The Extremely Interesting 2019 Hall of Fame Class

My Memories of

Mary Pierce, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Li Na

The 2019 class of the International Tennis Hall of Fame admitted three qualified players this year.

My Most Vivid Memory of Each:

Mary Piece – In the 1994 French Open semifinal, Mary Pierce thoroughly dominated Steffi Graf hitting her off of the court to win 6-2, 6-2 and reach her first major final.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov – I remember watching him double up at the 1996 French Open and win the singles final over Michael Stich as well as taking the doubles title with his partner Daniel Vacek.*

Li Na – I could say that her post-match jokes are most memorable, but in all honesty despite her resume being a bit shorter than Kafelnikov or Pierce’s, Li Na’s game was more dominant relative to the competition she faced than either of them.  I loved her shot-making ability and overall talent on the court.  Given China’s importance to tennis’ future marketing, Li Na may be the most influential of the three inducted this year.

Qualifications: 

Mary Pierce – Australian Open champion 1995, French Open champion 2000, French Open runner-up 1994, US Open runner-up 2005, French Open doubles champion 2000 and Australian Open doubles runner-up 2000, Wimbledon Mixed Doubles champion 2005, was part of two Federation Cup championship teams, and reached #3 in both WTA singles and WTA doubles rankings.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov – 1996 French Open champion, 1999 Australian Open champion, 2000 Olympic Gold Medal singles, 2000 Australian Open runner-up, 4 Grand Slam doubles titles (3 French Opens and 1 US Open doubles titles), 2003 French Open  doubles runner-up, reached #1 in singles rankings and #4 in doubles rankings, and was part of a winning Davis Cup team.

Li Na – 2011 French Open champion, 2014 Australian Open champion, 2011 and 2013 Australian Open runner-up, 2013 US Open semifinalist, won Cincinnati in 2012, and reached #2 in the WTA singles rankings.

* Long-time friend and contributor to Tennis Abides Mike K often calls me “Daniel Vacek.”

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