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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Perhaps over-reaching the scope of this forum, and also perhaps overlooking an existing thread of the same nature, this thread should be about the people and places "behind the scenes." People who make the tournaments run, places at tournaments we don't usually get to see (and don't easily fit in a player/year thread), or off-beat tournaments.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Inside the final refuge of Centre Court - Wimbledon
The Times
London, England
Saturday, July 8, 1989
Andrew Longmore

Changing rooms are bleak places at the best of times. They are not built to be frilly or pretty; they are functional and private, the last places of refuge for the sportsman.

At Wembley, England's footballers say their prayers against a backcloth of yellow, not nice sunshine yellow, but murky sinister off-yellow. At Wimbledon, the men's finalists will sit and suffer in a small room, about eight feet square, directly underneath the royal box. It has the air of a bedsit in Notting Hill Gate, except for the blue light in the corridor, which shines only when there is royalty above.

One side is lined with five wicker chairs. There are two television sets and next to the door a desk with a chair. On the far wall there is a picture of Maureen Connolly holding the women's singles trophy she won three times in succession. The only other picture is a sketch of McEnroe and Borg, waiting for one of their men's finals.

The artist could not have been a sportsman, for they seem to be conversing as casually as two tourists in a wayside cafe. No one speaks like that in this room. It is cold and as forbidding as the notice which faces the players as they wait. Defense de Cracher. Nicht Spuken. "Don't spit; it doesn't look good on colour television" or words to that effect. Underneath is a longer message about equipment and clothing. Only Navratilova, playing
her tenth final today, will have had time to read it all.

The players are called to the waiting-room by Peter Morgan, master of ceremonies for Centre Court and Court One. He chaperones them from the dressing room out into the main entrance of the All England Club, up seven carpeted steps and through the swing doors which mark the divide between tranquillity and reality. Over the door is that inscription from Kipling: disasters, triumphs, imposters.

With a sweet sense of humour, the All England Club has placed the trophy cabinet on the left of the entrance, just to heighten the tension, just to remind the players of the price of failure. In it stands the men's singles trophy, grandly inscribed: "The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single-handed Championship of the World".

The dressing room, to the left of the main entrance, is instantly recognizable. There must be a thousand like it with the same pegs, the same lockers, the same smells. It was updated 16 years ago, plush carpet laid over the old lino. The floor was raised to fit in an interview room underneath and the roof dropped, which gives it the feeling of a basement. Most of the light is obscured by the rows of lockers. Only the curious shape, a dog-leg
to the right, makes it different.

Only the names on the lockers betray the anonymity. Becker No.7, Edberg 21, Lendl 32,
McEnroe 50. "McEnroe always has number 50; I don't know why. Come to think of it, he never asks me for it, I just give it to him. Perhaps he hasn't noticed", Leo Turner, the chief attendant, who retires at the end of this summer, says.

Eighteen years ago, Turner was made redundant from his job as a centre-lathe turner. He didn't have an idea what he was going to do until he answered the advertisement in the paper. In his first year, 1972, it rained on the Saturday and the final between Stan Smith and Ilie Nastase was played on the Sunday.

As tradition demanded, Leo had to carry the players' bags and rackets on to court. He was so terrified, he dropped the lot. Tomorrow, Leo will be there for the last time. He no longer carries the players' bags; his artificial hip won't stand the strain and besides he is only five feet tall. So he carries the racket bags instead.

"I don't know what they carry in their shoulder bags these days," he says, shaking his head. "Gold, I think. It must be all their winnings." A gentle sense of humour has Leo. A gentle person altogether. And discreet.

He must have seen a few tantrums and heard a few harsh words in his time, but he won't tell you. "There haven't been any broken rackets in my dressing room," he says proudly. "No, I lie. Tim Mayotte came in with a broken racket, but it was broken before. One or two times, things have been said, but only in the heat of the moment." He won't say a bad word about the players, won't pick out one above another, except for John McEnroe.

After he had won the final, in 1981, he ordered a bottle of champagne and eight glasses: four for himself and his friends, four for Leo and the other attendants. Earlier this week, Leo was presented with a ship's decanter by Vijay Amritraj, head of the Players Council of the Association of Tennis Professionals.

Tomorrow he will attend to his last finalists. "I never bother them unless they ask for something because you can see they are preparing themselves mentally. The Swedes, you know; they're all the same. Quiet and unassuming. Most are quiet before the finals. Only Nastase was different, joking all the time."

The lockers are not far apart and for the sake of convenience the finalists will change almost side by side on the cream-coloured benches which dominate the centre of the room.

Ten minutes before they are due to go on court, Morgan will tell the players to go into the waiting room. From then on, they are on their own. Their private thoughts will be penetrated only by essential instructions on royalty. Walk to the umpire's chair, turn and bow. And two, three, four hours later, back through the swing doors and back to Leo, who will cope silently with triumph and disaster.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Game, Set--No Match
Tennis: As spectator, player and volunteer, devotee Grayson Rogers, 85, links Ojai's past to its present like no other.
April 25, 1996

OJAI — Fans and players coming here this weekend either to watch or participate in
the 96th Ojai Valley Tennis Championships probably won't notice Grayson Rogers.

But the people of Ojai consider the 85-year-old tennis buff a local gem.

Ojai is the oldest tennis tournament in the United States, and Rogers is widely recognized by event officials for having attended more of them than any other spectator.

For that, the Ojai committee is planning a small ceremony at Libbey Park on Saturday
morning for the quiet, 5-foot-1 retired Hollywood stuntman who has come to these courts regularly since 1914.

"We have regulars of all ages at those courts, and they all know Grayson," said committee
member Bill Huffman, 66, whose idea it was to honor Rogers.

"I've always looked up to him," Huffman added. "He's an inspiration. He links us with our past. He can remember how things used to be and the relationship between tennis and the community."

Rogers still has vivid memories of men and women who played at Ojai long before Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president, before Joe Louis laced up a pair of boxing gloves, and before Babe Ruth was traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees.

Time and tradition have been very important at Ojai since the first tournament in 1896. Since then, not too much has changed about the town or the tournament. Rogers can attest to that. He has lived in Ojai since 1914 and he has either played in, watched or volunteered in more than 60 Ojai tournaments.

"It's very picturesque here," Rogers said. "It's still a village. It never became a city. I find
several people who played here as youngsters who came back here to retire. It impressed them that much."

Some of the game's greatest have played at Ojai, including Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzalez, Maureen Connolly, Arthur Ashe, Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King.

Yet Ojai always has been a nonprofit, amateur event, existing only through the efforts of hundreds of local volunteers.

Joe Bixler, past president of the Southern California Tennis Assn. and a former Ojai director, said Ojai would lose much of its luster without people like Rogers.

"He just seems to give continuity to the tournament," Bixler said.

Rogers is a two-time champion at Ojai, winning titles in men's doubles and mixed doubles in the "Old-Timers" division in the mid-1950s.

He won despite a physical handicap.

Rogers lost his left hand in a stunt accident when he was 25, but that did not deter him.

"I never stopped," he said, "because I liked the game so well, and I figured it was something I could keep on doing."

Rogers has volunteered numerous times, whether it was taking tickets at the gate or
officiating a championship match. But Rogers can be found almost any day at Libbey, where he has become as much a part of the park as the trees and the soil.

