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Scoop Malinowski Interview About “Facing McEnroe”
- Updated: April 11, 2017
Question: What inspired you to write Facing McEnroe?
Scoop Malinowski: “Curiosity to know what is it like to actually play tennis against John McEnroe. We’ve seen the matches live or on TV. I wanted to investigate deeper by talking to the players about their experiences on the tennis courts with John.”
Question: Did you learn anything unexpected?
Scoop Malinowski: “Yes for sure. I believe McEnroe’s arguing antics were a calculated tactic to try to distract the opponent. As one player said, “If the score was 4-2 for John, nothing would happen. If it was 3-3, John would definitely do something.” I learned John was always a ferocious competitor. One player said even in practice sets with nobody watching, after he retired, he would summon the same intensity as if it was a Wimbledon final. There were also several close calls of actual fistfights. There were so many amusing stories and anecdotes that I’m very happy to have dedicated all the time and hours to this book.”
Question: What was the highlight of the process?
Scoop Malinowski: “Whew. Many highlights. The memories by Ivan Lendl, Peter McNamara, Paul McNamee, Pat Cash, Brian Gottfried, Tim Mayotte. But a weird one pops in my head first. When the tennis writers were playing on the courts in Vermont and John just finished his own practice and walked by and dared any of the writers that if they could even get a racquet on his serve, he would pay them twenty bucks. Harvey Araton of the New York Times shared that anecdote.”
Question: Were most of the players cooperative about helping you complete this project?
Scoop Malinowski: “Absolutely. The retired players have less stress and pressure and don’t mind revealing a few juicy secrets. Only one player turned me down and that was Phil Dent. The entertainment value of the memories and stories the players told me about Facing McEnroe exceeded all expectations. I still remember talking with Paul McNamee inside the players lounge at the US Open and him sharing fifteen minutes of tape on my recorder which was like audio gold. Pat Cash, Bryan Shelton and Tim Mayotte were others who took a lot of time and shared many interesting details. Gosh, there were so many thrilling moments working on this book.”
Question: How long did it take you to finish the book?
Scoop Malinowski: “About two years off and on. I did the interviews with players at the US Open, Newport, Delray Beach, Miami Open and the Eddie Herr junior event in Bradenton FL over two years.”
Question: Were you able to interview Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg?
Scoop Malinowski: “Unfortunately no. I was not able to contact Jimmy via his son Brett who I’m friends with but I did see a TV interview Jimmy did about playing John and I credited the source and added the brief comments. And I did research an old video interview a friend of mine did with Borg many years ago where he talked about playing John and the friend did give me permission to use some of that interview for Facing McEnroe.”
Question: What do you think made John such an extraordinary champion in tennis?
Scoop Malinowski: “Love of the game. John loves to play. He still loves it today just as much. Like one player said, “Nobody loves tennis more than John.” He absolutely loves to play, loves to compete, loves to zip around the court and strike the ball. And has a very creative mind which helps him to find new and different ways to win when the regular patterns are not working. He’s a genius who applied his genius to the sport of tennis.”
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