Sunday, December 21Tarango quietly retires
By Darren RovellESPN.com
NEW YORK -- Pete Sampras appropriately announced his retirement in front of a full house at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday. Jeff Tarango appropriately announced his retirement flanked by only a handful of reporters at the U.S. Open media center Thursday night.
Sampras was crying in front of a microphone. Tarango was smiling with a beer in his hand.
"It's like home here," Tarango said. "So it feels good to retire here."
Tarango, who turned pro in 1989 and reached a highest singles ranking of 42 in November 1992, will be remembered for his on-the-court antics and also for his brutal honesty.
At Wimbledon in 1995, he walked off the court during a third-round match against Alexander Mronz, was fined $15,500 for verbal abuse and defaulting the match. Once he stormed off, his wife, Benedicte, slapped umpire Bruno Rebeuh in the face. The next year, Tarango was banned from Wimbledon. Three years later, at the Australian Open, he was fined $3,000 for his behavior after a first round loss to Patrick Rafter.
Tarango said he started as a trouble maker when he came to the U.S. Open, with David Wheaton, as a junior in the mid-80's.
"Dave and I got in so much trouble that first week that we didn't think it was possible to get in even more trouble," Tarango said. "We wore Levi jackets out on the court and we were sponsored by adidas, and we didn't know that was wrong. Because we had blue pants, red shirt and we figured the white Levi jackets were cool."
Tarango always spoke up on behalf of players and recently lobbied for the players to form a players union, citing the fact that the ATP represented both the interests of the players and the interests of the tournaments.
"I just always felt that I had a pretty good education and that I understood business probably a little better than a lot of the players and they appreciated when I spoke up about things like that," said Tarango, who was a three-time All America in singles and doubles at Stanford.
Tarango's career ended after losing in mixed doubles with partner Mashona Washington to Janette Husarova and Leos Friedl. In January, Tarango announced this would be his last year on the circuit and informally coached Younes El Aynaoui before the Australian Open, where El Aynaoui played a historically long match with Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals.
However, Tarango, who won two singles titles and 15 doubles titles, said he will go back to Manhattan Beach, Calif., and spend time with his wife and 5-year-old daughter, Nina, instead of coaching.
"I can't see rationalizing to my little girl that someone else is more important than she is," Tarango said.
Darren Rovell is a staff writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.