The new Jim Courier senior tennis tour made its first stop in Naples this past weekend, with former stars from the age of 35 to just shy of 50.
On the third day of the round-robin tournament, John McEnroe was playing Aaron Krickstein for a spot in the finals the next day. At a critical juncture in the first set (2-2, 30 all), with Krickstein playing Johnny Mac about even, it was time for a McEnroe outburst to change the momentumâ€¦ and he obliged.
There was a close call on the baseline that the linesman called in. I was in the third row, 20 feet behind the spot and the call looked correct to me. But Mac went ballistic: he yelled, raised his arms, and screamed at the umpire to â€œget down here and show me a mark!â€
The chair umpire (who had angered McEnroe the day before with his officiating) came off his chair and pointed to a mark on the line. McEnroe would have no part of it and ranted, raved, and said something to the umpire that caused him to go back to his chair and announce, â€œCode violation warning Mr. McEnroe.â€
McEnroe turns and storms back to the baseline and towards the linesman who did NOT call that ball out like he wanted him to. And says, in a voice loud enough for hundreds of us in the stands to hear, â€œYouâ€™re a F_____g blind old man!â€
The linesman gets up, walks to the chair and obviously reports this transgression. The chair calls for the supervisor, who comes out and they have a five minute conference on the subject. All this while, many in the crowd are booing and yelling for â€œPoint penaltyâ€ against McEnroe AND, equally important, Aaron Krickstein is just standing on the other baseline, with all tennis focus draining out of him.
The officiating conference breaks up and the chair umpire does NOTHING about what McEnroe did â€“ except at the end of that game, replacing the â€œF____g blind old manâ€ with another linesman.
Krickstein losing that game on his serve, that first set and the match.
What does all this tell McEnroe about his behavior?
What does it tell the kids in the audience that Sunday afternoon?
What does it say about the validity of the Jim Courier seniorâ€™s tour being serious about playing â€œreal tennisâ€ rather than the setup matches we saw with the previous Jimmy Connors tour?