Brushes with Sports Greatness, Vol. 7: The 1984-5 Swedish Davis Cup Tennis Team

As most of you already know, I went to high school overseas.

From the tenth through twelfth grades, I lived in Santiago, Chile.  Those were a memorable three years but I’m not about to bore you with anymore sappy stories of my adolescence.  Been there, done that.

Sheraton Santiago ChileNo, this story is about yet another one of my random brushes with sports greatness and as usual, it’s a tale you won’t believe.

When we first moved to South America, we stayed at the local Sheraton for nearly a month.  The house my family had rented was not move-in ready yet.

It is at that time when I first befriended Kid Sheraton.  You’ve read about Kid Sheraton on this site before.  He and I have now been close friends for over thirty years and while I’ve bested him on the golf course, I’ve never so much as taken a set off him in tennis.

There’s a reason for that.

As Kid Sheraton spent much of his life in and out of Sheratons around the world, where his father was employed for years, he was always surrounded by the greatest tennis pros money could buy.  I don’t mean to suggest that Kid Sheraton didn’t work hard at his game.  He obviously did.  He played nearly every afternoon under his coaches’ tutelage.  Hence his still undefeated streak against me.

Kid Sheraton and his father would also occasionally play doubles against me and my father.  Those matches were a little more even as my dad was a pretty decent tennis player in his own right.

Well, one afternoon, Kid Sheraton’s family invited us over for a friendly match of tennis.  As his father ran the hotel, we could pretty much get on the courts whenever we wanted.

WilsonThis was right around the time Wilson began experimenting with the production of its tennis balls.  As we all know, sporting goods manufacturers are always trying something cutting edge to gain a niche in the marketplace.  Over the years, racquets have gone from wood to aluminum to graphite, becoming lighter and larger.  In 1985, to go along with the growth in popularity of oversized racquets, Wilson thought an oversized ball (7% larger than the ordinary tennis ball) would attract more people to the game.  The oversized tennis ball would end up going the way of New Coke and the Betamax but not before the four of us spent an afternoon batting them around the Sheraton courts.

Now the four of us weren’t horrible but these tennis balls were not the easiest things to hit.  It was like swatting a grapefruit.  As a result, we would occasionally shank a ball, or two, or five, onto the court next to us.

This is when the fun starts.

At that time, the Sheraton was one of the nicest hotels in Santiago.  They often hosted whatever stars would travel into the country for whatever reason.  That included the 1984-5 Swedish Davis Cup tennis team.  Well, not only did the Swedish Davis Cup team happen to be staying there, that afternoon they happened to be volleying on the tennis court… RIGHT NEXT TO US!

EPSON scanner ImageFor those of you who don’t follow tennis, you should know that Swedish Davis Cup Team was one of the greatest in history.  On the court next to us stood Anders Jarryd, Henrik Sundstrom, Mats Wilander and a young, up-and-comer by the name of Stefan Edberg.  Wilander already had a few major victories under his belt and Edberg was on the verge of becoming an international star yet there they stood, tennis legends stopping every few minutes to hit back over-sized Wilson tennis balls back onto our court.

Now, I was a brat on the tennis court.  I was cut from the McEnroe cloth.  I still get that way on the golf course sometimes.  If a shot doesn’t go my way, I exhibit the rather undisciplined tendency to let the profanities fly.

So now imagine a young Edberg and Wilander rolling their eyes as a bratty young American yelled “Fuck” and “Shit!” at the top of his lungs every time some felt, yellow moon ball rolled into their space.  But what were they gonna do?  One of the guys hitting the balls onto their court ran the hotel.

No word as to whether the Swedish Davis Cup team ever returned to that hotel.  Kid Sheraton and I still chuckle about that afternoon, and those balls, to this day.

Oh and here’s another interesting fact.  That Swedish team went on to win the Davis Cup in 1984, 1985 and 1987.  In ’84, they beat the American team which featured both McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.

I guess I should go ahead and apologize for that now.

11 thoughts on “Brushes with Sports Greatness, Vol. 7: The 1984-5 Swedish Davis Cup Tennis Team

  1. Pingback: Brushes with Sports Greatness, Vol. 7: The 1984-5 Swedish Davis Cup Tennis Team - BallHyped Blog Network, Tennis | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Nice, I had breakfast with Tony Dungy, Mike Shula and the rest of the Bucs a few years ago. My step father was speaking to the team. So I went with him. I sat with Dungy, Shula, another coach (Christensen I think). they were nice people. Of course I met the rest of the team as well, Sapp, Dilfer, Dunn, Brooks Etc…was pretty cool. It was Sunday morning before they played the Panthers, got tickets too.

