15 Oct 2017

Mayotte not a Springfield Rifle, but a gentleman

News Article

By Harvey Fialkov

Photo: Manuela DaviesJohn Mayotte (USA)

He may not possess the bullet serve that earned his younger brother the nickname of the Springfield Rifle, but John Mayotte certainly displayed his own lethal arsenal in a first-round victory in the Super-Senior World Individual Championships 65s Saturday afternoon.

Mayotte, 69, never achieved the tennis success of his brother, Tim, 57, who reached No. 7 in the world in 1988, but he knows that the sport has enriched his life.

“We always played,’’ said Mayotte, who works in hotel marketing and lives in Clarksville, Md. “My dad was a good athlete and we lived across the street from Forest Park. I didn’t realize how good Tim was until he [tournament director Barry MacKay] gave him a wild card into a tournament in San Francisco while he was still at Stanford.

“He beat Jimmy Connors and I was like, ‘Holy cow.’"

Mayotte had just turned 20 and he stunned Connors, then ranked third in the world, 36, 76, 76 before eventually losing to Eliot Teltscher in the quarterfinals. From there he won 12 singles titles, including the inaugural Miami Open when it was played in Delray Beach in 1985. In 1987, Mayotte won five titles, including the prestigious Paris Masters.

He was also a regular in the Top 10 and second week of Grand Slams, including two semifinal berths in the 1982 Wimbledon and 1983 Australian Open in which he was dispatched respectively by two decent players, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. In fact, Lendl was a thorn in Mayotte’s tennis side, owning a 17-0 advantage.

“I went to watch Tim at Wimbledon [in 1985] and he was beating Boris Becker when Becker hurt his ankle,’’ Mayotte said. “He was walking to the net to retire and shake hands with Tim when his coach and agent Ion Tiriac came running on the court screaming, ‘Don’t retire.’

“Becker took a long break and won in five sets.’’

Becker, then 17, went on to win his first of three Wimbledon titles.

At that time of Tim’s breakthrough, John Mayotte, had given up on his professional tennis pursuits after competing for several years on the now defunct NETS or New England Tennis Stars circuit.

“I played for Holy Cross and then tried pro tennis in the Northeast, but I’d always lose in the qualifying,’’ smiled Mayotte. “So I got married, had kids and went to work.’’

Mayotte also flourished in the tennis agent business, working 13 years for Donald Dell at ProServ, where he represented several pro players such as Brad Gilbert, Aaron Krickstein, Alex O’Brien, Jared Palmer, Amanda Coetzer and Greg Rudeski, a US Open finalist in 1997.

Mayotte put down the racket to raise a family, but picked it up again six years ago.

“I hit some balls and found out I was playing pretty well,’’ Mayotte said. “I started playing more tournaments and won a Silver Ball and then a Gold Ball by winning the USTA National Grass Courts Championships 65s in Rumson, N.J.’’

Mayotte, a lefty-version of Tim, cruised to a 62 61 victory over Albin Oeggerli of Switzerland by utilizing a knifing slice, delicate drops shots and a penetrating forehand that often had Oeggerli running in the wrong direction.

Although Mayotte has never played Tim in a pro event they came close.

“I got to the finals of the New England Western Championships in the Pittsfield Country Club and Tim was on the next court killing a friend of mine, Ben Bishop,’’ Mayotte recalled. “Tim, who was still in college, was up a set and 4-1 but lost, so we didn’t get to play each other.

His serve is too powerful and he’s just too strong. I can’t even beat Chris.’’

Chris Mayotte was the third Mayotte brother to turn pro, and he was ranked a career-high of No. 124 during a decent pro career in which he won three doubles titles and competed in all four Slams. Now 60, Chris is a tennis pro for Lifetime Fitness in New York, while Tim helps run the Mayotte Hurst Stevinson Tennis Academy in Boston.

John Mayotte may never earn Tim’s Springfield Rifle moniker but he certainly can share the Gentleman tag.