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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 05:34 PM   #1
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Pauline Betz- The Interview

Here it is kids. I enjoyed every minute of it, and again would like to thank Rollo very much for his help with this- Bobbie is a great lady, and I am honored to have been able to walk down memory lane with her:

http://www.middlestates.usta.com/new...091&itype=1388
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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 06:35 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by alfajeffster
Here it is kids. I enjoyed every minute of it, and again would like to thank Rollo very much for his help with this- Bobbie is a great lady, and I am honored to have been able to walk down memory lane with her:

http://www.middlestates.usta.com/new...091&itype=1388

Great interview Jeffster. You and Rollo did a wonderful job. One thing I've noticed with interviewing someone is sometimes their dates of events or the events themselves can be a bit off. Pauline is a total sweetheart, but I still can't find a match where she beat Alice . Now, in my interview the impression I got was Pauline was beating her in practice games. One thing that surprised me is that Alice wanted to do a pro tour with Pauline. That would have been a better pro tour than with Mary Hardwick. Of course the problem is if Pauline went pro she wouldn't have been able to play the US Nationals or after the war Wimbledon. I was also surprised that Pauline made more money playing table tennis than pro tennis.

One thing, talking about Helen Wills it's mentioned that one of her nicknames was "Little Miss Poker" I just read that it was Ed Sullivan who first named her that. Don't know if it's true, just in the book I'm reading.

I copied the last tape last night and will send it to you this evening Jeffster. Be nice to compare notes.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 06:57 PM   #3
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Great interview Jeffster. You and Rollo did a wonderful job. One thing I've noticed with interviewing someone is sometimes their dates of events or the events themselves can be a bit off. Pauline is a total sweetheart, but I still can't find a match where she beat Alice . Now, in my interview the impression I got was Pauline was beating her in practice games. One thing that surprised me is that Alice wanted to do a pro tour with Pauline. That would have been a better pro tour than with Mary Hardwick. Of course the problem is if Pauline went pro she wouldn't have been able to play the US Nationals or after the war Wimbledon. I was also surprised that Pauline made more money playing table tennis than pro tennis.

One thing, talking about Helen Wills it's mentioned that one of her nicknames was "Little Miss Poker" I just read that it was Ed Sullivan who first named her that. Don't know if it's true, just in the book I'm reading.

I copied the last tape last night and will send it to you this evening Jeffster. Be nice to compare notes.
I'm looking forward to it, especially about Alice, because I distinctly remember her saying that Teach Tennant didn't want Alice to practice against Pauline. She didn't give any reason other than Teach was a very controlling personality, and Bobbie "wasn't that malleable" ! From talking to her, it seems there was actually alot of interest in the Marble/Betz pro tour, but Bobbie said more than once they never heard anything back from "Marble's people" regarding an offer, etc., and that by the end of the war, Marble was on the way down as a player anyway- which leads me to believe Bobbie would have jumped at the chance to turn pro even earlier than she did. It's clear she came up outside of the Perry Jones establishment, and was a regular rabble-rouser with Bobby Riggs crew at the time. Surely the girls would have been a big war-time attraction, considering that Bobbie played on an aircraft carrier with Dodo Cheney!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by alfajeffster
I'm looking forward to it, especially about Alice, because I distinctly remember her saying that Teach Tennant didn't want Alice to practice against Pauline. She didn't give any reason other than Teach was a very controlling personality, and Bobbie "wasn't that malleable" ! From talking to her, it seems there was actually alot of interest in the Marble/Betz pro tour, but Bobbie said more than once they never heard anything back from "Marble's people" regarding an offer, etc., and that by the end of the war, Marble was on the way down as a player anyway- which leads me to believe Bobbie would have jumped at the chance to turn pro even earlier than she did. It's clear she came up outside of the Perry Jones establishment, and was a regular rabble-rouser with Bobby Riggs crew at the time. Surely the girls would have been a big war-time attraction, considering that Bobbie played on an aircraft carrier with Dodo Cheney!