He watched Bill Tilden play at Ojai a few years before he won Wimbledon championships in 1920 and '21. Later, Rogers discovered Tilden lived next door to his mother in Hollywood.

Dorothy (Bundy) Cheney, the 1938 Australian Open champion, was a regular at Ojai. Rogers remembers how she played while pregnant, against her doctor's advice.

"Played a Western game," Rogers said. "Quite a bit of topspin. And a very nice person."

Rogers also remembers a disagreement he had with Arizona Coach Myron McNamara,
a friend and doubles partner. McNamara pointed to Jimmy Connors, then an underclassman at UCLA, and said he had star qualities.

"I didn't see what he saw in Connors," Rogers said. "[Connors] was always in there pushing, pushing, pushing. He was a fighter.

"A lot of players were like that, but Myron could see a difference."

Among the greats, nobody made a bigger impression on Rogers than Tracy Austin, who won at Ojai before she became, at 18, the youngest player to be ranked No. 1 in the world.

"Her strokes and her positioning were almost perfect," Rogers said. "She seemed to
anticipate every shot. The whole town was out to see her. I had a hard time finding a

On Rogers' list of favorites are names that have been obscured by time: Jack Tidball,
who won Ojai's All-Comers Challenge Cup from 1936-39; USC's Rafael Osuna, whose life
was cut short in a 1969 plane crash, and the oddly unsuccessful Cliff Herd.

Rogers recalls Tidball appearing almost comical with a fast windup on his serve, and
he loved the way Osuna unnerved opponents by creeping halfway to the net as they served.

And long before Goran Ivanisevic--he of the 130-mph serve--there was Herd.

"He had a serve that was so much bigger than anybody else, he kept knocking the
rackets out of their hands," Rogers said. "But he never won the tournament."

He's a fan of the twins Mike and Bob Bryan of Camarillo, members of the U.S. Junior
National team who will vie for their fourth consecutive doubles championship this week.

"They're making a name for themselves," he said.

While the Bryans might be destined for stardom, Rogers has tried to keep a low profile since his days as a tap-dancing comedian in a two-man, traveling vaudeville act prior to the Great Depression and as a stunt man who specialized in falls.

But everywhere he goes in Ojai, people say hello.

And occasionally someone will spot Rogers at the weekly farmer's market in Santa Barbara, where he sells fruit and vegetables from his 1.4-acre ranch, and say, "Didn't I see you at the Ojai tennis tournament?"

Generations of Ojai tennis players have befriended Rogers at the Libbey Park courts.

"He helped me when I was a kid," said Russ Sperry, 54, who became a teaching pro. "And
now I help kids. For that, I think he exemplifies the spirit of Ojai."

Sperry, a systems analyst for Ventura County, doesn't underestimate Rogers' influence on him. When Sperry was looking for work in 1972, Rogers hired him to help build the large two-bedroom house in which he lives.

"Grayson's just amazing," Sperry said. "He has one hand, and he built the thing one brick at a time."

Rogers lost his hand in 1935 on the set of a Western movie when a muzzle-loading rifle
exploded after he pulled its trigger.

For the past 60 years, Rogers has played tennis with a soup ladle strapped to his left
arm. A tennis ball fits perfectly in the ladle, allowing him to toss the ball while serving.

Six months shy of his 86th birthday, Rogers can still hit a slicing backhand and has a live

"He plays as good as, if not better than, a lot of people in their 30s and 40s," said Ivan
Berkowics, a frequent playing partner. "He can wear me out."

Rogers might be one of Southern California's best players in the 85-and-over division. But
he's never bothered to find out.

"People ask me why I don't go and play in my age bracket," he said. "I may try it one of
these days."

9,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
WIMBLEDON TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS : Wimbledon Favorite? It's Not Bud Collins, but He Doesn't Care
June 21, 1987
Special to the Los Angeles Times

BOSTON — To those fortunate enough to buy, inherit or sneak admittance into the All England Club, the Wimbledon experience means the scent of summer grass, the taste of strawberries and cream and a fortnight of blaring headlines across the top of London's tabloids.

Here, across the pond, tennis fans wake up on championship morn, rub their eyes and stumble toward the television set for another installment of "Breakfast at Wimbledon." Strawberries and cream?

Raspberries at Bud is more like it.

He's not quite the Howard Cosell of tennis, and he's a tad easier on the ears than a John McEnroe tantrum, but as the Sultan of Syntax himself might put it, Bud Collins is an acquired taste. Mention his name and tennis fans immediately choose sides.

A buffoon . . . He's fresh.

A babbler . . . He's irreverent.

A know-it-all . . . He's anecdotal.

When Bud Collins talks, people do more than listen. He moves them to action--turning down the volume or otherwise--and seldom fails to draw a reaction.

For instance:

--At a recent ABC party in Los Angeles for the network affiliates, a woman cornered The Times' radio-television writer, Larry Stewart. She had one request: "Is there anything you can do to get Bud Collins off the air?"

--Tennis magazine polled its readers--4,000 responded--about the best and worst television announcers. Worst announcer: Bud Collins. Overwhelmingly.

--Mail. No, not fan mail. Ted Nathanson, NBC's coordinating producer-director for Wimbledon, told Tennis that the network gets more mail after Wimbledon than in a lifetime of doing Super Bowls, and most of it is about Bud.

"One of the things we got used to is that there is a whole world that hates Bud and a whole world that likes him," Nathanson said. "The people who write are the ones who don't like him."

Collins, as one might expect, has more than a one-word answer to the criticism. Ask him about it and you'll get a long, long response--punctuated by funny stories and laughter.

To wit:

"If I start taking myself seriously . . . I take my job seriously in that I want to do the best I can do. But if I start taking me seriously, and get worried . . . I can slash, too. And I've done it. I know I've hurt people. I'm not a knocker, but I've done it. You're something of a public figure when you go on television. It's fair game."

It's just before the French Open women's final between Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf. Dick Enberg, NBC's lead announcer, stands between commentators JoAnne Russell and Collins during an opening segment.

Collins, clad in purple pants and a yellow tie, looks excited.

"People are saying, 'Is this the twilight of the gods?' " he says, smiling. "Is she going to go down, marvelous Martina, just like Marvelous Marvin Hagler? A couple of left-handed sluggers!"

He punches the Paris air with a crisp left jab.

Ah yes, marvelous Martina. The first time Collins opens his mouth on the air, out slips yet another nickname. He took the art of bestowing nicknames to a new level long before ESPN's Chris Berman first uttered Tim (Purple) Raines.

Through the years, he has served up: Boom Boom (Boris Becker), the Brash Basher from Belleville (Jimmy Connors), the Ice Maiden (Chris Evert); and the Angelic Assassin (Bjorn Borg).

During Navratilova's and Graf's prematch warm-up, Collins reviews Graf's route to the final.

"She led off with Csilla Cserepy, who is a Hungarian married to a Swiss, now living in Switzerland. Two Czechoslovakians, Iva Budarova and Jana Novotna. A Canadian, Helen Kelesi. A Bulgarian, Manuela Maleeva. And finally, the Pearl of the Pampas, and what an exciting match that was. (Gabriela) Sabatini led 5-3 (in the third set). And Graf won the last four games."

