Saturday, July 11, 2020

Getting My Pro Tennis Fix

The only thing more fun than watching old tennis matches on DVD during a pandemic is having Martina Navratilova weigh in! 

(BTW: Martina killed Trace the next day in the final, 2 and 2.)

Tracy was in fine form in this semifinal showdown at the 1980 United Airlines Sunbird Cup at the Grenelefe Golf & Tennis Resort in Haines City, Fla., where it was played until moving to clay courts in 1984 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. Andrea threw up a lot of her trademark moon balls, which Tracy would patiently return until seeing an opportunity to hammer one on the rise.

This was the third time the teens had played and the worst drubbing for the 14-year-old, who had turned pro earlier that year after winning the Avon Futures of Las Vegas, beating Barbara Potter in the final, 7–6, 4–6, 6–1. After the loss to Austin, though, Andrea told Bud Collins and Dr. Julie Anthony (Gigi Fernandez’s May-December “coach”) that she thought she would get there eventually, once she grew up a bit. And sure enough, she would rally to defeat Tracy 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in Mahwah, N.J., later that same year, in the run-up to her sensational semifinal showing at the 1980 U.S. Open, where she suffered a devastating loss to Hana Mandlikova. The nail-biting 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 defeat would weigh heavily on my mind when Jennifer Capriati fell to Monica Seles by a similar score 11 years later, which seemed to put the nail in the coffin of Jen 1.0. Jaeger, of course, brushed it off and went on to reach 36 finals, winning 10 of them, including runner-up performances at the 1982 French Open (where in the semis she humiliated Chris Evert in straights sets) and Wimbledon 1983 (where in the semis she handed Billie Jean King her worst loss ever at the All-England Club) . But not unlike Austin, Jaeger's career would sadly effectively be over a year after that Wimbledon final, thanks to a devastating shoulder injury.

Much has been written about Andrea's post-tennis life, including her founding the Silver Lining Foundation in Colorado -- later renamed the Little Star Foundation -- benefiting children with cancer. (Wikipedia notes that the organization had powerful backers, both in the world of sports and elsewhere, including John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and David Robinson. In 1996, Jaeger received the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under.) And for a time in the aughts she was a nun, "Sister Andrea," as a member of the Anglican Order of Preachers. She was also linked in 2007 to Athletes for Hope, along with Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Tony Hawk, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Muhammad Ali, But a quick Google search shows earlier this year she was accused of misleading officials for tax breaks on her sprawling ranch where the sick children visit, which sounds bad but is so convoluted it is hard to know what to make of the charge. By all accounts she has done a lot great work in her life, but she may have tried to pull a fast one when some of her charitable endeavors dried up. (Not good.) One way or another, she sold the property in question in November for $1.5 million to a private owner and reportedly moved to Florida where she continues to raise money. 

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