For all the pros who carefully plot their grass-court preparation, consider Mark Knowles.
The 20-year-old Bahamas native played his first grass-court match last week at Queens Club and lost in qualifying. So Knowles, a professional for just three weeks after leaving UCLA, played in the main draw at Wimbledon Tuesday--and won in straight sets.
“I was never really nervous,” said Knowles, who defeated Mark Koevermans, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3.
As for preparation, well, Knowles kept it simple.
“I didn’t know much about Koevermans, but I asked a few guys and got sort of an idea,” he said. “They said he got in Saturday night from Genoa (Italy), but I immediately forgot that information because I knew that in 1990 he didn’t get here until Monday morning and made it to the round of 16.”
Ranked 286th, Knowles is one of two tennis players from the Bahamas. The other is Roger Smith, who with Knowles will represent the country in the Olympics in doubles and on the Bahamas Davis Cup team when it meets Venezuela in a zone final.
Knowles, whose mother is English and whose father is a teaching pro in Nassau, spent five years at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. He roomed there, at various times, with Jim Courier, Andre Agassi and David Wheaton, who all went on to achieve some measure of fame as professionals while Knowles went to UCLA.
“All the stars . . . we were all part of the same traveling team,” Knowles said. “At 16, I just wasn’t ready for that kind of life. I wasn’t mature enough. As for what they have done, more power to them. I don’t feel envious at all.”
In the second round, Knowles must play veteran Wally Masur.
“A grass-court specialist,” he said, promising that was one piece of scouting information he would not forget.