Graf, too, has her own tag. Collins, who probably never met an alliteration he didn't like, calls her Fraulein Forehand.

If people think, though, that Collins sits around composing nicknames for his collection, he begs to differ, saying that they come to him at the spur of the moment.

"Usually," he said. "I don't sit up at night trying to think of them. I would say this, I have sat up at night trying to think of some and never come up with any. In other words, I've never come up with a nickname for Martina. And I've really thought about it for a long time and nothing comes up. The ones that I think people remember were spur of the moment."

During Borg's prime, Collins was particularly unrestrained. He tossed out nicknames almost as often as McEnroe tossed the ball in the air to serve. He often missed with ridiculous puns and phrases, and just generally talked too much.

That was then. Two years ago, the NBC higher-ups tried to water down Bud, to cut some of the bombast. They succeeded, so now viewers are treated to, well . . . Bud light, if you will.

"I'd like to think since we worked together (his image has) improved through the years," said Enberg, who has worked with Collins since 1982. "He has the knowledge of the historical part of the game, from who won Wimbledon in 1938 to the youngest player ever to win.

"He has the ability to see the story within the story. He'll be doing three things at once. During a break in the taping, he'll pull out his portable computer and work on his column for the (Boston) Globe. Then someone will yell, 'Bud, who won it in '38?' He'll yell back the answer and get back to what he was doing.

"I've always said that if you look up the word facile in the dictionary, they might have his picture next to it."

Enberg is used to having people ask about Collins. Mostly, "How can you stand working with him?"

"I'd like to have all those people over for a party to meet Bud," he said, laughing. "And I would guarantee that everyone would come away liking him."

Enberg maintains that the private Bud Collins and the public Bud Collins are hardly close to being the same person. At a gathering, Collins isn't always the life of the party--telling jokes and what not--he's busy laughing at everyone else's stories, Enberg said.

Often, in press boxes, Collins is more than willing to provide information for other journalists, even sometimes delaying the progress of his own column.

"That's the one we all know and like," Enberg said. "And then there's Bud, the actor. With respect to the actor in Collins, he's a ham. . . . The camera comes on and Bud comes on and he's a different person. From the pink pants all the way to the exaggerated verbiage. That's the part some fans and people respond negatively to."

Mostly, Collins laughs it off. He's used to criticism, having been before the camera since 1963, and having spent 15 years covering Wimbledon for NBC. Being a newspaperman helps, too, in understanding critics. But Collins wouldn't be human, or he'd be lying, if he didn't admit he feels the sting in the barbs.

"I really feel I can roll with the punches," he said. "I read it all. I'm curious to read it. Some of it, of course, you react to. You say, 'Well, that idiot,' (Collins laughs) or something like that. I think a critic has to fill the column and if some of them say they can't stand me . . . well, geez, I was going to say several of my wives couldn't stand me. Really only one."

It is to Collins' credit, however, or the network's, that he has been able to win over many of his critics, among them Sports Illustrated's Bill Taaffe, who, Collins says, was one of the toughest.

"He used to knock me religiously," Collins said. "He would knock me when he was with the (Washington) Star. "When the Star folded, I said, 'Maybe Taaffe will get a job selling cars. And he pops up at the (Washington) Post and he keeps knocking me there.

"Then he leaves the Post. I said, 'Well, he's finally found that job on the lot. So, he winds up at Sports Illustrated, where I've always had terrific treatment, and he continues knocking.

"One year, he called me before Wimbledon. We had a long talk and I could tell he was a little apprehensive talking to me. Finally, he said, 'Well, I think it's only fair to tell you that you're not one of my favorites. So I said, 'No kidding, Bill. You could have fooled me.' "He sounded kind of relieved. I said, 'Hey, Bill, I've got a typewriter. I knock.' It comes with the territory.

"Sam Silverman, who was one of the great old characters in Boston boxing said, 'Every knock is a boost. But spell my name right.' And he always used to say, 'And mention when the show is.' "

Away from the camera, and from the public, there's the Bud Collins most never see. He is the one who helped Enberg when Enberg felt like a fish out of water during his early tennis telecasts. You can probably count on one hand the number of broadcasters willing to do that, much less sit with someone and listen to him during practice sessions.

Now, it would seem as though there was nothing Collins could do that might surprise Enberg, not after all those broadcasts.

Not so.

"This has been the wettest June here in 25 years," said Enberg last week from London. "The sun comes out for 15 minutes and then disappears. So we've had to scramble this week for (today's) tournament preview show.

"Bud wasn't feeling well, he has the flu. During a break, he regurgitates and comes back. On his feet, he does a one-take, two-minute editorial on American grass court players. Just fresh from a visit to the porcelain . . . "

Sometimes, so much attention is given to Collins' wacky and whimsical style that his ability to provide solid insights and analysis is overlooked:

--Collins on the windy, difficult conditions during the Navratilova-Graf French Open final: "It is tough. These are great conditions for Perth and the America's Cup. But not for tennis."

--Later: "Dust storms all the time. This stadium looks like a French Foreign Legion fort in the Sahara."

Another asset is Collins' interviewing ability. At Wimbledon and the French Open, he talks to the winner and loser right on the court. Collins handles both sides adeptly, without fawning over the winner or shying away from asking the loser potentially touchy questions.

Certainly, Collins' longevity helps him with the players in his NBC role, and then his television celebrity helps when he steps into his other role, columnist for the Boston Globe.

"Oh yes, no doubt about it," said the 58-year-old Collins. "I'm sort of in a dual-citizenship role as a newspaper and a TV guy. I have a little bit of an edge, being on the TV. They know me."

And he probably knows more about their tennis careers than they do. When Billie Jean Moffitt King won her first Wimbledon title with Karen Hantze Susman in 1961, Collins was there.

He saw Chris Evert shock the country by reaching the U.S. Open semifinals in 1971.

A year later, Collins read Bjorn Borg's name, accompanied by some promising scores, and decided to investigate.

Borg was playing Roy Emerson at the U.S. Open in a preliminary round on an obscure field court with only a few people watching.

"People would come over and say, 'What are you doing?' Collins said. "I'd say, 'I'm watching this match.' And then they'd say, 'Oh, it's Emmo.' I said, 'No, I came out to watch this kid.'

"(Borg) was totally at sea on grass. Emerson beat him rather easily. The thing I didn't know until years later was one of the ballboys was McEnroe."

What sort of a relationship does he have with McEnroe?

"I don't know," Collins said. "I won't know until the next time I see him. That's the way McEnroe is. . . . I was one of his earliest defenders because I kept thinking he'd grow up. . . . I keep hoping."

Here's what Collins has to say about the other top players:

--Ivan Lendl. "Lendl is interesting. Lendl is such a bright person and he is always trying to sandbag me when I interview him. Because he thinks he's got a better sense of humor than he (shows) in English. And, sometimes I'm pained for him."

--Evert, a longtime Collins foil. "I don't mind when Chrissie always gives me the needle, and it's funny. . . . Chris is a very, very special athlete. I think she's the most professional athlete I've ever covered, along with Muhammad Ali, in his days when he was fresh."