A few things:

Teach totally controlled Alice. Even off the court Teach held the power going so far as to pick out all of Alice's clothes. Now, granted it looks like Tennant was a control freak, but at the same time Alice let Teach have that control. In later years, Alice started doing the same thing with some of her students. Tory Fretz told me that once she was practicing with Darlene Hard and Alice came unglued about it. Alice now wanted total control.


In talking to Pauline I got the impression that she and Jones did not get along. In talking to her and Brough it seemed to me that the men' and it was mainly men, ran the tennis players in much the same way the Hollywood studios ran the actors.

On that aircraft carrier. I asked her did you guys actually play on like the steel part of the deck and she said yes. What a way to play tennis
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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:50 PM   #5
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Lovely interview write up, Jeff. I really get a sense of a shiny bright person. It's wonderful that you managed to get her to talk so much on her contemporaries. I found it interesting that she rather downplayed Althea's status (partly because there seems to have been a general move towards elevating her lately).

ps - So we discover yet another of Chrissie's boyfriends - who hasn't she had?! She may have had nerves of ice but another part of her anatomy seems to have been on fire, apparently
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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 08:02 PM   #6
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Lovely interview write up, Jeff. I really get a sense of a shiny bright person. It's wonderful that you managed to get her to talk so much on her contemporaries. I found it interesting that she rather downplayed Althea's status (partly because there seems to have been a general move towards elevating her lately).

ps - So we discover yet another of Chrissie's boyfriends - who hasn't she had?! She may have had nerves of ice but another part of her anatomy seems to have been on fire, apparently
Yes, but she did make the distinction that this was THE FIRST boyfriend! Actually, her memory seemed pretty sharp from what I could tell- Roan is sending me a copy of her taped interview to compare a few things, etc., and Bobbie did apologize for not having kept much memoribilia- sent it all to the International Tennis Hall of Fame a few years ago- which I also thought was a mark of great character - obviously doesn't sit around staring at her laurels.

That leads me to a big question for everyone here- as most of you know, I have a sizeable collection of autographs of most of the great women of tennis from Helen Jacobs to Martina Navratilova and Chris. I have recently retrieved my framed collection from the local racquet club, and need some ideas as to how to reformat the collection for display- the original collage was done over 10 years ago and with photocopied images that have since yellowed and the framing isn't that great- needs to be redone. Any ideas? Separate them and do the individual players justice?
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Old Sep 3rd, 2004, 01:52 AM   #7
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That was a great read, especially her comments on other players

There is a tendency to think that history, once written, is fact. Of course, it is not, and is usually a collection of opinions that take on the apperance of fact. So it is refreshing to get a new viewpoint. Althea Gibson, not so great? Interesting. Bobby Riggs, not a sexist asshole. Even more interesting!

On a completley different note, I am going to the Open on Tuesday (Hurricane Frances permitting) and in the morning I have a tennis clinic at Forest Hills with (non-specified) "Grand Slam Greats". Who can it be? I am hoping for Virginia Wade or Chris Evert, but given my luck, I'll be lucky to get Mima Jausovec. Or Barbara Jordan.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2004, 02:05 AM   #8
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Here's what I have so far on Alice and Pauline:

1940

Maryland State Championship:

Final: Marble d Betz 4-6, 6-4,6-0

Rye

Quarterfinals: Marble d Betz 3-6, 6-0, 6-2

Essex:


Final: Marble d Betz 6-2, 6-2


Pauline was at this point the new and up and coming champion. Alice was 26 years old and about to turn pro in Novemeber of 1940.

A few player comments on Pauline: From Jack Kramer's book "The Game"

"Not only was she a good player, but she was also the best company of all the tennis women. I can remember Pauline playing pick-up basketball against the men at Rollins College when we were both there. At another extreme, she was a master's bridge champion. She was a terrific golfer, great at ping-pong. On the court she was the best athlete I ever saw in women's tennis. They say Lenglen was a great runner, and I'm sure she was, but I can't believe any woman ever lived who could keep up with Pauline Betz. But more important, she was a terrific competitor."


