"Jim Courier forced everybody on tour to re-evaluate their training system, to work harder."
Baseball on the tennis court
Already at the age of 29 the lion heart of American tennis player Jim Courier broke. He said goodbye to the tennis world in 2000, ending a great career. The former number one of the world was known for his unconventional baseball hits on the tennis court and an impressive working class ethos. Courier was a perfect example of a sportsman who compensated his lack of natural talent with hard labour.
Overshadowed by the gifted
Never the baseball hat guy could trust the ball control or the inborn genius that his countrymen Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras relied on. He was always in their shadow. The lack of acknowledgment ate Courier’s heart out. Already in Nick Bolletieri’s tennis Academy all attention went out to talent Agassi. "But Courier played tennis like a roaring bull, equipped with a lion’s heart as a boy".
Therefore Jim Courier’s satisfaction was intense when he won his first Grand Slam title in the French Open at Roland Garros in 1991. It was meant to be: he beat Andre Agassi in the final. In those years the redhead dominated tennis from the baseline by introducing force as a key to victory. Courier was the trendsetter for the current generation of power tennis players by developing a fitness exercise regime, as the world only knew from the world of marines.
With the United States team James Spencer Courier Jr., born on August 17, 1970 in Sanford, Florida, won the Davis Cup in 1992. His team captain John McEnroe and his glossy team mate from Vegas dedicated the victory to him: "His intensity on the court was huge.” “His presence on the tennis court was intimidating, you just knew Courier would be the strongest physically."
Acupuncture for a dead arm
After 4 Grand Slam and 19 other ATP tournament victories Mister America picked up a nasty injury in 1997. His ‘dead arm’ ironically was a typical baseball injury. His recovery took over fourteen months, eventually helped by acupuncture. He came back only to discover he had stood still and his rivalry had copied and bettered his playing style. The hard hitter’s era had launched without its forecaster.
Recharging the batteries
That Courier still had his mental strength, the British Davis Cup team found out in 1999 when top players Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski were both beaten, both after five marathon sets. But in the long run these were incidents. Courier could not charge the batteries anymore. He entered the spivvy Grand Slam Cup in Bermuda shorts to proclaim his rejection of the commercial tennis world. During the ATP Masters in Frankfurt Jimbo read a book during the game breaks.
The most gifted tennis genius of all had nothing but compliments for the hardest worker of all. "Courier will be the first to admit he was no exceptional talent", McEnroe said, "but he managed to reach the upper limit of his possibilities".