MARY CARILLO | By Nancy Gill McShea
You know what's great about Mary Carillo. She reaches through the television set, grabs you, and makes sure you're paying attention.
Through the sheer force of her personality, quick mind and knowledge of tennis, Mary leaped fearlessly from the women's pro ranks to the broadcasting booth 14 years ago, breaking through the gender barriers to become one of the most visible tennis analysts in the world today.
"Bill Talbert was scraping the bottom of the barrel when he interviewed me at the Garden during a late-night match (on MSG) during the 1980 Avon Championships," said Mary, who refers to her early broadcasting years as her “Vaudeville Days.”
She was so good, Talbert gave her the mike. A USA Cable network producer who caught the broadcast hired her six months later. In 1983, when she was passing notes to AI Trautwig and Barry MacKay during a U.S. Open men's match on USA, Trautwig refused to use them, believing the words should come from Mary herself. After the show, Trautwig explained to the executive producer that Mary should be calling men's matches too. The next day she was there.
Today, you analyze matches with Mary - and sometimes get into verbal debates with her - much the same way you call Knicks' basketball with Marv Albert and John Anderiese or Mets' baseball with Tim McCarver and Ralph Kiner. The fact that she's a woman is incidental. Her instinct for spontaneous humor, vivid "in your face" language and perceptive observations are the hook. You relate to her immediately even if you don't always agree with her.
"I'd like to wish 'me sainted Irish mother' (Terry Carillo) a Happy St. Patrick's Day," Mary exclaimed on the air during the March Lipton Championships. Then without pause, she might say, "Watch this guy, he looks like the type who enjoys hoisting a beer with the boys.”
Mary's appeal is so universal that when her credentials for calling a men's tennis match were questioned at last year's U.S. Open, a guy from Corona, Queens, chased after her for an autograph. 'Hey Mare, you're the best," he shouted. "I don't care if you are a chick!"
“I don't pay attention to my reviews, whether they're positive or negative," said Mary, who is certain she will be the last non-Wimbledon winner to have this kind of broadcasting career. 'I just try to stay focused on the job at hand."
Mary has been honored with more than a dozen broadcasting awards during her affiliation with CBS Sports and the ESPN and USA Cable networks, including accolades from such industry powerhouses as the Women's Tennis Association and Tennis and World Tennis magazines (for whom she's written volumes of lively prose). Moreover, she was recently voted the "Top Female Tennis Personality of the Decade" by Tennis Buyer's Guide (a publication of Tennis magazine which polled its readers and the national press corps of tennis writers). And last December, Tennis Week's editorial staff elected Mary as "The Most Powerful Woman in Tennis." In both instances, she overwhelmed the competition, including such tennis legends as Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert.
Blessed from birth with a strong presence and an unwillingness to compromise her integrity, Mary first captured the hearts of the New York media during the 1970s' tennis boom when she was a top-ranked ETA junior player out of Douglaston, N.Y. She took the seaweed off an old Alex Olmedo wood racquet she used for crabbing at the local dock and followed her dream all the way to the pros, inspiring hundreds of girls to play tennis in the East along the way. She won the 1977 French Open mixed doubles title with her childhood friend, John McEnroe, and attained a No. 32 world ranking.
A well-known sports writer has said of her appeal, "When Mary came into the interview room after matches, the reporters always flipped open their pads because she was so quotable."
Mary once recalled her first impression of the U.S. Open at Forest Hills in a colorful piece for World Tennis magazine. Still in her early teens, she was naturally captivated by the ball kids who looked terrific, all decked out in white. She decided that would be a cool thing to do. But by the end of the day, after she had seen Chris Evert play for the first time, she knew that's what she wanted to do.
She took John McEnroe's advice and started taking tennis lessons, trailing after him to the Port Washington Tennis Academy, and played her first ETA tournament in the 14s division. "It was up in Westchester," Mary said. “I had short curly hair and showed up in a pair of shorts with one racquet. Lee Jackson promptly put me in the boys' draw. And I had to try to convince her that I should've been in the girls' draw.
