Ken Mainley, bed, tennis rackets & -balls, empty beer bottles, tv, dvd-player, autograph card, table, chair, lamp

ATP Bahrenfeld, Hamburg

The exhibition space ATP Bahrenfeld is an old shack located on a disused tennis court.
In the exhibition DEUCE, I created the fictional character „Ken Mainley“, a former aspiring tennis pro who returns to his old training ground after thirty years for an autograph session. With „Ken Mainley“ I not only questioned the mechanisms of stardom and the story of bad luck, but above all the story of potential. A potential that often falls by the wayside due to the production of national (sports) heroes and dubious, identity-creating characters and their success stories.

»7 July 1985 was to go down in tennis history as a memorable date. On the same day that Boris Becker played his world-famous match at Wimbledon, a hopeful young talent from THC Altona Bahrenfeld lost the decisive match of his career to date. While Becker was winning a Grand Slam tournament in Great Britain as the youngest player of all time and was thus to become a legend, Ken Mainley – son of a Briton from Newcastle and a Hamburg woman – was standing on the court of the Rothenbaum Stadium in the final of the German A-Youth Championship. Victory would not only have brought him the German championship, but would also have meant intensive professionalisation through the DTB (German Tennis Federation) sponsorship circle and numerous sponsorship contracts. But Becker’s legendary match was to have a decisive influence on Mainley’s promising career. For just at the moment when Mainley was serving for the decisive match point with a set in the lead, a murmur went through the mediocre stadium. The news of Becker’s improbable victory made the rounds and caused almost tumultuous conditions and cheers in the stands. The game had to be stopped, the match ball replayed after some effort by the referee and admonishing „quiet please“. Young Mainley’s attention, himself overwhelmed by the groundbreaking news, was gone. His match point ended in an „unforced error“. Mainley’s opponent, the hitherto unknown Michael Stich, took his chance and, after a short chase, decided the championship in his favour – only six years later, Stich faced Boris Becker in the Wimbledon final and defeated him in a spectacular match. For Ken Mainley’s career, however, the Hamburg match was to become symptomatic. Instead of a success story like the one that began for Becker and Stich on that 7 July, Mainley’s career took a tragic course with the defeat of the German championship – and came to a temporary end with a job as a groundsman.«