Tennis Birthdays – Feb. 27, 2016

A global selection of birthdays today.

Andrés Gómez (ECU), 56

Gomez, the surprise 30-year-old winner over Andre Agassi in the 1990 French Open (remember when 30 used to be really old in tennis?), achieved his career-high singles ranking of No. 4 after that win.

He was ranked No. 1 in doubles in 1986.

Gómez hasn’t been hitting the gym too much since he retired. But the sweet swing remains.

He has a son, Emilio, who played college tennis for USC and is now taking steps on the pro Tour, as well as playing Davis Cup for Ecuador. He’s currently ranked No 326 in singles. He’s a righty, unfortunately for him, but there is definitely a resemblance.

Filip Krajinovic (SRB), 24

Once considered a pretty solid prospect out of Serbia, but beset by early injuries, the Serb stands at No. 98 in the rankings, a little higher than his career best of No. 86 reached last April, and about where he was was a year ago.

He’s a Bollettieri/IMG product, having moved there when he was 13.

Krajinovic_new

He was the No. 6 junior in the world in early 2009, with his best result a semi-final in the U.S. Open juniors in 2008. He also qualified and reached the semis at junior Wimbledon that summer, losing to Grigor Dimitrov. He defeated Milos Raonic 64 63 in the semis of a big clay-court tournament in Belgium just before the French Open that year, too. And he beat Ryan Harrison a few times at that level. But so far, he’s been slower to come along than some of contemporaries. Lots of time remains, though.

He teamed up with No. 1 Serb Novak Djokovic for the doubles on Doha to start the 2015 season. They beat Cabal and Farah – a very good team, in straight sets before losing to Rafael Nadal and Juan Mónaco.

 

Bruno Soares (BRA), 34

Soares got to No. 227 in singles in 2004, not bad for a not-too-tall guy from Brazil who never played on the ATP Tour, but not enough to pay the mortgage, either.

Peya-Soares

His thing has been doubles. Soares had great success for a long time with countryman Marcelo Melo, a longtime friend from the same tennis club. After that, he played with American Eric Butorac.

Then, for many years, he combined with Austrian Alexander Peya, with great success. He got to a career-high No. 3 in October, 2013 and kept it there for awhile, after winning six tournaments that year – five of them with Alexander Peya (that included the Rogers Cup in Montreal) and reaching 11 finals. He won five in 2012. In 2014, Soares and Peya reached seven finals and won two tournaments.

But 2015 didn’t go super great. At this time a year ago, Soares and Peya were a rather pedestrian 5-5. It’s was flip of the coin a few times, some match tiebreaks lost. On the plus side, he became a father. The pair ended up 38-26 on the season with two titles, but late in the day it was already set that Soares would team up with Jamie Murray of Great Britain for 2016.

They got off to a gangbuster start – winning the Australian Open over Radek Stepanek and Canadian Daniel Nestor in the final. It’s Soares’ first major in men’s doubles.

Soares-Murray_new

Soares was a double-major winner within 24 hours, combining to win the mixed doubles with Elena Vesnina the following day (he also won the US Open mixed twice, in 2012 and 2014).

He was tight as a drum in the first part of that match, which Nestor and Stepanek appeared to have in the bag. But Murray kept them in there, and in the end he made some shots.

It jumped Soares from No. 22 to No. 10 in the doubles rankings, although he then went home during the South American swing and played his home-country event in Rio with fellow Brazilian Marcelo Melo, as he usually does. Melo, as it happens, is currently the No. 1 doubles player in the world and while that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a brilliant team together, they’re certainly one to watch for as they play the Olympics in their homeland this summer.

 

Sandra Cecchini (ITA), 51

4338.cecchini Tennis birthdays Feb. 27, 2010Cecchini was a very good player from the earlier generation of solid Italians, winning nine singles and 11 doubles titles while reaching No. 15 in singles, and No. 22 in doubles on Tour.

Her best results came at the French Open, which she played every year from 1985 to 1998. In the interim, she played the Australian Open only once, and Wimbledon only six times, getting out of the first round only twice.

Cecchini made the quarters at Roland Garros in her first visit in 1985.

She’s among a handful of accomplished former players who has competed in the ITF senior circuit, an essentially, but not exclusively, amateur thing in which your humble Open Court has participated for Canada.

She represented Italy at the senior World Team championships in Turkey in 2007 and 2008. She had other former top 30 WTA Tour players on her team, including Laura Garrone and Federica Bonsignori. And everyone thought they would run away with it.

They didn’t win, although Cecchini won all her singles matches.

(Wikipedia pic)

 

Ann Devries (BEL), 46

DeVries got to No. 77 in singles and No. 93 in doubles, winning one singles and three doubles titles on the minor-league ITF circuit.

She got to the third round of Wimbledon in 1990.

De Vries also had a  good junior career, reaching the quarters of the junior French and U.S. Opens, and the semis of the junior Australian Open in back-to-back years. She won the junior Australian Open doubles with Nicole Provis (now Bradtke) in 1987. She started representing Belgium in Fed Cup at the tender age of 15.

These days, she’s involved with the Belgian Fed Cup team, and also has coached Kirsten Flipkens and Yanina Wickmayer, basically having a hand in a lot of the Belgian players of the day not named Clijsters or Henin.

 

Natalie Grandin (RSA), 35

GrandinGrandin got to the top 25 in the juniors in 1999, and No. 12 in doubles (back when they kept separate rankings), which presaged what she’d do in her pro career.

A lefty, she’s listed at 5-9 and 172 pounds (which sounds actually pretty honest). A big girl, who has fitness issues and slightly unlucky genes.

She broke the top 150 mark in singles, but never really progressed beyond that.

In doubles, she reached a career high No. 22 in May, 2012 and has 25 career titles on the ITF circuit and one on the WTA Tour – in Seoul in 2011.

We’re not sure where she is at the moment; after losing in the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open, her sixth first-round loss in her last seven tournaments, she didn’t reappear until the early part of the Aussie summer swing that kicked off 2014. She lost in the first round at Hobart and Aucklandthat year, and hasn’t been seen since.

She reportedly retired officially a year ago last month.

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