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Erik van Dillen: A Tennis Life

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  • Erik van Dillen: A Tennis Life

    Let's get your thoughts on Lee Tyler's latest, "Erik van Dillen: A Tennis Life"

  • #2
    Erik 1971

    I remember Erik and his phenomenal achievements as a junior player. Sadly I never witnessed him play. I know he had a decent ranking at one point and collected a few good scalps here and there along the way.

    I wonder if anyone on the forum knows what his style of play was and why his senior career wasn't quite as stellar as his junior career? I know little about his game...weapons and weaknesses.

    That executive decision made by the players to play a tie break in the 1971 US Open final reminds me how tennis once was. Similar things happened at Wimbledon. Thirty five years ago at Wimbledon I watched matches being played in steady rain. Yes, players played in the rain! These days, two drops of rain and the players are off.

    It's nice to be posting again. I've been so ill the past 10 days I thought I may never write another line. Finally after days of staring down a white toilet bowl, I'm back.
    Stotty

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    • #3
      I had a flu myself just over new year's--too much excitement with the Dimitrov shoot. More to that as well for later and our new relationship with Justin G...

      Erik I think was not the tallest player in the history of the game. Loved to volley. But you ask good questions that I can't answer. I told him about the article so maybe he will come on.

      Comment


      • #4
        At least we know we can't catch the flu in the Forum!

        I thought there was a major omission in the story about Eric. I believe he was two years younger than me, so he graduated from high school the same June that I met Dennis Van der Meer at the Berkeley Tennis Club and drove one of his cars up to Lake Tahoe to the Incline Village Tennis Club where he had his junior camp and I would be a counselor for $50/week for 9 or 10 weeks that summer. I think Dennis was the coach for both Eric and Jeff Borowiak who was a year older than Eric. As I recall in those days, everyone in the top 5 and probably 8 of the top 10 were from Southern California (1965-68) except for Eric and Jeff.

        The part I am thinking about being left out was that he was so far ahead of everyone as a 15 or 16 year-old and he lost almost an entire year of competition and training (at age 17) recovering from a near-fatal knife attack where he was stabbed something like a dozen times. It's almost 50 years ago, but it seems to me there was some concern as to whether he would ever play again. This was a whole lot worse than what happened to Seles, although he may have handled it much better psychologically. Pretty amazing accomplishments he ended up with after that.

        Does anyone else remember this?

        don

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        • #5
          I was just starting to play tennis tournaments at age nine and I remember my father taking me to Golden Gate Park to see the good players in particular Erik van Dillen since we shared the same first name and my Dad thought it might inspire my tennis. He had already been one of the best juniors in the 14's though only a few years older you had to be in awe of the older players. I met him and his very sweet and proud mother. I remember years later going to see him at the Berkeley Tennis Club playing doubles at the Pacific Coast tournaent and how great he looked in his navy blue Davis Cup jacket with the USA on the chest. He had a terrific topsin serve that got him into the net which I am sure also contributed to his doubles success, he was a serve and volley player with great hands very quick like Geralitis and had a terrific slice backhand from the baseline. Very nice and gracious when i asked to take a photo of him at that time which I still have somewhere.

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          • #6
            Very, Very Athletic!!

            I saw him play doubles with Stan Smith in the early '70's., or maybe the mid 70's. What I remember through the fog of war...I mean the fog of time, is that he was short, but wiry strong, and very fit when not everyone else was. He had short, light brown hair and looked and dressed like an East Coast preppie, which I believe he was. Of course, his serve wasn't much to rave about, but was he a demon at the net! He was so quick, agile and athletic. Pound for pound he was one of the best doubles net rushers I ever saw. Even with short arms, it was hard to get anything past him. And he could really get back for the overheads. He was made for doubles as his record indicates. Understandably, he was Smith's main David Cup and tournament doubles squeeze until muscleman Bob Lutz entered the picture. And the rest is history. In my opinion, Van Dillen did everything better than Lutz except serve, and half-volley. If there's anyone in the history of tennis who was or is a better half-volleyer than Lutz, I haven't seen him. Do you know of any?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JeffMac View Post
              If there's anyone in the history of tennis who was or is a better half-volleyer than Lutz, I haven't seen him. Do you know of any?
              Well, Nastase and McEnroe weren't bad.

