Tennis Identity

Profiles in Tennis: Brinke Guthrie

Tennis in Sanibel Florida_Brinke Guthrie 1979

Brinke Guthrie writes a weekly column for Uni-Watch and is editor/writer at CuteOverload. Once upon a time he was a rabid-rec tennis player. Today, Guthrie is an off court tennis nut, writer and gear lover. The Fila/Borg logo below and a series of drool worthy Borg-wear images accompanied Guthrie's nod to talk tennis with me.

The clothes, they're an indelible time stamp for those golden haired days. For those who lived it AND wore the gear, Guthrie's stories are extra fun:

How long have you been playing tennis? "I played a LOT from 1976 – 1994 or so."  Above, Guthrie plays in Florida wearing full-on adidas, including the shoe of that year (1979) the Nastase.

Did you ever play competitively as a junior? "Nope. But I wore out the courts at the Terrace Park Swim Club, the Mariemont courts, Stephens Playground in Indian Hill, the Hyde Park Country Club, Camargo Indoor, Eastern Hills Indoor [Ohio]….We had a fellow at my school who was REALLY good- Steve Pruett.  He won all sorts of titles. Played with these Yamaha racquets that made such a distinctive sound.  He'd hit so much spin you'd climb the fence. Man he was good."

Who were your tennis idols as a kid/teen? "First Connors, then Borg and Vilas." 

What was in your must-have kit back then? "First it was Adidas' ATP stuff. Then all Borg or Vilas Fila…. Wore every style of Nike shoe imaginable, favorites were the gray McEnroe cross-trainer and the Air Zoom Pounce of Agassi's tho they were ugly as sin.  And the Air Oscillate.  Ah, and I wrote a lot of canvas – I played on so many hard courts, canvas was more affordable.  Found a great pair of Diadora canvas with a royal blue stripe, only pair I'd ever seen. And a pair of being Borg Diadora running shoes with brown trim, again the only time I ever saw 'em. I'd Shoe Goo my shoes all the time, mostly on my left toe as I was always sliding on it, it seemed."

Racquet favs? "Fila Wud1One frame ("Wood 1") was a great frame, and nice to look at too – after Samuels Tennisport in Kenwood stopped carrying them, I switched to Prince. Loved the Woodie. Let's see, the Head Vilas was a great frame, too.  Tried the Slazenger V24- it was like a club."

"Started with the Bancroft Borg, then the Donnay Allwood and Borg Pro (too stiff) then the Fila Wud1One- nice medium flex, great spin when strung with VS."  

What was your favorite surface? "We had a fake clay surface at some courts near my house- I played all over the east side of Cincinnati."

Singles or doubles? "Singles only."

Best stroke? "Forehand, no question. Lots of topspin.  And I really improved my serve, return, and two hand backhand through sheer practice."

Baseliner or all-court? "I never met a baseline I didn't like."

Your current on court fashion/style? "Well, I don't play any longer, but I'd be in between neat and rumpled, I think."  [Get back out there Brinke.]

Male pro you'd most like to play like? "Borg. Just keep hitting it back."

Favorite female pro and why? "Then? Chrissie. Now? Probably Wozzy." 

Fila Borg via Brinke GuthrieDo you collect vintage tennis gear? "I had a ton, and I mean a ton, of first-gen Fila – all from Harper's Point Racquet Club in Cincinnati- no idea where it went!  The Borg terry cloth shirt was my favorite. After Borg and Vilas retired I became a Nike guy. (I was like the first Nike wearer at my high school- we were all Adidas or Puma.  People would go, 'what are those- Nikes?" 

"As an aside, I remember seeing Vitas wear Nike socks at the USO, so I wanted a pair. I wrote Nike a letter, and they sent me three pair of generic tennis socks, with a note that said they 'had no plans to get into clothing at the time.' (1979)"

"I could never find the Bj socks.  They weren't made by Diadora or Fila." 

Tennis stories? "I was the stadium announcer for the ATP Championships for four years I think.  One of the chairmen heard me on the radio (Q102, where I worked) and liked my voice. He met me in our lobby and asked me if I did voices (I do) and maybe I could announce the players and things in a foreign accent to give it an international flair. I said no, I wouldn't do that, it would sound silly – but I'd love to do it, and he didn't even know I was a tennis nut.  I loved it, sat with Cliff, Fred and Mary, met Courier, had Coney Island hot dogs and ribs with the guys from Info Display Systems, got Adidas gear for practically nothing.  Leo Levin sent me Dana Locanto's Fila umpire shirt, the Becker design, which was sadly too small!"

Another story: "So Boris is serving out the match against someone. There is a REAL bad summer thunderstorm coming up. One of those summer storms with black skies, lightning, the works. One of the chair people came up to me and said, 'Read this now,' DURING play.  So I did. It was like "Stay in the stadium, it has lightning rods" or something. Becker stopped his service motion and looked RIGHT up at me. I shrugged, swallowed hard, and pointed to the tournament guy next to me. Then one service, ace, we were outta there…"

– K.B.