Jim Courier once was the No. 1-ranked tennis player in the world. Even though the Champions Cup circuit isn’t close to the pressure he faced playing at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, Courier said he still gets nervous competing on the senior circuit.
At the Oklahoma City stop Thursday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Courier defeated John McEnroe 6-2 in the finals.
“It’s all about wanting to perform at your highest level,” Courier said. “All of us suffer from anxiety about doing that. This is a test out here. This is still pass or fail. There are no A’s, B’s and C’s. It’s either pass or fail. I passed tonight so I’m happy.”
Oklahoma City was the second stop of a 12-city that features a dozen players. Courier failed his first test, falling to Michael Chang on Wednesday night in Kansas City. He came back Thursday night to beat Chang 6-2.
“I was nervous (Wednesday) night. I hadn’t played a live match in a while,” Courier said. “Tonight, I was much better. I had a good serve and forehand which are the keys for me.”
Wearing neon yellow shoes, the white-haired McEnroe won the Kansas City event. He continued his momentum with a 6-4 win over Ivan Lendl in the first semifinal. McEnroe, who turns 55 next week, fought off five match points before Courier finally ended the match.
Courier is 11 years younger than McEnroe, but their senior series is now tied 8-8.
“It’s a good win anytime you beat Johnny Mac,” Courier said. “He is so tough, especially on a low-bouncing board like the setup here. I felt great on my serves. The key was I was able to break him twice. But it wasn’t easy.”
Each event on the PowerShares Series features four former legends. Pete Sampras, Andre Aggasi and Andy Roddick are featured in other cities.