              Thanks for the insight into Erik. How tall is he?
              Last edited by stotty; 01-22-2015, 02:40 PM.
              Stotty

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              • #8
                Van Dillen--5'7/5'8 Tops, I Would Say.

                Yeah, he was in that range. And yes, Mac and Nastase were exceptional, as well. Maybe we should get Lutz, McEnroe, Nastase and Billie Jean King into a mini-tennis game in order to determine who has the best half-volley. That would be fun to watch! Speaking of BJK, after I posted about EVD I thought of her. They remind me of one another at the net. Fabulous short doubles players. When I was coaching, I worked many years at a place where she showed up once a year to run her amateur team tennis finals. A person in her entourage was always stating that she had the best ever volleys. I sat next to the court where she was hitting a few one day about 15 years ago. When she was done, I left thinking that her friend could be right. Even at her age at the time, it was a spectacular display; the proverbial poetry in motion.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JeffMac View Post
                  Yeah, he was in that range. And yes, Mac and Nastase were exceptional, as well. Maybe we should get Lutz, McEnroe, Nastase and Billie Jean King into a mini-tennis game in order to determine who has the best half-volley. That would be fun to watch! Speaking of BJK, after I posted about EVD I thought of her. They remind me of one another at the net. Fabulous short doubles players. When I was coaching, I worked many years at a place where she showed up once a year to run her amateur team tennis finals. A person in her entourage was always stating that she had the best ever volleys. I sat next to the court where she was hitting a few one day about 15 years ago. When she was done, I left thinking that her friend could be right. Even at her age at the time, it was a spectacular display; the proverbial poetry in motion.
                  She was certainly a very good volleyer, especially on the backhand wing. Not quite as good as Novotna but then Novotna had the advantage of a much bigger racket. I watched BJK play with a guy called Ben Testerman in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon. She was in her twilight and Testerman was just starting out. She was still playing well around then and, yes, her volleys certainly stood out.

                  From memory I don't think Testerman came to much...
                  Stotty

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Not that short

                    Originally posted by JeffMac View Post
                    Yeah, he was in that range. And yes, Mac and Nastase were exceptional, as well. Maybe we should get Lutz, McEnroe, Nastase and Billie Jean King into a mini-tennis game in order to determine who has the best half-volley. That would be fun to watch! Speaking of BJK, after I posted about EVD I thought of her. They remind me of one another at the net. Fabulous short doubles players. When I was coaching, I worked many years at a place where she showed up once a year to run her amateur team tennis finals. A person in her entourage was always stating that she had the best ever volleys. I sat next to the court where she was hitting a few one day about 15 years ago. When she was done, I left thinking that her friend could be right. Even at her age at the time, it was a spectacular display; the proverbial poetry in motion.
                    Van Dillen was slight, but the ATP site lists him as 6', 155 lbs. He just looked short next to Smith. And he was usually bent over for his shots pretty well.

                    Also, it should be noted that Smith and Lutz played together and were a staple of American Davis Cup long before Van Dillen came along. They won the first US Open in 1968 and were still winning the US Open together in 1980. I don't know what happened in there to knock Lutz out of the partnership with Smith for Davis Cup for that Romania match, perhaps his knees were acting up, but they were a team long before and after Van Dillen. And Van Dillen may have been on a team with Lutz at USC, but not Smith, unless he went to college early. Smith was born in 1946, Lutz in 1947 and Van Dillen in 1950. Van Dillen did win the US Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1972 with Smith. Smith, Lutz, Ashe and Gorman were playing a lot of different combinations in those years, I think looking for Davis Cup combinations. Maybe someone else remembers the details. I think Ralston was the captain with Gonzales the coach. Not sure.

                    don

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                    • #11
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                      • #12
                        Yep we do get a few spammers... It's a good article though
                        Last edited by johnyandell; 06-20-2019, 12:53 PM.

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