--Navratilova. "It's a tough role for Martina (being compared to Evert). I think she's a great champion and a great person. I think Martina has had a harder way to go. She is very misunderstood."

The first time Collins saw Graf play was at the U.S. Open when she was 13. An Italian friend of Collins told him about "this monster, Graf."

"These guys, Italians, don't talk about women's tennis," Collins said. "They wouldn't come into this room to see Suzanne Lenglen's reincarnation.

"So I made a point to go out there and I had a nice chat with her. She was very shy.

"I was wandering around looking at the juniors and then I heard this guy grunting and busting his serve. Well, he was playing Bill Stanley, who was one of our top juniors. Stanley was getting creamed and this kid was hitting his serve.

"A big, red-headed kid. I thought it was some Iowa farm boy. He was playing serve and volley, so I didn't think he was a European.

"Then I hear him swearing in German, and I say, 'What the hell is this? He's a German. Playing like this?' I asked a couple of people and they said his name is Becker."

Just another snapshot of tennis history from Collins. Less than two years later, he spoke with Becker after the 17-year-old had won Wimbledon.

Many consider Collins the unofficial historian of the game, which might be putting it lightly because he has co-written one tennis encyclopedia and plans to write another book, detailing the last 25 years.

Although some might embrace and enjoy the idea of becoming part of an institution, Collins says thanks, but no thanks. He prefers to remain a journalist, saying that, after all, you can't really cover something if you're part of it.

At one time, though, he was part of the scene as a player. Now, Collins calls himself a hacker, but in 1961 he and Janet Hopps won the National Indoor mixed doubles title. He also knows something about instruction, having spent 1959-63 coaching at Brandeis University.

After a lifetime of chasing tennis balls and covering those who chase them for a living, Collins rarely tires of the game.

"I never get burned out," he said. "I get fuzzed out. Tennis is a very hard game to watch. It's not like watching basketball. And it goes on all day."

As a safeguard, Collins tries to write his Globe columns about other sports when he's not on the tennis circuit. Since 1977, he has written a bi-weekly travel column called Anywhere. Last year, Anywhere's non-tennis destination was Bhutan where Collins wrote about fishing and trekking.

"I think it keeps me fresh," he said. "Once in a while, I have to write tennis. I recently wrote a tennis column, but it really wasn't a tennis column. I wrote about Abbie Hoffman and Amy Carter because I coached Abbie in college, at Brandeis.

So, what sort of style did Hoffman favor?

Collins smiled and lowered his voice. "Strangely conservative. A very right-wing game, as I wrote. He stayed on the base line, but he was very competitive. We didn't get along at all. He didn't like authority figures.

"The column was sort of a reminiscence. I said he's got a new mixed doubles partner (Carter). He picked well. She's younger, she's prettier, and she's got name value."

Although there was a time when Collins would have gone anywhere on assignment, he has reduced his schedule to spend more time with his family. Collins has a daughter in college and a stepson, 12-year-old Rob Lacy, the son of a friend who died of cancer. Lacy has been with him since 1978, and the household expanded by one when Collins got married just before last year's French Open.

Enberg, for one, wishes that the public knew the other side of Collins. The one that treated King and Hantze Susman to dinner after they had won Wimbledon because they had no money. Or, the Bud Collins who took it upon himself to become Lacy's father.

"I don't know how many men would consider doing that," Enberg said. "Then there are fans that say he seems so insensitive. That's so inaccurate, probably the most inaccurate thing you could say. It's almost like calling the Rock of Gibraltar Jell-O."

Collins would describe such talk as merely part of the game. And he would shrug. As he says, just get the name right.

Which brings us to Bud's continuing problem with Boris Becker.

"Boris always says to me, 'You're the guy I always talk to after I win Wimbledon,' " Collins said. "He doesn't know my name!

"I said, 'I'm the guy. And I'll be there again.' "

Maybe a nickname would help, Bud. Something catchy, something for the kid to latch onto.

Boom Boom, meet the Viceroy of Verbosity. The General of Jabber. Mr. American Magpie.

9,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Tinling looks over beloved duel in the sun
Houston Chronicle
Sunday, JULY 3, 1988
LARRY SIDDONS, Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England - It's a damp, overcast day at Wimbledon, and Ted Tinling is talking about one of his favorite subjects.


"I went back to my Nice club, where I started 53 years ago, last year, and I felt comfortable there," said Tinling, the diamond stud in his left earlobe sparkling against the gray sky outside. "I was happy sitting there.

"I was respected, and that gave me a nice warm feeling of comfort. And sitting in the sun, it was very, very pleasing."

Tennis has given Tinling comfort, too, and - as he celebrates his 78th birthday at his 55th Wimbledon tournament - Tinling has given comfort to tennis.

"Teddy is our term of reference," Philippe Chatrier, the president of the International Tennis Federation, said. "Always, when I need advice or have to make a decision, I like to listen to him because he knows so much background."

One writer described the 6-foot-4 man with the bald, egg-shaped head as "the Eiffel Tower of tennis," and he looms over his land of net and line much as the Parisian landmark stands out along the banks of the Siene.

Tinling describes himself as both a pioneer and an institution, and there can be little argument on either point.

He umpired matches for Suzanne Lenglen in the 1920s. He helped Gussie Moran shock the world with a snippet of lace on her tennis undies and created the first rhinestone tennis dress for Billie Jean King to wear in her "Battle of the Sexes" match against Bobby Riggs in 1973.

Tinling said he has merely tried to bring some of that cherished sunshine into everyday life.

"I want to be remembered for what I'm told I did, that is, I gave a great many people more pleasure than they would have had if I hadn't done my job," he said. "People lead very dull lives, you know, in the main, especially in England."

Born in England in 1910, raised in France and a world traveler for decades, Tinling holds many jobs.

A leading designer of women's tenniswear for more than 50 years, he has served as chief of protocol for the Federation Cup since 1978 and chief troubleshooter at Wimbledon since 1982.

He has worked for the Women's International Tennis Association, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Tennis Australia, and the last 17 years has served as international liaison for the Virginia Slims Series, the main women's tennis tour.

He is a tennis maven, generally associated with the women's game but knowledgeable on all aspects of the sport, from administering matches to what makes a powerful forehand.

It is at Wimbledon, Tinling said, where he has done some of his best work and encountered some of his biggest frustrations.

"I am most gratified when what I do is the most valuable, and I feel we have had problems here that only I could have solved. That's what I like," he said. "The problems are bigger here, more intricate, involving more people, more traditions, more adverse press. And I think that my experience has been the type that enabled me to handle that."

Tennis people pamper Tinling, and it's not just because of his age.

He is a treasured part of the past, having umpired the first match ever at Roland Garros stadium in Paris and designed costumes for every women's champion at Wimbledon since his first visit in 1928.

"I've been here 60 years, but only 55 tournaments," he said. "Because there were five years of war, you know."

Tinling also is part of the present and, he hopes, the immediate future of the game. He has helped settle two disputes between players and tournament management at Wimbledon, the last one in 1982, and sits in on the daily management committee meetings during the two weeks.

In addition, he is a conduit for information to and from players and officials, as well as an adviser to both groups.

Tinling is not as close to Steffi Graf, the 19-year-old at the top of women's tennis, as he has been to past champions. A Graf title at Wimbledon, Tinling noted, would break the string of women's champions he has outfitted, or "dressed," at the tournament.

