Courier's audibles were almost exit lines Notebook

June 30, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England -- It used to be that only John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors had trouble finding uncensored ways to express their anger.

Now, even the quietest among the men's players -- Jim Courier and Pete Sampras -- are resorting to, as the polite English call it, "audible obscenities."

The worst offender has been Courier, who will be on Centre Court today for his quarterfinal match with Todd Martin only because Wimbledon referee Alan Mills came to Courier's rescue during his third-round meeting Saturday against Jason Stoltenberg.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, umpire Jeremy Shales -- who had more than one go-around with McEnroe in his time -- wanted to disqualify Courier for his foul-mouthed abuse.

Courier pointedly disagreed with a line call after Stoltenberg had served an ace, and Courier let go a string of four-letter words.

Shales called Courier to the chair, turned off the microphone and told him the abuse was intolerable and that he was going to default him.

Courier then exercised his right to ask for the referee, and Mills came out to hear both sides.

"The umpire said what he thought he had heard Courier saying," said Mills. "It was a one-on-one situation, and I gave the player the benefit of the doubt. I nearly always take the umpire's side, but this was an exceptional case. I thought there was an element of doubt."

Courier was fined $1,500.

"I swore and deserved a code violation, but it was in the heat of the moment," Courier said. "I wish I could take it back, but I can't. He overreacted to what he thought I said, and there was a bit of a problem."

On Monday, photographers and fans clearly heard Sampras yelling an obscenity at the crowd after his victory over Englishman Andrew Foster. Because the officiating umpire did not file a complaint, no fine was given.

"So far, we've only had five audible-obscenity violations," said Sue Youngman, a Wimbledon spokeswoman. "It's certainly not a record, but there do seem to be quite a few Americans on the list. I think they're just trying to keep the McEnroe/Connors family tradition alive."

In addition to Courier and Sampras, American Patrick McEnroe, Australian Wally Masur and South African Wayne Ferreira have been fined.

Shouldering the load

Sampras, who complained about a twinge in his serving shoulder during his match with Foster on Monday, seemed fine yesterday.

Sampras practiced for an hour with his friend Todd Martin in the morning, and there was a good bit of joking and laughing.

Afterward, his coach, Tim Gullikson, said Sampras' shoulder was sore, but he would rest it the entire day and be fine for today's match with Andre Agassi.

"There is no comparison between his shoulder now and before the tournament began," Gullikson said. "Before the tournament, there was a question of whether he would be able to play. Now, there is no question. He will play."

Edberg's draw

Some guys have all the luck. While No. 1 seed Sampras has to slug it out with Agassi today, No. 2 seed Stefan Edberg will be on Court No. 1 with surprise quarterfinalist Cedric Pioline.

Edberg has faced a series of unseeded players as one by one the seeds in his half of the draw -- Ivan Lendl, Andrei Medvedev and Thomas Muster -- have failed to advance.

Not until the semifinal, when he should meet No. 3 seed Courier, will Edberg have to face a recognized challenger.

"Yes, but you still have to do all the work," said Edberg. "From the beginning, my half of the draw was the easiest. It just kept getting easier, but you still have to win."

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