Qualifying at Wimbledon is a great experience and I remember walking through those pearly gates in the early 1990′s. The two times I played singles there I drew Nick Brown and Mark Petchey, both of England.
Nick beat me in straights and went onto upset Goran Ivanisevic in the next round. I would have loved to have played a top player, but I drew the local boys each time. I was suppose to play Mark on the first Monday, and it rained all week and I didn’t play until Friday. Petchey was used to it but it was severe torture for me. It would be like having to choose to either marry Maria Sharapova or Helena Christensen.
The seeded players at Wimbledon get a special locker room, while the other participants would be regulated to the second one close to the road. You could open up the window and peer out and watch all the people come in. I remember Derrick Rostagno, the cool southern Californian who was seeded, choose to keep his belongings with the plebians rather than the seeded players locker room.
I remember that my wife accompanied me to Wimbledon often. The Austrian player Horst Skoff (who recently passed away) used to always hit on her, so I thought if he liked her, she couldn’t be that bad. She was becoming a dentist in Stockholm, and it was nice to have her come along with me to these events. I played mixed doubles with Lori McNeil and we got to play Grant Connell and a young Lindsay Davenport on Centre Court. We got waxed, and I was again a nervous dude.
I played doubles with Dave Randall, and we had some tough matches. I never got past the round of sixteens in doubles at a major. It irks me in that it is always good to say you got to the “quarters” of a slam. Playing at Wimbledon always reminded me of my upbringing in Albuquerque, where Mike Velesquez would beat me in the state high school finals my junior and senior year. He wore shades once when he beat me before wearing shades was in style.
Overall, there is nothing like competing at The Championships, and one must go and check it out.