Pat Cash Discusses Grass, Hall of Fame Status And The “Goat” Prior To Defense Of Newport Title
1987 Wimbledon Champion Seeks Second Career Outback Champions Series Title August 20-23 at International Tennis Hall of Fame
Pat Cash is gearing up his grass-court game on the lawns of Great Britain in anticipation of his title defense at this month’s $150,000 Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, R.I. The only grass-court event on the Outback Champions Series will be held August 20-23 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In the following question and answer session, the 1987 Wimbledon champion discusses his 2008 final-round win in Newport over Jim Courier as well as grass court tennis, his hopes of one day becoming a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and also chimes in on the “Greatest Of All-Time” debate in men’s tennis.
Cash will be joined in Newport by Hall of Famers Courier and Mats Wilander, as well as Mark Philippoussis, Todd Martin, Wayne Ferreira, Mikael Pernfors and Jimmy Arias. Individual and series tickets for the event can be purchased at 866-914-FAME (3263) or by visiting www.tennisfame.com. The Hall of Fame Champions Cup is the fifth of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. The tournament will be an eight-player, single-knock-out event with the winner earning $60,000.
Cash, 44, joined the illustrious list of Australian players to win Wimbledon when he defeated Ivan Lendl to win the title in 1987. Cash was a singles finalist at the Australian Open in 1987 and 1988, a semifinalist at the US Open in 1984 and led Australia to victory in the Davis Cup in 1983 and 1986. He achieved a career high singles ranking of No. 4 in 1988 and won seven singles and 12 doubles titles during his ATP career. Cash’s best showings on the Outback Champions Series came when he beat Courier in the final in Newport in 2008 and in 2006 when he defeated John McEnroe en route to the final in Naples, Fla., where he lost to Courier.
Q: What are your memories of last year in Newport where you were able to beat Jim Courier to win your first tournament on grass courts since Wimbledon in 1987?
CASH: As most times when you win a tournament you need a bit of luck and I was no different. I hit form at the right time. I’m very consistent with my serve and volley game but I really hit a purple patch with my return and passing game and that’s just as important to win on the grass.
Q: Talk about the differences between grass courts in Britain versus grass courts in the United States and in Australia?
CASH: In the end, grass is grass but the ball tends to bounce a little lower at the beautiful Hall of Fame facility than in Australia and England at the All England Club (Wimbledon) and Queens Club, where I live most of my time. When I was playing the tour, the grass courts were more like the Hall of Fame, which I think gives a slight advantage to the serve and volley game than it does now.
Q: You had a tremendous career where you won Wimbledon in 1987, reached two other major finals at the Australian Open (1987, 1988), won the Davis Cup twice for Australia – do you hope to some day be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame?
CASH: That would be an honor for sure though I’m not sure if that will happen any time soon. In the end my record speaks for itself.
Q: Besides playing on the Outback Champions Series circuit, what keeps you busy these days?
CASH: I never have time for myself somehow. I am opening up a few tennis academies around the world – in Thailand and several in the Caribbean in the next few years. I have been lucky to be invited to play, commentate and write for the Sunday Times (UK) at the Grand Slams. I’ve been busy promoting the ATP Finals which have moved to London this year. Various charities and my kids also fill my diary up nicely.
Q: What is your take on the Greatest Of All-Time argument in men’s tennis? Do you give Roger Federer the nod? Where does Pete Sampras and your countryman Rod Laver fit into the equation?
CASH: Ah yes who’s the greatest ever? It’s a fun talking point but crazy really as every era has different things to deal with. Laver and his opponents played with small wooden rackets and had to time the ball perfectly to create power. He grabbed 11 major singles titles and don’t forget he was banned from amateur tennis for six years until it went professional. I would think he would have won at least five or six more, likely 10, in those years as they were his peak years. With 20 plus Grand Slams, it would be hard to argue against him. There’s no denying Sampras was unplayable at his best. Rackets and strings have made a huge difference of course.
Q: It has been 25 years since the infamous “Super Saturday” at the US Open in 1984. What are your thoughts about that historic day and your epic match with Ivan Lendl 25 years later?
CASH: As a 19-year-old and just outside the top 15, I had nothing to lose and having watched McEnroe’s tactics successfully against Ivan on faster courts, I knew I had to play my own style. I was haunted for years having match point and losing as you never really know if you will get another chance. It looked like I never would as about 12 months later, I seriously hurt my back. It’s only years later you look back and acknowledge how spectacular the whole day had become.
Q: What is the current status of your game and how do you feel about coming into Newport to defend your title?
CASH: I haven’t played as much as last year but with some good practice at Wimbledon before I come over, I think I can give the guys one tough challenge.
The complete schedule of play for the Hall of Fame Champions Cup is as follows;
Thursday, August 20th – 1pm
Singles Quarterfinal – Todd Martin vs. Wayne Ferreira
Doubles Exhibition – Mats Wilander & Mikael Pernfors vs. Mark Philippoussis & Pat Cash
Singles Quarterfinal – Jim Courier vs. Jimmy Arias
Friday, August 21st – 1pm
Singles Quarterfinal – Mark Philippoussis vs. Mikael Pernfors
Doubles Exhibition – Jim Courier & Wayne Ferreira vs. Todd Martin & Jimmy Arias
Singles Quarterfinal – Pat Cash vs. Mats Wilander
Saturday, August 22nd – 1pm
Singles Semifinal – Martin/Ferreira winner vs. Courier/Arias winner
Singles Semifinal – Philippoussis/Pernfors winner vs. Cash/Wilander winner
Sunday, August 23rd – 1pm
3rd Place Match
Cash won the 2008 Hall of Fame Champions Cup, defeating Courier 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Martin won the inaugural Hall of Fame Champions Cup in 2007, defeating John McEnroe 7-5, 7-5 in the final. Pete Sampras won the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, defeating McEnroe in the final of the Champions Cup Boston in February. McEnroe won the second event of the year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, defeating Courier in the final. Sampras won his second title of the year at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, defeating Patrick Rafter in the final. Courier won his first title of the 2009 season in April at the Cayman Islands, defeating Arias in the final. Following Newport, remaining events on the Outback Champions Series will be held in Charlotte (Sept. 24-27), Surprise, Ariz. (Oct. 8-11) and Dubai, U.A.E. (Nov. 18-21).
Courier leads the current Champions Rankings on the Outback Champions Series with 2000 points, followed by Sampras with 1600 points and McEnroe with 1300 points. Arias sits at a career-high No. 4 Outback Champions Series ranking with 1050 points, followed by Cash with 700 points at No. 5 and Philippoussis at No. 6 with 600 points. Wilander, Pernfors and Patrick Rafter are tied at No. 7 with 500 points, while Martin rounds out the top 10 with 400 points.
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Andre Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series points that will determine the year-end Champions Rankings No. 1.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, established in 1954, is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. It was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s legendary grass courts remain the only competition grass courts available for professional events and exhibitions, while also available for public play. For more information about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, events and programs, please call 401-849-3990 or log on to www.tennisfame.com
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events, private corporate outings and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.