Libor Pimek

Bucharest, Romania: Beware of Dracula!

Mark Keil, senior tennis coach at Westboro Tennis and Swim Club outside of Boston, chats about the tour event in Bucharest, along with lovely Ljubijana, Slovenia.

Bucharest is a fascinating city full of history and folklore.  I partnered in 1995 with the infamous Jeff Tarango.  Jeff grew up in Palos Verdes, California and had a great junior career.  He stared at Stanford, and then went onto a pro career where he probably is most famous for his performance at Wimbledon on year.

While playing an early round match against Germany’s Alexander Mronz, Tarango got fed up with Bruno Rebeuh, the French umpire.  After being exasperated over too many bad line call’s, Jeff stormed off the court in a rage, and was defaulted.  Upon exiting the court, Mr. Rebeuh was slapped by Jeff’s wife at the time, Benedicte, a French woman.  His antic’s even made NBC’s nightly Tom Brokaw newscast.  Jeff was a true character; a maniac on the court but very giving off of it.  We beat Marc-Kevin Goellner of Germany and Piet Norval of South Africa in the first round.  Norval won a silver medal in doubles at the Barcelona Olympic’s with Wayne Ferreira.  He had a tragic car accident while hunting in South Africa, but has recovered fully and now coaches in his homeland.

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We then beat the Dutch contingent of Tom Kempers and Menno Oosting.  Menno unfortunately passed away in a car accident driving from France back to Holland a few year’s later.  I regret not going to his memorial service the player’s held in London a few weeks later.  At the time, Bucharest was a million dollar event, where the doubles winner’s would split a cool $100,000.

In the semis, we were up against Byron Talbot and Libor Pimek and it was nerve wracking.  After we broke at 5-4 in the third set, Tarango sat down on the changeover and then went on a ten minute bathroom break.  He did this to make me relax and pretend like I was just starting out the match, and wanted to simulate the first game of the match. I proceeded to serve four first serves and we won the match!  In between matches, I went down to the train station and encountered all of the Romanian orphans who lived under the station. It was an eye opening experience, and made me realize how lucky I was to be living in the US.

Nicolai Ceausescu was once the dictator, and I wanted to check out the tunnel maze’s he constructed underneath his parliament buildings. In the finals, Jeff and I defeated Cyril Suk and Daniel Vacek for the title.  It was a great week.

Also on tap this week, is the challenger event in Ljubijana, Slovenia.  It is a scenic town, and one should visit this place.  I teamed up with the Kiwi James Greenhalgh.  We took out Massimo Ardinghi of Italy Nebojsa Djordjevic of Yugoslavia in a tie breaker in the third.  We lost to the current tour player’s from the Czech Republic Petr Pala and Pavel Vizner.  Vizner was a Grizzly Adam’s TV show character  lookalike, who used the same racket as me for a long time.

Hope everyone enjoyed the US  Open, now to the dessert menu of the tennis season!

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Nostalgic Streams of Consciousness

Mark Keil, tennis teaching pro out of Massachusetts enlightens tennis people about some tournaments around the globe.  The Canadian Open, which alternates each year between Toronto and Montreal , is a cool glass of ice tea on the road to the US Open.  The men’s event this year in Toronto is played outside of the city a bit, on a college campus.  I played one year with Gary Muller of South Africa and we played against Kelly Jones and Chris Woodruff of the United States. “The Mull” was a long-haired guy by way of Beverly Hills, where he used to live with the actress Ann Turkel and the late Richard Harris. He was the symbol of Hollywood on the tour, organizing great parties at most of the Slams. He would have a great one in Australia and the tour authorities finally had to put a crack down on them. He showed up with Juliette Binoche at Wimbledon. “Bones” Jones (due to his great tennis bedside manner) was a former All American out of Pepperdine and two-time NCAA doubles champion with two different partners. He eventually became No. 1 in the world, and married another former player Tami Whitlinger. Chris “Country” Woodruff is a good ol boy out of Knoxville and NCAA singles champion for the University of Tennessee. He was a firerce competitor, and would try and fool you with his naivete. We lost 6-7, 6-7. In ’93 in Montreal, I played with Stefan Kruger of South African. He played on a NCAA runner-up team under the tutelage of Dennis Ralston at SMU. He either played unbelievable or horrendous. We lost to England’s Jeremy Bates and Chris Wilkinson very handily. I do not remember that match ever happening. I do remember Martin Laurendeau always throwing a bi-annual function at one of the fine strip establishments in the city. All the players would go.

The tour stop in San Marino is a hot and humid adventure on the east coast of Italy. I lost first round with the South African by way of Dallas Bryon Talbot. The current player Dusan Vemic and Tomas Cibulec beat us in three sets.  In ’94, I played with Libor Pimek, the angular Czech who would do the splits in the eye formation parallel to the net and knock off the return. If things were getting tight, he would tell his partner before serving, “I just try to get it in the box.”  He was a former top 25 singles player, and played every week. We defeated the muscular Karim Alami of Morocco and Diego Nargiso (ITA) in the first round. Narg was a dead ringer for a Nicolas Cage look a like. We went down to the Olympic silver singles medalist for Spain Jordi Arrese and Renzo Furlan, who was born in Conegliano Venetia (Italia.)

The event in Posnan is a short train ride away from Warsaw .I was seeded No. 1 one year with Cibulec, a quiet lad. We lost to the wild card team of Dabrowski and Gawlowski, not related. I did a lot of two on one training to get ready for the US Open due to our early exit.

Have a great week and hit the courts!

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