The Irish in America

Day 28 of Irish American Favorites: John McEnroe


Mac2With all the upsets at Wimbledon this week, I was reminded of my tennis years. In the early 1980s, I was obsessed with professional tennis. I wanted to be Chrissie Evert and was off to a promising start, winning second place among the Minneapolis Park Board eight-year-olds. I subscribed to Tennis magazine and got up early to watch all the overseas Grand Slam tournaments and always looked forward to the end of summer for the U.S. Open.

On the men’s side, I admit that I loved watching John McEnroe. His matches were always entertaining. Tennis is a dramatic sport, full of ups and downs, and quick shifts in fortune, and when you figured in McEnroe’s outbursts of completely losing his temper, then you have the perfect spectator event! McEnroe behaved just like I wanted to at times, but would never dare. I would have loved to say to my teachers, “Are you kidding me? That answer was RIGHT!”

Mac_BorgJohn Patrick McEnroe, Jr. was born February 16, 1959. His Irish heritage came from his father, John Patrick, Sr. He grew up in Queens where he started playing tennis at age eight. McEnroe was the number one ranked tennis player in the world fourteen times. In singles, he won 3 Wimbledon titles and 4 U.S. Open. His matches against Bjorn Borg were some of my favorites.

McEnroe is a fantastic doubles player and is referred to as the best doubles player, ever, by both opponents and partners. Someone also said of McEnroe that he is the best team player to not play a team sport. I contend that his outbursts on the court and bad behavior over the years simply came from his fiercely competitive nature.

I wish McEnroe’s serve-and-volley brand of tennis would come back in fashion. Although, I am not sure I can say the same  for his short-shorts and hairdo.


And by the way, that second place finish was the highlight of my tennis career. Sadly, I was not the second coming of Chrissie Evert.


Author: Aine

I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My heritage pretty much covers the map of Ireland: great-great-grandparents from Cork (Crowley, Foley, Regan), a great-great-grandmother from Clare (Quinn), a great-great-grandfather from Fermanagh (McMahon) and his wife's parents from Mayo (McAndrew), a great-grandmother from Connemara (Hannon) married to my great-grandfather from Laois (McCormack), great-grandparents from Sligo (Flannery), and a great-grandmother from Kildare (Hill). All of those people ended up in Minnesota, where my four grandparents were born. Three and four generations after my people left Ireland for America, I retain all Irish heritage. So much for the melting pot...

6 thoughts on “Day 28 of Irish American Favorites: John McEnroe

  1. I called lines for McEnroe’s first pro match. His mentor was there also – Nastasi. Do you wonder where he got his outbursts??

    • Was he well-behaved? Thanks for sharing!

      🙂 Aine

      *Aine McCormack*


      *Twitter: @irish_america*

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  2. Aine – I loved McEnroe too. So many others just loved how cool Borg was, but I was a true McEnroe fan. I always thought his outbursts were part of his Irish temperament. I wish I had the time these days to watch Wimbledon for hours like I did as a teenager.

    • McEnroe was so fun to watch. I loved his style, especially since I could neither serve nor volley very well! A long rally is nice once in a while, but I would rather the point end with someone coming to the net and finishing it offf rather than someone hitting it into the net! I haven’t been able to catch any matches yet, either. Maybe the final rounds 🙂

  3. Oh, I remember McEnroe so well, too! And Bjorn Borg as in your photo. His outbursts were embarrassing and intriguing at the same time. So you wouldn’t call that an “Irish temper”? I suppose the McEnroe temper should be patented as unique.

    • I agree – his outbursts and bad behavior were embarrassing! I also agree that McEnroe is in a class by himself as far as his temper is concerned. I think his competitive nature is very American, though!

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