iron curtain

If Your Opponent Runs Out Of Rackets, Don’t Lend Him One Of Yours!!!

Have you ever played a tennis match where your opponent broke strings in all of his rackets? Take it from former French Open and Wimbledon champion Jan Kodes, don’t lend them one of your rackets to continue playing! The following is an excerpt from Kodes’ new book JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN (A beautiful coffee table narrative book available here on amazon.com for $31.20: http://www.amazon.com/Jan-Kodes-Journey-Behind-Curtain/dp/0942257685/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281452277&sr=8-1) where the Czech legend explains why!

After the Czechoslovak International Championships at Stvanice, Kodes was nominated to play an international tournament in a spa town Zinnowitz in East Germany. On the way there the Czechoslovaks took part in a friendly encounter in Halle. Kodes lost to Luttropp 6-3, 5-7, and 4-6 there but he remembers an episode that he likes to laugh about till today.

I had a match-point in the second set at 5:2. Before the match-point my opponent’s strings broke. He proceeded to the net and extended his hand for an end-of-the-match handshake saying that he had no other racket. He had two rackets but strings in the first burst right at the start.

“Don’t be silly,” I told him, “here is my racket, let’s finish the match.”

And that is what happened – I lost that match! I never again did anything similar to that.

I was young, honest, and fair. With time I learned that nobody gives anything gratis. It was yet another lesson.

WHEN DID SITTING ON CHANGE-OVERS START AT WIMBLEDON?

A great trivia question out there that one might not find too easily with a Google search, and was touched upon briefly on American television by Cliff Drysdale and Patrick McEnroe on ESPN and Mary Carillo, Ted Robinson and John McEnroe on NBC, is the following:

“What was the last year in which there was no sitting on changeovers at Wimbledon?”

The answer is 1973, with the men’s final that year being between Jan Kodes of Czechoslovakia and Alex Metrevelli of the Soviet Union.

Writes Kodes his new coffee-table glossy book JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN (New Chapter Press, available for $36.46 on www.amazon.com), “In the course of the entire Wimbledon competition we were not allowed to sit down during change-overs; that got introduced only the following year. My final with Metreveli was thus the last match when players could not rest – there were no chairs. We had thirty seconds to drink, towel off and get back to the other side of the court. It was ok with me. The matches flowed, there was nothing disturbing the continuity. But what a difference a year later, when I played against Connors in the quarter-finals and he sat down at 2:1 in the first set and stayed there for a minute and a half! That made a real difference….”

Kodes won that 1973 Wimbledon, defeating Metrevelli 6-1, 9-8 (5), 6-3.

JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN was originally published in Czech and provides a narrative and illustrated history of Czech tennis through the eyes of Kodes and author Peter Kolar. The book, filled with hundreds of unique and personal photographs, documents the successful journey of Kodes from political turmoil of the Cold War to international tennis fame, detailing the early days of darkness and family persecution in communist Czechoslovakia and the complexities of becoming a professional tennis player under a totalitarian regime. Entertaining anecdotes featuring Czech tennis legends Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova are also featured as well as the stories behind Kodes’ victories at Wimbledon and the French Open and his two runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open. The book is available for $49.95 in bookstores and retail outlets across the United States and Canada. It is a deluxe glossy photo and text hard cover that fills 548 pages.

Kodes is considered the most under-rated tennis champion of the Open Era, reaching five major singles finals, winning the French Open in 1970 and 1971 and the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1973. He also reached the U.S. Open final in both 1971 and 1973, losing to Stan Smith and John Newcombe, respectively. Kodes played Davis Cup for Czechoslovakia for 15 years, leading his country to the final in 1975, where it lost to Sweden in Stockholm. His Davis Cup finale came in representing the team in 1980 when it won the championship over Italy in the final. Kodes has served as his country’s Davis Cup captain, president of the Czech Tennis Association, and tournament director of ATP Czech Open tournament.