“Junior tennis was fun. We had a pretty good group. Ruta Gerulaitis and I were always trying to duke it out. Vitas (Gerulaitis) was the first one of us that did anything. I remember when he first played Wimbledon. I couldn't believe I knew somebody who was playing Wimbledon."
Terry Carillo was relieved when her daughter retired from the pro tour for broadcasting after her third knee operation (Mary later had a fourth operation). “She has to walk on those legs for the rest of her life and be able to bounce her kids. Besides, she'll look great on TV in red silk shirts. Red is her color," said Terry, who was always too nervous to watch Mary play. “I would sit in the locker room counting the tiles on the ceiling and my husband, Tony, would tell me, 'You're missing all these beautiful moments.’"
Mary, who at 37 is the youngest person to be inducted into the ETA Hall of Fame, is enjoying many beautiful moments today. She and her husband, Bill Bowden, are celebrating their 11th anniversary this year, and she has the luxury of bouncing her children, Anthony, 6 1/2, and Rachel, 2 1/2, on her knee.
"This kid (Rachel) is a real Italian," Mary bellowed recently. "All she eats is macaroni!”
Photo Credit: Steve Berman
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MILLICENT HIRSH | By Nancy Gill McShea
Millicent Hirsh Lang’s tennis memories are preserved in a scrapbook whose pages overflow with newspaper stories written by her friends, Allison Danzig of the New York Times and Fred Hawthorne of the old New York Herald Tribune.
Millicent’s joyous tennis career began in 1928 when, at age 11, she won her first women’s tournament at St. James Park in the Bronx.
“When I won that tournament, there was no trophy,” recalled Millicent, who that same year gave up a promising future as a concert pianist to pursue tennis. “But someone got to N.Y. Mayor Jimmy Walker, who quickly corrected the oversight, and my victory was noted on the front page of the Times.”
In the 66-year interim leading to her Hall of Fame induction, Millicent’s life intertwined with many tennis greats-including ETA Hall of Farmers Barbara Williams, Alastair Martin, Gene Scott and the late Frank Shields and John ‘Pat’ Rooney – as she first gained stature in the 1930s as national and Eastern champion, and later as a dedicated volunteer tournament director and senior player.
It all started with Millicent’s dad, Morris Hirsh, became interested in tennis. “Being the eldest of three daughters, if dad said, ‘Let’s go,’ I did. I was eight years old. We lived on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx across from the Kelton Tennis Courts and there we started,” she said. “On weekends we traipsed to St. James Park and many kindly gentlemen would hit with me.”
Millicent quickly distinguished herself as a junior player, capturing three titles in the early 1930s at the Anne Cumming Memorial tournament (a Jersey State girls’ event). She also won both the singles and doubles trophies at the 1933 USLTA National Indoors and ranked first in the Eastern section for several years.
By 1936 when she was 19, Millicent who had been attending New York University, was already a veteran on the women’s circuit. In November of that year, when the USLTA National Indoors debuted at the 7th Regiment Armory in New York, she was a singles runner-up to Sylvia Hemrotin of France, and advanced to the mixed doubles semifinals with Shields, who had been one of her more famous hitting partners during her youth.
“Frank and I were very good friends, we grew up together since we lived only one block apart," Millicent said. “I copied his big forehand and Helen Jacobs’ slice."
“That particular indoors was quite a gala. Ted Heusing narrated my final match with Sylvia over the radio. My father was there and he always made me nervous. I was leading 5-3 in the first set and lost it 7-5. After I won the second set I went up to the gallery (during my 10-minute rest period) to sit with my father, and then promptly lost the match.”
After the Indoors, Millicent, Frank Froehling, Sr. and Helen Pedersen (a Wimbledon semifinalist who ranked among the U.S. top 10 for nine years) toured the winter circuit together from February to June. They started in Bermuda, trekked to Chicago (where Millicent won the Western Indoors singles, doubles and mixed titles), then on to Houston, the Carolinas, Atlanta and Chattanooga, finally finishing in New Haven and Hartford.
“It was a wonderful experience, we all got on well,” she said. “The three of us toured in Frank’s (Froehling) 1928 Model A Ford. He was known as the ‘blond bomber,’ so naturally he received a lot of attention and fan mail.”
