MAC'S PLACE IS ON DAVIS CUP TEAM
Daily News of Los Angeles
Sunday, August 23, 1992
Sometimes, the art of debate isn't necessary, a theory that always applies to:
Any proposal for a Dan Quayle-Al Gore showdown.
John McEnroe's place on the U.S. Davis Cup team.
The first, let's hope we never see. A more pleasing prospect is never again hearing that McEnroe is iffy for next month's World Group semifinals against Sweden in Minneapolis.
The latter shouldn't have been an issue for discussion, as it became during a tournament in Connecticut, much less a controversy. U.S. captain Tom Gorman was wise in clearing things up quickly, considering there's been enough trouble already just finding a suitable doubles partner for McEnroe.
McEnroe became upset when the U.S. Tennis Association released the names of half the team, singles players Andre Agassi and Jim Courier, without making clear that Mac also would be playing. After a first-round victory Tuesday over Jan Apell at the Volvo International in New Haven, Conn., McEnroe loudly voiced his unhappiness, bringing an immediate reply from Gorman that McEnroe was never in danger of being slighted.
Until the announcement about Agassi and Courier, McEnroe concealed any anger regarding his status, a frustration born last year when he was excluded
from the group that lost to France, 4-1, in the title match.
Three days before the singles spots were filled publicly, the 33-year-old patriot went as far as to say that he'd rather play doubles with a fourth party to conserve the energy of his younger teammates.
"To me, I'm not sure it's necessary to have Andre or Jim, for example, to play singles and doubles and play three matches," McEnroe said. "I did that for a number of years. I think that is probably not necessary with the talent that we have.
"I'm a believer in playing the best team, the best situation for us to win. I'd love to be a part of the team even if I was, at this point, carrying the water around."
For years, in the midst of a U.S. slump in the mid-to-late 1980s, winning points in doubles was about the only thing Gorman could count on. Last year, when two established combinations failed - Scott Davis and David Pate in the semifinals; Ken Flach and Robert Seguso in the final - it was decided that ''McEnroe and somebody" would team up for the United States in all 1992 matches.
In the first two rounds this year, McEnroe and Rick Leach were 1-1 together. For the Sweden match, Leach and Pete Sampras are the top candidates, with Jim Grabb an outside possibility.
"I'd like to see Jim play," said Richey Reneberg, Grabb's regular partner and occasionally an invited guest at U.S.. practice sessions. "I would be surprised if (Gorman) picked Agassi and Courier for doubles.
"It's definitely going to be Mac. It should be. He's the best. Absolutely, he'll be one of the guys. If he's not, there's definitely something wrong."
More mad Mac: Sadly, McEnroe's temper affected his actions twice in New Haven, and the second time was a lot worse than complaining about Davis Cup. On Thursday, after netting a drop shot in a three-hour victory over unknown Thierry Guardiola, McEnroe pushed over a television camera, which nearly fell on the man operating it.
The next day, ESPN commentators Cliff Drysdale and Fred Stolle said McEnroe should have been defaulted immediately. To them, the $3,000 fine that was assessed meant nothing.
No matter how much you might love McEnroe, the sensible fan would have to agree. Drysdale said the incident shocked several of the game's former greats, including Ilie Nastase, who told Drysdale he never did anything that crazy.
If that's true, McEnroe really crossed a line.
Po postscript: Perhaps the toughest part about Kim Po's decision to quit the circuit and return to school at UCLA is that she's not sure if she will receive the rest of her scholarship money.
Po played as a freshman and sophomore for the Bruins before turning pro. At the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles, in which Po reached the quarterfinals, the Rolling Hills resident spoke of the financial conditions binding her intention to resume classes after the U.S. Open.
"That's a touchy situation," Po said. "When I was being recruited, they knew I was only going to stay for a year or two. I didn't have anything in writing. I found out I should have.
"At 17, you don't think about things like that."
Po said regardless of the money situation, "I was going to help out with the team anyway."
Rule change? Given the power, Robin White would abolish the tennis bylaw that allows players to make two quick trips to the restroom during a match. White was leading Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-1, 3-0, in the second round of the Virginia Slims of L.A. when Sanchez Vicario ran off, relieved herself and won 12 of the last 13 games.
"I wish that bathroom break didn't exist," White said. "I think it's very unfair that you're allowed to take one in that situation.... You can't allow it when someone's (losing) like that. You wonder why she took it at that time. I think I had to go two times in nine years."
White later conceded that the loss was her fault for letting Sanchez Vicario's brief departure disrupt her concentration.
Slims champion Martina Navratilova, trying to lend perspective, ended up making a room full of people laugh to tears.
"What can I tell you," Navratilova said. "In TeamTennis, I was running off the court after every set. I have to go a lot more than I used to. Soon I'll be doing those commercials for..."
Navratilova, blushing, couldn't complete the thought. She was laughing too hard. Out of respect for her, we'll let you figure it out.
Itinerary: Based on the seedings, fifth-ranked Sanchez Vicario should reach at least the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open - if she's able to stand by the second week.
She was tired coming into Manhattan Beach for the Slims and played the Canadian Open in Montreal this week. Finally, after New York, she'll take a vacation, during which she plans to do...
"Stay with friends, go to the beach, go to the movies," Sanchez Vicario said. "Don't touch the racket.
"I need it. I'm waiting for that."
Talk of the town: Monica Seles refused to confirm recent gossip that has her buying a house in Los Angeles.
"It's just better for me not to give any answer to that because it just gets blown out of proportion," Seles said, adding only, "I love the city."
As for definite news about tennis in the area, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has chosen Los Angeles as its city of the year for 1993. The program is designed to develop coalitions of tennis organizations and assets in the chosen city and to increase amateur participation in the sport.
There is no shortage of good American doubles players. The challenge for U.S. Davis Cup captain Tom Gorman is finding the right one to play with John McEnroe. In his heyday, it was said the best team in the world was "McEnroe and anybody." Not so now. From the following pool, a partner for McEnroe will be chosen for the semifinals against Sweden (Sept. 25-27):
Rick Leach: Has probably the fastest hands on the circuit and won all six Davis Cup appearances with old partner Jim Pugh through 1991. But at McEnroe's side, Leach is saddled with all the pressure, a tough spot.
Pete Sampras: McEnroe dreams of being paired with Sampras, who has all the shots but doesn't play much doubles. "We haven't played (together)," McEnroe said, "which is a concern of somebody."
Jim Grabb: McEnroe mentioned him in the same sentence as Sampras, a pretty nice compliment. Grabb was impressive in the Wimbledon doubles final, teaming with Richey Reneberg to take McEnroe and Michael Stich the distance before losing, 19-17, in the fifth set.