"But she came in here the other day and embraced me, which was very thoughtful," Tinling said. "I think that's another thing that's nice for me to remember. That I have been able to bridge the generation gap, with the kids 60 years younger than me who want to talk to me and are happy to talk to me. I feel comfortable with them and want to talk to them, too."

It is important to Tinling that people keep talking about tennis, the sport he calls the "duel in the sun. Immortal."

"So much has changed, so much has been altered," he said. "But the underlying theme of having to get the ball over the net is a tremendous anchor and the other things are embroidery on the theme. The theme has never changed in a hundred years.

"No matter what level you play, whether it's two kids having a bash in a field, it has the same kind of appeal as (Pancho) Gonzalez playing (Frank) Sedgman. It has had immortal appeal.

"And the sunshine, of course, is secondary. The duel is the fact that makes it, but the sun makes it better."

9,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ted Tinling: tennis's man of many hats, but wearer of none
The Christian Science Monitor
Wednesday, July 23, 1986
Ross Atkin, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Not everybody inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame enters as a marvelous shotmaker. Ted Tinling made it recently as a marvelous character.

He is perhaps the most easily recognizable nonplayer in tennis circles, and not only because he bears an unmistakable resemblance to the late Yul Brynner. At 6 ft. 5 in., he is a shiny-headed tower of flamboyance with a definite streak of the avant-garde. These characteristics, however, don't explain his election to the hall in the ''contributor'' category. That honor was earned for a lifetime of championing and serving the game.

Tinling owns plenty of titles, but not the kind captured by his racket-wielding fellow 1986 inductees, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Chuck McKinley, Nicola Pietrangeli, and Dorothy Round Little. He has no trophies to show for his titles.

He is the chief of protocol for the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as for Wightman and Federation Cup matches; a consultant to the Women's International Tennis Association; the social facilitator for ITF president Philippe Chatrier; and director of liaison for the women's pro tour.

He is also the author of three books, a world-class raconteur, perhaps the foremost authority on the history of women's tennis, and a fashion designer for the stars. In fact, it was in this latter capacity that he made one of his most indelible marks on the game.

Tinling outfitted Californian Gertrude Moran, alias Gorgeous Gussie, in the famous lace-trimmed underwear that rocked Wimbledon in 1949. This so jolted staid tournament officials that he was labeled an outcast.

The rift was finally forgotten five years ago, and now Ted, the prodigal son, serves as the liaison between the players and the All-England Club, which has made him an honorary member.

The most radical recent attempt to alter tennis fashion occurred at Wimbledon just last year, when Anne White played in a white bodysuit, which was quickly banned. Tinling wasn't the perpetrator of the uproar this time, but he sensed history repeating itself.

''Pioneers always shock. They go too far,'' he observed. ''They have to come back a bit before things settle down.

''All the shocks that I gave in the 1940s were accepted in the '50s without an eyebrow being raised. So I don't think it will be too long before a modified version of (White's) cat suit will perhaps be what everybody will want to wear.''

The second-skin concept has already caught on in speed skating and skiing, Tinling notes, and he expects tennis may eventually follow.

As a designer himself, he owns a wardrobe that hardly looks like it came off a Brooks Brothers rack.

On the occasion of his induction here at the famous Newport Casino, however, he looked vaguely Establishment in a gray suit with wide, peaked lapels. But efforts at conformity stopped there. Helping to complete the ensemble were an open-collared, pink-and-white striped shirt, a gold neck chain, a diamond earring, turquoise-stone cuff links, and a pink scarf (a necktie was added for lunch on the piazza).

Tinling has probably witnessed as much of tennis's time line as anyone else. His attachment to the game dates to the 1920s, when as a 14-year-old Briton visiting France, he was asked to umpire a match for French great Suzanne Lenglen. Though Lenglen starred in an era of calf-length dresses and billowy sleeves, she could be a daring dresser, a fact that didn't escape Tinling's notice.

As a budding fashion designer, he was smitten by the women's game and the individuals who played it. ''They usually had much more visual personality than the men and were more personable,'' he observed.

Tinling still holds to that belief, and claims that ''psychological warfare'' plays a more significant role in the women's game. ''At the Grand Slam tournaments, you see all the quotes the stars give to the press are clearly oriented to the other players.''

After 63 years at courtside, he is far more absorbed by studying the people, especially the newcomers, than in following the bouncing ball. ''I don't think I watched more than four matches at Wimbledon this year,'' he admitted.

The native of Eastbourne, England, opened his own London couture business in 1931, closed it while serving in the British Army during World War II, then returned to the fashion world.

This postwar period produced what Tinling describes as the second golden age of women's tennis. ''There were so many great players, we didn't know what to do with them. There might not have been any (Chris Evert) Lloyds or (Martina) Navratilovas, but there were seven players pretty close to that,'' among them certainly, Maureen Connolly, Doris Hart, and Louise Brough.

What distressed Tinling, however, was the masculinity of women's tennis togs. He found the shirts, shorts, and skirts of the day so unflattering that he began a ''campaign to return femininity to court attire.''

The attention-getting number he designed for Gussie Moran was a strong early volley in this crusade, which culminated in his selection as the official couterier of the women's circuit in the 1970s. Altogether he custom-designed more than 1,000 dresses, using plenty of sparkle and color to glamorize these outfits. One of the most historic was the sequin-studded dress Billie Jean King wore in her Battle of the Sexes match against Bobby Riggs.

''We made sports a spectacle,'' said the 76-year-old Tinling, who now resides in Philadelphia and limits himself to fashioning dresses for the US women's teams.

R.I.P. Thank you!
25,876 Posts
I like the idea Mrs A.

Can I suggest something? I think it would help to highlight or bold the titles so they jump out-it makes for easier reading IMO.


Ted Tinling: tennis's man of many hats, but wearer of none
The Christian Science Monitor
Wednesday, July 23, 1986
Ross Atkin, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Not everybody inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame enters as a marvelous shotmaker. Ted Tinling made it recently as a marvelous character.

is easier IMO than:

Ted Tinling: tennis's man of many hats, but wearer of none
The Christian Science Monitor
Wednesday, July 23, 1986
Ross Atkin, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Not everybody inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame enters as a marvelous shotmaker. Ted Tinling made it recently as a marvelous character.

Either way-thank you for this thread. We do need to celebrate and remember the unsung people on the tour:)

9,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I like the idea Mrs A.

Can I suggest something? I think it would help to highlight or bold the titles so they jump out-it makes for easier reading IMO.


Either way-thank you for this thread. We do need to celebrate and remember the unsung people on the tour:)
I can do that. Although Mr. Tinling would have given you a rather stern lecture if you called him one of the unsung people!

9,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I will scrub this one if this is too far off-topic.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Wednesday, August 20, 1986
Howard Cosell

The French spectators tried to boo him off the tennis court. He was staggering around like a drunk in the middle of his match during the 1950 French Open, making uncoordinated swipes at the tennis ball, unable to see properly or to hear, and the French figured he was just another lazy Yank, or maybe worse, one who'd had a few too many before he walked onto the court to play, and they wanted him gone.