Helen Jacobs from "Gallery Of Champions"

"She (Pauline) had been a tom-boy from the time she was old enought to climb a tree. A swaggering walk that had nothing to do with conceit and a certain indifference to clothes style, except on the court, a friendly exuberant 'hi-ya' relationship with players, friends and officials were part and parcel of Pauline to all who knew her or watched her from afar."
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Old Sep 3rd, 2004, 08:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by RoanHJ
Great interview Jeffster. You and Rollo did a wonderful job. One thing I've noticed with interviewing someone is sometimes their dates of events or the events themselves can be a bit off. Pauline is a total sweetheart, but I still can't find a match where she beat Alice . Now, in my interview the impression I got was Pauline was beating her in practice games. One thing that surprised me is that Alice wanted to do a pro tour with Pauline. That would have been a better pro tour than with Mary Hardwick. Of course the problem is if Pauline went pro she wouldn't have been able to play the US Nationals or after the war Wimbledon. I was also surprised that Pauline made more money playing table tennis than pro tennis.

One thing, talking about Helen Wills it's mentioned that one of her nicknames was "Little Miss Poker" I just read that it was Ed Sullivan who first named her that. Don't know if it's true, just in the book I'm reading.

I copied the last tape last night and will send it to you this evening Jeffster. Be nice to compare notes.
I think that should be "Little Miss Poker Face", for the expressionless mask Wills used to wear whether winning or losing (a little like Chris's 'poker face' when she was in her prime)....

(Editing to add: what a wonderful interview! Absolutely lovely to hear from such a terrific champion and sparkling character...many thanks!)

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Old Sep 3rd, 2004, 12:59 PM   #10
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Great article Alfa!


Pauline was a pistol. I thought she might be tired by the time out interview eneded-but you'd never know it; she sat down at a piano and started belting out tunes.

My favorite quotes are the ones about Spencer Tracy and Helen Wills. If the words themselves didn't clue you in to how she felt about them the tone of her voice would have.

Thanks again Jeff
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Old Sep 3rd, 2004, 01:02 PM   #11
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You are correct about Pauline never beating Alice in an official match Roan. Marble-Sperling was 2-0 in Alice's favor BUT it should be mentioned grass was Hilde's worst surface. Alice didn't even attempt to challenge Hilde on slow red clay.

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Old Sep 3rd, 2004, 03:09 PM   #12
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You are correct about Pauline never beating Alice in an official match Roan. Marble-Sperling was 2-0 in Alice's favor BUT it should be mentioned grass was Hilde's worst surface. Alice didn'r even attempt to challenge Hilde on slow red clay.
With only 3 "official" matches on record, I wonder if she wasn't referring to an exhibition at the Los Angeles Tennis Club, or possibly even at the Palm Springs Racquet Club. She didn't strike me as someone who would say she beat another player and in reality didn't- in fact, she was more than happy to go into detail as to how and why Sarah Palfrey gave her so much trouble- her all-court game and the ability to stay with Bobbie from the back court.

Ah- so much history scattered all over the planet, and so little time!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2004, 04:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by alfajeffster
With only 3 "official" matches on record, I wonder if she wasn't referring to an exhibition at the Los Angeles Tennis Club, or possibly even at the Palm Springs Racquet Club. She didn't strike me as someone who would say she beat another player and in reality didn't- in fact, she was more than happy to go into detail as to how and why Sarah Palfrey gave her so much trouble- her all-court game and the ability to stay with Bobbie from the back court.

Ah- so much history scattered all over the planet, and so little time!
It's possible. Alice played a lot of exhibition matches before leaving LA to head East. I know at one point during 1940, she lost to William Talbert. I think it went three sets.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2004, 05:46 PM   #14
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Thanks for a great article Jeff and Rollo. I'm sure you must have had to do a lot of groundwork in advance. I would imagine you'd have to be very methodical to make the most of the opportunity and make sure you covered everything you wanted to.

