Spend a day listening to sports talk radio in any major city and you will hear football talk, football recruiting talk, NFL Draft talk, and more football talk.
I may be exaggerating a little, but not much. Yes, you do hear baseball conversation throughout the summer and into the fall. You get NBA talk mainly in NBA cities and college hoops talk leading up to March Madness.
Tennis talk? Not so much. Unless you have listened to Atlanta sports talk veteran Mitch Evans over the years. Now heard on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, Evans brings over 25 years of experience and a love of tennis to “The Mitch Evans Experience” each weekday from 2am to 6am.
While you may not find Evans talking as much tennis as he does Falcons or Braves, he knows and appreciates the sport.
“I learned how to play tennis when I was a kid in summer camp in upstate NY,” offers up Evans. “I had a Wilson T2000 racket; I loved Jimmy Connors, even though I’m a righty.”
Growing up in New York, Evans had a ringside seat to watch the greats of the game each year at the U.S. Open.
“I would go to the U.S. Open tennis tournament every year. Back in those days when I wasn’t in the media and didn’t have credentials I would sneak in to the tournament,” admits a smiling Evans.
Even though it’s been eliminated in recent years, Evans was a big fan of the U.S. Open’s “Super Saturday.”
“A staple for me would be to go to the final Saturday (of the tournament) when it used to be the two men’s semifinals sandwiched around the women’s final.”
Evans said he remembers the classic matches with Connors, McEnroe, Lendl and Borg like it was yesterday.
On the women’s side, the Martina Navratilova vs. Chris Evert rivalry stands out as well.
“Chrissie was my favorite on the women’s side,” says Evans.
Evans remains on top of tennis even today, as evidenced by my conversation with Evans about this year’s Australian Open during our weekly “Wireless Wednesday” segment, (5 a.m. Wednesdays) where this past week, we talked tennis and the Australian Open app.
“Agassi and Serena have probably been my (recent) favorites,” says Evans. “Andre’s book, by the way, was one of the best sports bios I’ve ever read.”
Like everyone else, Evans marvels at the “Big Four’ in the men’s game and he said he roots for Federer when playing Djokovic, Nadal, or Murray.
When he isn’t on the air, or prepping for his next show, Evans can often be found on a local tennis court.
“I’ve got a powerful serve (when it goes in), a good forehand, but terrible backhand. I took lessons once from the father of Vitas Gerulaitis, and he helped with my footwork and forehand. Unfortunately my backhand, whether its one or two handed…didn’t get fixed.”
Evans, a great storyteller on and off the air loves to tells a short story that involves a chance meeting he and his wife, Randi had with tennis great Jimmy Connors.
“Randi and I met Jimmy Connors years ago at a Kenny Rogers fundraiser at his home in Athens. He’d have athletes and celebs there playing against each other in tennis, hoops and fishing. So, Randi and I get to talk to Jimmy and he takes a liking to her and she gets a picture with him. I said to him”if you like her so much, I’ll trade you for YOUR wife” (Playboy model Patti McGwire), and he says “sure, you can have her and the bills, too!”
Evans will be the first to admit, you can’t talk tennis 24/7 on the airwaves, but in a big tennis city like Atlanta, Evans’ tennis knowledge fills a niche.
“While I know tennis in the U.S. isn’t as popular as it used to be, I still enjoy following the game and talking about it on the air. Thank goodness for the Williams sisters, especially Serena now. If she keeps up how she rebounded from (last year’s) first round exit in Paris and continues to dominate and win some more grand slams, she could very well could go down as the greatest female player ever. Right now I think that’s Martina, but it’s out there for Serena to claim.”
If you are a night owl, or just enjoy great sports and tennis talk, listen to The Mitch Evans Experience each weekday morning from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Atlanta Sports Radio 92.9 The Game.
He knows his sports, and he knows his tennis.