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By Richard Pagliaro

(February 23, 2002) Tennis is taking a road trip these days and Mats Wilander is behind the wheel.

Wilander was one of the smoothest movers in tennis during his days as World No. 1. Times have changed, but Wilander's commitment to mobility remains unchanged.

Wilander is putting the WOW back in fantasy tennis with his new endeavor, Wilander On Wheels, a traveling tennis fantasy camp featuring Wilander, 1986 Roland Garros finalist Mikael Pernfors and Wilander's friend, Cameron Lickle.

The concept is simple: rather than you traveling to a fantasy tennis camp, Wilander and company hop in his Winnebago and take tennis to you. Wilander, who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho, has combined two of his passions — camping and driving — to create Wilander On Wheels. It's a fantasy camp open to all ages though Wilander says most campers are tennis fans between 40 and 50 who grew up watching him play.

"We started it last August," Wilander told the media in Delray Beach after his
6-2, 2-6, 10-5 victory over Pat Cash in the third-place playoff at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships today. "It's a chance to play with Grand Slam champions. Instead of people flying miles to play, we come to them.I love camping and driving so it's really cool. We drive together, hang out with friends. It's something different and really fun."

An avid guitar player, Wilander takes his guitar on the road to play at night. Asked if he brings his wife Sonya, or children, Emma, Karl, Erik and Oscar along for the ride, a laughing Wilander replied "Are you kidding?"

"It's hard work. We do five and a half hours to six hours a day," Wilander said. "We do any formation. We generally do two clinics and a little exhibition. Whatever it takes."

The incentive for the project came out of both necessity
— Grand Slam champion's checks did not come with as many zeroes at the end in Wilander's time as they do now and the Hall of Famer's desire to stay active in tennis and have fun on the road.

"We did not make enough money in the 80s so we could sit back and do nothing," Wilander said. "It's fun. I've done nothing for enough time in my life and it's not that much fun after the first six months."

Wilander and crew have conducted several clinics in the Palm Beach area in the past week and will be hosting a clinic on courts 9 and 10 in Delry Beach tomorrow from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and 4:30 to 7 p.m.

The 45-year-old Swede stepped down as Swedish Davis Cup captain last year. Wilander, who formerly coached Marat Safin, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Tatiana Golovin, said he he has no plans to pursue another professional coaching project unless he feels a deep personal connection with the player.

"If the right guy comes up (I might coach again)," Wilander said. "But I think you learn it has to be a guy that you really, really, really care for and then it has to go the other way as well. You can always grab a coaching job and spend two years with a guy but  two years is not enough."

For now, he's happy being in the driver's seat in navigating his own tennis road trip.

"You're meeeting people and that's the most enthusiastic they are all year: when they play tennis with me," Wilander said. "They're happy, they're laughing, they're screaming and they're having fun."


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