Daniel Hantuchova

McEnroe’s St. Patty’s Day Happenings

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – a day where a salient moment happened to John McEnroe, whose grandparents on his father’s side were from Ireland. As excerpted from my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com), McEnroe made his Davis Cup doubles debut and when he received no luck of the Irish in Key Biscayne in his swan song appearance in the modern day Sony Ericsson Open.

March 17

1927 – U.S. President Calvin Coolidge conducts the draw for the 1927 Davis Cup competition on the front lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. Coolidge picks the card with Czechoslovakia on it, which is drawn against Greece in the first round of the European Zone. Writes the New York Times of the event, “Surrounded by diplomats from the twenty-five nations entered into the tournament, he drew the card bearing the name of Czechoslovakia from the bowl of the trophy. Joseph C. Grew, Under Secretary of State, then picked Greece, which was paired with the nation of the President’s choice. The various diplomats then formed in line and each withdrew the name of one nation from the cup.” An ironic event occurs when the representative from Belgium selects his own nation from the cup. Twenty one nations are placed in the European Zone and four in the American Zone. The winner of each zone would meet each other and the winner taking on the United States, the holder of the Davis Cup, in the Challenge Round.

1979 – John McEnroe and Peter Fleming make their Davis Cup debut as a doubles team, defeating Ivan Molina and Orlando Agudelo 6-4, 6-0, 6-4 giving the United States a match-clinching 3-0 lead over Colombia in the Davis Cup first round at the Cleveland Skating Club in Cleveland, Ohio. McEnroe and Fleming become arguably the greatest doubles combination the United States has ever fielded in Davis Cup play, ending their patriotic partnership in 1984 with a 14-1 record. They win 14 straight Davis Cup doubles matches – a record among U.S. Davis Cup doubles teams – and represent the U.S. on Davis Cup final-winning teams in 1981 and 1982. Their final Davis Cup doubles match is their only defeat – a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 loss to Stefan Edberg and Anders Jarryd in the title-clinching win for Sweden over the United States in the 1984 Davis Cup final in Goteborg, Sweden.

1992 – John McEnroe, whose grandparents on his father’s side were born in Ireland, receives no luck of the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day in what becomes his final match ever at the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla., losing to Richard Krajicek 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the third round.

1996 – In a final played with on-court temperatures surpassing 110 degrees, Michael Chang defeats No. 68th-ranked Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-1, 6-1 to win the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. “Today I could actually feel the heat coming through the soles of my shoes,” says Chang following the match. “They announced 110 degrees, but I was told it was 130 degrees. They just didn’t want to scare anybody.”

2001- Booed as she enters the court for her final round match against Kim Clijsters at the Tennis Masters Series -Indian Wells, Serena Williams withstands the harsh fan and media allegations of match-fixing, by defeating Clijsters 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Fans react severely to the Williams family after Venus Williams abruptly withdraws from her semifinal match with Serena Williams the day before. “In the beginning, I was a little shocked,” Serena says. “Then I was like, ‘Wow, this is getting old. Move on to something new…I prayed to God just to help me be strong, not even to win, but to be strong, not listen to the crowd.” The withdrawal and aftermath came on the heels of tabloid story in the National Enquirer stating that Williams father Richard fixed the 2000 Wimbledon semifinal between the two sisters.

2007 – Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia wins her second Pacific Life Open championship in Indian Wells, Calif. – and her second career title – defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-3, 6-4 in the women’s singles final. “I think all the best things in life are worth waiting for, moments like this,” says Hantuchova, who wins her first title in Indian Wells five years earlier. “I guess all the hard work and everything I had to go through makes the victory that much sweeter.”