Tennis Birthdays: Feb. 7, 2016

A Belgian, and a Colombian celebrate.

Kimmer Coppejans (BEL), 22

It won’t bring up great memories for Canadian Filip Peliwo, but the above pic came after Coppejans defeated him in the French Open junior final in 2012.

Kimmer CoppejansIt’s probably worthwhile to compare the paths of the two players since then, given Coppejans is just a month younger than the Canadian and is of similar smaller build.

A year ago, Coppejans stood at No. 181, while Peliwo was at No. 403.

On his 22nd birthday (Peliwo’s came a month ago), Peliwo is at No. 390, while Coppejans is at No. 123; last May, just before the French Open, he dipped into the top 100 at No. 97.

After that Paris match, Peliwo went on to win the Wimbledon and U.S. Open juniors; Coppejans reached junior No. 1 at the end of July after winning the European junior championships; he also won the Roehampton warmup to junior Wimbledon, and reached the quarters at junior Wimbledon and U.S. Open.

Coppejans has three higher-level Challenger titles, and made two more finals in 2015.

In the end, both are a long way from perhaps where they thought they might be by now, with younger players such as Kyrgios, Kokkinakis, Coric and Zverev having long zoomed past them.


Alejandro Gonzalez (COL), 27

Gonzalez was sort of a late bloomer in the “South American Challenger clay-court guy transitioning to the ATP Tour” category. He’s still sort of there.

Alejandro Gonzalez

He reached a career high of No. 70 after the 2014 French Open, despite being 11-24 in his career at the ATP level. He’s currently at No. 151, down from No. 104 a year ago.

Big guy. Makes a lotta noise when he plays, à la Carlos Berlocq (even in practice).

Gonzalez still played mostly the Challenger level after reaching that career high, much of it on clay, and made the Challenger Tour Finals in Brazil in November 2014 (beating a bunch of similarly, around-100 ranked players along the way, including Filippo Volandri in straight sets in his round-robin opener. He lost to Volandri in three sets in the final).

In 2015, Gonzalez started the season mostly at the ATP level, but after the US Open he stayed in South America and played clay-court Challengers. To start 2016, Gonzalez tried his luck on the Aussie summer swing although he began with a Challenger (and lost in the first round). He made it to the final round of qualifying at the Australian Open, only to get smacked by wily veteran Radek Stepanek.

It’s a different level, and with so many more hard-court tournaments involved, that’s the big step for players like Gonzalez. So far, he hasn’t been able to take it.

Gretchen Magers (USA), 52

Navratilova Rush MagersShe was overlooked because of her era, playing as she did with the likes of Tracy Austin and Martina and Chrissie. She doesn’t even rate a photo with her WTA Tour bio.

But the former college player (four-time All-American at Trinity) reached No. 13 in singles, and No. 18 in doubles, with two singles and four doubles titles on Tour. Her best Slam result came at Wimbledon in 1989, where she upset No. 9 Pam Shriver in the third round before losing to Martina Navratilova in the quarterfinals.

Magers has played a fair bit at the senior ITF level (and has also played the legends at Wimbledon – sometimes in the same year). She’s been No. 1 in Magers-wtathe world in her age category, and beats everyone when she plays in the U.S. and most of the players she meets at the world level.

We watched her play singles at the ITF world championships in Durban, South Africa a few years ago, both against a fellow Québécoise as well as Open Court’s doubles partner that week, a very good Swiss player.

She double-bageled them both. And they’re both REALLY good.

GretchenRushWhat was instructional was how she did it. Magers doesn’t look fast, doesn’t hit the ball that hard, doesn’t blow anyone away. But she does everything well, plays an all-court game, is tough to pass at the net and just competes calmly and consistently and lets it unfold. Just so much professional experience that you can’t duplicate. It was eye-opening (not that we didn’t already know that former pros are at a different level, but it’s interesting to take a really close look as to WHY they are, even years after retirement).

She’s currently back at her alma mater, as the head coach of the women’s tennis program.  You won’t find a nicer, more pleasant lady.


Also – a shoutout to Open Court’s Mom, still kicking ass and taking names on the tennis court at age …

(Note the vintage Ellesse – hard to find a matching bandanna to gold 🙂 )


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2 thoughts on “Tennis Birthdays: Feb. 7, 2016

  1. Great pic of you & your Mom, Steph. She looks fantastic, & love the vintage Ellesse!

    • Haha thanks! All about the matchy-matchy. It wasn’t vintage at the time of the pic, tho – it was the latest thing 🙂

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