Tennis Prose



Heart of a Champion: Ivan Lendl

By Scoop Malinowski

Next in our new series “Heart of a Champion” is a nice story about Ivan Lendl from my good friend and hitting partner Brian Baxter…

“Growing up in New York as a junior tennis player, I identified with John McEnroe. I loved his fire, attacking style and his cool Mac Attack Nike shoes. Dunlop was my first racket sponsor and I even trained with Tony Palafox for two years. His battles with Ivan Lendl wwere always good vs evil for me. However as I got older, I had the opportunity to run the ballboy program at the Hamlet in Commack. What an experience to be around the greats, McEnroe, Lendl, Connors, Edberg, Forget, Noah, Kafelnikov, Gomez, Sampras etc. To watch them practice and play matches was heaven for a junior then college tennis player like myself.”

“I always remember Lendl and Andres Gomez saying ‘thank you’ whenever I brought them a towel and just talking to the ball boys. I ended up getting a full tennis scholarship, played no. 1 and in my junior year winning ‘Athlete of the Year.’ After graduation, I knew I needed to chase my dreams and take my shot on the Satellite (now Futures circuit). However, it costs money and we were a middle class family. I was lucky enough in my senior year to have Nancy Gill McShea write an article about me in Tennis USTA magazine, supplement to TENNIS magazine. My dad sent out the article and a tennis resume to many prominent people in the tri-state area. One of the few who really went out of there way to try and help was Ivan Lendl. We know for a fact that he sent my stuff to his agent and a few others to try and help and that really showed me what a class act he truly was! Sorry New York but after that day I became a Lendl fan forever. Yup, nothing but Adidas for me after that.”



  • Hartt · December 28, 2017 at 9:11 am

    Catherine, thanks for the link to Novotna’s interview. It sounds like she had lost motivation, especially after fulfilling her goal of winning Wimbledon. And she was not going to miss all that travel.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 28, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Sudden departure by Novotna. Sounds like she had enough of the grind and just wanted it to end. Wonder if she enjoyed to play tennis in retirement. A Czech guy I played with last year a lot told me she had to leave Florida a few years ago because she was having money problems. He always had the inside info about the Czech players.

  • catherine · December 28, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Hartt – yes, I think Jana considered Wimbledon the peak of her career. After that nothing much mattered on the pro circuit. Interested to see the reference to the Duchess – it was sort of treated as a joke but I believe they did stay in touch. Jana used to come to W’don every year.

    Scoop – Novotna was quoted as saying that two days without tennis was too long, so she did stay around the game, as a coach and occasional doubles player at charity dos and those legend events.
    Don’t know about the money – she made a fair bit as a player and doesn’t strike me as a big spender. She certainly had enough to build a house near Brno. Possibly after years in the States she just wanted to go home, as some people do. Her parents would have been getting on as well.

    I would also guess there were personal reasons behind her retirement. If she had split with Hana then the effort of carrying on, finding a new coach etc, might have seemed too much.

  • Bobby · December 31, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    I think it was the Sampras beyond the glory or between the lines on tennis channel or something. Didn’t give much insight other than Lendl saying he didn’t think Sampras would win 14 majors but that he would win some. It did cost him the 1990 US Open haha

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