Date of birth: August 3, 1960 in Springfield, MA
First tennis memory: Is hitting a ball against the garage in my backyard. About five years old. With an old Jack Kramer racquet.
Why do you love playing tennis: I love it more now because there’s not so much pressure. Just the feeling of moving and hitting a ball well. Just puts a feeling of challenge and freedom. I think that second when you hit a ball perfectly, feels like it’s going…it’s a sense of control to me that’s probably the thing that keeps me coming back. Earlier on it was more about the competition. The idea of making your mark and moving up.
First job: Cleaning my friend’s dad’s office.
First car: Was a 1974 Chevelle convertible (yellow).
Current car: 2008 Honda Accord.
Last book read: The Rings Of Saturn by W.G. Sebald.
Greatest sports moment: I think the most exciting was playing Davis Cup, particularly in Mexico City in 1986. Just being in a volatile, crazy country. There were death threats. It was in a bull ring – which was kind of symbolic. On red clay. I had a terrible record on clay. And winning the silver medal at the Olympics. That was the only time my mom watched me as a pro. My dad never watched me. My dad never was able to watch me because he got too nervous. One time he came to watch when I was in the finals of Key Biscayne (1985 vs. Scott Davis). He came to the stadium but turned around and left because he got too nervous. He ended up going to a bar around the corner and watching it there. It was televised on NBC.
Most painful moment: A lot of them. I think probably losing against Lendl in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon 1986, 9-7 in the fifth set. I had won the Queens tournament the week before – I had beat Edberg, Becker and Connors back to back. I was actually cruising through and actually thought I had a shot to win Wimbledon that year. I just came up short, so that was very, very painful.
Strangest matches: One time I was playing the fourth round of the Australian Open against probably the biggest server back then – Slobodan Zivojinovic. Big, old brute of a Yugoslavian and he served a 145 mile an hour serve that skidded off the line and hit me in the (*****). I fell down, almost unconscious. The trainer came out and wanted to put ice on my (*****). I got up and lost. The Davis Cup in Mexico City was surreal. We had machine gun carrying bodyguards around us. And after the matches we were driving home celebrating in our caravan of three or four vans. And our lead van got cut off by some Mexicans who recognized us from the stadium. Then, as the van was moving, our bodyguards opened the van door and they were leaning out pointing their machine guns. It was a strange week. We had all our food flown in from the States because we thought they would try to poison us. It was unlike anything I’ve experienced in tennis. Every time I’d miss a serve, the mariachi band would strike up a song and the crowd would start chanting – I double-faulted 28 times but still won. Mexicans were leaning over saying, ‘Go home gringo. I’m gonna kill you.’ But the Mexican players were great, terrific.
Funniest players encountered: I’d say Eddie Dibbs and Scott Davis.
Closest tennis friends: I think all my college teammates (from Stanford).
Toughest competitor encountered: Lendl.
Embarrassing tennis memory: At the end of my career my ranking had really fallen. I was playing an event in Taiwan or Taipei. It was the only blatant tank of my career. Just got on the court and didn’t try. It was horrible. (Against who?) Jeremy Bates.
Three athletes you like to watch and follow: Federer. My son Cal Barnett Mayotte play baseball…I think Brian Baker’s story is a great story of perseverance.
Favorite sport outside tennis: Baseball.
Funny tennis memory: So many things. I think I remember one time Johan Kriek had lost a match, it was at Philadelphia, the U.S. Pro Indoor. It was about ten degrees outside. And there was a snowstorm. He lost at The Spectrum. It was about a four-mile walk to the hotel. I just remember seeing him walking down the street in his shorts and a tee shirt in the snow. Another thing he did, someplace in Florida. There was a lake near the back of the courts. He lost. And took all his racquets and threw them in the lake. It was a different time back then. Things like that don’t happen now.
Personality qualities most admired: I think grace under pressure. I think Arthur Ashe epitomizes it. I went to the fundraiser at the Riverside courts. Bob Ryland was there. He was the first African American to play professional tennis. You think about that kind of adversity. Obviously Billie Jean King, who I’ve come to know, standing up for individual rights and gay rights. Martina Navratilova – what she did defecting and coming out. How they handled it. That kind of nobility under great pressure. In the middle of controversy. Arthur Ashe having AIDS was nothing compared to dealing with racism. The hatred he had to deal with. I can’t imagine showing up to a tournament where they won’t let you play. Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King – that’s why they are where they are – being honored at the National Tennis Center. It’s fantastic.
Career Accomplishments: Olympic silver medalist in Seoul, Korea in 1988; U.S. Davis Cup team member; Winner of 12 ATP singles titles; Achieved a career-high ATP singles ranking of #7 in 1988; Compiled an ATP won-loss record of 340-203 in singles; Reached the SF of Wimbledon in 1982 and Australian Open in 1983; Reached QF of 1989 U.S. Open; Won NCAA singles title in 1981.
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