Sep/19

6

Kathy Rinaldi’s Tennis Journey: First & Last Matches

Kathy Rinaldi played her first pro matches at age 13 and at 14 she became the youngest player to win a match at Wimbledon (since eclipsed in 1990). Her career was plagued by injuries but she did manage to win three WTA singles titles, two doubles titles, achieving a career best ranking of no. 7 in 1986. She holds career wins over Steffi Graf, Jana Novotna, Sue Barker, Pam Shriver, Hana Mandlikova, Zina Garrison, Helena Sukova and Natalia Zvereva. Appointed as the Fed Cup captain for the United States in 2016, and as Head of USTA Women’s Tennis, Rinaldi reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in 1985.

FIRST MATCH: I had to play eleven matches, pre qualies and qualies to get into the main draw of Deerfield Beach (in October 1980). In the main draw I played Sue Barker (at age 13 and lost 62 63).

LAST MATCH: The last one was after I had my son (Bradley Stunkel Jr in 1995). It was here (at US Open) in 1997. I played doubles with Jill Hetherington. We beat Venus and Serena in the first round (64 75), the first year of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Then we lost in the second round to Rennae Stubbs and Lisa Raymond (61 57 63).

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4 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Come on now, just one comment on Kathy Rinaldi’s first and last… She is a historic player, played her first pro tournament at 13. Think about that. 13.

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    OK – she was on the front cover of a book I did with a photographer around the time she was 14 I think. The picture showed her retrieving a ball from her panties and when the book was published in the US the cover picture was considered ‘too provocative’ and was replaced by one of John McEnroe yelling. There.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    That’s very interesting Catherine, would live too that original cover and the McEnroe cover too, if you still have it.

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Unfortunately the book is long out of print so no pics of the covers are around. I don’t have one. It was a large format paperback called Passing Shots if you ever browse in used book shops. Rinaldi’s pic was inside in the US edition.

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