Who was your first tennis 'hero' and why?

galain

Hall of Fame
#1
Maybe not hero, but the first player you remember supporting and rooting for?

For me, it was Guillermo Vilas. I would have been around 9 or 10 and I was watching him playing a grass court tournament on tv. Chasing after a lob, he slipped on the grass, fell, got back up, continued chasing the ball, ran it down and kept it in play. I can't recall if he won the point or not but that was superhuman to my tiny mind and Willy got my support 100% in anything I ever saw him play after that.

I was just watching some of his older stuff on Youtube which brought the memory back to me, so I thought I'd ask you guys who the first player to get your support was and why.
 

BTURNER

Hall of Fame
#2
Maybe not hero, but the first player you remember supporting and rooting for?

For me, it was Guillermo Vilas. I would have been around 9 or 10 and I was watching him playing a grass court tournament on tv. Chasing after a lob, he slipped on the grass, fell, got back up, continued chasing the ball, ran it down and kept it in play. I can't recall if he won the point or not but that was superhuman to my tiny mind and Willy got my support 100% in anything I ever saw him play after that.

I was just watching some of his older stuff on Youtube which brought the memory back to me, so I thought I'd ask you guys who the first player to get your support was and why.
it was all happenstance. I was a very ADHD physically awkward boy. I had literally never watched tennis before. Our family knew nothing about the sport. For years, the whole family would congregate each Saturday to eat, watch TV and play bridge. We habitually turned the tv to CBS and just left it there. There was this one Saturday in 1984.... the family just kept watching and watching and routing for players nobody knew about all day long, as match after match came on. We did not bring out the card table. All those personalities. All those egos, and believe me, they were huge.

I was most struck by one calm quiet woman, who's voice I never heard for the 2+ hours she was on screen.

That presence was so secure, so deliberate, so certain of she wanted, so within her own mind, that she did not even seem to take any notice that there were thousands of people screaming, hollering and applauding what she was a part of. I did not understand how anyone could care so much what was about to happen, and yet not appear to care at all what had just finished happening. If there is something we might call 'mental grace', Chris Evert Lloyd was the only one of the six players I saw ,who showed much. I wanted so, to able to concentrate like that, to be in total control of my mind and body.
 
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#4
Maybe not hero, but the first player you remember supporting and rooting for?

For me, it was Guillermo Vilas. I would have been around 9 or 10 and I was watching him playing a grass court tournament on tv. Chasing after a lob, he slipped on the grass, fell, got back up, continued chasing the ball, ran it down and kept it in play. I can't recall if he won the point or not but that was superhuman to my tiny mind and Willy got my support 100% in anything I ever saw him play after that.

I was just watching some of his older stuff on Youtube which brought the memory back to me, so I thought I'd ask you guys who the first player to get your support was and why.

Vilas too, for me. Courage, romanticism, combination of strength and fragility, and he worked so hard to win all these tournaments and become number 1 (whatever ATP says).
 

BTURNER

Hall of Fame
#8
Watched edberg mecir Wimbledon match. From that moment onwards I became a fan of tennis and serve and volley.
Well, you definitely would have seen all the shots tennis has, executed in perfect balance and maximum efficiency in motion with those two. They both did everything they did so gracefully and fluidly.
 

andreh

Professional
#12
For me, being a Swede, Wilander in 1988. I was 12 and had just started playing tennis myself. I switched to Edberg as soon as I became aware of him (when he won W in 88) because I thought his style of play was way cooler. Still my hero today along with a bunch of other players, all S&V players.
 
#13
Andre... Because at the time I was in middle school learning to play at a country club and constantly being told that I was hitting "too hard". Saw the first Agassi/Nike commercial with the sounds of crushing a ball, it hitting the court, then back fence. Then the "that outta wake up the country club" line. For me it wasn't the hair or racquet/clothes colors - it was how he attacked the ball and hit the ball early taking time away from his opponent. That's what I was trying to do (at a millionth of the level lol) on court and related.
 
D

Deleted member 743545

Guest
#14
Andy Roddick. I started watching tennis around 2002/2003 and Roddick was my first favorite player. At that time many people liked hewitt (current World No.1) or Safin.
 
#19
Jimmy Connors. Didn't like his brashness, but liked the way he fought for every point. Only shot of his i tried to copy is his skyhook overhead. Tried to hit one this morning on a lob that was going over my head, missed it long by a couple of inches.
 
#20
Mats Wilander. I was a kid in the 80s. I loved the player and the man : smart game, great sportsmanship, open-minded and definitely a great guy in every way. I loved the way he won all his titles. How he struggled after reaching all his goals when he was a kid, I think it just touched me.

I grew-up with him, I still admires him after all these years, in a way he's a part of my life. Met him twice, which I'll never forget. I hope I'll see him again.
 
