The tennis world celebrates the 87th birthday of Rino Tommasi - UBITENNIS
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The tennis world celebrates the 87th birthday of Rino Tommasi

The legendary Italian tennis writer was greeted by heavyweights of the game such as ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi and Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink




Rino Tommasi

Journalist Rino Tommasi turned 87 on Tuesday, and so Ubitennis decided to ask the members of the ITWA (International Tennis Writers Association) to send their birthday wishes to a professional who spear-headed the use of statistics in the game.


A recipient of the ATP Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award in 1993, Tommasi was voted as the “Tennis writer of the year” twice by the players (in 1982 and 1991), and was rewarded by the IOC in 2012 for his extensive coverage of 11 editions of the Olympics – he is also a great boxing expert. Furthermore, for several years he wrote the official US Open match previews, and his broadcasting partnership with Hall-of-Famer Gianni Clerici was the subject of a Sports Illustrated feature article.

Here are some of the messages we received celebrating him (other contributors include Doris Henkel, Marco Keller, Simon Cambers, Mike Dickson, Guillermo Salatino, René Stauffer, Eduardo Puppo, Sandra Harwitt, Tom Tebbutt, Serge Fayat, Paolo Bertolucci, Andrea Scanzi, Marco Gilardelli, Bill Scott, Federico Ferrero, Sebastian Fest, and Craig Gabriel):

Andrea Gaudenzi

Dear Rino,

Wishing you many happy returns on your 87th birthday! As an iconic figure in Italian tennis journalism, you were always at the forefront of statistics and data in our sport, and that is something that I personally always admired and respected throughout my playing career. While your presence on the Tour is missed, your contributions to our sport are certainly not forgotten. Happy birthday and wishing you all the best,


Steve Flink


Ubaldo tells me that today you are 87, which is hard to believe. The years pass so quickly. In my mind I see you when you are 45 or 50, but 87? That’s impossible.

I have so many memories of our interaction through the years. Let me share just a few. We were all in Palm Springs in 1978. One morning before the matches we played some tennis in the hard courts. You gave me a 30-0 lead in every game. I soon realized why you did that because you were so much better than me.

The rallies were long but you beat me 6-1, 6-2. I was a bit embarrassed but you said, “Steve, you played much better than I thought you would!”. We both laughed and you said something you repeated to me many times over the years. You said, “I am not going to be modest because I have no reason to be modest.” Then you broke into that laugh that belonged only to you. No one could laugh like you. No one.

I am thinking now of a very amusing moment in the Wimbledon press room in 2009. You were sitting in your usual desk one or two seats away from Ubaldo. I came by and said, “It’s so great to see the best Italian writer there has ever been”.

You smiled, Rino, assuming I was talking about you and getting ready to thank me. Then I turned to Ubaldo,  patted him on the back and said,”I am talking, of course, about the great Ubaldo Scanagatta!”

Ubaldo laughed heartily and so did I. You grimaced, Rino, But then you smiled and shook your head and looked at us as if we were a couple of helpless fools—which we probably were. You then put your arms around Ubaldo and me and said, “You both have so much to learn and so far to go, but I will get you there.”

Once again you had shown us your superiority. We did not know whether to say, “Game, set, match, Rino” or “Check Mate!”

I have so many other recollections  but I will leave you with this one. Sampras and Rafter were playing the Wimbledon final in 2000 and I was running back and forth between the media room and the Centre Court because I was reporting on the match for CBS Radio.

I was running  up those steps in the Centre Court press section with Rafter having won the first set in a tiebreaker and the second set on serve at 6-5. You saw me standing there looking serious and said, “Steve, don’t look so depressed.”

You knew that I was hoping for Sampras to win and get his 13th major to pass Roy Emerson, which of course he did in four sets. When you told me not to be depressed you did it with sensitivity and not sarcasm. I liked the fact that you knew when to be sarcastic and when to be understanding of your friend’s feelings. That is a great trait.

You also once gave me good advise in your typically candid manner about my writing. You said, “Steve, you should write more  the way you talk.” I took that to heart.

So, Rino, I raise a glass to you now to celebrate your birthday. I do have good reasons to be modest, so I will simply say none of us could ever measure up to your standards.

Happy Birthday my friend!

All the best,
Steve Flink

Kaoru Takeda

When I went to the Rolland [sic] Garros for the first time in 1985, he was there, I remember. I don’t remember you, sorry. Whenever the late Eiichi Kawatei talked me about the tennis of his days, the name of Rino always came up, with JP, Bud Collins, Richard Evans or Russ Adams. Eiichi also was a good friend of Ken Rosewall, and almost the same age as Rino(1933, Dec.).  “Never spoil a good story with the truth” is really a good saying of his. Story telling is the very joy of our job, and I believe that with good tennis telling in Italy, you have good young players now.Tell him and his family A Happy Birthday and I hope to see him somewhere in the near future. […]

Kaoru Takeda

PS: Do you know the Feb.23rd is the birthday of the present Emperor, the grandson of Hirohito. So it was a holiday here in Japan.

George Homsi

Amico Rino! 

I wish you a fantastic 87th birthday and many more to come. I cherish old memories from our meetings and discussions in press rooms and I miss your friendly expert opinions and your presence. Keep strong as i know you are, and I hope to be able to see you again sometime and share a plate of spaghetti! Aldentissimo of course.

Georges Homsi

Richard Evans

My earliest memories of covering the Foro Italico in the the 1960’s are of his kindness to me, coupled with the invitation to write articles for his excellent Tennis Club magazine. […] Rino was a huge presence on the tennis tour for the following decades and, statistically, he was supreme! He gave the early days of technology in tennis a human face – something we must remember not to lose. With very best wishes, 


Mark Winters and Cheryl Jones

Dear Rino:

When I learn it was your birthday, I began to remember some of our interactions over so many years.  The first thing that came to mind was talking with you late one afternoon after you had finished your tennis writing and were about leave the tournament site to catch a flight to Las Vegas to cover a fight…and how excited you were about making trip. I don’t remember who fought, but I can still recall seeing you sitting at your desk the next day, and how please you were about successfully completing a “tennis-boxing” double.

I look back on the countless times you greeted me, as I walked to my desk in a media room, with a “knowing” Rino smile that always made me think that you knew something about what I would encounter that day…and didn’t want to let me know what I was facing because you wanted me to be surprised.

More to the point, you were my tennis Google before the application had been invented. You always had the statical information I needed for a story. More important, I never had to check its validity because…Rino always provided the appropriate details.

Like Hoad and Rosewall, you and Gianni Clerici are unique. He has always had Lew’s flair, while you always provided Ken’s steadiness. This was certainly the case when Gianni did his nude US Open broadcast in the sweatbox broadcast booth at Armstrong Stadium and you patiently handled all the visitors who dropped by to see “what was taking place”.

You are one of a kind and I am fortunate to have you as a friend.

Have a memorable and Happy Birthday,

Mark (Winters) and Cheryl (Jones)

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