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Cummings & Goings IV by Jim Cummings

February 19, 2006 09:18 PM

USA Today newspaper reported that Kim Clijsters took a unique way to celebrate her #1 world tennis ranking. In her first professional appearance in Belgium as the top-ranked woman player in the world, she treated every fan who attended to a bottle of champagne. Reportedly, 11,000 showed up and the projected cost for the celebration was well over $300,000. Kim was quoted as saying, "It's an appreciation for the support they have given over the years."
 
It is nice to see an athlete remember their roots. Maryland has Pam Shriver as a shining example of a player who never forgot where she came from. Since 1986, Pam's annual charity tennis event has enabled Baltimore fans to see close-up some of the best players in the world. McEnroe, Connors, Navratilova, Davenport, Sampras, Kournikova, Agassi are just a few of the many world class players who have come when Pam called. The event has raised over $3 million for children's charities. Pam has been equally supportive of the Baltimore Tennis Patrons which has introduced tennis to thousands of new players in the area, young and old alike, but especially the kids. 
 
Kim and Pam are reminders to us that in the crass, crazy world of sports today, there are athletes out there who appreciate their support base and show it by their words and deeds. But in deed, Kim picked a most unusual way of showing it. I'll drink to that, and, to her.
 
The John B. Coman Tiebreak
 
When wind, sun or other conditions favor play on one side of a court, the John B. Coman Tiebreak format can be used to even out the points played on the "bad" side. In doubles, it allows partners to serve throughout the tiebreak on the same side that they served on during the set.  Formerly known as the Balboa Tiebreak, or the Experimental Tiebreak, the Coman Tiebreak is played the same way as the present Set Tiebreak except that players change ends after the first point of the tiebreak and every four points thereafter. Here is an easy way to remember how to play a Coman Tiebreak. Change ends after the first (1) point of the tiebreak and every four (4) points thereafter. Put the two numbers together and you have 14. Remember the significance of the number 14 and you know the Coman Tiebreak. Everything else is the same as a regular set tiebreak including changing ends at the end of the tiebreak to start another set. When a tournament elects to use a Coman Tiebreak format and a Match Tiebreak, the Coman format will also apply to the Match Tiebreak.
 
The Coman Tiebreak originated out West and was first played at the Balboa Club from which it got its original name. Out West, the mid-afternoon sun is at fence-top level at certain times of the year. The players on the "bad" side of the court are at a distinct disadvantage and if ends were not changed in a tiebreak until after six points were played, a few balls in the sun and the tiebreak could easily be almost over before it started.
 
For years, John Coman championed the then called Balboa Tiebreak. When John died a couple years ago, USTA, in recognition of a lifetime spent devoted to tennis, decided to remove the designation "experimental" from the tiebreak he fought so hard for and name it in his honor. It was a fitting tribute to a real gentleman. I knew John well and was privileged to serve with him as an official at Forest Hills and on USTA's Rules Committee and Umpire's Committee. He was everything that was good about tennis.

By:  Jim Cummings 02/19/2006

Jim Cummings Bio:
   Born in Marinette, WI
   Boyhood friend of the Cook family
   Played varsity tennis for UW-Madison in the 50s
   Officiated at over 25 US Opens as a chair and line umpire
   Served on USTA's Rules Committee when Jack Stahr and Nick Powel were Chairs
   Active senior player and Referee
   Presently helps edit the Friend At Court
   zjimc@msn.com

 

 

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