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Domijan Stuns McEnroe: A night at World Team Tennis

There’s John McEnroe practicing with Sportimes head coach Chuck Adams at 5 o’clock. At the same time Kim Clijsters is on the side corner of the court doing TV interviews. Adams jokes around with McEnroe, saying “I heard Andy Roddick pulled out of all the summer tournaments after your match,” to which the legend replies, “I don’t think so.” McEnroe is relentless in practice, hustling and moving at full speed for every ball. The man clearly still loves to play this game. He hits an approach then attacks the net. But McEnroe smoothly slips it, like a boxer, because it’s going long. Adams cracks another joke, “Good eye,” he tells the man who has won seven grand slam singles titles.

They change sides every few minutes. McEnroe berates himself for missing a backhand down the line, angrily calling it a “Jerk shot.” Only a few dozen people are watching, but McEnroe is natural born performer, always giving the crowd something extra.

At his press conference, McEnroe is very happy to be starting his John McEnroe Tennis Academy and it’s apparent he’s going to give this new endeavor as much effort as he gives for every ball on the practice court. He hopes he will be able to attract the best young athletes in the New York City area to play tennis. He expresses surprise that the TV ratings of golf double that of tennis, as in his mind, tennis is such a much more interesting game to play and watch.

“We gotta do better than bowling and poker. When I was a kid, I would have laughed if you said golf would be more popular than tennis,” said McEnroe. “Now people laugh at me when I say tennis can be more popular then golf.”

McEnroe has his hands full with 18-year-old Alex Domijan who stands about 6-7. Based in Saddlebrook and born in Gainesville, Florida, Domijan shows he may be a future ATP force. The ATP #542 doesn’t appear at first glance to be very aesthetically athletic but he can play some smart and effective tennis. He has a hefty serve and punishes the first ball, rarely missing. McEnroe, who could only watch as several aces and winners zipped by, was unable to get a sniff of a break. McEnroe’s serve is working as always, hitting the corners and staying low. His reflexes on the volleys are still remarkable and his drop volleys make Domijan look like a football offensive lineman several times.

We are watching a quality, competitive battle, between the icon and the unknown, but this kid won’t crack.

McEnroe tries to whoop the crowd up when Domijan serves at 3-4 but the kid holds again easily to force the 5-pt tiebreak. McEnroe looks serious and even threatened by the upstart who has reached two ITF Futures SF and six QF this year. When McEnroe serves at 2-3, Domijan connects on a two-handed backhand crosscourt return that the 51-year-old lunges and just can’t reach. Down goes McEnroe, who gets up slowly at the count of five. All the while, Domijan is like a robot, showing almost no emotion, except for a muted fist pump.

In stark contrast to the current popular style of outward passion and emotion by most young players, the reserved Domijan is a contradiction. He has a very contained, somewhat Borg-like court demeanor. It’s very hard to read what he’s thinking or feeling. But make no mistake, this powerful slugger has some potent weapons, although his footwork might benefit from some tap dance lessons (Domijan wears some huge looking New Balance sneakers).

Not surprisingly the quiet assasin Domijan wins the next point and it’s all over: the legend has taken one on the chin from the kid.

On the bench for the rest of the night, Domijan is a quiet observer, watching the action closely, with a passive expression. Off the court, Domijan blends in with the crowd and could have been mistaken for a towel boy. But on the court, Domijan is an impressive competitor (Sportsmanship award winner at Eddie Herr Championships), world class talent (has junior wins over Dimitrov, Krajinovic and Bhambri), and just might be a prospect we hear a lot about in the coming years.

The rest of the night’s results:

Mixed Doubles. Sarah Borwell\Scoville Jenkins (Buzz) def. Kim Clijsters\John McEnroe (Sportimes) 5-3.

Women’s Doubles – Kim Clijsters\Abigail Spears (Sportimes) def. Martina Hingis\Sarah Borwell (Buzz) 5-2.

Men’s Singles – Alex Domijan (Buzz) def. John McEnroe (Sportimes) 5-4

Women’s Singles – Kim Clijsters (Sportimes) def. Martina Hingis (Buzz) 5-2

Men’s Doubles – Robert Kendrick\Jesse Witten (Sportimes) def. Alex Domijan\Scoville Jenkins (Buzz) 5-3

Sportimes defeat Buzz 22-17


  • Dan Markowitz · July 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks, Scoop, that’s a good piece. I love McEnroe’s comments on a poor shot, calling it a “jerk shot.” Classic.

    I can’t believe this result:Mixed Doubles. Sarah Borwell\Scoville Jenkins (Buzz) def. Kim Clijsters\John McEnroe (Sportimes) 5-3.

    Eeg, you mean Mac and Kim lost to Borwell and Scoville. Ooh, John and Kim should not enter the US Open mixed this year.

    You say Domijan reminds you of Borg with his demeanor. I say he seems pretty dull and although he may develop into a good pro, although he’s going to UVA next year, on the charisma level, he’s a negative 1. Tennis needs some more characters or players with a verve.

  • Sid Bachrach · July 22, 2010 at 2:51 am

    John’s match with Domjian sounds like the match he had with Mark Philopusis in Boston that was on cable TV. Philopusis pounded John into submission in the first set. John was getting blown off the court by the power of a much bigger guy who had 18 years on John. In the second set, John was all angles, jerking Flip around the court and nailing him with that twisting lefty serve. In the tie breaker, John seemed out of sorts, as if the effort to win the second set drained him.
    I would bet that if Domjian had a seniors style match with John, two sets and a breaker, that John would wear him out.

  • @Tennis_Tipster · July 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Scoville Jenkins is classed as being inactive on ATP’s site. At 24?

    Do you know what happened with him?

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    He played last year in Team Tennis and played quite mediocrely. He showed promise in his early ATP years and had some good performances but somewhere along the line he hit the wall, like so many good prospects have.



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