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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Port’s Tennis Talk

Mary Carillo and Patrick McEnroe, New York natives who played professional tennis and won Grand Slam titles along the way, have achieved even greater renown and fame as tennis broadcasters.

Indeed, for tennis fans, that’s what will make their joint appearance in Port Washington, on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m., such a draw. The event, to be held at the Landmark on Main Street’s Jeanne Rimsky Theater, 232 Main Street, is part of the Port Washington venues ‘Conversations from Main Street Series,’ and promises to be a lively affair.

Neither the 53-year-old Carillo nor the 44-year-old McEnroe are known for pulling punches when it comes to assessing the state of the game, or offering an opinion on a player’s strengths and weaknesses. Admission to the gathering is free, thanks to the generosity of the Angela & Scott Jaggar Foundation.

The Oct. 27 format calls for Carillo to interview McEnroe. That makes sense because McEnroe has been in the news recently. McEnroe’s Hardcourt Confidential (Hyperion, June 2010) was published earlier this year to favorable reviews, and last month McEnroe announced he would step down as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup after a successful 10-year run in that post. Besides his duties as a tennis commentator for ESPN, McEnroe also runs the U.S. Tennis Association’s (USTA) program to develop elite players. Back in his own playing days, McEnroe won with Jim Grabb the men’s doubles championship at the 1989 French Open so he knows what it takes to play at the sport’s highest levels. He also has personal ties to Nassau’s North Shore: McEnroe’s wife, actress and singer Melissa Errico, grew up in Manhasset. They have three daughters.

Long before Carillo was an on-air presence at NBC and CBS, she was winning professional tennis titles. In fact, Carillo and John McEnroe, Patrick’s older brother, won the 1977 mixed doubles championship at the French Open. Carillo’s subsequent journalistic endeavors resulted in two Peabody Awards for documentaries which aired on HBO: Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer, and Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports. She co-wrote the latter with

Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford. In addition, Carillo, who resides in Naples, Florida and has two children, is the co-author of three books: 2008’s Tennis Confidential II: More of Today’s Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies, Tennis My Way with Martina Navratilova, and Rick Elstein’s Tennis Kinetics.

For those unfamiliar with the setting, Port Washington’s Jeanne Rimsky Theater consists of 425 comfortable seats and features a state-of-the-art sound system, offering an intimate setting. Figuring McEnroe’s conversation with Carillo will generate interest in Hardcourt Confidential, which he wrote with Peter Bodo, Landmark on Main Street has arranged for Port’s Dolphin Book Store, 299 Main Street, to sell copies of Hardcourt Confidential that evening. The book’s sub-head, Tales from Twenty Years in the Pro Tennis Trenches, hints at its content, and the news release Hyperion issued upon its publication said McEnroe’s offers within the book’s pages his take on today’s top stars, such as Serena and Venus Williams as well as Andy Roddick.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net