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Jim Courier

tennis player
Full name: James Spencer Courier
Nickname: Jim
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Bio He had his own deadly dance—the Backside Boogie. That was Jim Courier, shuffling swiftly to his left to strike with a dynamite inside-out forehand. It’s a fairly standard tactic now, but it was Courier who first made it pay off in substantial dividends: four major championships, and in 1992 the No. 1 world ranking. He finished in the ATP top 10 for three other years: Nos. 2, 3 and 8 in 1991, 93, 95. And also was in the U.S. top 10 eight times between 1991 and 1998, No. 1 in 1991-92.

Born Aug. 17, 1970, Sanford, Florida, as James Spencer Courier, he grew up in Dade City, Florida. Turned pro in 1988 while a hopeful at Nick Bollettieri’s tennis boot camp, and the next year began his romance with French earth by jolting camp-mate, No. 5 seed Andre Agassi, 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the fourth round at Roland Garros.

The French returned his love, especially when he beat Agassi again for the 1991 title, 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, amid rain and a dust storm, then delivered his acceptance speech in French, unique for an American in Paris. “Beeg Jeem!” they called him, admiringly, awed by his solid frame (6-1, 182 lbs) and slugging double-handed backhand along with the racing forehand. He won again the following year, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1, over Czech Petr Korda, but couldn’t make a fifth set service break hold up against Spain’s Sergi Bruguera in the 1993 final, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Still, he was the lone American guy to make three straight French finals, alone, too, among Americans in holding the Roland Garros (clay) and Australian (hard) titles at the same time, 1992. Jim beat Stefan Edberg 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, in Melbourne, and dittoed in 1993, 6-2, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, over the Swede for his fourth major.

Edberg got him in the 1991 U.S. title bout, 6-2, 6-4, 6-0, but Jim countered in a 1993 Wimbledon semi, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, then lost to Pete Sampras, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-3. It all meant that Courier appeared in every major final, a rarity that he shares with only two countrymen, Don Budge and Agassi. In winning the Italian twice—1992 over Carlos Costa of Spain, 7-6 (7-3), 6-0, 6-4; 1993 over Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2—he is the only American man to win a pair in Rome and Paris.

A formidable competitor, he was a mainstay of seven U.S. Davis Cup teams, 1991-92, 94-95, 97-98-99, Cup winners in 1992 and 1995, 16-10 in singles. He was the Cup-clincher against Switzerland in ‘92, beating Jakob Hlasek, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Thrice he won the decisive fifth match, a U.S. record: over Netherlander Jacco Eltingh in 1994, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1; Russian Marat Safin in 1998, 0-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; Brit Greg Rusedski in 1999, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 1-6, 8-6. The last, an excruciating screamer at Birmingham, England, enabled the U.S. and Australia to butt heads in a quarter-final celebrating the 100th year of Davis Cup at its origin, Boston’s Longwood Cricket Club. The U.S. was 13-1 with Jim in the lineup. The “1” was Australia in 1999 — his Cup finale.

Retiring in 2000, he had won 23 singles (a finalist in nine others), 13 doubles pro titles, $14,033,132 in prize money, had a 25-match winning streak in 1992. His W-L in singles 506-237, doubles 124-97. In 2004, he founded his own sports and entertainment company, InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, and in
2005, brought champions (over 30) seniors tennis back to the United States starting the Outback Champions Series circuit, which grew global.

Jim was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

Source:Bud Collins
Tournament AO RG W US Win-Loss
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