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Las Vegas Rollers coach loses boyhood home in Australian wildfires

Updated January 18, 2020 - 4:23 pm

Smoke from the Australian wildfires got in the eyes of the players during qualifying matches at the Australian Open this past week and halted play Tuesday and Wednesday. One women’s player was forced to quit in the thick haze.

Tim Blenkiron’s parents did not get off that easily.

The former UNLV NCAA doubles champion and current coach of the Las Vegas Rollers team tennis entry and local touring pro Asia Muhammad said his boyhood home in the Adelaide Hills region burned to the ground during the deadly blazes.

“Everything’s gone, mate,” he said before Muhammad lost to fellow American Caty McNally on Wednesday. “Everything’s ashes.”

Blenkiron said his parents, Kingsley and Maryanne, had lived in the house in Woodside, Victoria, for 42 years. He said the only thing the fire did not consume was his father’s wedding ring.

“It’s mainly about the people, not about the structure,” Blenkiron said about perspective gained during a tragedy such as this.

He said after Muhammad was through playing doubles in Melbourne, he would make the 400-mile trip to see the blackened ridge where his childhood home had stood.

“It’ll be tough,” Blenkiron said. “But I’ll make peace with it, and then I’ll go home again.”

Around the horn

— Las Vegas resident and serial autograph provider Pete Rose, on the baseball sign-stealing scandal (as told to Associated Press sports columnist Tim Dahlberg of Las Vegas): “Which one is worse, stealing signs electronically, taking steroids or betting on baseball? All three are bad. But at least what I did never had anything to do with the outcome of the game.”

The timing of this past week’s trash-can banging couldn’t have been any better for ESPN. Its documentary “Banned for Life*,” featuring Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson of the notorious 1919 Chicago Black Sox, debuts Sunday.

Rose is contrite at the start of an interview at Mandalay Bay, but quickly becomes agitated when inquisitor Don Van Natta brings up his gambling past.

“I wouldn’t have did this interview with you if I knew you were going to talk about 1989,” Rose says during one testy exchange. “Now you’re acting like every other reporter.”

The mood lightens when a phone rings and Rose suggests that perhaps it’s MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, calling to say he has been reinstated.

— Allegiant Stadium is becoming like Joel Goodsen’s home in the old Tom Cruise movie “Risky Business.” UNLV only gets to party in it when mom and dad are away. And when there’s not a concert the NFL’s Raiders might want to book.

The Rebels better be careful not to scratch the artsy-fartsy glass egg, or they may wind up playing Colorado State at Sam Boyd Stadium, too.

— NASCAR champion Kyle Busch, on driving in the Star Nursery 100 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring on Thursday night of the Feb. 20 to 23 Pennzoil 400 weekend: “It’s going to be great to get back to where it all began. My family and I spent many Friday and Saturday nights racing at the Bullring, and it will always hold a special place for me.”

— Former hockey enforcer Bob “The Hammer” Fleming is holding a reunion for fellow ex-minor league hockey players at the bar and grill he owns in Henderson, appropriately called Hammer’s, on Feb. 28 and 29. Any old Adirondack Red Wings, Fort Wayne Komets and other minor league players wishing to attend are asked to call 309-303-4135 or 702-564-1866.

— Fleming said Peter DeBoer was among the few guys he never hammered in the old International Hockey League, but that probably was because by the time the new Golden Knights’ coach joined the Milwaukee Admirals in 1988, The Hammer had moved on to the AHL.

DeBoer scored 21 and 27 goals in back-to-back seasons in Beer Town, where he was a teammate of former Las Vegas Thunder fan favorite Patrice Lefebvre and Andrew McBain, who also played for the Thunder and had two 30-goal seasons for the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets.


Former Raiders quarterback (and kicker) George Blanda played a record 26 seasons in the NFL and didn’t retire until he was 48. Here is how the Super 70s Sports Twitter account remembers him:

“In 1975, George Blanda dropped back to pass, killed two redcoats with his musket, then completed a 20-yard pass to Fred Biletnikoff. Good protection.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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