His wife Nancy watched in horror from her seat in the stands. She knew something the crowd didn't, knew what was wrong with her husband, knew it wasn't laziness or drink. He was going into diabetic shock on the tennis court. She sent Tiny Trabert down with energizing chocolate. He ate it and went on to beat John Bromwich, despite the diabetes. The next day Nancy decided she'd had enough, decided it was time the public knew. She spress and told them her husband was a diabetic, had been one since the age of 10, and had defied all the conventional wisdom about diabetes, exercise and sports. His secret was secret no longer.

If you want a jock to be a hero, if you're looking for an athlete to be a role model, I have one for you, one of the only true role models in the history of sport. His name is William F. Talbert, Bill Talbert. If you don't remember him, you should. If your children have never heard of him, tell them about him.

He'll be 68 in September - he's one of a handful of people to survive so long with diabetes - and during his active years as a tennis player he was one of the greatest America has produced, and one of the greatest in the world. Now, as the U.S. Open draws near, it is just and fitting to pay tribute to this man, the director of the tournament, who has given so much of himself not just to sports, but to humanity.

When you look at what Bill Talbert has accomplished as a tennis player, he emerges as one of the most remarkable athletes ever to have lived. Unquestionably he has been one of the greatest, if not the greatest, doubles players of all time. He won five different national clay court doubles championships with five different partners. He and Gardnar Mulloy were probably the greatest doubles team of all time, winning the U.S. Nationals four times.

In the old days, before Open tennis, he won the singles title in most of the important tournaments: Southampton, Seabright, Rye and Orange, the key tourneys on the amateur trail. He was the U.S. Davis Cup captain for five years, including 1954, when the U.S. beat Australia in what was one of the most dramatic Davis Cup victories of all time.

He wanted to be a baseball player when he grew up. His diabetes was diagnosed when he was 10 years old. In those days, diabetics weren't permitted to do anything, to wash a car or climb a flight of stairs. They were supposed to sit quietly in their chairs, take the newly discovered insulin, and hope for the best.

He asked his doctor if he could try a sport. He was told that, if he wanted to gamble with his life and health, he might try tennis, thinking it was a ''sissy'' sport that wouldn't tax Bill unduly. The irony of his suggestion was never lost on Bill, who would've had a physically easier time of it playing left field. But that was the beginning. He started competing a year later and continued doing so for 48 years.

Talbert's commitment to helping those with diabetes is as strong as his commitment to tennis. Diabetes is the No. 3 killer in America, and the No. 1 cause of blindness. No one knows this better than Bill. He has gone into diabetic comas and collapsed on the street 10 or 12 times, been rushed to hospitals diagnosed as drunk or having a coronary, when people have not bothered to look through his wallet to find the card that says he is a diabetic.

When he was playing tennis he would suffer an attack at least once, sometimes twice a day. He would lose an average of 8-10 pounds every time he played. Once, in the early '50s, in Southampton, he was down 2-1 in sets against Pancho Gonzales, when he started going into shock. He got himself some sugar and fought back, winning 16 straight games to beat Poncho. He lost 18 pounds during that match.

His commitment to helping other diabetics shows in several ways, most prominently in his commitment to Camp NYDA, a camp for juvenile diabetics in New York's Catskill Mountains. For 40 years now Talbert has been associated with the camp. He goes there and talks to the children, conducts clinics, answers questions, helps them any way he can. He visits hospitals, has people with questions about diabetes over to his home, keeps his phone number listed, takes calls day and night from frightened diabetics with questions about the disease.

When the U.S. Open starts next week it will be Bill Talbert's 15th year as director, a job for which he has never taken a penny. You'll hear the names McEnroe and Becker, Navratilova and Evert Lloyd, but no one will mention Bill Talbert.

You might want to think of him then, when play begins. Of this quiet, modest man, a gentleman, who never calls attention to himself or his extraordinary courage. Because if you're in the market for a hero, Bill Talbert is a genuine one.

9,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No. 1 for all the hits
Wimbledon's second most famous court will stage its final dramas in the next fortnight.
Laurie Pignon salutes a cherished battleground

The Independent
London, England
Wednesday, June 19, 1996
Laurie Pignon

No more do I hear the sweet sound of white tennis balls flying from wooden rackets. No more do Joan Hunter Dunns flit around in Ted Tinling dresses with the odd peep of lace beneath. No more do men of grace blow kisses to pretty faces in the crowd; instead, they throw sweat-soaked shirts into a forest of eager arms.

These changes to Wimbledon came slowly, almost imperceptibly, but at the end of this year's Championships, the original Court No 1 will be obsolete. Eventually, the bulldozers will move in and in one mechanical swoop will reduce Court No 1 to a pile of anonymous rubble, to be dumped who-knows-where. Memories are not so easily demolished.

Although it did not have a Royal Box and was destined to be a semi-detached poor relation to the mansion next door, Court No 1 had a life and an atmosphere of its own. Seldom did a day's play pass that the great cheers of its loyal devotees did not echo around the Centre Court, and make 12,000 people think that they were in the wrong place.

They often were, and never more so than in the first Championships after the war in 1946. The frustration must have been excruciating as they sat in their seats and listened to the rapturous applause from the place next door. For it was on Court No 1 that the sad-faced Jaroslav Drobny, whose native Czechoslovakia was only just free from occupation, was beating the clean-cut US Marine Jack Kramer.

The American had conceded only five games on his way to the fourth round, was the No 2 seed and the public favourite to take the title at his first attempt. After one of the most thrilling matches played on any court, Drobny won by 2-6, 17-15, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. The drama was not confined to the power produced from Drobny's left arm, for at the change of ends it was obvious that Kramer was in serious trouble.

He was suffering from an injured hand. What started with small blisters had developed into a raw wound by the end of the 32-game second set. There were no chairs on court, no two-minute rest periods in those days, so at each opportunity Kramer snatched a few forbidden seconds to try to soften the path with sticking plasters. Afterwards he made no excuses and merely said that the best man on the day had won.

In my demob suit, and green pork-pie hat with a red feather, this was my first Wimbledon as a Fleet Street junior reporter, and I had been consigned to Court No 1.

Seeing "things" were happening, I left my press seat and got myself a place behind the umpire's chair, where I could see Kramer's plight and almost feel his pain. I wrote my story full of blood, guts, colour and quotes. I was proud of what was to be my first big Wimbledon byline, but when I showed my copy to my sports editor, who had been on the Centre Court, he said: "Sonny, this is too good for you," and with a few minor changes it appeared in the paper next morning under his name. Kramer and I learned a lot that day.

In the quiet hours when the music is soft and the whisky mellow, memories, so many memories, of the doomed court where our youthful summers drifted into old age come flooding back. There was the laughter when Connors and Nastase appeared in the doubles with umbrellas when it threatened to rain; and there was McEnroe. How the Court hated him in 1981. People thought then that he should have been disqualified, some still do. He screamed at the umpire: "You are the pits." He insulted the referee, and he yelled at the crowd: "I am so disgusting you shouldn't watch. Everybody leave." This was a first-round match against nice guy Tom Gullikson. Instead of packing his bags, as he should have done, he won the Championship so preventing Bjorn Borg winning a record six in a row.

