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TENNIS / THOMAS BONK : Gullikson Wants Team to Have Fun

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When Tom Gullikson was introduced as the new U.S. Davis Cup captain at a news conference in New York last week, the first thing he said was, no, he wasn’t Tim, meaning twin brother Tim Gullikson.

Then again, Tom Gullikson isn’t John McEnroe or Stan Smith or Tom Gorman, for that matter. Gullikson is a 42-year-old Davis Cup novice with close ties to the players and a plain-talking manner, the result, perhaps, of his small-town upbringing in Onalaska, Wis.

As far as the players are concerned, if McEnroe wasn’t going to get the job, then Gullikson should get it. The night before he accepted a one-year contract from the United States Tennis Assn., Gullikson telephoned some of the players he is going to have to persuade to put aside their jealousies, egos and scheduling problems and commit themselves to Davis Cup--Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Mal Washington.

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Tuesday, Gullikson will find out which country the United States will play in the first round of next year’s competition when the 1994 draw is held in London. Gullikson’s test after that will be to get the best team together, which Gorman couldn’t do in the first round at Australia this year.

“My goal is to get the best players to play every (match),” Gullikson said. “Nothing against Tom, they just didn’t want to go to Australia. Now it’s going to be my job to sit down with each player and have a very frank and open discussion.

“I want to make Davis Cup fun, positive and a rewarding experience. It’s a little unrealistic to expect them to be back-slapping best friends, but I think we can come together as a team with a common goal.”

Gullikson, who said he never campaigned for the job, did not believe his lack of Davis Cup experience was a drawback in the selection process.

“They wouldn’t have been talking to me if they had a problem with that,” he said.

Tom and Tim Gullikson, who won 15 doubles titles and were ranked as high as No. 9, never made it to the U.S. Davis Cup team.

“With deep regret,” Tom Gullikson said. “It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. There happened to be a team in front of us called McEnroe and (Peter) Fleming.”

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Gullikson said his plan is to field “a Dream Team every time I can get it.”

A good place to begin might be with Sampras, since Tim Gullikson is coaching him. But whoever winds up on the team, there is no doubt who will be making the choices.

“It was made clear to me that I would have the final say,” Gullikson said. “I am the captain.”

Gullikson lives in Palm Coast, Fla., which seems to confuse people who think he still lives in Wisconsin, then he shows up for over-35 tournaments in such places as Wimbledon and they don’t see a pasty-white face.

“I’m the tannest guy ever from Onalaska, Wisconsin,” Gullikson said.

Obviously, there is nothing like finding your place in the sun.

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Add Gullikson: The 38th U.S. Davis Cup captain, Gullikson is the first since Stan Malless in 1972 never to have played Davis Cup.

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Mac update: Why did John McEnroe decide he didn’t want to be the Davis Cup captain? There is only one real possibility: He knew he wasn’t going to be selected and wanted to save face.

It also seems that McEnroe intends to play next year, although with McEnroe, you never can tell. He was supposed to play last week’s event in Tokyo but pulled out. So be advised, anyway, that McEnroe has agreed to play the Hopman Cup, a special event in January before the Australian Open. He is supposed to team with Jennifer Capriati for the United States, one of 10 countries fielding teams in the exhibition.

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Andre update: Andre Agassi, who announced last week that he won’t play any more tournaments the rest of the year because of a sore wrist, has not pulled out of his scheduled exhibition against Mats Wilander in the final series of the Forum Tennis Challenge on Dec. 10.

Agassi, whose last tournament match was a first-round defeat by Thomas Enqvist at the U.S. Open, was examined last week by hand specialist Roy Meals at the UCLA Medical Center. According to Gil Reyes, Agassi’s fitness coach, Agassi has irritation and inflammation of his right wrist capsule, which puts pressure on the nerves.

Meanwhile, Agassi is down to No. 23 in the rankings and falling.

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Obsession: The 39-year-old unemployed lathe operator who received a two-year suspended sentence in Hamburg, Germany, for stabbing Monica Seles was clearly an obsessed fan whose fantasy world collapsed every time Steffi Graf lost on the tennis court. Guenter Parche papered his room with posters of Graf.

Parche testified during his trial that he thought about the attack for several weeks before going to Hamburg. In 1987, Parche bought a video recorder from a friend so he could tape Graf’s matches and watch them as often as he wished.

He said he wrote to Graf four or five times a year and sometimes sent her money. He testified that he once sent her 300 marks--$185--to buy a necklace to wear at tournaments.

When Judge Elke Bosse referred to Graf as Steffi, Parche often interrupted, saying that Graf should be called by her formal name, Stefanie.

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Wolfgang Pinski, a psychiatrist who examined Parche in custody, painted a sad picture of the attacker.

“He couldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep when (Graf) lost,” Pinski said. “He was depressed for several days. He had suicidal tendencies.”

Pinski also testified that Parche had “no intellectual deficit.”

How reassuring.

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Say “Cheese”: Women’s tennis is without a title sponsor for 1994 since Kraft decided to end its deal with the Women’s Tennis Council a year early.

The WTC has hired two management groups to help out--Advantage to find a sponsor and IMG to market television worldwide.

Meanwhile, Virginia Slims has decided to stay on board whatever the tour is called next year with its schedule of named tournaments, including the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles at Manhattan Country Club.

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More court news: The German rock band Die Angefahrenen Schulkinder (The Run-over Schoolchildren) was ordered to pay Graf more than $37,000 in damages for recording a song called “I Wanna Make Love to Steffi Graf,” which suggested she had an incestuous relationship with her father.

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Courier update: Jim Courier’s first-round defeat by Jaime Yzaga at Sydney extended Courier’s puzzling problems in the second half of the year--any year. In his career, he has won only two tournaments after July--at Basel, Switzerland, in 1989 and at Indianapolis this year. Courier also blew a chance to replace Pete Sampras as No. 1 at Sydney. If Courier had won the title, he would have regained No. 1.

Tennis Notes

Two-time defending champion Paloma Collantes of Mississippi is the top player in the Riviera Women’s All-American Championships Thursday through Monday. Also in the 32-player singles field is Kelly Pace of Texas, who reached the NCAA singles final last spring and lost to Lisa Raymond of Florida.

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