Who Is Mark Vines? He Once Dominated Paris

Vines’ final-round opponent was another Frenchman, Pascal Portes, who a year earlier had beaten Jimmy Connors. “I hardly knew anything about him,” Vines said, “and quite frankly, I didn’t bother to ask.”

As Vines studied Portes in the warm-up, he also learned that the final was the best of five sets. “I didn’t plan for it,” Vines said. “All I was told was that it was tradition, that the final was always best of five. How was I supposed to know that? It was like, ‘Let’s play a surprise on the American.’ So I took all my energy, and I forgot the crowd was even there. I was all over him.”

Hitting the ball harder than he had all week, Vines won 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.

Ranked a career-high 110 at the end of 1981, Vines began 1982 with high hopes and then proceeded to lose 16 straight matches. By late spring, he struggled to find people to even practice with him. Defending his title in Paris, Vines lost in the first round. Not until November did he win a match, the first, and only, since Paris. By January 1983, Vines was ranked 342.

Even worse, his shoulder began to hurt to the point where by the end of 1983 surgery was recommended, a procedure that could have ended his career. Instead, Vines became a coach. He began by working with the young Americans Rodney Harmon, Eliot Teltscher, Mel Purcell and Robert Van’t Hof.

After a year with those players, Vines started a career as a tennis director, working at clubs in Texas, Colorado, Virginia and Florida, where he currently lives in Naples. Vines plays on the senior circuit and has won national and international titles.

“I would have to say that I wish I could have had more weeks like that, and I wish I knew the reasons for that,” he said about Paris and the U.S. Open. “I feel so blessed that I had the few great weeks that I did.”