It did not quite rank with Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields tying the knot in 1997 in terms of sports/showbiz star-power, but last week's Lleyton Hewitt-Bec Cartwright wedding was a huge deal in Australia.
Cartwright is a popular actress on the Home and Away television series and the renown of the pair had the Down Under media dubbing them the Aussie "Posh and Becks," referring to Victoria (Posh Spice) and her soccer-superstar husband David Beckham.
Hewitt and Cartwright were wed at the Sydney Opera House amid tight security, paparazzi and reporters. It marked a happy end for Hewitt, 24, and his five-months pregnant wife, 21, after a public-relations disaster week for the world No. 3.
First, there was news that he and Guillermo Coria will be fined by the International Tennis Federation for the vitriol and vulgarity during their Davis Cup match in Sydney the previous week.
Second, there was Hewitt's apology to gay and lesbian groups after referring to Portuguese umpire Carlos Ramos as a "poof" during the match against Coria.
Finally, Australian reporters dug out the fact that Hewitt's expected best man, Aussie Rules football player Andrew McLeod, from his hometown of Adelaide, not only would not be filling that role, but would not even be invited to the wedding.
Last October, McLeod and Hewitt found themselves unattached after Hewitt's engagement to Kim Clijsters ended. But then the footballer reconciled with his wife Rachael, who is still close to Clijsters. That apparently made her (and McLeod) persona non grata.
A lower-key wedding involving a tennis player took place yesterday in Toronto as Daniel Nestor married fellow-Torontonian Natasha Gavrilovic.
The ceremony was attended by a host of Canadian tennis notables, including Sonya Jeyaseelan, Vanessa Webb, Glenn Michibata, Andrew Sznajder, Martin Laurendeau and Nestor's long-time doubles partner Mark Knowles of the Bahamas.
Nestor, who injured his left wrist in the French Open doubles semi-finals, had surgery on June 17 and hopes to be back playing in Washington, D.C., next week.
This week there is an interesting $50,000 (U.S.) Challenger tournament in Granby, Que. The field includes top Canadians Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., and Frederic Niemeyer (injured left ankle permitting) of Deauville, Que., as well as promising juniors Philip Bester of Vancouver and Peter Polansky of Thornhill, Ont.
Also in the field are recent Wimbledon sensation Andrew Murray, 18, of Britain, 2002 U.S. Open semi-finalist Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands (coming back after a debilitating virus), American Jan-Michael Gambill and two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist Alexander Popp of Germany.
"There's a Challenger in Lexington, Kentucky, this week and seven of them all over the world," explained organizing committee chairman Laurent Valiquette. "We don't have palm trees or the blue sea, and our population in Granby is only about 50,000, so we were worried about the players we'd get. But I think we've got the strongest Challenger this week."
There are some fascinating first-round match-ups including Dancevic against Niemeyer, Bester, 16, against the most unheralded member of Canada's Davis Cup team, Robert Steckley, 25, of Toronto. Granby has a rich tennis history and, in the 1960s and 1970s, was host to the Quebec Open. In 1974, Frenchmen Jean-François Caujolle and Eric Deblicker (now coach of French prodigy Richard Gasquet) played in the final. They became disenchanted with the umpire and linesmen and pretty well ignored them, carrying on as they pleased.
Their arrogant conduct resulted in the Canadian Lawn Tennis Association banning them from playing in Canada for two years. Remembering that sanction, (Montreal) Rogers Cup tournament director Eugene Lapierre, originally from Granby, joked, "It wasn't that harsh a penalty. Who knows if they were even aware of it."