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#21
It was Martina Hingis, my grandmother was a big fan of hers and when I was staying at my grand-parents, we would wake up at night to see the Australian Open. Great memories of Martina and my grandmother.
 

jhick

Professional
#27
I didn't really have a 'hero' per se when I first started watching tennis. I've always admired McEnroe's game even though his temper and on court demeanor was offputting. But then along came Edberg and Becker and I had started to model my game after them (I preferred rooting for Edberg but because of my serve my game was more like Becker's). And then Pete started to dominate in the 90's and he was it. Eventually Fed but I didn't like him at first. Who did this young guy with a ponytail beating Sampras at Wimbledon think he was. Well eventually I couldn't deny the greatness of Federer and he became my new favorite player.

So back to the original question...I guess Edberg was my first hero
 
#29
I used to be a ball boy for a small tennis tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma in late 70’s and early 80’s. Jimmy Connors was the main player several times. I idolized him. He was great to the crowd and extremely nice to the ball kids. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized he was a jerk
 
#30
I used to be a ball boy for a small tennis tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma in late 70’s and early 80’s. Jimmy Connors was the main player several times. I idolized him. He was great to the crowd and extremely nice to the ball kids. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized he was a jerk
It says something for him that he showed respect for the younger people, does not always happen.

Hoad and Rosewall were also friendly to the ball boys.
 
#32
First professional tennis match I ever watched was Robin Soderling beat Rodger Federer at Wimbledon to break the semi-final streak. Super fun match and crazy cool venue for someone that knew nothing about pro tennis. Rooted for Sodering until he got sick, but still following his story
 
#38
Not sure she qualifies as one of my heroes per se, but I'm a tennis fan partially because of the wonderfully elegant Virginia Ruzici.
I have tried to find decent footage of Ruzici over 5 minutes long, but the only match I can find, is 'highlights' of the 1980 RG final, and it has to be absolute worst cinematography of a tennis match, I have ever seen. The only time you can see the ball is during the service toss on the near end, the lighting is worse than the black and white stuff from the 1930's or forties, and half the time the French directors decided the crowd was more fascinating than the tennis. Just horrible. I can't find any other clips of Virginia besides of course 3 minutes of RG final in 1978 .
 
#40
For me it was Jim Courier. He was number one at the time I started playing and he also played the style we all did on the hard courts of California. I also liked the fact how just seemed like a normal guy. He wasn’t a big celebrity like Agassi was.

Unfortunately his star faded pretty quickly. But he was my first tennis love so to speak.
 
#41
First professional tennis match I ever watched was Robin Soderling beat Rodger Federer at Wimbledon to break the semi-final streak. Super fun match and crazy cool venue for someone that knew nothing about pro tennis. Rooted for Sodering until he got sick, but still following his story
You must mean the French Open. Only time he beat him.
 
#42
I have tried to find decent footage of Ruzici over 5 minutes long, but the only match I can find, is 'highlights' of the 1980 RG final, and it has to be absolute worst cinematography of a tennis match, I have ever seen. The only time you can see the ball is during the service toss on the near end, the lighting is worse than the black and white stuff from the 1930's or forties, and half the time the French directors decided the crowd was more fascinating than the tennis. Just horrible. I can't find any other clips of Virginia besides of course 3 minutes of RG final in 1978 .

I have seen her 1977 U.S. Open loss to Austin, 1977 French Open final win, and 81 Wimbledon QF loss to Martina. I also remember watching her 1982 US Clay Courts F win over Sukova live as well as a game of her 1985 Family Circle Cup loss to Chris.
 

acintya

Hall of Fame
#43
Sampras - because my uncle and my bro were for Agassi

then they called me SamPrasec (Prasec is a pig in our language)

it was fun :D

but i think IVANISEVIC was my hero. he is the one for me :) kinda felt more connected to him as he is a Slovan.
 
#45
Bjorn. He: 6’ tall, long blonde locks in a head band with ice in his veins, cool and classy on the court. Me in the early 70s: 5’ tall, straight black hair. I wanted to be like Bjorn.
 

Kobble

Hall of Fame
#47
Agassi. Saw him on alot of commercials, and remember watching him play Pete at that first U.S. Open final. Mid to late 90's I wanted to hit the ball like him. Used to watch him smash the targets at Arthur Ashe kids day. Big influence on my backhand and forehand. later I moved away from trying to hit forehands like Andre. McEnroe was my intro to pro tennis when I was about 3 years old. Agassi influenced my playing style the most.

What influenced my strokes in what amount and what order of development.

Serve: McEnroe, Sampras, and then Krajicek (90%)
Forehand: Agassi (20%)> Tursunov/Moya (20%) > Safin/Federer/Nadal (60%)
Backhand: Agassi (70%) > Safin (30%)
 
#48
The Rocket as seen in the 1972 WCT final. Incredibly high level of play. Fourth and fifth set tie-breakers.

I had played for years before 1972, but this match encouraged me to start religiously watching tennis on television.
 
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#49
Nice to see so many Edberg fans. He was my hero to. I likes his attacking game and that he was Swedish (I’m Danish). He played with Wilson like me and i modelled my backhand after him.
 
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