The Class of 2014 will enter the Tennis Hall of Fame today led by former No. 1 Lindsay Davenport. Joining the American are 5-time Paralympic medalist Chantal Vandierendonck; tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, who has guided 10 players to world No. 1 status; Jane Brown Grimes, who has held executive leadership roles with the WTA, USTA, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame; and British tennis broadcaster and author John Barrett.
And each is deserving of the special honor.
But as players like Davenport – who won three singles Grand Slam titles during her career – enter the Hall, many worthy former greats of the game still sit, hoping upon hope to one day make it in.
There’s 2-time French Open champion Sergi Bruguera, a longshot like his countryman Carlos Moya. Hard-headed lefties Thomas Muster and Marcelo Rios who both reached No. 1 but because of their rifts with the tours and lack of charm may never get in.
And then there’s the case of Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Yevgeny was far from a media darling. And being a Russian (there are none in the Hall!) who liked to gamble won’t help him much either in the Hall’s eyes. So off the court maybe Kafelnikov wasn’t the most amenable guy, but on the court he put up comparable if not far better numbers than inductees like Michael Chang, Yannick Noah and even Patrick Rafter (not to mention Jana Novotna or Gabriela Sabatini):
at No. 1
Kafelnikov’s fate continues to rest in the hands of tennis writers who’ll need to agree with a 75% vote to induct him in. But he’s already been passed over seven times since hanging it up in 2003 and with Justin Henin, Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick and his countryman Marat Safin sure to go in the next 3-4 years, he may have to wait longer. Hopefully, though, Todd Martin, the new head of the Hall of Fame and a former Kafelnikov contemporary, can do what’s right for the game and for the Hall and make an internal push for Yevgeny.
Like him or not, Kafelnikov deserves to be in.
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