In the early 1940s, Millicent ranked 14th in the U.S. women’s singles, and lost to Louise Brough in the quarters of the U.S. National Championship at Forest Hill. She also married Nathaniel (Nat) Lang, and after the war, she and Nat stayed close to home in Great Neck, N.Y., raising three daughters. Later, Edith Martin asked her to run Eastern’s women circuit. Millicent enlisted Barbara Williams to help her organize the New Jersey/New York State and the Eastern Clay Courts, and Alastair Martin secured the Piping Rock Club on Long Island for her invitational grass court tournament, which often attracted future Grand Slam champions such as Billie Jean King and Virginia Wade. Millicent also captained and played on the Eastern’s Sears Cup teams for several years; and in the late 1960s and early ‘70s , she started the senior circuit, ranking first in that division with four different partners.
“When I was running Eastern women’s tournaments, I would call Gene Scott and request that he get some of my players into the U.S. Open draw at Forest Hills and he did,” she said. “Gene was counsel to the U.S Open in the early ‘70s and accepted entries for the tournament. I didn’t’ know him at all, yet he was most considerate.”
Millicent has enjoyed the whole adventure, especially such larks as playing exhibitions with the great Vinnie Richards at various clubs in the East, and reigning for several years with Lady Woodall as Bermuda’s doubles champs. Each spring, Pops Merrihew invited Millicent to participate in two Bermuda invitationals. On one occasion in the mid-‘50s, Sir John Woodall, the Governor General of the Bermuda, actually held up the departure of a commercial Pan-Am flight so that she and Lady Woodall could finish a final match. Millicent boarded the plane soaking wet but was happy to make the flight back to New York with Nat and the children.
“This Hall of Fame honor is an acclamation of my small accomplishments, but the real issue is how many friends did I make? Quite frankly, the old tennis friends are still my friends,” Millicent said.
About four weeks ago, the Langs’ Long Island home was burglarized and every bit of silver was taken, including all of Millicent’s tennis trophies. Soon afterward, she had lunch with her longtime Eastern tennis rivals and friends, Helen Pedersen (McLoughlin) and Norma Taubele. “Norma had retired the New Jersey State trophy, having won it three times,” Millicent said. “In a gesture of friendship, she asked me if I would like to have it since I had won it twice. So I took it and now I have a trophy again.”
Photo Credit: Steve Berman
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SEENA HAMILTON | by Nancy Gill McShea
Seena Hamilton's mother, Helen, once advised her impressionable young daughter to remember that "no experience is ever lost." Seena took her mother's advice literally.
In a lifetime notable for its furious pace and lists upon lists of accomplishments that leave one somewhat breathless, Seena has forged five separate business careers - as an entrepreneur, broadcaster, editor, journalist and public relations and event marketing specialist.
Her late husband, Dr. S.K. Fineberg, sometimes cautioned her against taking too many detours, yet he believed that her versatile background in journalism and business (especially Gulliver's Trails, her children's sightseeing service for hotels) prepared her to run the independent national junior tennis tournament, the Easter Bowl, and make junior tennis famous.
Dubbed the "Mother Superior of Junior Tennis" by her friend, Bud Collins, Seena founded the Easter Bowl 26 years ago in New York, wresting the junior game from relative obscurity and planting it firmly in our national consciousness. While her feisty temperament demands recognition as a virtuoso in the grown-up business world, she speaks more softly about the generations of young tennis players who have participated in the Easter Bowl.
“I love kids," said Seena, who often resembles the child within us all. "It's been a great 26-year detour. I have met thousands of tennis families and I hope maybe some of my efforts have made junior tennis a happier place for them."
Indeed the Easter Bowl, which has long showcased our nation's future pros (including Eastern's Mary Carillo, Ruta and Vitas Gerulaitis and the McEnroe and Mayer brothers, among others), also serves as a springboard for the good things Seena has accomplished on the business side of tennis. She used a journalist's eye to publicize junior trends and programs, and used her marketing skills to enlist corporate support to help ease the financial burden of training a top player. In the 1980s, her New York-based sports marketing firm, Seena Hamilton & Associates, commissioned the first national survey on junior tennis for the Omega Watch Corporation, which helped launch the ETA Omega/Tourneau National 16s team. She also personally directed the first seminar for tennis parents.
