Carillo will be all over court in joining HBO, NBC for tennis

Media Watch

February 27, 1996|By Milton Kent

It's a pretty safe bet that you won't be able to see Pete Sampras swing a racket or hear Monica Seles grunt this year without also seeing and hearing Mary Carillo.

Carillo will leave ESPN's tennis coverage team to take a prominent role on HBO's Wimbledon telecasts. In addition, she'll fill in for NBC's Chris Evert on the network's Family Circle Cup coverage in April and for the French Open in late May and early June, while Evert awaits the birth of her third child in June.

NBC also announced that two-time U.S. Open champion Tracy Austin, who covered the network's tennis events in 1994, will do analysis at Wimbledon for Evert, who signed a new multi-year contract with the Peacock Gang, where she'll return in 1997.

Carillo, the best tennis analyst in the business, grabbed the chance to work the most prestigious tournament in the game for the pay-cable channel.

"I loved ESPN. It's a wonderful place to be. But when this opportunity came about, it was so 'un-turn-downable' that I had to do it," said Carillo.

Carillo, who shared the 1977 French Open mixed doubles title with John McEnroe, started in tennis broadcasting with the USA Network in 1980, joined CBS in 1986 and has worked the U.S. Open and the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics.

Jim Lampley will continue in his host role for HBO's Wimbledon telecasts, which begin June 24. Carillo will do play-by-play, analysis and be host for the one-hour nightly recap program, but what will draw the most notice is the fact that she will work extensively with Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King.

The three women will call all matches -- women's and men's -- believed to be a first for network television. The latter assignment certainly will draw some fire, most notably from McEnroe, Carillo's childhood friend, who has attacked her ability to speak knowledgeably about men's tennis.

Anticipating the heat, Carillo points out that each of the three has done analysis of the men's game, and that even if that weren't the case, each knows the sport so well that it wouldn't matter.

"Tennis is less of a stretch for those who complain that a woman can't know what it's like to compete, as they would for baseball or

football," said Carillo. "I would like to think that in a very short period of time, this will not be a novelty. I'd like for people to judge the work."

Lacrosse faceoff

The 1996 lacrosse season is upon us and talk of extra-man advantages and ground balls are already invading the airwaves.

Take tonight at 10, for instance, when Mat Schlissel is host to a preview show on the "Baltimore Sports Exchange" on WCBM (680 AM), with a guest list that includes Syracuse coach Roy Simmons Jr.; his Maryland counterpart, Dick Edell; Terps goalie Brian Dougherty; and ESPN2 analyst Quint Kessenich.

Boomer's back

Make your plans to watch Chris "Don't Call Me Shelley" Berman's annual return to ESPN's "SportsCenter," starting tonight at 11.

Berman, who with Bob Ley and Tom Mees has been with ESPN since its 1979 inception, regularly anchors the network's football and baseball studio shows and does baseball play-by-play, which pretty much excludes "SportsCenter" participation, save for this week of the year.

In case you're interested, Berman also will appear tomorrow, Thursday and Sunday nights, same time, same channel.

High flyin' NBA

The NBC kids gleefully report that Sunday's Orlando-Chicago NBA game did an 8.5 rating in the 33-market Nielsen national overnight survey, to easily win the day.

Sunday's rating was a 60 percent boost from the 5.3 rating that the same matchup, played on the same Sunday, posted last year -- a month before the return of Michael Jordan.

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