Peter McNamara and Paul McNamee won a doubles match today.
Once, a first-round victory for them in the French Open would hardly have been news. The two Australians had won Wimbledon twice, the Australian Open once and were generally considered the No. 2 doubles team in the world behind John McEnroe and Peter Fleming.
But in March 1983, playing on an artificial surface in Rotterdam, McNamara's sneaker got caught as he tried to turn and he twisted his knee horribly, damaging cartilage and ligaments. Doctors told him that, at age 27, he was through playing tennis.
Twenty-one months later, wearing a bulky brace on his knee and playing in long pants, McNamara came back. His singles ranking, once as high as No. 7, had dropped to No. 741, but he wanted to try.
Tuesday, while losing in singles to Jose Higueras, McNamara took his heavy brace off for the first time. Today, without the brace, he and McNamee looked a little like the duo of old.
"The hardest thing for him is practicing with me," said McNamee, who has never ranked higher than No. 36 in singles. "He used to kill me. Now, I beat him. That'll change, though."
McNamara, sitting next to McNamee nodded and said with a pleased smile: "Better believe it will."