Tennis Birthdays – Dec. 8, 2014

Look who’s 30!

Dustin Brown (GER), 30

One of the crowd pleasers in the men’s game, who finally appears to be ready to be on the ATP level full time, the man they call Dreddy turns the big 3-0.

Brown reached a career-best ranking of No. 78 just before Wimbledon. And he is hanging in there at No. 89 after finishing off his season with some Challengers in Europe.

Brown was born in Germany to a German mother and Jamaican father, moved to Jamaica at age 12 and long represented that island nation. He flirted with the Brits, and ultimately returned to his German roots. For one reason, there are enough ATP events in Germany that it was certainly beneficial to him in terms of wild cards.

Before his breakthrough in recent months, he was probably best known for his hair, and for the fact that a decade ago, he barnstormed around the smaller tournaments in Europe for three years in a camper van at the beginning of his career – Derrick Rostagno style.

His game is high-risk, which a blessing at times, and a curse at other times. But that’s who he is.

That career best came after a second-round defeat of Rafael Nadal at the grass-court event in Halle. He then lost in the next round, 18-16 in the third-set tiebreaker, to Philipp Kohlschreiber.

After losing in the first round of the U.S. Open to Bernard Tomic (a match we thought would be so much better than it turned out to be), he was out of the top 100.

Brown played eight Challengers and the Stockholm ATP event to finish out the season and ensure he would be straight into the Australian Open draw. He also played Interclubs in France.

Here’s a “best of Dreddy” slideshow, to commemorate the day.

Julie Heldman (USA), 69

Heldman was one of first group of trail-blazing women, led by Billie Jean King, who brought women’s tennis into the professional era.

Her best ranking of No. 5 came in 1969, which of course was before the computer came in. She won 22 titles in, let’s be honest, a pretty tough, jam-packed era.

Her mother, Gladys, was a huge backer of women’s professional tennis and the publisher of the now-defunct World Tennis magazine.

Heldman was good in Canada. She won the national 18-and-unders when she was 12. And she won the Canadian Open in 1965.

And her after-tennis life was something to be admired. Per Wikipedia, Heldman graduated from Stanford in 1966 and from UCLA Law School five years later. She was a Law Review editor, Law School Graduate of the Year, and UCLA Graduate Woman of the Year (that probably doesn’t exist any more, in these PC times).

She married, had a daughter, worked as a colour commentator for basically all the American networks that carried tennis. And she was Mary Carillo before Mary Carillo was Mary Carillo – the first woman to (GASP!) cover a men’s tennis event, back in 1976.

Raquel Kops-Jones (USA), 32

She’s probably not someone you’ve really heard of. But she’s someone worth watching.

Kops-Jones-Spears

The veteran American doubles specialist, a Bay Area native who came out of the U.S. college system and played for the University of California Bears, Kops-Jones reached her career-high doubles ranking of No. 11 just before Wimbledon in 2013.

She has a successful partnership with countrywoman Abigail Spears, and is one of the rare players in women’s doubles who actually serves and volleys and … plays doubles. Great athlete.

She and Spears won the Cincinnati Premier 5 event this year, and they were semi-finalists at the Australian Open to start the season.

Kops-Jones’s first two WTA titles came at the expense of Canadians. In 2007, she and college partner Christina Fusano won the Bell Challenge doubles, over Stéphanie Dubois and Renata Voracova in the final. In 2009 she and spears defeated Sharon Fichman and Katalin Marosi to win the Estoril final.

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