Sep/17

11

Greg Theberge Meets Legendary Brit Roger Taylor

Roger Taylor (tennis).jpg

You just never know who you will run into on a tennis court. In the last year I have met an Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, a national champion 400 meter hurdles star in China, two billionaires and a former president of a major record label. Greg Theberge, the former NHL defenseman, just alerted me that he met and played with the legendary British player Roger Taylor recently at his club in Toronto.

“He is a British tennis player and I had the opportunity to hit with him and his wife yesterday… We play doubles only and he still had some great form… He can’t run very well but sure knows how to serve and volley and his overheads excellent for forehand and a one-handed backhand as well.”
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Theberge shared more details of his memorable meeting with a tennis history titan:
Taylor’s wife Allison is Canadian and she is five-time Canadian national or seniors champion on the women’s circuit she was in the Toronto area preparing for a tournament in Vancouver… She’s just getting some training in before she has to leave.
She was born in 1964 birthday so he married a young one.
I played her in one set of singles and she kicked my butt 6-2.
She had an excellent forehand and serve, I couldn’t handle the velocity or the top spin.
I just thought I’d share this experience with you… It was great talking with him afterwards sharing a cocktail… Very classy gentleman with a strong British accent… Reminds me of Sean Connery James Bond type… Which by the way he was asked to fill Connery’s Bond role when Connery retired from the movie scene but Roger Taylor declined the popular role later accepted by Roger Moore.
He talked quite a bit about his matches and his US open titles and some other matches against Ilie Nastase.
His doubles partner when he captured two consecutive US Open titles were John Newcombe (1971) and Cliff Drysdale (1972)..
I had to squeeze that information out of him as he was pretty humble and his wife Allison often spoke up for him and encourage him to speak of himself and his accomplishments.
… I was very humbled by your write up on me and I couldn’t resist the temptation to show them so I did so and he seemed very pleased to hear my testimonials… Especially about Rod Laver since he told me he defeated Laver one time in the Wimbledon competition.
He was coaching me in doubles and I tried something I’ve never tried before in playing doubles which I don’t play a whole lot of.  He had me lined up on the opposite side a few times so in another words the same side he was serving on and he would come in to the net with me.

 

 Also he was coaching me on placement of my serve either to my opponent’s backhand or forehand or down the T. He has had a right knee replacement and a total reconstructive left shoulder surgery he serves with his right hand but plays tennis with his left.
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From Wikipedia about Roger Taylor…

Roger Taylor MBE (born 14 October 1941) is a British former tennis player. Born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, he won 6 singles titles and 10 doubles titles during his career. He achieved success at several Grand Slam tournaments, reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open in 1973, the semi-finals of Wimbledon during the same year and winning back to back US Open Men’s Doubles titles in 1971 and 1972. He also enjoyed particular success in 1970, again reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon, where he achieved a big upset win over defending champion Rod Laver en route, and the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Taylor also reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1967.

His career-high ATP singles ranking was World No. 11, though Taylor was ranked World No. 8 in 1970 before the ATP rankings began. Taylor also has a win over Bjorn Borg at Wimbledon, in 1973 when Borg made his Wimbledon debut at 17. Taylor was the sole British member of the so-called Handsome Eight (he was noted particularly for his massive eyebrows) signed by Lamar Hunt to compete in his newly created World Championship Tennis tour in 1968.

Notably, in a scene reminiscent of a bygone age of sportsmanship now all but absent in professional sport, Taylor endeared himself to millions of viewers during his 1973 Wimbledon quarter final match against the 17-year-old Wimbledon debutant Björn Borg. Having already been declared the match winner by the umpire following his match-point serve which was disputed by Borg, Taylor voluntarily offered to replay the point. The linesman then, questioned by the umpire as to whether he wished to reconsider his decision, changed his “in” call to “out” and the umpire requested that the point be replayed as a “let”. Taylor subsequently went on to win the match.

Taylor retired from professional tennis in 1980. He was Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain from February 2000 until January 2004. Taylor also captained the British ladies Wightman Cup team; steering them to their last victory in the competition in 1978. He was awarded an MBE.

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8 comments

  • catherine · September 11, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Allison is Roger’s second wife. His daughter from his first marriage is a jazz singer I think.
    One of the first pro tennis matches I ever saw was Taylor beating Laver at Wimbledon in 1970. I was ill in bed and watched the whole tournament on tv.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Good memories Catherine. To beat Laver and Borg at Wimbledon is a very special accomplishment.

  • catherine · September 12, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Memories – I once saw Borg on a back court at the old pre-Wimbledon Beckenham tournament before he was famous – I could have gone up and spoken to him :)

    And another year me and a couple of other journalists sat and chatted with Billie Jean in a caravan, again at Beckenham, not a minder in sight. Can you imagine ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Catherine, Newport is like that. The players are very accessible and engage with fans, so does Todd Martin. Newport is really special and a throwback in this regard. Though top players don't play there often or at all any more, still you get a nice decent draw each year. Very special tournament. Todd asked me if I was having fun this year and I replied, "Todd, it gets better every year up here." It really does.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 12, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    It wasn’t better this year at Newport. The draw was embarrassingly week. Martin better be able to draw better players next year else I’d think the tournament would be in danger of going under. When you only get Fritz out of all the good young American players to come to the event (I guess Kozlov too) that’s not a good sign.

  • jg · September 12, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Dan your player B. Klein is playing William Blumberg in North CRolina, Blumberg took the first set

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Not weak, just some different players with different names. Menendez Maceiras was one unknown who won a round in Newport and then qualied at US open and won a round and gave Delpo three tough sets of work. There were no main draw slouches in Newport. And if there are they will get bounced early. Newport is Newport regardless of the draw you will always get a good mix of players and party crashers desperate to do some damage and establish as ATP players. Newport is always going to have it's Richard Bloomfields and Adrian Menendez Maceiras. BTW maybe Hewitt will get a WC next year. Heard a rumor he will play as a WC at the 2018 Aus Open.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Last time I saw Bryden Klein was the absolute heartbreaking loss after having match point 76 in the third in first round US Open qualies to Millot. It may take a while for those psychological wounds to heal.

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