Gianni Clerici, by Richard Evans
Gianni Clerici, whose productive and memorable life has ended at 91, never went unnoticed. He would have been appalled if it had. Gianni had a bright, fast moving, probing mind that took him far beyond the confines of a tennis court, annoying some, entertaining far more in Italian, English and French. Good enough to be on the fringes of the Italian Davis Cup team in the days of Gardini and Merlo, he quickly turned to writing and became one of the great chroniclers of the game, in print and on television, the latter in bantering partnership with his life-long friend, Rino Tommasi.
The manner in which he achieved that sometimes raised eyebrows, not least when, on a New York day of stagnant heat at the US Open, perched at the top of Louis Armstrong Stadium, he removed all clothing, save for his underpants, with barely a pause in his commentary. Nor was he averse to throwing things. If memory serves me, it was a shoe that got thrown in the direction of the court during the WCT event in Bologna back in the early 1970s. But with Gianni, a cross look was quickly replaced with a large, endearing smile. His reports on a tennis match in La Repubblica strayed far from serves and forehands. The plays and poems he wrote told of a restless, searching mind.
He was one of those rascals who were impossible to dislike, his kindness and humour surviving longer in the memory than his fierce criticism of various aspects of Italian tennis. A rare character has left us.
Tom Perrotta Prize for Tennis Journalism
This award is presented annually to a writer under the age of 40 for excellence in tennis journalism.
The prize includes a $2,000 cash award and will be presented in New York City during The US Open.
The award is in memory of Tom Perrotta, whose exemplary contributions to tennis journalism were curtailed by his untimely death at the age of 44.
The Association of Tennis Professionals, The Women’s Tennis Association, The International Tennis Federation and The International Tennis Writers Association co-sponsor the award.
Applications should include a brief CV and two examples of the applicant’s published work related to tennis in any language. In addition, please include a brief statement as to why the award is deserved and what it would mean to the applicant.
Submissions should be forwarded to email@example.com before midnight (EST) February 28th 2022.
ITWA Offers Support to Peng Shuai
The International Tennis Writers Association (ITWA) has added its support to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and other bodies and players calling on the Chinese authorities to give meaningful reassurances about the welfare and safety of the Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and for her allegations of sexual assault against a senior Chinese official to be properly investigated, without censorship.
The board that runs ITWA, the association representing the world’s leading specialist tennis journalists, issued a statement saying:
“Peng Shuai’s allegations are very serious, and she is very brave to have made them.
“We fully support the efforts of the WTA and other tennis bodies in calling for meaningful assurances that Peng Shuai is safe, and for the allegations she has made to be properly investigated, without censorship.
“In the meantime, we wish Peng Shuai and her family and friends all the strength they need to get through this very stressful time.”
In Memory of Tom Perrotta
It is with incredible sadness that we report the death of Tom Perrotta, a long-standing and much-loved member of ITWA, who passed away at home on January 6, 2021, at the age of 44, after a long battle with a brain tumour.
Many of you will have been lucky enough to have known Tom from the tennis circuit. For those who knew him well, Tom was a brilliant writer, someone who had a rare eye for a story. As a journalist, he worked hard and guarded his stories as closely as anyone, but with a softness and kindness that made him hugely popular not just with colleagues on the tennis circuit but also the players, coaches and administrators he spoke to often. As Alix Ramsay put it: “Tom could write like an angel but could hunt for a story like a grizzly bear in search of prey. He was a true gentleman and a true professional.”
CLICK HERE for the complete tribute written by Co-President Simon Cambers.
David Mercer, 1950-2020
Originally a lawyer by training, David played tennis to a high standard in his native Wales, but then devoted himself to umpiring. He umpired the 1984 Wimbledon final between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, and would have become one of the first touring professional umpires had he stayed in officiating, as the first two professional umpires were appointed in 1985.
One of ITWA’s founder members David Mercer has died suddenly at the age of 70.
But by the time he umpired McEnroe’s crushing victory over Connors, he had already signed up to join BBC Radio as a sports reporter. He later became the BBC’s tennis correspondent, before moving mainly into television. He is thought to be the only person to have both umpired a Wimbledon singles final and led the commentary on a Wimbledon singles final.
He was also involved in politics, and came within 401 votes of being elected to the British parliament in 1979.
His lawyer’s background meant he was of immense help to ITWA over questions of a legal nature, and he was always willing to offer the benefit of his experience. ITWA sends its best wishes to his wife Sue, and his daughter Caroline.