Tennis Birthdays – Oct. 25, 2015

Former players, now mom and lawyer.

Karolina Sprem (CRO), 31

SpremAt the 2011 Australian Open (above), Karolina Sprem of Croatia was a player.

At the 2012 Oz Open (right), Sprem was a player girlfriend, watching Marcos Baghdatis practice.

By the  year, Sprem was a tennis wife with nanny and baby carriage.

At only 31, younger than many of the players out there getting to ends of fortnights these days, Sprem has long been done.

Sprem married Baghdatis in July, 2012. Baby daughter Zahara was born in October.

In October, 2004, aged just 19, Sprem reached No. 17 in the world in singles. It was a quick rise; the previous year, she was winning ITF titles and broke into the top 100 in May. But injuries hit. By the middle of 2007, after a wrist injury and then elbow surgery, Sprem missed a year and although the returned, she really was never close to the same player.

After that match in Oz in 2011 from the feature pic, Sprem played one match in April (retirement). And then one more at a $10,000 ITF event in Croatia 2 1/2 years later, in October, 2013, a loss. That was it. She seems to have moved on nicely.

Derrick Rostagno (USA), 50

EPSON scanner Image

The American wasn’t the greatest player to come out of the US, but he was very good and he had a lot of dramatic moments and interesting back story.

Also – great 80s hair and puka-shell, David Cassidy necklace (ask your mom).

Rostagno only won one ATP Tour title, and his career singles record was a modest 191-183. But he reached No. 13 in the world in 1991, a good effort. There were some pretty good players in the game back in those days.

Rostagno went back to Stanford University to finish up his economics degree after retiring in 1996 (he was All-American there in 1985). And then he went to UCLA to do an MBA. And then he went to law school, sworn in at age 39. Rostagno has had his own office, specializing in business litigation, for the last 10 years.

Rostagno2011Father Juan was a longtime civil litigator in L.A, and in a previous life a classical musician with the L.A. Philharmonic. His father was born and raised in Argentina, of Italian descent. His mother is German. His parents reportedly met in Paris, and were married in Uruguay. Typical L.A. kid :-).

From the end of 1985 sitting outside the top 400, he was ranked No. 66 just nine months later. In the early days of his career, there were no “people” around him, no full-time coach, not even an agent.

During his career, he had his moments. He upset John McEnroe in the first round at Wimbledon in 1990, and basically had his way with him that year. He talks about that here.

And then there was that “let-cord” moment, when he had Boris Becker on the ropes at the US Open in 1989 but for the worst possible luck in the world, at the worst possible time. That was in the first round, in the fourth set; Rostagno had led two sets to none but lost in five in a 4 1/2-hour marathon.

Rostagno also was known for travelling around in a beat-up old bus, long before Dustin Brown did it. Actually, the story goes that he had the 1978 VW bus on the west coast, an RV on the East Coast.

The other Rostagno story was about when he was playing the satellite circuit in March, 1986  intending to head home after winning a $10,000 event in Mexico. He was in the Mexico City airport on a layover, and decided on the spur of the moment to stay and play another event in that city. The plane he was to take crashed; no one survived.

No doubt Rostagno got a better-than-average start in life; but life’s what you make of it and he certainly is creating a interesting, varied spot for himself on the planet.


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