Pavel Vizner

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.

[ad#adify-300×250]

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!

[ad#journeyman]

The Journeyman: In The Thick of the Summer

Mark Keil, director/producer of “The Journeymen” along with Geoff Grant and tennis coach at Shrewsbury Health and Racquet Club writes about his experiences in the heat of the summer worldwide tour.

The tour event in Kitzbuhel, Austria is in a beautiful setting in a ski resort town.  It’s a great place to practice your serve due to the altitude.  If you can get it in consistently there, you will have an easy time at sea level to increase your serving percentage.

I played with the Netherland’s Sander Groen one year, and we beat Bjorn Borg’s conquerer in his comeback attempt in Monte Carlo, the Spaniard Jordi Arrese.  He played with his fellow countryman Alex Lopez-Moron. We went down to the tough Espana combo of Jordi Burillo and Tomas Carbonell 6-1, 7-5. The event held in Stuttgart at TC Weisenhoff, close to Zuffenhausen where the Porsche factory is located, is a calm tournament. The player’s restaurant overlooks the city, and is a nice view to take in before your match.

I played with the All-American out of Tennessee and US Open mixed doubles champion Shelby Cannon there once. Shelby has very unorthodox lefty strokes, but his return was awesome.  He turned me onto the band Pearl Jam, and they became my favorite of all time. He was known that if his partner is not playing well to yell out, “Just win it yourself!” after he would hit a nice shot. We went down to the tall skinny Joern Renzenbrink, who reminded me of Colonel Klink, and his German partner David Prinosil.

In 1997, I teamed up with Jaime Oncins of Brazil and we lost first round to Alberto Berasategui and Alberto Martin. On yet my last visit, Fernando Meligeni and I had a win over Sebastien Fitz and Martin Sinner in a close battle, before succumbing to David Adams and Pavel Vizner. I blame my losses there to the winding road leading up to the venue, that could make you a bit car sick.

Back on the hardcourts, the tourney that is held this week is the RCA event in Indianapolis.  Back in the day, it was voted the tournament of the year by the players. The tournament director was Mark Miles, who went on to become the innovative CEO of the ATP Tour. The player gifts were great, the player’s lounge was full of games, and it provided much welcome relief to the intense heat of the midwest of the US. I played with my favorite partner of all time, Peter Nyborg, currently a national coach of Kuwait, was an affable Swede who hailed from Trollhatten, home of the Saab.  He liked the player’s lounge so much he slept there one night. We played well and locked up wins over Nicklas Kulti and Brett Steven, Dan Kronauge and Chris Woodruff, Brian MacPhie and Sandon Stolle, before losing in the semis to Todd Martin and Scott Davis. Davis is the funniest tennis player I ever met, and he use to have a tattoo of his girlfriend’s name on his bicep.  Martin was no nonsense. Davis would make fun of your strokes. Back on the clay in Umag, Croatia, the scene was serene.

The slow clay courts really helped your overall game, and playing with Marcos-Aurelio Gorriz was solid. A private in the Spanish tennis armada, the lefty never missed.  We took out Daniel Orsanic and Aki Rahunen 6-2, 6-3. Rahnasto, a Fin, once learned German in a few weeks during a junior tour. We lost to Belgium’s finest Filip DeWulf and his weird but nice partner Tom Van Houdt.

[ad#co-1]