Friday, April 03, 2015

World Team Tennis Hall of (What a) Shame

As Billie Jean King proudly introduces the teams for the upcoming season of World Team Tennis, I was reminded of something. Sure, her signature league irrevocably skewed the record books so most of the greatest players in the early open area have way fewer majors under their belts than they should have. But at least we got all this 1970s goodness -- and a bag of (Ray) Ruffels!

I was a ballboy for the Phoenix Sunsets in 1982 (I was on-court with Billie Jean King when her team competed against ours) and again with my brothers and my friend Greg during the 1983 Team Tennis incarnation. The Sunsets played at Veterans Memorial Coliseum the first year of the expansion teams -- as they had in the 1970s heyday -- then moved to the smaller Paradise Valley Racquet Club in '83 as the Arizona Racquets. We had hunky Butch Walts, Tom Gullikson, Pam Teeguarden and Ann Kiyomura on our team -- was Andy Pattison there, too? -- and Ann did not like the way I tossed balls to her! 

Under the Christmas tree in my Phoenix Sunsets T-shirt

My memories are somewhat hazy. But I recall once catching an errant ball at Veterans Memorial Coliseum that someone from the audience threw back down behind my back (without even knowing it was being thrown to me!). That "Stand Back" (Stevie Nicks) and "Saved by Zero" (The Fixx)" were CONSTANTLY on the radio of Bill's Toyota as we made the long trek to Paradise Valley in the sweltering summer heat back in '83. And that we took my friend Mark a few times when he was in town from Detroit. To this day, he still imitates Pam tossing the ball up and then catching it, saying, "Sorry." Most importantly, I remember we had a hoot!

Martina and Bjorn!

Those fun courts!

And a mediocre Elton John song!

1 comment:

Damian said...

On the flip side, if not for WTT, my almost-namesake Guillermo Vilas would have never won Roland Garros, where Borg had (and would) frustrate him for years except for when he skipped it the year of my birth. Thanks BJK!