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Peter Fleming

Sport: Tennis

Born: January 21, 1955

Town: Chatham, New Jersey

Peter Blair Fleming was born January 21, 1955 in Chatham. He was one of four brothers, all sons of a successful Wall Street portfolio manager who had once been a ranked tennis player. In 1974, he and Peter won the National Father-Son Grasscourt Championship.

Peter had started playing at age 5 and honed his game at the Racquets Club of Short Hills as a boy. Sometimes, he would play 10 or more sets in a day. Peter was already a ranked junior when he starred for Chatham High School in the early 1970s. He also played basketball for the Cougars.

Peter started his college tennis career at Michigan. After one unhappy year in Ann Arbor he transferred to UCLA, where he played for coach Glenn Bassett. They had very different ideas when it came to training and conditioning, but Peter’s talent enabled him to hang on to his #1 spot on the varsity. In 1976, he won the NCAA doubles championship and was runner-up in singles to Bill Scanlon.

By this time he had grown to 6’5”. Later that year he decided to take his big serve to the pro tour. Peter began making headlines as a professional in 1978. That season he defeated Adriano Panatta in Bologna to win his first singles championship, and teamed with John McEnroe to win four doubles titles. They defeated the veteran duos of Bob Lutz and Stan Smith in one final and Bob Hewitt and Frew McMillan in another. They also reached the final at Wimbledon, but lost to Hewitt and McMillan.

Both players excelled in the two most important aspects of doubles—serving and returning. Peter covered the deuce court as a right-hander, while the lefty McEnroe worked his magic on the ad side. The McEnore-Fleming team won a total of 50 doubles titles, including Wimbledon in 1979, 1981, 1983 and 1984, and the US Open in 1979, 1981 and 1982. From 1978 to 1984 they won the Masters doubles title at Madison Square Garden each winter.

Peter was often hailed as the perfect partner for the meteoric McEnroe. His standard response became, “The best doubles pair in the world is John McEnroe and anyone.”

Peter won a total of 60 doubles titles and three singles titles. His last singles championship was a straight-set victory over McEnroe in a 1979 indoor tournament in Los Angeles. Peter’s final doubles title came in 1987, with Gary Donnelly as his partner. Peter also competed for the US in Davis Cup play, contributing to American victories in 1979, 1981 and 1982. In all, he was a sterling 14–1 in Davis Cup matches. His only loss came in the 1984 finals against Sweden.

After tennis, Peter focused his athletic gifts on golf. He moved to England with his family and is often seen on Sky Sports broadcasts. He also does promotional work for the Euroclay court surface company and makes appearances for Celebrity Tennis Ltd.


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