Tennis Birthdays – Oct. 3, 2015

A noted WTA Tour coach and an Aussie legend celebrate.

Antonio Van Grichen (POR), 37

As a professional player, Van Grichen earned $3,600 on Tour and played just one match at the ATP level in singles, although he did get into the top 400 in doubles.

As a coach, he’s had exponentially more success working with, among others, Victoria Azarenka (he was the one who had her as a junior and brought her up to the Tour), Ana Ivanovic, Vera Zvonareva, Monica Puig, and a brief trial period with Genie Bouchard last summer.

Most recently, he came on board as the new coach of another québecoise, Françoise Abanda. Noted as a hard taskmaster, which it seemed was what Abanda needs as she struggles to transition to the pro tour, it lasted about the blink of an eye.

You have to be a heck of a laidback guy, and a talented diplomat, to have worked with that group of women.

Last year, he turned his attention to the men’s Tour.

Van Grichen-Baghdatis_new

At the U.S. Open, he was working with former top-10 player Marcos Baghdatis, who has definitely been struggling the last few years but seems, this year, to sort of be on an upturn.

Yvonne Meusburger (AUS), 32

Yvonne-Meusburger

If you saw Yvonne Meusburger walking down the street and wondered what she did for living, “tennis player” would probably not even make your top 100.

She just looks so unassuming – so, well, “everywoman.” But she’s been out on Tour for more than 15 years, quietly going about her business, until she finally made the year-end top 50 in 2013 when she was 30.

Meusburger was ranked as high as No. 37 (back in March, 2014) and has one career title, Bad Gastein in her home country in 2013. She followed that up with a final in Budapest, won by the home-country player there, Simona Halep.

After last year’s US Open, a first-round loss to Karolina Pliskova, she decided that the 2015 Australian Open would be her swan song. She didn’t play in between. And so it was.

Angelica Gavaldón (MEX), 42

AngelicaGavaldonBorn in California but raised in Tijuana,  Gavaldón represented Mexico during her career and is the best female player that country has ever produced.  She played throughout the 1990s, and got to No. 34 in the singles rankings at the beginning of 1996.

She turned pro in 1990. Earlier that year, as a 16-year-old amateur, she got to the Australian Open quarter-finals out of the qualifying. She beat No. 14 Hana Mandlikova and No. 15 Gigi Fernandez on the way there. She did the same thing five years later. Gavaldón represented Mexico in two Olympics.

After her career, she was the captain of the Mexican Fed Cup team. She also does television, and has a clothing line and a junior tennis academy in Coronado, outside San Diego. Here’s a great Q&A from her on the WTA Tour website.

 

Neale Fraser (AUS), 82

The Hall of Fame lefty’s best official ranking was No. 188, but considering he was about 40 when the computer rankings came in, that’s actually not half bad.

FNealeFraserraser won the U.S. Championships (as they were then known) in 1959 and 1960 (he got the triple those two years – singles, doubles and mixed), and won Wimbledon in 1960. It was a tough era; Fraser got to the semis of both the French Open and Wimbledon in 1962. Both times, he lost to Rod Laver, who did a little thing that year called “winning all four Slams.”

It’s grainy, but check out this fun clip of the two playing in 1960 at Wimbledon. Fraser actually won that match, and the tournament.

Fraser retired in 1963 to get on with his life, not turning pro the way many of the best players of his era did, although he did play the French and Wimbledon in 1965 and played a few events in the early 1970s.

Later, be became a respected Davis Cup captain, beginning in 1970 (when he was still playing). He was the boss for 24 years; Australia won the Davis Cup four times during his tenure.

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