Tennis has always captivated fans with its fierce rivalries. These days it seems like the finals of any Grand Slam event come down to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In the 1990s it was generally Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. But the on-court foes who remain most etched in the minds of a lot of baby boomers are Douglaston’s own John McEnroe, and the pride of Stockholm, Bjorn Borg.
It’s been 30 years since Borg shocked the tennis world by retiring at age 25 after losing the 1981 U.S. Open to McEnroe. A pair of books about this tennis tandem, “Epic” (Wiley Publishing), by Matthew Cronin, and “High Strung” (Harper Books), by Stephen Tignor, have just been released. And last Saturday, HBO Sports debuted the documentary, “McEnroe/Borg Fire & Ice.”
HBO sent a camera crew to Douglaston to show Johnny Mac’s childhood home and used his old friend from the neighborhood, Mary Carillo, to serve as the show’s story editor. Mary had a respectable career on the Women’s Tennis Association circuit and can frequently be seen on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” as well as on various TV networks as a commentator on major tennis tournaments.
McEnroe was renowned for his brash behavior and tennis court tantrums, while Borg was so stoic that he was frequently referred to as “Ice Borg.” The biggest irony about “Fire & Ice” is that McEnroe comes off as extremely well-adjusted while it is strongly inferred that Borg suffered from depression.
With summer here, many of us are planning sports-related vacations. It’s always fun to visit Southern California and the Mets are making two trips there. They will visit Dodger Stadium July 4 through 7 and will hit San Diego Aug. 16 through 18 to play the Padres.
The Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in West Hollywood has long been a favorite of visiting baseball teams because it’s a stone’s throw from Beverly Hills as well as being equidistant to Dodger Stadium to the east and LA’s famed beaches to the west. In San Diego you can’t go wrong with either the Torrey Pines Lodge, which is adjacent to the golf course frequently used for the U.S. Open, the historic Grande Colonial, a block away from the Pacific Ocean, or the Hyatt Regency La Jolla, which has the best hotel pool that I have ever seen and is located in the hip Aventine section.
If you’re just looking for a fun weekend getaway, it’s hard to beat the Jersey Shore. The Phillies’ South Atlantic League affiliate, the Lakewood Blueclaws, play in beautiful First Energy Park, and the cost of a ticket is less than that for a movie. Then you can take I-195 west for a half-hour to see the Yankees’ Eastern League farm team, the Trenton Thunder, in scenic Waterfront Park. The Radisson Freehold, a first-class hotel with very reasonable rates, is near both parks and just down the road from Great Adventure.
With Joba Chamberlain lost for the season and Rafael Soriano on the long-term disabled list as well, the Yankees’ bullpen is in deep trouble. The key to the team’s 2011 success may hinge on the arm of David Robertson.