SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – In the sport of tennis, one of the most memorable matches in the history of the U.S. Open took place in the late summer of 1991.
In that event, the legendary Jimmy Connors made a run at the title at the ripe old age of 39. In the late rounds, Connors faced a promising young player named Aaron Krickstein. In a thrilling match, Connors earned the victory in a match that could have gone either way. Swedish star Stefan Edberg would eventually win the championship, but the battle between Connors and Krickstein would become one of the most talked-about matches in tennis history.
On the afternoon of June 9, Krickstein will be playing in an exhibition match at the famed Orange Lawn Tennis Club which is located on Ridgewood Road in South Orange.
“We’re in the process of developing the ‘new’ Orange Lawn Tennis Club,” said Eric Fromm, who is the club’s General Manager and Director of Racquets. “OLTC has slipped a bit in recent years, but we have new ownership and the goal is to restore the great tradition that the club had for so many years. The club started back in 1880, and we’re one of the few places in the U.S. that still has grass courts. We have 10 grass courts and 10 har-tru courts.”
For many years, the Eastern Grass Court championships were held just before the U.S. Open. Just about all the greats in the sport have played at the club.
Interestingly, one year Connors had to default in the finals because he developed a bad stomach ailment. He was in his early 20s at that time.
“We want to upgrade all the facilities at the club,” said Fromm, who played on the pro tour in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “The grounds at OLTC have always been quite nice.”
In recent years, Columbia High School has been able to play a few matches at the club. And that’s certainly been a thrill for the CHS youngsters.
According to Fromm, who at one time was ranked No. 46 in the world, the improvements will be done in phases. Along with playing tennis on two types of surfaces, club members can also enjoy competing in platform tennis. The club has a pool, and a good-sized clubhouse which can hold dinner events for various type of functions.
“We hope to get our membership up to around 300,” remarked Fromm, who in 1983 reached the round of 16 at the French Open. “At our club, people can enjoy several interesting activities.”
For further information on the June 9 event, people can call the Club at 973-762-0928. The event will start at 1 p.m.
COURT NOTES – In 1983, France’s Yannick Noah captured the men’s title at the French Open, and U.S. star Chris Evert won the women’s title… Fromm feels that current net stars Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal of Spain are the best players in tennis history… Krickstein is the touring pro at Orange Lawn… In the near future, Orange Lawn hopes to host an amateur or professional tennis tournament.