Tennis Birthdays: May 2, 2015

A former Playboy cover, a massive Wimbledon upset story and an intriguing tennis name celebrate today.

Ashley Harkleroad (USA), 30

AssshleyHarketoadThe former teenage prodigy once called the “American Anna (Kournikova)” by some of the more doltish and unimaginative out there is all grown up, married (for the second time) and a mom.

Son Charlie was born in Sept. 2009. Her daughter, named – WAIT FOR IT! – Loretta Lynn – turned four last month.

But in her early days, she was quite the poster girl. the top photo was at the U.S. Open when she was only about 16; she caused quite a stir with her ensemble.

We had that kit at the time, and can assure all the moms out there that it was quite easy to wear it without various bits protruding. It was pretty conservative – except on Harkleroad.

She took about a year off following the birth of her son, married coach Chuck Adams (who, as it happens, shares a birthday with her first husband, Alex harkleroad2 Tennis birthdays, May 2, 2011Bogomolov Jr.), and made a brief return at the big women’s event in Miami fiveyears ago to take advantage of her protected ranking.

She lost pretty quickly to Alicia Molik (6-1, 6-1), and also lost in the first round at Stanford and Cincy that summer. That was it on the competitive side.

Really, she more or less just faded from view. A couple of years ago, she showed up in Venezuela to play in a high-priced exhibition there with Martina Hingis, Andre Agassi and Jim Courier. It was little incongruous. Perhaps Kournikova wasn’t available.

Then again, she was at another one in Costa Rica with Agassi, Sampras and Kournikova. So perhaps this is her niche. She also worked for Tennis Channel for a bit.

Harkleroad turned pro in 2000, but sort of rolled along in relative obscurity until in 2003, she reached No. 39 in the world. Her best asset was probably her world-class movement on the courts, because she was pretty diminutive, by today’s tennis standards, at 5-foot-5 and 120 or so pounds.

She also reached No. 39 in doubles in 2007.

Peter Doohan (AUS), 54

3386.doohanthen Tennis birthdays, May 2, 2011The Aussie won one singles and five doubles titles during a career in
which he reached No. 43 in the world in singles, and No. 15 in doubles.

But he’s best known for one big moment in time: in 1987, he took on two-time champion Boris Becker and upset him in the second round at Wimbledon. He went from outside the top 300 into the 80s in the rankings that season.

Click on Doohan’s name to see the mug shot they’ve put on his page at the ATP Tour web site. 7245.doohannow Tennis birthdays, May 2, 2011It looks like a real mug shot – as in, “I got caught drunk driving and they hauled me down to the station and told me to say ‘Cheese!’”

Since his retirement, Doohan has been a head pro at various clubs in the southern U.S. and according to the ATP Tour site, his last American stop was in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Doohan returned to Australia in 2009 according to this story, the country he left when he was 17 to head off to college in the U.S., to become a club pro there. He was an all-American in doubles at the University of Arkansas in 1981-82 and won the NCAA doubles title one year.

(Photos from the Port Stephen Examiner).

Story Tweedie-Yates (USA), 32

3276.story Tennis birthdays, May 2, 2011The player isn’t all that remarkable, except for the fact that we absolutely love her name.

She got into the top 200 in doubles six years ago, but never did better than No. 316 in singles (in 2008).

Tweedie-Yates didn’t play at all from Aug. 2009 to May, 2010 while she was an assistant tennis coach at Fresno State under Quebecer Simon Thibodeau, then returned to playing small events in the U.S. She last played in mid-May, 2011, except for one doubles match at the event in Grapevine, Texas that August.

She went to Stanford University (two NCAA team titles) then Texas Christian University and is originally from Redmond, Washington. She officially graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a degree in psychology and completed an MBA in 2013. She now works for Cisco Systems.

We’re not sure what we were expecting her to look like, with that name (her middle name is Tish). The last name is in the fine québecois tradition – her parents’ surnames, hyphenated. We wondered if the folks spent a lot of time when they were younger smoking the funny stuff, giving her first name like that. But she looks as normal as can be.

(Photo from the TCU web site)

Katie O’Brien (GBR), 29

Katie O'BrienThe journeywoman Brit broke into the top 100 early in 2010 (peaking at No. 84 in February). That was probably her ceiling, and she got there. She also had the distinction, for a time, of being the British No. 1.

Her final match was 6-0, 7-5 first-round loss to Kimiko Date-Krumm in the first round of Wimbledon in 2011. She played some World Team Tennis in the summer, and retired that August.

Since then, she’s done this and that. She’s gotten some coaching certifications and has worked with British juniors and the wheelchair team as well as appeared on Radio Wimbledon doing commentary. She was apparently working on a business degree on the side, and we heard her on some of the live streams from Charleston last year, but not much lately.

On the absolutely positive side, she named her dog Safin after you-know-who; so she’s good there.

O’Brien earned four singles and two doubles titles on the minor-league ITF circuit, and played Wimbledon eight consecutive years, with a record of 1-8.

(Open Court photo)

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