Chris Evert, Fed Cup 1989

Published in World Tennis Magazine, December 1989.

In October 1989, Chris Evert represented the United States for the last time in the Federation Cup. Here, she recounts the week.

Tuesday

Our first-round match is against Greece. I play Christine Papadaki, who I have never played or even seen before. The stress I feel before the match has nothing to do with the match itself, but with whether I will fit into the new tennis skirts the USTA made for us. They have red, white and blue sequined flags on the front. Anyway, Martina (Navratilova) and I overcame our jet lag (we arrived in Tokyo the night before after playing in a series of exhibitions) to win easily. Pam (Shriver) and Zina (Garrison) win the doubles.
We go to the NEC Sponsor Dinner later that night. NEC has been sponsoring the Fed Cup for eight years, and the buffet is great. Lots of giveaways too (television sets, pearls, walkmans, silks).

Wednesday

I wake up at 7 am to the sound of rain. We are scheduled to play Denmark, and we go indoors to hit just in case the weather clears up. Sure enough, by 11:30 we are on the court. The first round was played on court 4, a fast court, and this round we’re playing on court 1, which is very slow. It’s hard to figure out why a huge, impressive facility like this (it’s much bigger than Flushing Meadows) doesn’t have uniform-speed surfaces. No matter. I prefer the slower court and beat 16-year-old Karin Ptaszek easily 6-1 6-1. Martina, however, has trouble adjusting and Tine Scheuer Larsen takes advantage of some great passing shots to stretch Martina to 7-5 6-3. Zina and Martina win the doubles. Another 3-0 victory.
I’m still crossing my fingers, but so far team spirit is very high. Our coach, Marty Riessen, is good at dealing with four high-strung perfectionnists. I’m eally motivated – I just hope it lasts all week. The tough matches will begin Friday against Austria.

Thursday

It’s a day off for the team, but I get early and go through a tough but fun two-on-one with Zina and Pam. Zina is hitting the ball so solidly and moving so well, it’s too bad that, at No. 5 in the world, she isn’t playing in a singles match somewhere. I think that reaching the US Open semis (by beating me!) and getting married (to Willard Jackson) have inspired Zina tremendously. She is coming into her own, which is great to see.
Pam, on the other hand, has come to a crossroads in her career and personal life. This is not an easy time for her: she is frustrated by injuries, her split with Martina in doubles, and her indecisiveness about whether or not to dedicate herself 100 percent to tennis. I really like Pam: she is bright and witty and multidimensional. I have no doubt she will emerge from this low period in her life stonger and wiser.

Friday

Here we are in the quarter-final match against Austria. I’m playing Judith Wiesner on center court. We both play well, and because she’s a baseliner we have some very long rallies, though I eventually pull it out. Martina beats Barbara Paulus and the doubles is called off because of rain. Pretty routine, I just heard that the Czechs beat West Germany. Martina is upset, she wanted a rematch with Steffi (Graf).

Saturday

It rains all day, matches are cancelled.

Sunday

Czechoslovakia, the match we’ve all been gearing up for. Helena Sukova and Jana Novotna are excellent singles players as well as No. 1 in the world in doubles. In other words, we don’t want to get into a 1-1 situation with them.
I’m ready and I’m focused. I pass Jana at the net and serve effectively to win 6-2 6-3. I think the Czechs were counting on winnning this match. In fact, I think a lot of players think they can beat me because I’ve had some loose, careless matches (for me) this year. But I’m determined not to give an inch.
My heart is in my mouth as Helena storms into the net at every possible moment against Martina and wins the first set 6-4. All of a sudden, our chances of winning this Federation Cup are in jeopardy. If Martina loses to Helena, it will be up to the doubles and the Czechs will be favored. But using the new-found determination that Billie Jean King has worked to rekindle, Martina blows Helena off the court in the second set 6-1, and then shows guts in winning the third, 6-4. In our minds this was the Cup final and we all share a sigh of relief.
One more to go. It has been three long years since we last won the Cup in Prague. We want it back.

Monday

They’re calling the final with Spain ‘thirtysomething’ versus the 17 year olds. Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez, both of whom are in the Top Ten, pose a real threat to me and Martina because of their slow-surface prowess. I feel a little bit apprehensive today because we have been psyching ourselves up more for the germans and Czechs than the Spaniards, because of my lack of knowledge about my opponent (Martinez) and because, more than likely, this will be my last tournament match. That could explain why I woke up at 5:30 this morning. I start to get uptight, but I finally convince myself not to worry, enjoy the competition, and work hard for one more match.