    I have met quite a few famous people over the years.

  3. Chris

    That was one the great Davis Cup teams of the past thirty years that included four Swedish players who at one time or another have each won a rand Slam and been ranked number one on the ATP Tour . Speaking of which , when was the last time the US held the Davis Cup as victors ? Men’s tennis here , in terms player competitiveness is now reaching an all time low and it is likely to get worse on the women’s side with what looks like the declining careers of Serena and Venus Williams .

    I’ve met the likes McEnroe , Borg , Connors and Nastase , having seen them play at Wimbledon and Roland Garros (French Open) . All-time favorite player remains Bjorn Borg , along with Arthur Ashe and Roger Federer .

    Greatest passion as a youngster , was boxing ,where obviously, Ali was ” King of the Ring ‘ ! In terms of the fighters I have appreciated over time within the sport , they include Marvin Hagler , Carlos Monzon , Floyd Patterson , Sugar Ray Robinson , , Bernard Hopkins and Larry Holmes . The tapes I have of their fights during the careers ( Holmes , Ali, , Robinson & Monzon) , I gave to my brother .

    Seen and met numerous British soccer stars of my youth , a sport I still follow to this day .

    Since residing here in the US , I’ve met Alex Douche-Bag Rordriguez and former players of the Miami Dolphins and Marlins . That being said , my idol worship is no longer what it once was , in terms of today’s athletes . Many of who,m I believe to be arrogant , too self-absorbed , unintelligent and who believe themselves to be entitled .

    A fascinating look at stupidity or as I would like to say, another day, another idiotic decision by Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys

    I’d also left you follow-up comments with regard to your earlier responses to piece on my site .

    tophatal …………

  4. I miss Jimmy Connors. That was the era I loved tennis. Speaking of tennis…do you feel we’ll ever see another golden age with a McEnroe, Connors, Borg, etc.? Just seems like a moment in time that will never be equaled.

  5. Chris

    What is it , that is said to be so heinous , that Richard Sherman is now caught between the cross-hairs of those who see his behavior as being antisocial ? Sherman knows that this is simply a rare opportunity for him to ” cash in “ financially by way of the Superbowl , but these cretinous @ssholes , who are part of the print and television media are ” on the hunt and making much ado about nothing ” .

    Your thoughts on the Buccaneers’ hire of Jason Licht to succeed Mark Dominik as the new general manager ? The franchise has a tall order of business by way of the upcoming draft and their free agents , who to retain and who to jettison .

    Left you a response concerning the piece on Jones and the Cowboys .

    On Wednesday night , did Kevin Durant simply reiterate why this season he has been the best player in the NBA over the course of the schedule ? LeBron James my well have led all scorers in the contest between the Heat and Thunder , but it was clear that Miami’s players did not come to play and were simply outplayed on their home-court . An emphatic win for Scott Brooks’ franchise and the players in particular .

    tophatal ………………

  6. D…

    Kentucky Bob not being one of them.

    I have a few other silly Brushes with Sports Greatness in the works.

    All names, except for theirs and mine of course, have been changed to protect the inebriated.

  7. Al…

    Good points and yes, those Swedish Davis Cup teams were nasty but you inspired me to look something up.

    There is no women’s Davis Cup team? They have the Federation Cup. Who knew?

    What’s amazing is that, particularly on the men’s side, the United States actually has the most titles in both, most of the men’s titles coming early.

    With the state of US Men’s tennis, I imagine the rest of the world will be catching up real soon.

  8. As usual, Al, the media has made a mess of this Super Bowl. They complain that Sherman is too mouthy and they complain when Lynch refuses to speak.

    The days of journalistic integrity are unfortunately long gone, my friend.

    I don’t know anything about Licht and I don’t necessarily think it was Dominik’s drafting abilities that sealed his fate. The Bucs have for better or worse found some talent in the draft. I think it was pretty much everything else that did him in. The handling of the Josh Freeman release could certainly have gone smoother.

    Oh, and Durant streak of 30+ point games finally ended. Guess the only person who can stop the man is Scotty Brooks.

  9. Ha ha… I didnt know that story. Its great. But I never would say yr a “McEnroe” (in temperment). You always were … & are a great kid.

    Besides, that’s just how New Yorkers “talk!” ha ha

    But I can’t believe “Kid Sheraton” still beats you? Funnnnnny.

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