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Greetings from The Booth!
As we get ready to celebrate the long 4th Of July weekend, the awards and accolades continue to pour in for the Shenandoah University baseball team. Earlier this week the Virginia State Sports Information Directors Association handed out it’s all-state honors, and at the top of the list was Head Hornet Kevin Anderson, who was named VaSID Coach Of The Year. It’s his 4th such award, with 3 coming at SU, and his 9th overall Coach Of The Year accolade. Several of his players were also named by the organization. Kyle Lisa, Henry Delavergne, and Calvin Pastel are first-team honorees, while Pearce Bucher and Frankie Ritter were second-team picks. Congratulations, guys!
I don’t often write about tennis, but this week the Wimbledon fortnight has begun across the pond, and the early shocker is the first-round loss by Serena Williams to 115th ranked Harmony Tan of France in a 3-set thriller. I didn’t realize this, but Serena is 40, which is Methuselah in tennis years. The ageless Williams has been so good for so long that it’s easy to forget that she is at the tail end of her career. She has been the Tom Brady of tennis. Serena was noncommittal when asked if the aforementioned loss was her final match, but my gut tells me that she doesn’t want to go out like this.
Thinking of Wimbledon takes me back to the mid-70s through the early 80s when I was really into tennis. Summer nights would find me either at Lambert Park or Oatsdale Park in Martinsburg with my Wilson T-2000 and a fresh can of balls from Coaches Supply, ready for a set or two. It was nothing to stay on the courts until 10 pm and beyond. I also bought the tennis mags and followed the fortunes of my favorites like Borg, Connors, and Evert.
What made tennis great in those days were the rivalries, and the rivalries were great because of the contrast in styles. There is nothing today that compares to the icy coolness of Bjorn Borg going against the fiery Jimmy Connors or the volatile John McEnroe. How about Chris Evert versus Martina Navratilova? Give me a comparable contemporary feud–I’ll bet you can’t (OK, I’ll give you Djokovic-Nadal). And tennis had some great villains. Ilie Nastase comes to mind, along with Connors and McEnroe. It was a great time to be a tennis fan.
And I would always wake up in time for “Breakfast At Wimbledon” on NBC. No one could call a match like Dick Enberg (“Oh my!”) and Bud Collins. The matches would start early in the morning and continue into the afternoon on Wimbledon weekends, and there was little that could pull me away from the TV.
Eventually, my interest in tennis would wane, along with American prominence in the sport. But the two weeks of Wimbledon always has me scrambling to find a can of balls and that Wilson T-2000…
Enjoy the Fortnight, and until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!
Greetings from The (air-conditioned) Booth!
As the area is bogged down in a mid-90’s heat wave this week, equally as hot is one Kyle Schwarber of the Washington Nationals, who now has hit 12 home runs in his last 10 games, and has been a major reason why the Nats have now gone over the .500 mark and are closing fast on the first-place Mets.
Also happening this week is the “fortnight” known as Wimbledon, one of tennis’ major tournaments, held across the pond at the famed All-England Club. I don’t follow tennis much anymore, but this time of year always takes me back to the mid-70’s through the early 80’s, when Summer nights would find me at Martinsburg’s Oatsdale park with my Wilson T-2000 in the back of my Chevy Vega playing tennis well into the night. I bought all the tennis mags, and made sure I was wearing the Stan Smith Converse shoes, Adidas tennis wear, and accesorizing with head and wrist bands. If you can’t play well, you might as well look the part…
This era way a heyday for tennis, with names like Borg, McEnroe,Connors, Evert, Navratilova in their primes. I always made sure I was up early for “Breakfast at Wimbledon” on NBC, with the great Bud Collins providing the commentary. And let’s not forget the great rivalries, including John McEnroe versus Bjorn Borg. It was a rivalry that was called “Fire and Ice” because of McEnroe’s fiery temperament on the court, as opposed to the almost unemotional style of the Swede.
On July 4, 1981, the two met on the grass of Centre Court for the second year in a row. The year before, Borg and McEnroe played arguably the best tennis match in history, with Borg outlasting the New Yorker in a match that included an 18-16 tiebreaker, and an 8-6 final set.
A year later, McEnroe would end Borg’s five consecutive Wimbledon titles in a 4-set victory that lacked the drama of the 1980 Final. The two would meet later that year in the US Open, as McEnroe again defeated Borg. McEnroe and Borg met 14 times in all, with each winning 7 times. The sign of a truly great rivalry.
It was a great time to be a tennis fan, and a great American win in the UK on July 4, 1981…
Until our next visit in The Booth, stay cool, Happy Birthday USA, and GO HORNETS!