With Pam, Martina and Zina cheering me on from the sideline, I once again play intense, heads-up tennis to beat Conchita 6-3 6-2. Asked after the match why I am retiring when I’m playing so well, I start to realize why everyone on our team is in top form: we have camaraderie, we have Riessen as our coach on the court, and who wouldn’t improve practicing with Martina, Pam and Zina every day?
I think Martina is so relieved that I won my singles (and she is genuinely happy for me) that she forgets about her own game for a while. After losing the first set to Sanchez 0-6, Martina guts out the next two, 6-3 6-4. We have clinched the Cup! Pam and Zina then come out with 3-0 written in their determined eyes and makes us all proud by winning 7-5 6-3.

Andy and my parents watch the ceremony from the sideline. It is bittersweet: I am happy and proud; I am also sad. Later on in the locker room I get a migraine and shed the tears that have been bottled up for quite a while. I’m having a hard time dealing with the finality of it all and still find myself questioning my decision to retire. When I think of how well I played this week and the adrenaline flowing and the highs of winning, it’s hard to think of retiring. But then I force myself to remember the hard work, intense concentration, sore body, total commitment and disheartening losses. Retirement is all at once very calming.

Zina Garrison celebrated both the 20th anniversary of the Zina Garrison Tennis Academy and her 50th birthday with gala “A Story of Love” at The Houstonian Hotel last Saturday (more infos here).

Former tennis players Billie Jean King, Chanda Rubin, Pam Shriver, Katrina Adams and Lori McNeil but also track and field legends Jackie Joyner Kersee and Carl Lewis did attend the event. Here are a few pics:
 

Photo credit: Meagan Elliott

Gala Marks Academy’s 20th Anniversary & Garrison’s 50th Birthday, Joined by Billie Jean King, Carl Lewis Jackie Joyner-Kersee and George Foreman.

Zina Garrison will celebrate both the 20th anniversary of the Zina Garrison Tennis Academy and her 50th birthday with gala “A Story of Love” at The Houstonian Hotel on Saturday, November 16, 2013.
The Academy will proudly honor tennis legend Billie Jean King, presenting her with the “Service with Love” award for her contributions to the ZGA program, her championship endeavors on and off the court, and for being an ideal role model for today’s youth.

The gala will serve as the centerpiece for a full weekend of activities surrounding the dual anniversaries. Olympic legends and gold medalists Pam Shriver, Carl Lewis and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, plus former two-time World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman will all be present for the festivities, along with former Texans players Chester Pitts and Travis Johnson.

For two decades, the Zina Garrison Tennis Academy’s mission has been to develop stars in the classroom, on the tennis court, and in the community. They have provided educational support and tennis instruction to over 25,000 underserved children in Houston. The Academy provides free programming year-round, helping young people discover their individual talents, stay healthy, and become future leaders in the community while learning the sport of tennis.

Please visit www.zinagarrison.org for more information.

In 1994, Lori McNeil caused one of the biggest upset in tennis history by defeating Steffi Graf in the first round at Wimbledon. That year, McNeil went on to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon before losing to eventual-champion Conchita Martinez.
During her a 17-year professional career, she captured 10 singles and 32 doubles titles.

Following her retirement in 2002, McNeil served as the Assistant Coach of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Tennis Team in 2004 and 2008. She also worked as a High Performance Coach for the United States Tennis Association from 2004 through 2012.

Lori McNeil has now joined Houston’s Zina Garrison Academy as Director of Tennis. The Academy, founded by Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison and her coach John Wilkerson in 1993, provides 50 weeks a year of free programming to all children in the Houston area.
The mission of ZGA is to develop stars in the classroom, on the tennis court, and in the community by providing educational support, positive role models, parent education, and excellent tennis instruction.

In conjunction with McNeil’s arrival at the Zina Garrison Academy, the Board of Directors has commissioned a set of three silver coins featuring the images of Zina Garrison, Lori McNeil, and John Wilkerson.
The first edition of these coins will be offered as an auction item at the Zina Garrison Academy‘s upcoming gala luncheon at the Houstonian Hotel on Monday, November 19, 2012. For tickets and information, call Linda Elliott at (713) 857-3167.

More infos on Zina Garrison Academy website.

Fourteen year old Jennifer Capriati wins the first of her 14 career singles titles, defeating Zina Garrison in the finals of the Puerto Rico Open in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Capriati, however is not the youngest player to in a professional tournament, as Tracy Austin, at the age of 14 years and 28 days wins the title in Portland, Oregon in 1977.
Capriati’s age at the time of her first victory is 14 years 7 months.