Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Austin Powers

Just when I thought eBay wasn't really worthwhile anymore, I've noticed someone -- most likely a former sports photographer or newsroom librarian -- has been selling old slides from tennis matches.

I've probably watched as much tennis any anyone in the world, but my greatest regret ever is that the round-robin match between Chris Evert and Tracy Austin from the 1981 Toyota Series Championships was never televised. By all accounts, it was their greatest match ever. Tracy was up a set and a break, only to have it go to a third. Tracy saved two match points down 3-5, then two more in the tiebreak, finding herself two points from victory before Chris out-slugged her in one last cross court forehand rally. (Just re-reading the press reports from the match had me sweating even now.) The No. 1 ranking was seriously on the line -- Chris had finally won Wimbledon for hubby John Lloyd, Tracy came back from her back injury to sweep the hardcourt season, including a second U.S. Open, and Martina had finally gotten her team together to take the Australian Open, in a prelude of the dominance that was to come the next five years. (That was back when the Aussie Open was played in December.)

Because the match was not televised, it was never filmed. So while I've been able to relive the glory via bootleg DVDs of Tracy's revenge drubbing of Chris in the semifinals, and her down-a-set victory over Martina in the finals -- in which she played the BEST MATCH of her entire career, taking over the net on fast indoor carpeting, only to have her back go out again in early '82 and effectively never be the same player again -- Chris' 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) win is the holy grail of tennis matches. And while I know I will never be able to see it -- barring the invention of a time machine, which I would use to see this rather than stopping Hitler -- this pretty-in-pink photo of Tracy that popped up on eBay last night just may be from the classic match, which is enough to give me chills. (It could also be from Tracy's first-round win over Virginia Ruzici, but I don't want to believe that.) If anyone was there, I'd love to know for sure. The red Gunze shirt is definitely from the semis, and I sincerely doubt she'd have worn it again if it was the outfit she'd lost in. (You may recall she wore the canary Gunze shirt in the final.)

Also found these two darling Tracy Austin Autograph ads from Spalding. I wanted to use one in the worst way, but settled for a Bancroft Players Special, which was virtually identical minus the girl's name on it. (Yes, I got it because Martina and Dianne Fromholtz used it!)

UPDATE: I tweeted Tracy and Chris and then said on Facebook how I know Tracy won't remember a thing -- she never does. Waiting to see if Chris weighs in (she remembers EVERYTHING!).

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