Tennis Prose



Facing Monica Seles Book Excerpt

Monica Seles may have been the greatest female tennis player of all time. Her eight Grand Slams as a teenager is an untouchable record that could have added one, two or even three to the total as she missed he last three major tournaments as a teen due to being stabbed on court in Hamburg, Germany weeks before 1993 Roland Garros. Seles said last year she felt she was starting to play her best tennis at the 1993 Australian Open where she beat Graf in the final 46 63 62.

Experts like Chris Evert and Dennis Van Der Meer have credited Seles with being a “revolutionary”, “game changer” and “innovator.” The version of Seles before the Hamburg tragedy was a tennis force that dethroned Graf, the formerly dominant “Golden Slam” winner of 1988. How much longer Seles could have stayed at the top of the WTA is a question no one can answer.

The fact is Seles was one of the greatest superstars and champions in tennis history and the sport suffered enormously by failing to see Seles achieve her greatest results. Seles only won one major title after the stabbing. It’s safe to say we never witnessed the best tennis of Monica Seles.

So this book Facing Monica Seles is an homage tribute to the sensational career and performances of Monica Seles…

Book Excerpt

Jared Feeney:  I really do believe that Monica does not get nearly enough credit for how incredibly talented and innovative she was, and how much she truly did change the way women’s tennis was played.  She was incredibly unique, so authentic, truly one of a kind, never replicated!  It’s so very tragic how the course of history changed, because the current tennis generation most likely has no idea how truly special she was, how insanely amazing her trajectory was heading, especially after ‘93.  She was really only just beginning to “come into her own”… she was only nineteen-years-old!  People talk as if she was in her prime, that’s just ridiculous.  She was only beginning to scratch the surface of it.  Watch the ‘93 Australian Open final – every aspect of her game was getting better, most notably her serve where she out-aced Graf.  She was hitting with more topspin on her forehand, and was even coming to net slightly more.  Had she continued that sort of development, her true prime, in my opinion, would’ve been ‘95, with her peak probably around when Hingis began to succeed, ‘97.  Monica won the ‘96 Australian Open, made the ‘96 US Open final, which is often forgotten, and was a finalist at the ‘98 French Open.  Ultimately, I seriously wish people would give her the much needed respect and admiration she deserves, as what she accomplished should never be taken lightly and the tennis community needs to mention this woman’s name much more often than they do, because today’s game is owed to her, plain and simple.

Gigi Fernandez:  I had more trouble playing Monica than Steffi…  because Monica hits hard on both sides. Like with Steffi, she had the slice backhand so I could serve and volley to her backhand. And I was a serve and volleyer. So, with Monica, not only did she hit hard on both sides, but she stood one or two or sometimes three feet inside the baseline. So when you’re serve and volleying and someone is standing three feet inside the baseline to return, you don’t have enough time to get anywhere for your first volley. They were just going by so fast, so quickly. With Steffi I could just hit it to her backhand – I knew slices were coming back and I could get the volley in and then it was like Okay, who’s gonna win the point? But with Monica I couldn’t even get a racquet on it.

John Korff (Promoter/owner of Pathmark and A&P Tennis Classics in Mahwah, NJ):  I was running the Pathmark Tennis Classic (exhibition) in Mahwah, NJ. We wanted to have a major player in it (in July 1991 after Wimbledon). At the time Octagon and Phil di Picciotti got us the players. I told him I can’t get IMG to respond about Monica Seles. He suggested I call her bother Zoltan directly. Make an offer to her brother. I wasn’t being sneaky trying to go around anybody, I would have to pay him. At the time, I think Monica was ranked three or four in the world. This was before the French Open. So I called Zoltan and said, ‘I’m the guy with the money, you’re the guy with the sister. There’s no reason to get others involved…’ He wanted to meet in Tampa. I was coming from a family wedding in Barbados. He zoomed in on a tri color motorcycle wearing some kind of bright orange jumpsuit and a wacky helmet that looked like it came from The Jetsons (TV cartoon). One of the first things they teach at Harvard Business School (from where Korff graduated) is stay one drink behind the other guy. By the time Zoltan had his six drinks, I was right behind him… and thinking, I can’t keep up with this guy!

Somehow I missed my flight to New Jersey, after about four hours with Zoltan. He gave me a ride to the hotel on his motorcycle. When we got to the hotel, we made a deal – $300,000 for Monica to play the Pathmark Tennis Classic in Mahwah, NJ  and an additional $50,000 more not to talk about it until she got to Mahwah. One of my contacts with the WTA said I was crazy because she’ll lose at the French Open and be ranked about 8 in the world. So Monica won the French Open that year (beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to defend her 1990 title) and was No. 1 in the world. So all the sudden she pulled out of Wimbledon (with shin splints) and she couldn’t talk about it. So everybody in tennis was wondering where she was, what she was doing? It was a big deal…

Order your copy of Facing Monica Seles at amazon books for $9.99

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