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Soap Update. In last week's episode of Estranged Couples As The Search Turns, Chris told John she wanted to play with Jimmy, so Patti took Brett and they all went to see Bjorn hit himself in the face. Bettina, who recently recovered from losing half her hearing, joined Bjorn, and Butch, who recently recovered from testicular cancer, joined Betsy, who has a clothing line in Japan, from where Jimmy just returned. Meanwhile, John returned to his other partner, Wendy, and Andrea put down her Walkman long enough to join Roscoe, who played too rough for Wendy. Then Ilie hit Andrea, Roscoe got mad at Ilie and tried to hit him, Roscoe hit Hana, Andrea hit Ilie, and Ilie gave everyone the finger. So the questions remain: Will success spoil Aaron and Lisa? Can Adriano find a diet doc before it's too late? Is it over already between Sherwood and JoAnne? Do Vinnie and Carling do it—color their hair—or don't they? Who's Hu? What? And if Chris and John and Jimmy and Patti and all the rest keep playing around like this, how will Brett get enough chicken McNuggets?
So it was that the game of tennis merged with the battle of the sexes once again to produce the fascinating sport of mixed doubles, right there in Houston's Astroarena. You remember the Astroarena. Originally constructed to house the annual horse show. Now a boxing palace. Son of Astrodome, next door, where 10 years ago Riggs-King introduced modern-day show biz to tennis. Well, the second annual World Mixed Doubles championship was flavored with all these elements, not to mention a whole lot of money—100 grand to the winning team. 15 just for showing up, 400,000 smackers total purse.
Of course, moola had nothing to do with this year's star-spangled field. Oh no. You think Bjorn Borg, the famous television announcer, would leave his elocution lessons in the golden hills of Monte Carlo to come to the Astroarena, get aced by a girl and split open his forehead with his own forehand just for the big bucks? You think Jimmy Connors would skip a tournament in Stockholm, risking a $10,000 fine, or that Chris Evert Lloyd would hazard wedded bliss to team with her former...what—beau, fianc�, paramour?—simply for the cold cash? Guarantees? Come on. We're talking dedication here, gang, love of the game.
Chris to Jimbo: "How about practice at two?"
Jimbo: "Naw, I got to go shopping."
Actually, by the time the glamour-puss pairing of Connors-Evert Lloyd had whipped Tanner and Andrea Jaeger 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in the finals on Sunday night, some serious tennis had been played, a tribute to several of the tour's best and brightest, who had dared to get into a situation that most couples of reasonable sanity have always attempted to avoid. The final confrontation, matching two, shall we say, pickup teams would tend to put to rest the canard that doubles is a maze of intrigue demanding long hours of working together, intimate knowledge of each other's capabilities, an overwhelming sense of team. Over the long haul, maybe. But for a one-shot tournament—nope.
With the defending champions, Peter McNamara and Martina Navratilova, retired—McNamara from the game, Navratilova, as many have observed, from serious competition—the only established teams in the draw were the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, John Lloyd and Wendy Turnbull and Stewart and JoAnne Russell. Lloyd-Turnbull won Wimbledon this year, and Stewart-Russell were runners-up at the World Mixed in 1982. Both teams exited whimpering in last week's quarterfinals, Turnbull wanting to depart after seeing perhaps three Tanner service missiles.
These upsets were hardly noticed because the allure of this event is the gimmicky pairings the player agents contrive: teen-scream, groupie-dream combos like Vince Van Patten-Carling Bassett, or the Motown tots, Aaron Krickstein-Lisa Bonder, or the Northwestern-Far Eastern connection, Marty Riessen-Hu Na, or Power 'n' Puff, Tanner-Jaeger. Also on hand were Fish 'n' Chip, Chip Hooper and Kathy Horvath, who's still trolling for the secret that enabled her to beat Navratilova in Paris, and Sweet 'n' Low, Beth Herr and Eliot Teltscher. ET's last venture in mixed ended with his barrage of vulgar and sexist insults aimed at Leslie Allen a beaten opponent in the French Open finals Finally there was the ever-marvelous combination of Bonnie Gadusek and Adriano Panatta Though cute and athletic Gadusek has the air of a gun moll, and Panatta has obviously been hitting the fettuccine at full throttle. Call this team Bonnie and Wide.
Call Connors-Evert Lloyd sexual electricity. Even against such a strong repertory cast, and with Borg co-starring in approximately his 13th return from exile, Connors-Evert Lloyd was top bill. When both their marriages were floundering last year, tour rumors flew hot and heavy: Jimmy and Chris were sending notes to each other in sneaker boxes. Chris and Jimmy were phoning up. J and C were back. Whenever they appeared together in Houston it was as if Liz and Dick had suddenly arrived at the estate in The Big Chill to the accompaniment of that movie's '60s soundtrack.