Her influence in the marketplace has been so strong, Seena has received dozens of citations (from the White House, foreign governments and Cable TV, among others) and awards from USA Today and World Tennis and New York Woman magazines, naming her a power in tennis. In addition, the ETA elected her its "Woman of the Year" for helping to organize the Junior Tennis Council, among other innovations.
Eugene L. Scott, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Tennis Week who has supported the Easter Bowl (particularly in the early 1970s during his tenure as ETA president), smiled when he heard of Seena's induction. "Seena is surely not her real name," Scott said. "Seena suggests a tall, frail, willowy woman. Moreover, the letters in the name 'Seena' are the first five letters of the expression 'seen and not heard,’ also inappropriate for this founder of one of the noblest junior tournaments on the calendar. Seena Hamilton is seen and heard plenty in our game. And you'd better listen."
Seena's early history indicates she has thrived on challenge since the night her late father, Leonard Hamilton, came home with several formidable gentlemen, woke his precocious five-year-old daughter, and invited them to "ask her anything." She later boarded at the Sanford School in Hockessin, Del., during her teens, which further shaped her strong personality.
"Sanford believed in individuality," said Seena, who pointed out she was not phlegmatic to begin with. "The school's head mistress, Ellen Sawin, instructed us never to follow the herd. I once headed straight for the proofreading test at a Middle States scholastic editorial competition because I knew I would win it. Ellen redirected me to creative writing, admonishing me not to take the easy route. I came in second.”
Seena moved on to the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and the summer before her senior year, she got a job as a copy girl at the Daily News in New York. After graduation, she was named a scriptwriter for the Daily News' radio and TV station, responsible for four shows a day. She was 21 years old.
At 22, she detoured briefly as the publicity director of MGM records - the year she met her husband - but she jumped back into journalism as associate editor of Apartment Life with hopes of cracking into the big time. She saw an ad in The Times for Today's Woman and ended up as the magazine's home planning editor.
"There I was, me, who was afraid to move a chair without my decorator telling me what to do,” laughed Seena, who at 26 finally found her niche as the editor of the Hotel Gazette, the industry's leading publication.
"Those nine years (with the Gazette) were some of the happiest of my life,” Seena recalled. “I had total control of publishing an issue every other week. I didn't know how to dummy up a magazine but I learned in a hurry. When my son, Bryan, was about to be born, I called the owner of the magazine and said, 'I can't come to work today, I think I'm about to have my baby.' He said, 'You can't do that... you're on deadline.' He sent a production man to my home, we put the issue to bed at 10 p.m., and Bryan was born at 8 the next morning.”
The Gazette led Seena to the hotel lecture circuit, and in 1962 she recommended that the Hilton chain offer children's programs to increase summer occupancy. She pioneered Gulliver's Trails in New York; and to publicize the children's service, she picked up her first young passengers at the Waldorf in a Rolls Royce. The idea caught on rapidly throughout the world as a convenient service for members of conventions and their children. In 1965, during an AMA convention in New York, Seena actually escorted 800 children to the World's Fair in one day.
Finally, by 1968, Seena's son, Bryan, had zoomed to the top of the ETA boys' 12 tennis rankings and trained in an invitational New York program for the top three juniors in each age group. She tried to raise money to expand the program and instead was talked into starting the Easter Bowl. She has run the tournament like an extension of Gulliver's Trails, proving the wisdom of her mother's axiom, "No experience is ever lost."
Charles Friedman, a former writer for The New York Times, has said of Seena, "Her drive for the good of the game is like the forehand she loves to smack on the court. Her determination and dedication represents the best that one can give to tennis, which surely needs more like her.”
And people who know say she has a very good forehand!
Photo Credit: Steve Berman
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Walter L. Pate | by Nancy Gill McShea
The late Walter Pate secured his place in tennis history off the courts as the captain of three victorious U.S. David Cup teams, in 1937, ’38 and 1946. Yet in 1915, the Glen Cove, Long Island, native qualified on his home turf for one of the most significant events in tennis history-the first U.S. National Tennis Championships ever played at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y.
