Tennis Industry magazine

 

Your Serve: The Write Way to Newport

Hall of Fame inductee Steve Flink continues to craft words that elevate this sport to new heights.

By Mark Preston

It was at Wimbledon in 1986 when I first met Steve Flink, who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the “Contributor” category this July. I was a young writer at Tennis magazine and Steve was a well-established scribe at World Tennis.

I was familiar with Steve’s writing; his brilliantly detailed prose had helped to educate me on the intricacies of the sport and the nuances of using words to paint pictures. I had little expertise in tennis when I joined the magazine out of school, so I studied from the best: Bud Collins, Herbert Warren Wind, Barry Lorge, Alan Trengove, Peter Bodo, Gene Scott — and Steve Flink.

Steve and I found ourselves alone one evening in the tournament shuttle back to our hotel and I introduced myself. We chatted throughout the ride and continued our conversation in the hotel lobby. As we headed toward the elevators, Steve peeled off to a stand-alone lift, which only stopped at the top floor.

“Must be nice to have that unlimited World Tennis expense account,” I joked.

Steve smiled sheepishly and replied, “Really, it was the only room they had.”

That first meeting set up years of my kidding Steve about private elevators and imaginary butlers awaiting his return from long days on the road. But the truth is Steve never needed a private elevator to lift himself above the rest of us. Although we shared a similar profession, very few of us could ever share Steve’s knowledge of and passion for the sport. Certainly, none of us could match the detail with which he could relate the critical points of a match, or the insights with which he could portray the personalities that make tennis such a singular sport.

Steve — always clad in jacket and tie — has helped to fashion tennis for others as equal parts journalist, historian and artist. Anything he’s ever written about tennis is a keepsake, a detailed page of our sport’s history that has helped to shape the way it is understood and how it will be remembered.

A lifelong fan of the sport, Steve learned from the best, working as a researcher for Collins at Wimbledon and the US Open. In 1974, he joined World Tennis, where he worked until the magazine’s demise in 1991. He then spent nearly two decades as the senior writer for Tennis Week.

For more than 25 years, Steve was the tennis correspondent for CBS Radio, and for the past 10 years, he has been lead columnist for TennisChannel.com. Steve also has done TV commentary for ESPN and MSG Network, and has authored several respected books.

In all of these roles, Steve has dedicated himself to making the sport that he loves come alive. His words, singular talents and unique insights have made tennis easier to understand and more enjoyable for legions of fans. With Collins’ passing in 2016, Steve stands alone as the sport’s foremost historian, his remarkable knowledge and photographic memory second-to-none.

On July 22 in Newport, R.I., Steve will officially become a Hall of Famer. I plan to be there to cheer on my friend — and to remind him that the elevator doesn’t go any higher than this.

Longtime tennis writer Mark Preston is the senior director of communications for the USTA and chief editor of USOpen.org.

 

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