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Vitas Gerulaitis

tennis player
Full name: Vytautas Kevin Gerulaitis
Nickname: Vitas, The Lithuanian Lion
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Bio Vitas was a Lithuanian American professional tennis player.
In 1975, Gerulaitis won the men's doubles title at Wimbledon, partnering Sandy Mayer. He won the men's singles title at one of the two Australian Open tournaments held in 1977 (Gerulaitis won the tournament that was held in December, while Roscoe Tanner won the earlier January tournament). Gerulaitis also won two Italian Open titles, in 1977 and 1979, and the WCT Finals in Dallas, in 1978.

Gerulaitis was born to Lithuanian immigrant parents, and grew up in Howard Beach, Queens. He attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, graduating in 1971. He attended Columbia College of Columbia University for one year before dropping out to pursue tennis full-time.
Gerulaitis led the Pittsburgh Triangles to the World TeamTennis championship title at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena in 1975. Gerulaitis played for the Triangles from 1974 until 1976. He also played for the league's Indiana Loves franchise in 1977.

He also won the men's doubles title at Wimbledon in 1975. He was a singles semi-finalist at Wimbledon in both 1977 and 1978. In 1977, he lost a long Wimbledon semi-final to his close friend and practice partner, Björn Borg.

In 1977 Gerulaitis won the most significant title of his career at the Australian Open, when he defeated John Lloyd in the men's singles final in five sets.

In 1979 Gerulaitis lost in the men's singles finals at the US Open to fellow New Yorker, John McEnroe, in straight sets. He was a member of the United States team which won the Davis Cup in 1979. He won two singles "rubbers" in the final, as the US beat Italy 5–0.

Gerulaitis reached his third Grand Slam singles final in 1980, when he lost in the final of the French Open to Björn Borg in straight sets.
During his career Gerulaitis won 25 top-level singles titles and 8 doubles titles. His career-high singles ranking was World No. 3 in 1978.

Throughout his career, Vitas's off-court activities have garnered as much attention as his feats on court. His reputation for fast cars and fast living still haunts him, and in '82 he was erroneously linked to a drug ring.

Gerulaitis was known for his exceptionally quick hands at the net and his outstanding court coverage. In 1985 Gerulaitis teamed with Bobby Riggs to launch a challenge to female players after the famous Battle of the Sexes. The stunt, however, was short-lived when Gerulaitis and Riggs lost a doubles match against Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.

He retired from the professional tour in 1986. He was a regular tennis commentator on the USA network between 1988 and 1994.

Gerulaitis coached Pete Sampras during the 1994 Italian Open in Rome, when Sampras' coach, Tim Gullikson, was on a family vacation. Sampras won the title by defeating Boris Becker in the final in straight sets.

He won the 1974 ATP Most Improved Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year Awards.
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