Although Pate lost early in that landmark tournament, which, according to The New York Times, “established Forest Hills as the center of tennis in this country,” the experience undoubtedly helped shape his future as an important leader at the center of the game he loved.
A graduate of Cornell and a partner in the New York law firm of Cooke, Brown and Pate, Walter was president of the Cornell Club in New York (where he maintained a residence). He also had a home at the Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove. After a freak accident forced him to abandon any dreams of court stardom (Walter broke a hip while playing a match on wet grass, which left him with one leg shorter than the other), he took on the role of tennis administrator, serving as president of the Eastern Lawn Tennis Association in 1925 and 1926.
Walter later captained this country’s Davis Cup teams when tennis, especially Davis Cup tennis, commanded a greater share of attention among America’s sports fans and the press.
Historically, the tennis supremacy of the world rests with the country that wins the Davis Cup trophy, and the 1920s, late ‘30s and ‘40s were among Americas’ best Davis Cup decades. The United Stated retained the Cup from 1921 to 1926-the longest stretch of possession in the competition-until France and Great Britain dominated for the next 11 years.
In 1937, the U.S. came roaring back under Captain Pate, defeating Great Britain 4 -1 at Wimbledon in London. The U.S. team, which was sparked by a young Don Budge, who won three matches-two singles and one doubles with his longtime partner Gene Mako-returned home to a heroes’ welcome and a Ticker Tape parade down Broadway. (Frank Parker, Wayne Sabin and Bryan ‘Bitsy’ Grant were also members of that squad.)
The U.S. repeated as champions under Pate in 1938, defeating Harry Hopman’s Australian squad 3-2 at the Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia. But Australia retaliated in ’39, edging the U.S. 3-2 at the Merion Cricket Club in Haverford, PA.
Davis Cup matches were suspended from 1940-1945 during World War II, but Captain Pate returned in 1946 with the team of Bill Talbert (who later served as Davis Cup captain from 1953 to 1957), Gardner Mulloy, Ted Schroeder, Frank Parker and Jack Kramer, who routed Australia 5-0 at the Kooyong Tennis Club in Melbourne, Australia.
Mulloy later wrote, “The seventh and final member of our (1946) team was non-playing captain, Walter L. Pate, a short middle-aged Wall Street lawyer, with a tremendous enthusiasm for the game. In his younger days, he had a broken hip and now walked with a limp. He had captained pre-war teams, among them the one which lost to Australia in 1939. It was a fitting gesture to give him the opportunity to bring back the Cup, and one for which his experience qualified him. Loyalty to his team, and an aversion to hurting anyone’s feeling, though he could not put his foot down with unshakable firmness when necessary, were qualities for which the boys adored him. And before the tour was over he was to become one of my best friends in tennis.”
Talbert and Budge, both ETA Hall of Famers, agree that Captain Pate was a very modest, fine gentleman who understood very well the nuances of tennis.
“Cap was like a second father to me, he was instrumental in getting me and Gene Mako on the 1935 (Davis Cup) squad for experience when our records weren’t good enough at the time,” said Budge, who credits Pate with suggesting he change from a Western to Eastern grip and helping him do it. “He knew tennis. Bill Tilden once said to him, ‘I hit my forehand even with my belt buckle,’ and Cap said, ‘No you don’t, you hit your forehand out in front of your hip.’ He bet Tilden $5 and took photos to prove it.
“Gene and I often stayed with Cap out in Glen Cove when we were in town,” continued Budge, adding proudly that his mentor, who was a great authority on bridge, edited “The Four Aces” for Ozzie Jacoby. “Once Gene and I popped into his office for a visit, he was sound asleep in his chair. Rather than embarrass him, we asked his secretary to wake him and announce us. When we went back in, he said he was as busy as the dickens.”
In 1915, The Times stated prophetically that “Forest Hills is the center of tennis in this country…and New York may produce more potential tennis champions in the future.” There were 25,000 tennis players in the New York area then but only 128 men qualified for the U.S. Nationals’ debut at West Side. Tennis champion Walter L. Pate was one of them.
Photo Credit: Unknown
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