Tennis Birthdays: Feb. 19, 2016

Another smorgasbord of tennis birthdays today.

Hana Mandlikova (CZE), 54

Hana MandlikovaThe Czech (who was Australian for awhile) was great player, in a tough era.

Mandlikova won 27 singles titles and 19 doubles titles during a long career that probably wasn’t what it could have been, given her talent.

Her problem was that she could hit any shot; her issue was choosing the right one. It took her awhile, as it does most supremely gifted players of that type, to put it together. This doesn’t happen these days, when the players have one option (well, most of them).

Mandlikova coached another talent, Jana Novotna, for nine years – a peculiar match in that Novotna certainly wasn’t going to find in the coach what she lacked in herself as a player. But Novotna won Wimbledon. For awhile, it worked really well.

Mandlikova won the French Open in 1981, the U.S. Open in 1984, the Oz Open in 1987 and reached the final of Wimbledon in 1986 – almost the career Grand Slam.

Paul Haarhuis (NED), 50

HaarhuisSiemerink

Haarhuis with Dutch Davis Cup captain Jan Siemerink in Australia in 2014.

The Dutchman was a tremendous doubles player in his day, and A very good singles player, too. Haarhuis won 54 titles in doubles (many with Jacco Eltingh) and reached No. 1.

He and Eltingh won eight titles in 1994 and reached 12 finals – those are Bryan brothers-like numbers. They won the Australian and U.S. Opens that year.

But unlike the Bryans, Haarhuis also was a top-20 singles player. He reached No. 18 in 1995, with one title.

In his first Grand Slam year in 1988, he reached the fourth round at the U.S. Open and shocked John McEnroe. That was after earning his degree in economics from Florida State.

Five years ago at the Rotterdam event, Haarhuis and Eltingh got a wild card into the doubles together. Unfortunately, they got a really tough draw in the Polish pair of Fyrstenberg and Matkowski, and lost 6-2, 6-3.

They were competitive in the points, just weren’t able to catch enough serves and by the time they timed it a little bit, it was pretty much over. They did not, however, embarrass themselves.

Ivo Heuberger (SUI), 40

0474.Picture%2015 Tennis birthdays Feb. 19, 2012
The Swiss player may be best known for being an early victim of Martina Hingis’s “black-widow” curse: he dated her and then his career, which wasn’t headed to superstar country anyway, went into free fall.

You can see the attraction; that’s a hottie right there.

Heuberger got to No. 102 in singles in 2002, and No. 114 in doubles the year before that. He played about five times more matches on the Challenger circuit than he did at the top level, but did bank nearly a million bucks.

His last official match was a first-round loss in qualifying at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Heuberger and two of his Swiss buddies, Yves Allegro and Michel Kratochvil, had some fun two years ago at the ITF Senior world championships in Florida. With Kratochvil having reached the magic age of 35, they teamed up to represent Switzerland against the world.

It was a good idea in theory; but from the looks of it, he wasn’t too healthy. And the all-star Dream Team didn’t do that well.

Tina Pisnik (SLO), 35

pisnik Tennis birthdays Feb. 19, 2012

One of the early players out of Slovenia, Pisnik played only six or seven years on tour.

She won her one tour title in Bol, Croatia in 2000 – beating a pretty good opponent, France’s Amélie Mauresmo, in two tiebreaks in the final. She also won two doubles titles.

She reached a career high of No. 29 in 2004, but retired the following year after playing Fed Cup for her country on a number of occasions.

Corrado Barazzutti (ITA), 63

Barazzutti won the prestigious Orange Bowl in 1971 (and the junior French Open), and he was already a member of the Italian 5633.italians Tennis birthdays Feb. 19, 2012Davis Cup team by them.

He helped the squad to its only title in 1976, going 41-21 in Davis Cup matches during his career

Barazzutti was a semi-finalist at the U.S. Open in 1977 and the French Open in 1978. He reached No. 7 in the world in 1979.

But he’s probably best known to this generation of tennis fans as the wise old sage type who has led the Italian Fed Cup team to multiple titles. Much like the mighty Shamil Tarpischev of Russia (except without the offensive comments), Barrazutti is both the Davis Cup captain for Italy, and the Fed Cup captain.

His magic hasn’t worked quite as well with the Davis Cup team, though, which means that at the end of the day you have to have the horses.

Andreas Vinciguerra (SWE), 35

A very good young prospect, Vinciguerra’s pro career never quite panned out mostly because he was just decimated by injuries.

As a junior, he reached No. 6 in the world. Here’s a partial list of players he beat back then who went on to make some noise in the pros: Feliciano Lopez, Jarkko Nieminen, Olivier Rochus, David Nalbandian, Mikhail Youzhny, Michael Llodra … and Roger Federer, whom he defeated 7-5 in the third in the semi-finals of the 4617.Picture%2056 Tennis birthdays Feb. 19, 20121998 junior Australian Open.

Vinciguerra, a lefty, got to No. 33 in 2001, and then the injuries hit. He broke a small bone in his right hand playing soccer in 2002, and missed three months. Then came the lower back pain.

The last few years of his career, it was bad knee and surgery. And despite some game efforts when called upon in extremis to play Davis Cup, he just was never able to get back.

The graph of his rankings history tells the tale. Injury, ranking drop. Comeback, rises up. Injury, ranking drops again.

Vinciguerra was called upon for a first-round tie against Israel in 2009 (played before friends and family in Malmo, Sweden because of political and security issues). But he gave it his all; he lost his first match 11-9 in the fifth set, and his second 8-6 in the fifth set.

He got to the semis of the Tour event in Bastad in July, 2011, then came back for Sweden’s World Group relegation vs. Romania. But he had to retire in his first match against Victor Hanescu after losing two tough tiebreakers; and he had to retire in his second match against Marius Copil after winning the first set.

Vinciguerra played on a bit in 2010, but lost all three of his singles rubbers in Davis Cup play. He got a wild card into the Bastad event in July, 2011, but lost in the first round to an obscure Frenchman. That was his last match, we thought.

He played a lot of smaller tournaments in the first half of 2013. His last match was a credible 6-4, 7-6 defeat to Fernando Verdasco in the first round of Bastad that year. He’s now listed as inactive.

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