The Midsummer night's dream of Davis Cup captains has suddenly become a nightmare. Less than a month from the World Series of Tennis (Forest Hills, August 26, 27, 28) both teams, Australia the likely challenger and the U.S. the defender, are beset with crises.
First, Vic Seixas, hero of the last Challenge Round, aggravated a shoulder injury at Wimbledon while losing in an early round to Gil Shea. Constant treatment since then has him again fit and primed for a bid for a singles spot, but it's a tough road ahead.
Now comes the news that Tony Trabert has damaged his shoulder. Sunday he was forced to default in the Meadow Club finals at Southampton, L.I. Tony's trouble apparently developed in a second-round match. He pulled a muscle, seriously hampering his booming serve and overhead game. Assured that it was nothing serious he stayed on into the finals with Ed Moylan. Before the match I told him not to hesitate to default if he felt further pain. He did, and sensibly quit playing in the fifth set. After further medical consultations it was decided that Tony should skip the Eastern grass court singles championships at Orange, N.J.
Trabert's and Seixas' shoulders coupled with a slumping Richardson and no fourth man casts an ominous cloud over our chances, but things are not so rosy for the Australians either.
From the down under camp come reports that Lew Hoad, Australia's blond blockbuster, is 1) under the weather 2) disgruntled because his bride of little more than a month has been sent home under the team's "no wives" code.
At Montreal last week Hoad, upset in an earlier tournament by Brazil's Ronald Moreira and playing only doubles against Canada, skipped one formal reception. Captain Harry Hopman explained he was suffering from a "touch of the heat."
From our standpoint, Hoad's troubles are encouraging, but I would suggest we not let preliminary communiqués from the enemy lull us into a sense of false security. We still have a battle—a big one—on our hands in the Challenge Round at Forest Hills. Even should Hoad not be at his best at that time—and I rather suspect, and fear, he will be—the Australians have a dangerous substitute they can throw into the breach—Rex Hartwig.
On a given day Hartwig can be the most brilliant amateur in the world. Besides, he has had singular success against Trabert.
All of which brings us back to Tony's condition. He will have to be in top shape if we are to retain the Davis Cup. In one sense, his forced rest may turn out to be a good break for him. Tony is a conscientious player and has kept up a grueling schedule since Wimbledon. In the course of the tournament grind, he has built a spectacular winning streak, comparable to Don Budge's in 1937-38 when the redhead waded through his competition. The streak has provoked some alarm among his supporters who fear the pressure might build into a crescendo that could explode about the time of the Challenge Round. Long winning streaks can invite upsets.
But I doubt that that will be the story with Trabert. The layoff can make him wary, and a cautious, rested Trabert might be the exact tonic we need. One thing sure: there is no complacency in our ranks.