Say what you want about the state of American tennis, July 14 at Randall’s island is bound to be a treat for fans of all ages. Yes they are both older, grayer and probably just a tad slower, but John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors on court, in the New York area, at any point is still fun, fiery, and worth the price of admission.
The match will take place as part of the 2011 World Team Tennis season with McEnroe, captain for the New York Sportimes, taking on Connors, a hired gun for the Philadelphia Freedoms, in a marquee match that will benefit the Johnny Mac Tennis Project, which helps with financial support for students attending the sold out John McEnroe Tennis Academy, now entering its second year at Sportime Randall’s Island, nestled just under the Triborough Bridge.
Those who listened to Tuesday’s conference call between Connors and McEnroe got more than a notebook full of items, ranging from Jimmy’s use of Twitter to John’s thoughts on Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. However not lost in the friendly banter was the continued competitive spirit and light trash talk between the two longtime rivals, a rivalry which has not been renewed in over a decade. “Yeah we are friendly competitors, but make no mistake, I always want to win,” Connors said. McEnroe snickered at the comment, perhaps preferring to let his actions talk a bit louder. Unlike the slightly older Connors, McEnroe has kept himself in outstanding shape, working out with his young players almost every day at the Academy while also filling a busy schedule with senior events, exhibitions and last July, WTT action, where he helped lead the Sportimes to the Eastern Conference title.
WTT, founded by Billie jean King and still run by King and business partner Ilana Kloss, remains a fun and entertaining night of affordable tennis, with some flair of minor league baseball mixed in. And while the league touts itself for featuring many of the younger stars emerging in tennis today, fans still like to see the senior faces take the court again, whether they are players like Martina Hingis or Lindsay Davenport, or Connors and McEnroe. The competitive juices flow again, and the level of tennis seems to rise, especially in a shortened format, and not so far from Flushing Meadows.
Connors and McEnroe met 34 times during the ATP portion of their storied careers, with McEnroe leading the series 20‐14. They spilt their Grand Slam singles finals matchups, with Connors winning at Wimbledon in 1982 (3‐6, 6‐3, 6‐7, 7‐6, 6‐4), and with McEnroe prevailing in 1984 (6‐1, 6‐1, 6‐2). They last met in an ATP event in Basel, Switzerland in 1991, with McEnroe winning 6‐1, 6‐3.
Ticket prices for the match will be $250, $150, $60, and $40, with a portion being tax deductable. Tickets for the special evening, or any of the other home Sportime matches can be purchased by calling 212‐792‐8500 or going to nysportimes.com for the full schedule of July events.