July 7, 2000


Connors, McEnroe, Cash, Gomez Headline $325,000 Quality Challenge

By J. Fred Sidhu

John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors faced each other for the first time in the 1977 Wimbledon semifinals. It was only the beginning of a long and storied rivalry between these two Americans.

Today, 23 years later that rivalry still continues as McEnroe and Connors headline the $325,000 Quality Challenge tennis tournament which begins Thursday, July 13 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn.

In last year's final before a sold-out crowd, McEnroe dominated Connors in a 6-2, 6-1 victory. "I played some of my best tennis in a long time, there (San Diego) and the crowd was enthusiastic," McEnroe said in a recent conference call from Wimbledon. "The energy is always good when you're out there trying to perform you're best. That was one of my best matches, beating Jimmy, so I certainly look forward to try and defend the title."

This year, if there is going to be a rematch, both players will have to get past two tough semifinal opponents. "There are a couple of new guys coming after us, Jimmy and I, in (Andres) Gomez and Pat Cash," McEnroe added, "so we'll see what happens and see if we have the big rematch."

Connors takes to the court on Thursday at 7 p.m. against Pat Cash of Australia. Cash, 35, is playing in his first full season on the men's senior tennis tour.

A dedicated guitarist, Cash won Wimbledon in 1987 by defeating Ivan Lendl in the final and became the first Australian to win the title at the All-England Club since John Newcombe in 1971. His trademark is his black and white checkered headband.

McEnroe, who just finished a stint as a tennis analyst for NBC at Wimbledon, is scheduled to face Andres Gomez of Ecuador at 3 p.m. next Friday, July 14.

The six-foot-four Ecuadorian will be a worthy challenge for McEnroe, who also serves as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team. Gomez does have something McEnroe doesn't — a French Open singles title. He won at Roland Garros in 1990 when he surprised Andre Agassi in the final. Gomez is the only player on the men's senior tour to have won a Grand Slam title during the
'90s.

Due to McEnroe's commitments as U.S. Davis Cup Captain, the Quality Challenge singles final will take place on Saturday, July 15 to allow McEnroe to travel to Spain to help the U.S. Davis Cup team prepare for their upcoming semifinal match.

This year's champion will win $150,000. The scoring for matches on the senior tour is pretty much the same as on the ATP Tour except, instead of playing a third set, the senior tour plays a "Champions Tiebreaker" in which the first player to win 10 points by a margin of at least two wins the match.

Tournament Facts

$325,000 Quality Challenge tennis tournament 7 p.m. Thursday, July 13; 3 p.m. Friday, July 14; 10 a.m. Saturday, July 15 and 11 a.m. Sunday,
July 16. Rancho Bernardo Inn, 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, Rancho Bernardo. Reserved seats $15-$40, box-seat packages available; (877) 537-6282 or www.qualitychallenge.com

Player Profiles:


Pat Cash
Born: May 27, 1965 in
Melbourne, Australia
Height: 6:0
Weight: 185
Turned Pro: 1982
Plays: Right-handed

Personal Notes: Won Wimbledon in 1987 by defeating Ivan Lendl in the final and became the first Australian to win at the All-England Club since John Newcombe in 1971. A dedicated rock'n' roller who performed at numerous player parties on the tennis tour. A supporter of Greenpeace. His checkered black and white headband is his trademark. Is playing in his first full season on the Worldwide Senior Tennis Circuit. Making his first San Diego appearance.


Andres Gomez
Born: Feb. 27, 1960 in
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Height: 6:4
Weight: 185
Turned Pro: 1979
Plays: Left-handed

Personal Notes: Won the French Open in 1990 at age 30 by defeating Andre Agassi in the final. He is the only player on the senior tour to have won a Grand Slam title in the 90's. Still plays on Ecuador's Davis Cup team as a doubles player. Was presented an award for "Service to the Game" by the International Tennis Federation in 1995. Is a cousin of current ATP Tour star, Nicolas Lapentti. Making his first San Diego appearance.

 

Jimmy Connors
Born: Sept. 2, 1952 in
Belleville, Illinois
Height: 5:10
Weight: 155
Turned Pro: 1972
Plays: Left-handed

Personal Notes: Has finished four of the past six seasons as the top player on the Worldwide Senior Tennis Circuit. In 1991, at age 39, he reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Won over 140 singles titles during his 20-year tennis career including eight grand slams. Was ranked number one in the world for 160 consecutive weeks during the mid-1970's. He is the only player to win the U.S. Open on three different surfaces. A member of the Tennis Hall of Fame since 1998.

 

John McEnroe
Born: Feb. 16, 1959 in
Wiesbaden, Germany
Height: 5:11
Weight: 165
Turned Pro: 1978
Plays: Left-handed

Personal Notes: The top senior tennis player in the world for the last two years. Won the NCAA singles title while playing for Stanford in 1978. Won 83 career singles titles during his career including seven grand slams. Was ranked number one in the world for a total of 170 weeks. Helped the U.S. win four Davis Cup titles. Current U.S. Davis Cup Captain. Provides television commentary at the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. A member of the Tennis Hall of Fame.


Schedule of Play:

Thursday, July 13, 7 p.m. Jimmy Connors vs. Pat Cash John Lloyd and Tim Wilkison vs. Qualifiers

Friday, July 14, 3 p.m. John McEnroe vs. Andres Gomez Jimmy Arias and Scott Davis vs. Mel Purcell and Vince Van Patten

Saturday, July 15, 10 a.m. Singles Final, Third Place Match

Sunday, July 16, 11 a.m. Doubles Third Place Match, Doubles Final

 

Tips For Spectators

1. Tournament organizers advise fans to arrive early to avoid traffic congestion getting into the Rancho Bernardo Inn.

2. Since the tournament location is inland, bring sunscreen and a hat to watch matches during the day as conditions can get warm and the stadium offers little shade for fans. No umbrellas are allowed inside the stadium.

3. For matches at night, bring a light jacket or sweat shirt as conditions can become cool after sunset.

4. Please turn off all cell phones. A ringing phone can be very distracting to the players.

5. Please do not cheer or applaud until the point is over. More importantly, have fun and enjoy watching the best senior tennis players in the world.

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