I very much enjoyed reading it although I admit to knowing next to nothing about the era. I did recognise a few names mentioned such as Louise Brough and Doris Hart, though. I always find it fascinating to read comments players make about their comtempoaries. She certainly seemed to be very forthcoming and happy to share her views.

How would Pauline measure up in a list of all time greats? It was unfortunate that she was just coming to the top of the game as WW2 was beginning so that major tennis was not played on a world wide scale outside of the US. I suppose it would be quite difficult to put her into context because of this as she had not much window of opportunity during her maybe peak years.

I was looking up the Slam results and see she was the clear world #1 for 1946 but then turned professional. How did she rank in the US for the period 1940-45? I got the impression from the interview that she didn't regard the playing skills of Sarah Palfrey Cooke as highly as some other players (I have never heard of this player before) yet I notice Ms Cooke beat Pauline at Forest Hills in both 1941 and 1945 and didn't play in the tournament in 1942 and 44. She also doesn't seem to have competed after 1945.

Could she have been one of Mrs Betz's biggest rivals?
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Old Sep 3rd, 2004, 06:12 PM   #15
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Thanks for a great article Jeff and Rollo. I'm sure you must have had to do a lot of groundwork in advance. I would imagine you'd have to be very methodical to make the most of the opportunity and make sure you covered everything you wanted to.

I very much enjoyed reading it although I admit to knowing next to nothing about the era. I did recognise a few names mentioned such as Louise Brough and Doris Hart, though. I always find it fascinating to read comments players make about their comtempoaries. She certainly seemed to be very forthcoming and happy to share her views.

How would Pauline measure up in a list of all time greats? It was unfortunate that she was just coming to the top of the game as WW2 was beginning so that major tennis was not played on a world wide scale outside of the US. I suppose it would be quite difficult to put her into context because of this as she had not much window of opportunity during her maybe peak years.

I was looking up the Slam results and see she was the clear world #1 for 1946 but then turned professional. How did she rank in the US for the period 1940-45? I got the impression from the interview that she didn't regard the playing skills of Sarah Palfrey Cooke as highly as some other players (I have never heard of this player before) yet I notice Ms Cooke beat Pauline at Forest Hills in both 1941 and 1945 and didn't play in the tournament in 1942 and 44. She also doesn't seem to have competed after 1945.

Could she have been one of Mrs Betz's biggest rivals?
Quite the opposite really- and I'm sorry if the interview conveyed this, because she didn't mean to. She and Sarah were very good friends, and she regarded Sarah's game as a challenge to her- admitting she had lots of trouble with her because Palfrey was one of the few players of the era who was not stricly a net-rusher, but in fact could keep up with Pauline from the back court, and did also frequently mix it up by coming in and volleying quite well. In other words- she was probably the only all-court player of the era. Alice Marble was strictly a net rusher, as were Brough, Osborne and the rest of the top American players. Pauline's greatest weapon was her speed. She is lauded by quite a few people throughout the era as being the fastest woman ever- and she herself candidly admitted that she believes she was faster than Steffi Graf- without one hint of pompousness or self-aggrandizement- you could tell she not only meant it, but she quite possibly could have backed up the statement at one time.

Sarah Palfrey was from a wealthy East-coast family, at a time when most of the great players were from California. She married Elwood Cooke (the 1939 Wimbledon finalist), and pretty much retired from active play in the late 40s after she and Pauline went on their pro tour in 1947. She was playing tennis in the mid-30s against Wills and Jacobs and Marble before Pauline arrived on the scene, and by the 50s became somewhat of a philanthropist in tennis society, and as you may or may not know, has an award named in her honor. I would have loved to have interviewed her first and foremost among the ladies of the era, as she was kind enough to write a very beautiful little note to me when I requested her autograph in the early 90s, but alas, she has since passed away.
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