Tennis Prose



Biofile Patrick McEnroe Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Former ATP pro from 1988-1998. Winner of one ATP singles title (Sydney ’95) and 16 doubles. Winner of 1989 French Open in doubles. Achieved career-high rank of #3 in doubles (’93) and #28 in singles (’95). Former captain of U.S. Davis Cup team 2000-2010 including U.S.A.’s 2007 win in Portland, Oregon vs. Russia. TV commentator for CBS and ESPN.  Former General Manager of USTA Player Development.

DOB: July 1, 1966 in Manhasset, New York

Height: 6-ft.  Weight: 160 lbs.

First tennis memory: Hitting against the wall at the Douglaston Club. And I used to play my own matches between Rosewall and Laver. And they always went five and Laver always won 6-4 in the fifth. So I had the points, they, I played the whole score until it got to Laver would win 6-4 in the fifth [smiles].

Tennis inspirations: Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall. 

First Job: Selling t-shirts or ballboy at U.S. Open.

First Car: 1984 Chevy Camaro, a hand-me-down from my brother Mark.

Childhood dream: College degree. As a kid, it wasn’t like I knew I wanted to play tennis. When it came to the end of college, it became apparent to me that I wanted to give tennis a shot. 

Greatest sports moment: The most fun I ever had was doing well at the Open, reaching the quarters. Probably my best moment was semis in the Australian Open (1991), then getting to the doubles final in the same tournament. Played a match every day for 12-13 days in a row. 

Most painful moment: Losing to Connors [laughs], that’s a given. 

Favorite tournament: Well, the Open was always the best for me because it was home. But the Australian, I love the Australian.

Favorite movies: I’m not a movie guy.

Funniest players encountered: Richey Reneberg’s got to be up there.

Closest tennis friends: Over the years, probably…most of my friends from tennis are guys you wouldn’t know, are guys I grew up with. Other than the Jonathan Starks and Richey Reneberg.

Toughest competitors encountered: Well, probably Connors. He never wanted to give you anything. Lleyton Hewitt’s up there. Rafael Nadal. Michael Chang. Stefan Edberg. Thomas Muster.

The best you ever felt on court: I could come up with some obscure matches that no one would care about. Probably the best match I ever played was a loss to Becker. At the Open. When I lost to him in the quarterfinals in four sets, like four hours. I remember thinking to myself after two sets: I’ve played about as well as I could play and I’m down two sets to love. And then I just started to go for bigger shots. And I made some of them, won the third and very nearly won the fourth. So that’s probably the best I felt. Even though I actually beat Boris on a couple of occasions – I beat him at the Australian one year. That loss was probably the best I felt. Other than beating, that same year at the Open, I played Brett Steven from New Zealand, a pretty solid player. He had beaten Ivanisevic and I played him in the second round and beat him 2,2 and 2.  

First famous tennis player you ever met: John McEnroe. (Besides him?) [Laughs] I’m gonna say probably Ilie Nastase. He used to call us the Macaronis. He used to call my dad Mr. Macaroni. Met him at Forest Hills.

Embarrassing tennis memory: Playing Team Tennis after semi-retiring and going back on the Tour and losing 5-love to my good buddy Richey Reneberg. And telling myself, I’ll never put myself in that position again, where I feel like Mardy Fish felt today (vs. Juan Monaco at Key Biscayne). Where you can’t hit one ball in the court.

Favorite players to watch: Nadal. It’s always great to watch Federer. Mansour Bahrami.

Favorite sport outside tennis: NBA basketball.

Funny tennis memory: Being introduced at an exhibition event in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, against Mel Purcell – being introduced as John McEnroe – as I was taking my warm-up serves. And immediately turning to my brother’s lefty serving position. And doing the whole Johnny Mac rock [smiles].

Personality qualities most admired: Loyalty. Honesty. Integrity. Class. People that have a great faith in themselves. Dedicated and disciplined people who try to get the most out of themselves.

College: Stanford.

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