CZ
S Gomer GB v A Sanchez SP
P Paradis FR v H Sukova CZ
I Demengeot FR v G Sabatini ARG
J Durie & R Fairbank v K Jordan & H Sukova

followed by on the first available court

J Novotna & C Suire v I Demengeot & N Tauziat
 
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