GIBB TUNES UP HIS OWN TOURNEY

(Miami Herald, November 21, 1984)

If Barry Gibb ever puts his tennis game to music, he might want to consider these titles: Saturday Night Fault, Stayin' Aline, and How Deep is Your Lob?

For Gibb, tennis is more than a diversion from singing and writing pop music. "It's an obsession," he said at his Miami Beach home, which has a cement court in the back yard.

"It's lighted. You've got to have that," he added. "There's nothing like tennis. It's like the game of life. The ball becomes a part of your life while you're playing."

Gibb was courtside at Sunday's final between Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall at the Grand Masters Championships on Fisher Island. He frequently attends Wimbledon and plays in numerous pro-celebrity events.

"I've got a grudge match going with Gov. Bob Graham," he said. "Andy Williams and Bobby Riggs defeated the governor and me at Bonaventure in Fort Lauderdale, but the odds were stacked against us. Then, Don Shula and I defeated Howard Schnellenberger and the governor at Doral (in the Stephen Schnellenberger Cancer Fund tournament)."

Gibb's next tennis adventure represents an ambitious undertaking -- his own tournament. The first Barry Gibb Love and Hope Tennis Festival will be held Dec. 6-9 at the Doral Hotel and Country Club and Doral Park Racquet Club.

The event will benefit the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. The highlight will be a round-robin pro-celebrity tournament beginning at 3 p.m. Dec. 8 and featuring Bee Gees Barry, Maurice, Robin and Andy Gibb; pros Brian Gottfried, Harold Solomon, and Aaron Krickstein; Clare Evert; entertainers Kenny Rogers and Glen Campbell; and stars of NBC's Miami Vice.

"I got the idea of a tournament a year and a half ago," said Gibb. "I had a long conversation with David Krieff -president of Players Incorporate of Key Biscayne- and he said he could put it together."

Gibb, who is married and has three young sons, began to get tennis fever about the time Saturday Night Fever established the Bee Gees as a dominant force in pop music in the late 1970s.

"There were courts everywhere when I was in school, but I never played," he said. "I played Australian rugby barefooted. I got interested in tennis simply by seeing things like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open on television."

Gibb describes himself as a baseliner. "I like to stay back. I probably should come to the net a lot more. I don't make as many journeys as I should because of my back. I've got a herniated disc.

"My volley and serve have improved a lot, but my serve probably looks like someone trying to escape from prison. Because of my back, I can't swivel."

His favorite player is Jimmy Connors "because he's not like a well-bred animal, he's like a mongrel. He does things you're not necessarily taught, like his flat serve and the double backhand. But he's a survivor, no matter how far he's down."

Gibb's tennis festival will include a junior tournament at 10 a.m. Dec.8 for players from the city parks program; clinics conducted by Nick Bollettieri for hotel guests; and an auction. Gibb is donating his 70-foot Magnum boat for the auction.

Tracy Austin, sidelined from the pro circuit because of injuries, will serve as commentator for a television taping of the event, and Doral tennis director Arthur Ashe will attend. Tickets for the pro-celebrity event are $7 for adults, $4 for children 12 and under and senior citizens, and $25 for group passes for up to six persons.

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