Eleven years later, when McEnroe had won the singles title three times and the doubles twice, all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune were forgotten and Court No 1 was in love with him again. It was a roaring, boisterous, bellowing love when with Michael Stich he returned on the third Monday to finish his doubles final.

When play had stopped at 9.22pm on Sunday night, the score stood at 13- 13 in the final set after four and a half hours of play. Although the match could have ended in a few minutes, many McEnroe fans queued all night for the finish. When their final resumed against Jim Grabb and Richey Reneberg, the court was full to its 7,500 capacity, with everyone getting in free of charge.

Ten more games were played in 34 minutes before McEnroe and Stich won 5-7, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 19-17. The total of 83 games in five hours, one minute was a record for a Wimbledon doubles final. In response to the crowd, McEnroe and Stich repeated their lap of honour, and the biggest cheer came when John offered the trophy to his son, who was at courtside with his mother, Tatum O'Neal. A moment poignant for a couple who were soon to part.

Boris Becker's memories of Court No 1 in 1987 are "nicht so schön", and it was probably his own fault. At 19, he had twice won the Championship and he was up against Peter Doohan, a little-fancied Australian whom he had defeated with ease at Queen's Club a couple of weeks previously.

Doohan didn't fancy his chances, either. He was staying at the local YMCA and had booked his flight out of England, but, like all good Aussies, he loved a fight when the stakes were high. Rain had delayed this second round match until Friday afternoon. At first, Becker seemed to be a victim of his own arrogance, which hardly endeared him to the crowd, who hungered for a big upset. And they got it, for the fiery, acrobatic German was beaten 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, and the roar of the crowd echoed around an envious Centre Court. Afterwards, a still angry Becker told the world's press: "Of course I am disappointed, but I didn't lose a war. There is no one dead; it was just a tennis match."

There were not too many tears shed for Becker, but I must admit there was a hint of a Puccini drama when Chrissy Evert was beaten 6-1, 7-6 by Kathy Jordan in the third round. It was the first time in 11 Wimbledons that she failed to reach the semi-finals. The sun did not shine on Court No 1 that day and her unexpected exit made the place seem a little duller and a little greyer. The year was 1983.

Chrissy is not a Mimi and not quite a Musetta. Watching from the sideline, and at times almost close enough to touch her, I felt as if I were in a world of bad dreams. I had seen her lose before, but this time she was a thin ghost of the player normally feared by her contemporaries. She looked pale and frail, yet offered no word of excuse, only praise for Miss Jordan. Afterwards, we discovered that she had been ill during the night and a doctor had to be called out at 2am.

Even before the South African Billie Tapscott shocked Wimbledon in 1927 by appearing on court minus stockings, fashion has always been a feature of lawn tennis, and the most glamorous of all events was the now defunct Wightman Cup. This annual match between the British and American women was played on Court No 1 from 1946 to 1972.

Andrew Lloyd Webber could have written a musical about it, Monet could have painted it in three shades of light and Shelley would have certainly composed an ode about it, for the great West Open Stand which over the years grew taller and taller was festooned with colour and was a wondrous sight to behold.

There were rows upon rows of girls in summer uniform dresses; some schools in pink, others in blue, or green, or yellow or lilac. There were panama hats galore, and a few battered boaters beside, but all wore regulation white socks and "sensible" shoes.

They may have looked like a wall of innocent flowers reaching up to that tent of blue, but once they were out of reach of their games mistresses, and play began, decorum was replaced by such a cacophony of screams of delight that local residents might have thought that pig-sticking had come to SW19. Their enthusiasm was so infectious that those in the posh seats joined in and felt young again.

Baron de Coubertin's aristocratic and now completely ignored Olympic creed of it being more important to take part than to win might have been penned for the British teams, for during all those summers on Court No 1, they were only successful in the Wightman Cup on three occasions. Then the atmosphere was such that I am surprised we didn't all drown in our own euphoria.

Never more so than in 1958, when we broke the spell of 28 years of failure and the girl who made it possible was Christine Truman, who won all three of her matches. Her staggering victory over Althea Gibson after dropping the first set was one of the greatest women's matches played on the court. Christine was 17 and Miss Gibson the reigning Wimbledon champion. She was the first black champion: powerful, athletic, she played every stroke as if the pride of her African heritage depended upon it. In contrast, Christine, the sweetheart of British tennis, was never quite sure what the score was and kept bashing her mighty forehand willy-nilly. The innocence of Christine was all too much for the American.

Two years later, Britain again defeated the United States, 4-3. This time Ann Haydon, who as Mrs Jones was to become Wimbledon Champion nine years later, and Angela Mortimer (the 1961 Champion) were in the winning line-up. By Jove! We could play the game in those golden days. The last successful year on Court No 1 was 1968, when Virginia Wade (the 1977 Centenary Champion) cast aside all her theatrical uncertainties and produced a masterly display of controlled arrogance which, when in full flight, made her one of the most enthralling and at times exasperating players to watch.

At 1-3 on the start of the second day's play, Britain's chances seemed hopeless. Miss Wade made it 2-3 with her second singles and 3-3 with her doubles with Winnie Shaw. Then came the final dramatic crunch: the Truman sisters, Christine and Nell, against Stephanie DeFina and Kathy Harter. There has never been a match like it nor will there be one like it again. Winners were hit off the wood, outrageous mis-hits clipped the lines, and rallies were so hectic that they might have been playing on hot coals.

At one vital and hilarious point, I dropped and broke my expensive calabash pipe, and in the excitement a man in the far stand had a heart attack and died. Someone was heard to remark: "He might have waited until the change of ends." It was getting dark and damp during that final agonising game during which our dear Christine twice fell flat on the court. The normally solid American girls were bewildered by it all; and the crowd bewitched.

Unlike fading photographs, memories become brighter with age, and I would not swap mine for a fistful of tomorrows. Goodbye, old friend, I hope that your elegant replacement, minus free standing, brings as much pleasure as old Court No l, a place of so many youthful dreams that bulldozers cannot destroy.

Laurie Pignon reported from Wimbledon for the first time 50 years ago and has not missed a Championship since.

9,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hickey made point by starting tourney
Jim Greenidge, Globe Staff
The Boston Globe
July 11, 1994

It was the summer of 1963. Having had time to sit and read the game program a while prior to the National Doubles Championships, 13-year-old Julie Hickey, at the Longwood Cricket Club for her family's annual junket to watch the tennis, couldn't find any mention of her favorite player.

"Where is Rod Laver? I don't see his name," she asked her father, Ed, a bank executive specializing in advertising and publicity for the New England Merchants National Bank.

She had become enthralled by Laver through the previous years. Not like the rest of us had, as a result of the lefthanded Australian's uncanny knack for finding the lines with his piercing groundstrokes. It was because she liked the floppy, wrinkled hat from Down Under he would wear to protect himself from the sun.

Hickey told his daughter that Laver could no longer play at Longwood, Forest Hills or even Wimbledon because he now was a professional, that he and a dozen others had decided they wanted to play tennis strictly for money.

"That's nutty!" declared Julie. And the more he thought about it, the more Ed Hickey came to the same conclusion as his daughter, who has grown up to become an attorney.

