Tennis (Life) Birthdays – April 11, 2019

Erin Routliffe (CAN), 24

The New Zealand-born former Canadian junior, turned U.S. college player,  celebrates her birthday in the unique setting of … Bogotá, Colombia, where she made her WTA on-court coaching debut this week.

Routliffe entertained with her consultations, when called upon by fellow former college player Kristie Ahn on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

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Tuesday night, Ahn upset No. 1 seed and former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, with the engaged crowd madly cheering the underdog.

On Wednesday – with the crowd cheering nearly unanimously for her teenaged Colombian opponent – she couldn’t made the difference.

Ahn, who had been up 3-0 in the third set against Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, fell 6-3 in the third.

WTA college sisterhood helps Ahn to victory

From what Routliffe was saying during the consults, the early birthday celebration dinner was going to take place at … McDonald’s.

Woo hoo! The glamorous life, right?

Routliffe

Her younger sister Tess, a swimmer, won a silver medal in the 200m individual medley at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Routliffe, a tall drink of water at 6-foot-2, was a successful graduate of Tennis Canada’s national training program in Montreal.

In 2011, she burst on the scene as the first of four consecutive Canadian girls to win the 16s division at the Orange Bowl. (She was followed by Gloria Liang, Charlotte Robillard-Millette and … Bianca Andreescu).

 

Routliffe got into the top 20 in the juniors in 2013. Notably, she defeated Elise Mertens and Ostapenko back to back at Traralgon, before the 2013 Australian Open juniors. 

Overall, she had better results in doubles. And then, as the vast majority of the high-performance players in Canada’s system do, she chose the college route.

Routliffe isn’t just all smiles as an on-court coach. She’s bubbly when she’s playing too – as evidenced here, when she and Guarachi took eventual champions Siniakova and Krejcikova to a third set in the first round of Wimbledon last year. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Routliffe starred at the University of Alabama and earned a degree in public relations. And then, she set out to try her luck on the pro tour.

Quickly realizing that the opportunities were going to be better if she represented New Zealand than in Canada (despite all the federation had invested in her training), she now represents the country in which she was born.

She played Fed Cup as a Kiwi for five ties in 2017 and 2018. And she has received wild cards into the Auckland WTA Tour event.

Alabama alums make Wimbledon debut

Without a regular partner, she currently sits at No. 102 in the doubles rankings.

That’s not far off her high of No. 95, reached last summer when she and fellow Alabama alum Alexa Guarachi reached the final at the WTA event in Washington, D.C.

Zhao-Routliffe
Routliffe and countrywoman Carol Zhao had this reaction at the Granby Challenger a few years ago, when they somehow pulled off a 13-11 match tiebreak win.

Alex Corretja (ESP), 45

Corretja-Murray_new Corretja’s post-playing career has been a series of interesting experiences, from being a clay-court “consultant” to Andy Murray in his pre-Lendl days, to becoming Davis Cup captain as he replaced longtime captain Albert Costa.

That didn’t last all that long, though; he was soon replaced by Carlos Moya. Who was replaced by Gala Leon. Who was replaced by Conchita Martinez. Who was replaced by Sergi Bruguera.

Corretja was a fine clay-court player in his own right who actually reached No. 2 in the world in Feb. 1999.

Twice, Corretja was a French Open finalist.

But he is probably best known for being on the losing end of the Pete Sampras “upchuck-in-the-bushes” comeback win at the U.S. Open in 1996.

Above all, for the grace and class with which he handled it.

 

These days, Corretja does a lot of TV work for Eurosport.

He also has worked with promising young Serbian Olga Danilovic.

Corretja gives Serbian teenager Olga Danilovic some advice during a coaching consult – during her first-round qualifying match against Canadian Bianca Andreescu. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Gene Mayer (USA), 63

(Dutch National Archives/Creative Commons)

A former American player who was on Tour for many years, along with brother Sandy.

He’s probably one of the few players (with Sandy) ever to compete in the U.S. Open who was actually born and raised in the shadow of the USTA Tennis Center in Flushing, New York.

He reached No. 4 in the world in 1980 and won 14 singles titles.

Sandy reached No. 7 in 1982.

Dan Maskell (GBR)

(born 1908, died Dec. 10, 1992)

5076.maskell Tennis birthdays April 11, 2011

Maskell’s classic voice is one most people (over a certain age) always will associate with Wimbledon.

He started it with BBC radio in 1949, switched to TV two years later and worked pretty much right to his retirement in 1991, shortly before he died.

He would wax poetic in a unique way that the written word does not do justice to, “Oh, an absolutely creeeaaaaamy backhand, that.”

6237.maskell2 Tennis birthdays April 11, 2011Just perfect.

Not as well known is the fact that Maskell actually played the game.

He won 16 British pro championships in his young  days, and was the captain of the 1933 winning Davis Cup squad and headed it for four years.

He was the first-ever teaching pro at the famed All-England Club. And he also was a hero during WW II (according to Wikipedia).

“As the Royal Air Force’s first rehabilitation officer, charged with the task of helping wounded airmen recover full health and fitness, he revealed qualities of devotion and innovation that were recognized by the Crown with the award of an OBE (Order of British Empire) in 1945.”

Maskell was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996 – sadly, after his death.  

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