A Hit with a Great One?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Frankc, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. Frankc

    Frankc Semi-Pro

    Feb 20, 2004
    I guess that I don't hang around the right people or right places. I have friends who have had a chance to hit with one of the Greats and live to tell about it - and each has over and over.Must be special. One was allowed on the court with Mac in Mac's prime - he still rolls his eyes and gestures over the depth and precision. One warmed up Gardnar Malloy, before one of his senior national championship matches, and my friend left the court smiling knowing the tennis experience there - that buddy talks over and over about the utter smoothness and exactness of Mr. Malloy, even well into his sixties.

    My two lucky moments were with Sven Davidson and Vitas. A practice set with Mr. Davidson (after his heart surgery) found him mercilessly taking apart my game - his precision and the heaviness of his shots and the joy that he took being out there were awe inspiring. Hah - at twenty five years younger and playing well, I thought, I felt like a puppet out there. It was a pleasure meeting him - he was on his way to a Grand Masters Tourney - recovering from bypass surgeries.

    Very luckily, I was visiting Saddlebrook, and Vitas kindly joined us for two on one drilling for a few minutes. All three of us looked at each other and took in his graciousness, ease, and "OH, Those Hands." As the "one" at the net, what he just "did" with his wrist angles and of course with a humble smile and ease, we could wonder at and enjoy. By the way, for you Vitas fans out there, he enjoyed a Prestige Pro shortly before his unfortunate death. That is, after his golf clubs that were so dear to hime. The golf cart was waiting right outside the court that lovely afternoon.

    Would be great if you could share any hits with the Greats that you have enjoyed... Thanks for listening...
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  2. galain

    galain Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    I once spent all of 5 minutes opposite Mark Kratzmann (who held match point over a certain B. Becker the year he won his first Wimbledon). Not exactly a tennis legend, but he could have stopped Becker from becoming one.

    Five minutes were enough to convince me that my ideas of being a professional tennis player were never going to amount to anything if I was feeling so helpless with someone who wasn't even focussing on what he was doing.

    Martina Navratilova came to our home court to practice and I watched her hitting but wasn't allowed to get oncourt with her. Only the owners daughter got that privilege. She was incredible though (Martina - not the daughter). Didn't miss a ball for half an hour and constantly moved between baseline and net. Perfect balance.
  3. Oz_Rocket

    Oz_Rocket Professional

    May 21, 2012
    The Land Down Under
    The father of the family who lived next door to my parents was involved heavily with the Qld Lawn Tennis Association from the 1930s to 1950s. He had died by the time I was born, but my dad tells of one party he was invited to in the 1960s where it was a who's who of Australian players. Laver, Anderson, Cooper, Emerson, etc.

    They had a clay court so Dad got to watch them have an impromptu hit for fun. He was invited to join in but didn't play tennis so declined.

    I spent a lot of time hitting on that same court as a kid in the late 70s till the mother (who was in her 90s by then) passed away and they sold the land for development. So sad to see it go given the history of who had played there over the years.
  4. robow7

    robow7 Professional

    Mar 13, 2008
    I know I've told this before but,
    A close friend of mine, a top collegiate player not far removed from the Challenger circuit got to hit with an aging Laver (in his mid-50's) one afternoon, when Laver aced him out wide in the ad. My friend laughed it off and told the Rocket to serve him again in the ad, and again Laver supposedly hit the same exact spot as the first serve for a second ace. My friend then goes up and puts an X on the mark and tells Laver that if he can hit the spot again for a third time that he'll quit the game. Laver's next serve misses the mark by maybe 6 inches. My friend laughingly pointed out to Laver that he had missed, and Rod replied with a grin that he missed because he didn't want to see the kid quit the game. He told me what a complete and utter gentleman he was and how humble he was when asked of his accomplishments.
  5. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

    Jul 18, 2008
    Space/Time continuum alternative reality
    Great story. Always wonderful to read stories like this.

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