Kuerten, Capriati Enter Tennis Hall Of Fame; Shunned Kafelnikov Waits Outside
by Jeremy Davis | July 14th, 2012, 10:20 am

Former No. 1s Gustavo Kuerten and Jennifer Capriati will be joined by Spanish great Manuel Orantes for induction today at the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.

One of Brazil’s most beloved and successful athletes, Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten was the world’s No. 1 player for 43 weeks, and he is a three-time Slam champion winning French Open titles in 1997, 2000, and 2001. Now 35, the smiling Kuerten amassed 20 singles titles and 8 doubles titles during his career.

Capriati won three Slams (2001 Australian/French, 2002 Australian), an Olympic gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona games, and a Fed Cup championship with the US team. In 1990, her first season on tour, she was ranked in the WTA world top-10, at age 14. In October 2001, she became world No. 1, a position she held for a total of 18 weeks. The American, who had a series of troubling off court issues later in her career, finished with 14 career titles.

Orantes, a Spanish tennis star of the 1970s and 1980s, reached the world No. 2 ranking in 1973, and remained in the year-end world top-10 for five consecutive years. He won 33 singles titles and 22 doubles titles during his lengthy career, including the 1975 US Open.

Hall of Famer Monica Seles will present Jennifer Capriati, and Hall of Famer Stan Smith will present Manuel Orantes. Guga Kuerten selected his mother, Alice Kuerten, to present him for induction.

Also going inducted today are tennis industry leader Mike Davies and the late wheelchair champion Randy Snow.

While Kuerten and Capriati are undisputed entrants, one player’s omission has raised some eyebrows. Yevgeny Kafelnikov was on the ballot for the first time this year but the Russian didn’t earn the 75% votes needed from an appointed media panel.

During his career Kafelnikov, considered to be a “marathon man” for all the tennis he’d play, put up some very hearty Hall of Fame-like numbers:
– Two Grand Slam titles (1996 French Open, 1999 Australian Open)
– 2000 Olympic Gold Medal in singles,
– Six weeks holding the No. 1 ranking
– Four Grand Slam doubles titles
– One of just 6 players in Open Era to win 25 or more singles & doubles titles
– 26 career singles titles
– 27 career doubles
– 2002 Davis Cup title
– Finish ranked among Top 5 five times

Those achievements outweigh inductees Michael Chang, in international icon who won one Grand Slam, zero doubles titles and never reached No. 1. Or Yannick Noah, another on Slam wonder who later turned pop star.

The beloved Patrick Rafter also won two Slams, peaked at No. 1 but finished with just 11 overall singles titles yet he was promptly inducted in 2006.

But the irascible Kafelnikov wasn’t the most personable player on the circuit nor the star ticket attraction at tournaments, and because of that he’s paying for it now with the voters.

Who knew the Hall of Fame turned into a popularity contest?

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15 Comments for Kuerten, Capriati Enter Tennis Hall Of Fame; Shunned Kafelnikov Waits Outside

The Great Davy Says:

Oh no. This mean no one vote for me in 15 years?

dari Says:

Congrats to guga and Jennifer capriati!
Guga was the first person I ever looked up on the internet when I was a kid and they let us use it for the first time at school. I loved him!

El Flaco Says:

How could Kafelnikov not make it? He is better than Federer winning 4-2 in their H2H.

The Sampras clone is playing Hewitt today.

skeezer Says:

Happy for Guga also. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Great player, well deserved. He was so cool u could have him be standing with a Surfboard and you’d think he was a champion surfer.

Steve 27 Says:

Injustice to Kafelnikov! Not a pretty face, as no advertising and charisma, Russian is wrongly sidelined the Hall of Fame. Alas, he also deserved to be recognized as one of the very good players of the last two decades. Won a couple of majors, won Olympic gold, was number 1, was for years a recurrent top 5, more than 20 titles, what else has to make the poor to reach a place of privilege?. This time I agree with you, Mr. Randall. Unfortunately, as Agassi said in an advertisement, “Image is everything”. The Hall of Fame needs a warning not to keep making stupid. Noah, you can not be serious!

Dan Martin Says:

If Yevgeny is not in, a lot of others need to be removed and players with one slam who are close to retiring need to forget about it. Of course that is not how it will work out, but YK should be in period.

xmike Says:

ever since they inducted chang ahead of muster for me the hall of fame lost all it’s credibility, anyone old enough to remember his accident, then after being told he may never walk again practicing for 6 hours a day while straped to a wheelchair with his leg all tied up, then returning to the top 25 after less than a year after the accident, establishing a boatload of clay records in sevarel years, including winning roland garros, then reaching number 1 at almost 30, then changing his raquet and his game to play better on the faster surfaces, and suceding (even defeated sampras on a fast indoor carpet in essen in the late 90s) if that’s not a story worthy of the hall of fame then i don’t know what is…

but, of course, he is not a charming sweet poster kid from america, so he’s out and probably will stay out; didnt achieve as much as kafelnikov, but much more than chang and others who are there, but has a bad attitude so there you go..

slicer Says:

Tennis means absolutely nothing if people don´t enjoy watching it, so I get it with Kafelnikov. People didn´t like him because he behaved like some sort of a misanthrop, and so it goes.

Humble Rafa Says:

Great Davy,

Though you are no great personality, you don’t p*ss people off. You are a good man and the world knows it. In 10 years you will get into the HoF.

Humble Rafa Says:

I fully expect one slam winner Mr. Brooklyn Decker to be included pretty promptly. First, he is American. Second, he has a beautiful wife. Those two should take care of it.

jeanius Says:

Whoever thought it wasn’t a popularity contest? Just you, it seems.

RZ Says:

I think Kafelnikov will make the HOF. It’s just that he was on a loaded ballot with Guga and J-Cap. Maybe next year!

The Great Davy Says:

Humble Rafa,

Nice to see I have humbled you after defeating you so many time. I mean, who loses a ATP final after baking bagel in first set? Hearing this from you means nothing to me.

MMT Says:

I have to agree that it’s a complete nonsense that Michael Chang is in the Hall of Fame and Kafelnikov is not. He was great in singles and doubles, and on multiple surfaces – unfortunately the process appears to have overlooked him, in all likelihood because he has a crappy agent.

Remember when Sampras retired and they had a ceremony for him at the US Open in 2003? Then Chang retires the next year and somehow he weaseled his way into a similar one – what a joke. But the joke is on us, because Chang has an agent that’s still working hard for him, and Kafelnikov doesn’t.

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