Long Island’s own John McEnroe is a former world number one-ranked player. He has won seven Grand Slam titles, three at Wimbledon and four at the U.S. Open, nine Grand Slam men's doubles titles and one Grand Slam mixed-doubles titles. This past season, John played for the New York Sportimes during the 2009 WTT season. Long Island Tennis Magazine had a chance to chat with John prior to his mid-July match with the Sportimes at Randall’s Island against the Newport Beach Breakers.
How do you like the new facility here on Randall’s Island?
It looks great! It will look even better when they finish fixing up the surrounding area. But I really like it.
What do you think the impact of World Team Tennis could be on the state of the sport in the New York area?
It could be big! It’s a great place to play, and once people become more aware, it can do a lot of good for tennis in the area.
What brings you back to the NY Sportimes and WTT each year?
Billie Jean King! Billie Jean is the best and does so much for tennis. You just can’t say no to her.
Do you feel that tennis on Long Island is going in the right direction?
I can’t speak directly to tennis specifically on Long Island, but as for tennis in the east, it is very important to have successful training venues and show that players can be successful in a place where tennis is played indoors at least six months a year.
You grew up on Long Island. What are your thoughts on parents sending kids away from the Island to train in warmer weather climates?
I personally wouldn’t recommend doing that. I think that I am living proof that you don’t have to do that. Parents sometimes feel the need to have their kids train year round, but for the most part, I think moving them is unhealthy.
Do you recommend high school tennis for top junior players?
I recommend competition. When I played high school tennis, my matches were not always as tough as my tournament matches, but you still have to go out and perform. I don’t see any reason why kids shouldn’t play.
Do you recommend college tennis for those looking to play professionally?
College tennis seems to be like doubles … on life support. I don’t agree that the only way to succeed is by bypassing college. But recently, there are agencies looking for kids at 12-years-old and signing them at 14-years-old. I think we need to change the rules. Half the guys at Junior Wimbledon are pros. I wouldn’t allow that. This is a way in which agents are running the sport. I do not believe this is healthy for most of the players involved.
Recently, Justin Gimelstob “Tweeted” during a match, and other athletes have discussed doing that during competition. What are your thoughts on using Twitter as a social networking tool during a match?
I have no opinion on that. If I spent more than two seconds thinking about something as stupid as Twitter, I’d have to consider myself an idiot.
Who do you consider the best player of all-time?
I believe Roger Federer is the best player. Rafael Nadal has a winning record against him though, so I guess there is a minor argument of how you can be considered the best if you don’t have a winning record against every player. But the results of those matches may have been different had they been played under different circumstances.
What kind of advice can you give to the Long Island tennis player trying to be the next John McEnroe?
Hopefully, you are doing it for the right reasons. They need to love the sport of tennis and give it their best, because regardless of expectations, you should always have a fallback. One of the reasons I succeeded is that I had a fallback, where other people put too much pressure on themselves.