It was 30 years ago when Hickey convinced quite a few people what is now known as the Blue Cross/Blue Shield US Pro Championships should be started. This while all around him were turning their backs on the professionals.

Later that fall, Hickey got added thrust from his brief chat with his daughter through reading a magazine article that told of tournament promoters and club executives taking sides on the pro/amateur matter -- and how nearly everyone aligned himself with the so-called amateurs.

He had heard of how Pancho Segura and Ken Rosewall had played a match for $250 in a dark, dreary Los Angeles parking lot. Worse even, Hickey had heard how the professionals had, the previous fall at Forest Hills, put on a tournament only to find that the event was such a flop the promoter never gave them any money.

"It was awful to have it deteriorate to that," Hickey said.

He did additional homework, first asking Globe columnist Bud Collins if his idea was off the ball. Once assured that he might have something, Hickey approached the Longwood bigwigs. Again, he received approval.

"Now that was a big deal, getting Longwood. Quite a few members -- Hazel Wightman included -- were for the amateurs and to hell with the money-grubbing professionals," Hickey said. "The clubs felt it would be easier to control the amateurs."

Then it came time to approach his boss, Richard P. Chapman. To his surprise, Hickey got the approval for his idea -- on the same day, in fact.

"The first year our bank sponsored it, we became the first corporation in the world to sponsor professional tennis," said Hickey, now 79, and retired in West Newton. "The president of the bank was always looking for me for nutty ideas of how to get publicity for the bank, and this was one of them, he felt. The bank ended up with all this space on the sports pages, something the bank never had gotten before."

Now he had to get the players. Hickey flew to California to give Jack Kramer a walk-through. At the time, the plan was to have seven tournaments, each with $10,000 prize money, to build to a year-end tourney at Longwood.

In the weeks that followed, Kramer, while attending a Davis Cup outing, approached the players, mostly Australians, and Hickey's ideas were embraced. "The players had nothing else," Hickey said. "They weren't equipped to do anything else but perhaps give lessons. They loved the idea of these tournaments."

There were eight players for a four-day tourney in June. Hickey's total operating budget was $35,000. Laver won the $2,200 first prize, Pancho Gonzales the runner-up check of $1,900. Butch Buchholz, Barry McKay and the late Lew Hoad were the others involved in the first one.

After a first-day downpour, which ended a 10-week area drought, Hickey's bosses wondered what he had gotten them into.

"We pretty much just broke even that first year. That's the closest we were to not making a profit," Hickey recalled. "Whatever we would make, we would turn right back into the budget for the following year's tournament. I loved everything involved in running it, especially getting to know the players. Besides, all of it was so different than my normal duties at the bank.

In 1968, Open tennis became a reality. "And the dam burst when that happened because the players wanted to be paid," Hickey said.

The New England Merchants, concerned about tourney costs rising to as high as $150,000 in 1977, dropped its sponsorship. It had hurt not having Hickey pushing it. He had retired the year before.

But it's comforting to know that Ed Hickey and his green-visored banking pals stepped to the plate and took an all-important role in tennis as we know it today. Right here in Boston. Right here at Longwood.

9,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The Miami Herald
November 3, 1996
MERI-JO BORZILLERI, Herald Sports Writer

Fort Lauderdale's Mondessa Swift already knew what Mary Joe Fernandez, Steffi Graf, Mary Pierce and Nike discovered this year.

The tennis dress is cool. Literally and figuratively.

All three stars made waves by going retro this season and wearing dresses instead of the usual skirt/shirt combinations pros have preferred for more than a decade.

Said Swift: ''I think dresses are cooler and more comfortable.''

Nike officially made it a trend with its mostly white, classic dresses, spiced with a splash of color -- which is right up Swift's alley.

It was Swift, better known by her designer name Mondessa, who played a large role in putting color into tennis. She was among the first to add bright trims and designs to tennis dresses and became famous for it.

Dresses she designed for hometown girl Chris Evert, including one with a bright red apple that made the cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine in 1972, nudged major tournaments like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open into dispensing with their white-outfits-only rule for competitors.

Mondessa took tennis lessons from Jimmy Evert at Holiday Park when Chris was 13 or 14.

''I said, 'OK, Chris. I'll make some dresses for you,' '' Mondessa said.

It was the first tennis dress she ever made.

''She wore them in the juniors. When she went to Forest Hills and Wimbledon, she wore my dresses. When she became really famous, she got big-time contracts from other companies. But all the juniors knew my dresses. They wanted to dress like Chris.''

So did a lot of people. A collection of Mondessa's dresses is in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

Now 25-year Fort Lauderdale resident Mondessa, after a decade's hiatus, is sharpening her drawing pencil again and eyeing the Home Shopping Network.

In recent weeks, she has hauled boxes of old dresses -- and her desk -- from her and husband Vince's garage. She has turned a guest bedroom into a designing studio. She has lined up another designer who has access to a factory. In eight months, Mondessa plans on selling her tennis outfits again, hopefully on television. She got the itch to design again when she saw this year's dresses on pros.

''They could fit better and be more flattering,'' said Mondessa, who won't give her age but admits she's ''close to 60.''

Mondessa, a former nationally ranked doubles player, and husband Vince never left the tennis scene, even after Mondessa sold her international company to Parker-Penn in 1974. They run tennis and other celebrity sporting events around the nation and in Mexico.

''I think there's a market out there for everyone,'' Mondessa said. ''I think it'll be a fun thing to do.''

Free lessons for kids

For 12 kids from Oriole Elementary School, the bell signaling the end of the school day Monday won't mean they'll stop learning.

The students, six boys and six girls, will receive free tennis instruction via a new program designed to teach tennis to African-American youngsters. The project kicks off Monday at 2:15 p.m. at the Lauderdale Lakes Middle School courts and will run Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Sponsored by an organization of AT&T and Lucent Technologies telecommunications employees, the program selected students in third through fifth grades who maintained a C average or better, had an interest in tennis and parental commitment for training.

For project director Barbara Wong, the organization's civic and community affairs director, the idea was a natural.

''I'm a tennis player,'' said Wong, ranked No. 15 in Florida in the women's 50s. ''I thought this was something we could bring to the community. Tennis is expensive. There may be some talent we can develop.''

Big giveaway

It's the tennis version of the golf giveaway that offers a new car to someone who aces a designated hole.

This, however, is even tougher to collect on.

The Mercedes-Benz Wild Card Championship is set for March at the Tennis Center of Coral Springs, home of the ATP Tour America's Red Clay Tennis Championship.

Win it, and you gain entry in the main draw of The Red's pro doubles tournament, where you might meet teams like Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge, the No. 1 ranked doubles team in the world.

Win The Red, and your team not only wins the prize money, but gets to share a million dollars -- and you each win a 1998 Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle.

It's a little farfetched, but probably fun to try to at least reach the main draw of a pro event. To be eligible, neither player is allowed to have earned an ATP computer point in singles or doubles in the past two years.

Look for applications at your local club. That's where preliminary tournaments will be held to determine the 64 teams of the March Wild Card Championship. For more information, call Larry Martin at (954) 755-8830.

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The 2020 obituary for Edythe McGoldrick who promoted the Virginia Slims of Boston (later the Avon Championships of Boston) and later started the Virginia Slims of New England that used to be held in Worcester, Mass.

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