KANSAS CITY—John McEnroe kicked off the 2014 PowerShares Series tennis circuit Wednesday night at the Sprint Center in frigid Kansas City beating both Ivan Lendl and Michael Chang back-to-back in one-set matches to win the title.
After defeating Lendl 6-4 in the opening semifinal, the 54-year-old McEnroe then immediately turned around to beat 41-year-old Michael Chang 6-4 in the final in front of a hearty and vocal crowd who braved single digit temperatures and a fresh half foot of snow.
"Michael is one of the greatest competitors ever," McEnroe said after the final. "He was serving big and I was having some trouble reading his shots. He fought hard and I played a few strong games there."
McEnroe broke Chang at love in the first game of the match before being broken himself the next game. Each player then held serve for the next six games, McEnroe still displaying the serve-and-volley tactics and deft touch around the net that guided him to seven major singles titles during his career. McEnroe then took advantage of crucial unforced errors from Chang in the ninth game of the set to collect the vital service break. Serving for the match, McEnroe sealed the championship by hitting two aces and a service winner on the final three points.
"I worked hard to keep it going for a couple of sets," said McEnroe, who first started playing organized "champions" tennis tournaments in 1995. "This format (of one-set matches) is good for me."
When asked to comment on starting his 20th year competing in "champions" tennis tournaments, McEnroe said, "Don't remind me."
As McEnroe was serving for the title at 5-4, a person in the crowd yelled "Come On Connors" — referencing another of McEnroe's biggest rivals Jimmy Connors. McEnroe hit a ball in the direction of the fan before serving out the match, then fired a shot to his rival in the on-court post-match interview, setting the stage for when he will renew his rivalry with Connors later this year on the PowerShares Series March 12 in Nashville and March 13 in Charlotte.
Quipped McEnroe, "Jimmy is from East St. Louis (Illinois) which is not that far from here and I think he's got one fan left in the area."
Chang, the 1989 French Open champion, advanced to the championship match by beating former world No. 1 and current U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier 6-4 in the other semifinal.
PowerShares Series, the U.S. tennis circuit for legend tennis players over the age of 30, continues Thursday night in Oklahoma City when McEnroe again faces Lendl and Chang again plays Courier. McEnroe is also scheduled to compete in Birmingham, Alabama on Feb. 13, Indianapolis on Feb. 14, Salt Lake City on Feb. 25, Sacramento on Feb. 26, Portland, Oregon on Feb. 27, Nashville on March 12 and Charlotte on March 13. Good tickets for all PowerShares Series events are still available starting at $25 at www.PowerSharesSeries.com. VIP packages — including meet-and-greet and play-with-the-pros on-court opportunities — are also available here www.powersharesseries.com/vip-experiences/, by email to VIP@insideoutse.com, or by phone at (253) 315-4299.
The remaining 2014 Power Shares Series schedule with field of players are as follows:
Thursday, February 6, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Chesapeake Energy Arena - Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Michael Chang
Thursday, February 13, Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex - John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis
Friday, February 14, Indianapolis, Bankers Life Fieldhouse – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis
Wednesday, February 19, Denver, Pepsi Center – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis
Thursday, February 20, Houston, Toyota Center – Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, James Blake
Tuesday, February 25, Salt Lake City, Energy Solutions Arena – Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake
Wednesday, February 26, Sacramento, Sleep Train Arena – Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake
Thursday, February 27, Portland, Moda Center – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake
Wednesday, March 12 Nashville, Bridgestone Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash
Thursday, March 13, Charlotte, Time Warner Arena – John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash
Friday, March 21, Surprise, Surprise Stadium – Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Todd Martin, Michael Chang