MELBOURNE, Australia – The International Tennis Hall of Fame is becoming the Hall of the very, very good rather than the home of the all-time greats.
Michael Stich of Germany and Helena Sukova of the Czech Republic, the newest inductees, are a case in point.
The two will be inducted as part of the ATP Tour event at the Hall of Fame home in Newport, Rhode Island in July.
Stich, now 49, has 18 titles including one Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon. His career highs stand at No. 2 in singles and No. 9 in doubles.
Sukova does not have a Grand Slam title in singles. But she did reached four finals – two at the US Open, and two at the Australian Open. It was a pretty tough era. Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert hogged all the hardware early. And the Steffi Graf/Monica Seles et al era came later.
Her career-best ranking in singles is No. 4. And she was a longtime No. 1 in doubles.
The 6-2 righty has 69 doubles titles (including nine majors) and five Grand Slam mixed doubles titles (three of them with her brother Cyril).
Which is not to say that both are not hugely accomplished tennis player.
And Sukova is not a hugely accomplished person. She has given back on many levels, both during her tennis career and in the aftermath.
But despite the revision of the criteria to be eligible for the Hall, the two new inductees were never No. 1, and have one singles Grand Slam between them. That’s very, very good. But it’s not great.
While Michael Stich and Helena Sukova are to be elected to the @TennisHalloFame, Pat Cash, Anders Jarryd and Tom Okker all missed out – and since it was the last year they were eligible, that's it for them
— Simon Cambers (@scambers73) January 25, 2018
Kafelnikov still shunned
It’s worth noting that Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who has been No. 1 and has 26 career titles in singles (and 27 more in doubles where he reached a career high of No. 4), is still persona non grata in the Hall. Among those trophies are two Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal.
Why? Well, good chance they’re still making him pay the price for – oops – spilling the list of nominees – of which he was one – on Twitter back in 2014. Kafelnikov Tweeted the list, which took all the wind out of the sails of the Hall of Fame’s annual press conference announcing the nominations.
The Hall also missed the boat a little on the timing. The inductees for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY were also made Wednesday. So in the grand scheme of Hall of Fame news, it took a distant second place in the U.S.
Calling Doctor Sukova
Stich is currently the tournament director at the Hamburg ATP Tour event after Wimbledon.
As for Sukova, 52, she’s now Dr. Sukova. She’s a sports psychologist and according to her WTA Tour bio, is the vice-president of the sports psychologist’s association in her native Czech Republic. That’s just one of a stellar and significant list of commitments, including being a mentor to countrywoman Katerina Siniakova.
Sukova was on hand Thursday night in Melbourne, where a Hall of Fame ceremony was held before the men’s semifinal match between Kyle Edmund and Marin Cilic. She looks amazing.
Among those on hand were Martina, and Billie Jean, and the Rocket, and Muscles, and many more legends of the game. Sukova now joins them.
“I’m so happy to be here, after 20 years. My last year was ’98. This is a special moment for me to suddenly be a part of this row of champions, and I have goosebumps just standing next to them,” Sukova said in a brief speech.