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Steve McQueen Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament : Tom Gullickson Beats His Twin, Tim, 7-5, 7-5

October 27, 1986|LISA DILLMAN

For Tom Gullickson, there was one similarity between his last match on the Grand Prix tour and his first Grand Champions final.

The planes.

His twin brother, Tim, looked up at the sky at yet another plane buzzing over the Claremont Club Sunday afternoon.

"Go away, would you?" Tim said.

Tom replied with an ace to tie the second set, 5-5. Two games later, Tom completed his 7-5, 7-5 victory over Tim in the final of the $40,000 Steve McQueen Pro-Celebrity tennis tournament.

To be sure, the planes weren't nearly as distracting as they were at the U.S. Open, the scene of Tom's final Grand Prix match.

The conclusion of that phase of his career wasn't a quiet one, either. Matt Anger held a match point against him at 40-30, 5-4 in the fifth set of a third-round match. Gullickson hit a volley near the sideline and thought he won the point because there was no call. But the chair umpire, who was on the other side of the court, overruled to give Anger the game, set and match.

The match ended after midnight, and so did Gullickson's Grand Prix career.

"It was pretty traumatic for me," he said. "It hurts in a big match to lose it by getting hooked . . . I mean losing it on an overrule. I went nuts.

"But I hope something good comes out of that. There's no way you can be consistent with it (the rule). The intent was good, but too many players take advantage of it by arguing with the umpires."

Although Gullickson went on to beat Stan Smith, 6-4, 6-1, in the senior men's invitational singles final at the Open, it was a hollow victory.

"No, it really wasn't quite the same," Gullickson said. "It certainly took me quite awhile to forget about it."

When the 35-year-old Gullickson decided to stop chasing the big bucks around the world, he started going after smaller stakes in the United States on the Grand Champions tour.

Needless to say, the switch to the new circuit was not a difficult one. The Gullicksons both reached the semifinals at their Grand Champions debut in Eden Prairie, Minn.

This week, Tom dropped just one set in four matches. And Tim lost one set before the final match. After the singles match, they beat Marty Riessen and Frew McMillan, 7-6, 5-7, 6-2 in the doubles final.

"This is a little more social," said Tom, who earned $8,000 for his singles victory. "But there's still money and pride on the line. You want to give a good performance every time you are on the court."

Although they still might cause confusion among the spectators--Tim plays right-handed and Tom plays left-handed--there's no doubt the players on the new tour know which brother is which.

When they first came on the Grand Prix tour, German Karl Meiler complained that there was now a player on the tour capable of beating him with either hand after he lost to each Gullickson in successive weeks.

Tim has career victories over Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, the latter coming at Wimbledon in 1979. Tom has defeated Borg and Jimmy Connors and won the 1984 U.S. Open doubles title with Manuela Maleeva.

In Grand Prix competition, the Gullicksons played four times in the main draw of tournaments, going 2-2. Although Tom has the edge on the seniors circuit, their rivalry still remains a friendly one.

"That's what makes playing him so much fun," Tim said.

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