Like Father Like Son?

By Jane Voigt

Sons follow fathers into professional baseball — Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. Sons follow fathers into football — Archie Manning and his two sons, Peyton and Eli. Sons follow their fathers into hockey, basketball, NASCAR, Indy car racing, and boxing.  

But not so in tennis. 

Yannick Noah, the last Frenchman to win Roland Garros in 1983, bore a son brilliantly athletic but not interested in tennis. Born in New York, the six-eleven University of Florida graduate, Yoakim Noah, picked basketball and became a first-round draft pick for the Chicago Bulls in 2007 where he remains earning a lucrative living. 

Of course, exceptions exist. Australians Fred Stolle and Sandon Stolle. Phil Dent and Taylor Dent. Plus Vera Sukova and daughter, Helena Sukova. 

One of the more interesting father/son duos surfaced in Paris this week— Miloslav Mecir and Miloslav Mecir Jr. 

Mecir Sr. played in the era that transitioned from wood racquets to composite ones, the early- to late-80s. Although he never won a Grand Slam, he lost in two finals to Ivan Lendl: the 1986 U. S. Open and the 1987 French Open. 

In 1986, his breakthrough year, he scored wins over budding star Stephan Edberg at Wimbledon and Mats Wilander at the U. S. Open. In 1988, Mecir defeated Wilander in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. It was the Swedes only loss at a slam the entire year. Wilander won the 1988 Australian Open, French Open, and U. S. Open. 

Mecir’s style of play was his forte. It flummoxed adversaries. He did not have a power game, but a smooth-moving consistent game. He became known as “The Big Cat.” Before he hung up his racquet, he had earned 11 singles and 9 doubles career titles. 

Since then the game has done an about face. It’s power, power and more power. Rarely do we see finesse, serve-and-volley, or comment on someone’s footwork because all tour players have fantastic footwork. It’s mandatory.

Mecir Jr made his main-draw debut today in a rain-soaked atmosphere, which caused multiple delays around the grounds. He had fought his way through qualifications and was poised to defeat Tobias Kamke of Germany. Sets were arduous and closely contended. Mecir lost 75 76(2) 76(1). It took them 3 hours. That’s slow red clay.

And like father like son, Mecir Jr. approached the net 26 times to Kamke’s 13. Mecir was 62% successful, Kamke 69%, at the front of the court. It’s a tactic that could prove beneficial since most players hug the baseline.

Ranked 211 and 25 years old, Mecir Jr. is similar in age to his father’s when he stepped in the limelight. However, 25 is not ideal today. Late bloomers are welcome, but Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer had won significant hardware earlier in their careers.

In the match today, Mecir won a respectable 71% and 48% on first- and second-serve winning shots. He also connected with 44 winners, with a few more piling up on the unforced error side — 47. Kamke scored 33 to 28, winners to unforced errors. 

From the stats and genes donated by Le Grand Chat, perhaps le petit Mecir could be packing a diverse set of tennis tools. If he serves with such commendable percentages, and approaches the net with such success, and hits 20% more winners than his opponent then what’s to say he cannot triumph and rise in the ranks? 

Now all he has to do is purr-fect his footwork.


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