USTA New England Magazine
NEWPORT, RI--The International Tennis Hall of Fame played host to the Champions Cup last summer, a regular stop on the Outback Champions Series tour. With eight world-class players vying for the title, only one man remained standing after Sunday’s final. Pat Cash proved that grass is still his domain, as the 1987 Wimbledon champ served and volleyed his way to the title, beating out Hall of Famer, Jim Courier.
But the biggest story of the tournament came from John McEnroe’s default during a match against MaliVai Washington. After McEnroe took the first set 6-3, Washington was able to climb back to 4-2 in the second set. After McEnroe received four code violations for multiple obscenities and unsportsmanlike conduct, he was tossed out of the match. Jim Courier chimed in on the situation. “I think the umpire has to enforce the code. If John makes some infractions, then he should be penalized appropriately,” he said. Despite the default, McEnroe remained in the tournament due to the round-robin format.
On Sunday afternoon, the pressure was on, with the Champions Cup title just one match away. Courier and Cash had previously faced off in the 2007 third place match in Newport, in which Courier took out Cash in a three-set tiebreak. But Courier was a bit uneasy going into this final. “Pat is such a natural grass-courter and a very natural serve and volleyer,” says Courier. “I’m a fish out of water here –- I’m serving and volleying in a first and second serve which I probably haven’t done since I was 18 or 19 years old at Wimbledon.” After winning the first set 6-3, Cash lost a bit of control in the tail end of the second set. Courier saw an opportunity to break Cash, and proceeded to step up his game. The two battled it out in a seemingly never-ending 22-point game in which Courier saved five match points, bringing the second set to 5-4. Courier put in a great effort, but the birthday boy didn’t get his wish to conquer Cash’s big serve-and-volley game, losing 6-3, 6-4. “He clearly outplayed me today,” said Courier. When Cash was asked if he felt guilty about beating Courier on his birthday, he laughed and said: “No…”
Sunday’s matchup also included a battle for a third place finish between Magnus Larsson and MaliVai Washington. This was Larsson’s first time playing the Hall of Fame Champions Cup, and he cinched the win 6-4, 6-4, which proved to be a very competitive match. “Larsson has one of the best serves on the tour,” says Washington, a sentiment he shares with Cash. After the match, Washington was asked how he feels overall. He said jokingly, “Well, I feel like I can beat anyone in this crowd.”