With the forthright and fearless determination that has helped it lead the U.S. into the rearmost ranks of international tennis, the United States Lawn Tennis Association last week resolutely turned its back on the only vital question confronting the sport today: open tennis. The backward march at the meeting in Los Angeles was a retreat and not a rout—that is, it was conducted with the predictable dignity of a minuet.
At this moment in tennis history the most enlightened authorities, including the president of the International Federation, the head of the British tennis association, the management at Wimbledon and former U.S. Davis Cup Captain Bill Talbert (SI, Feb. 5) agree that some form of open tennis is crucially necessary now. Their view on the eventual solution, and one virtually certain to be effected at Wimbledon within the next two years, is the elimination of all distinction between pros and amateurs at all top tournaments—the elimination, in fact, of the very terms themselves.
It is indicative of the USLTA's sense of direction that its outgoing president, George Barnes, recognized in his farewell speech that "there is a tremendous sentiment for open competition on the part of many players, the press and the general public," and that the incoming president, Edward A. Turville, in his inaugural message stated his disbelief that "further discussion of [the open question] would be of any value at the present time." Both gentlemen are horrified at the very notion of removing the distinction between amateur and pro.
Pacing their steps to their leaders', the rank-and-file delegates at Los Angeles first put forward a tentative motion calling for a vote on the general "principle" of open tennis, then fearing rebuke, hastily withdrew it. In its place the meeting proposed and approved the same resolution it had passed a year before: a resolution urging the International Federation to let each nation make up its own mind, if it had one. "Everyone," said retiring President Barnes, employing open syntax, "felt he didn't want to make up his own mind until he'd seen some definite program."
Tony Alessio, the pricemaker for the Caliente Future Book, last week released to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED his first set of odds for the May 5 Kentucky Derby. The 10 top horses and their odds, according to Alessio, are: Ridan 4 to 1; Crimson Satan 6 to 1; Sir Gaylord 10 to 1; Cyane 15 to 1; Rainy Lake 15 to 1; Donut King 15 to 1; Admiral's Voyage 25 to 1; Snappy King 25 to 1; Royal Attack 25 to 1; and Endymion 25 to 1.
Laconic report of a junior high school basketball game from an Illinois publication, the La Harpe Quill:
"The Terre Haute Flea-weights defeated Colusa 13 to 2, and Ted Kern was high point man for both teams, scoring 12 for Terre Haute and two points at the wrong basket for Colusa."
TARZAN VS. FIBER GLASS
Those jungle yells coming from the vicinity of Penns Grove, N.J. originate in the home of Don (Tarzan) Bragg, deposed holder of the world pole vault record. Bragg made his mark (15 feet 9¼ inches) back in the dark ages of track and field, a few years ago, when aluminum poles were used. The new indoor record holder, John Uelses of the U.S. Marine Corps, uses a fiber-glass pole, as do just about all vaulters nowadays. Bragg finds this offensive. "The fiber-glass pole is a definite mechanical aid," he says. "The maximum that Uelses could vault with an aluminum pole is 15-3. If he were to switch back to aluminum now, he wouldn't even make 15 feet."
Bragg feels especially aggrieved because he considers the handsome Uelses a sort of personal pupil. "There's an air of friendliness in track and field," says Bragg with no air of friendliness. "I taught Uelses the 'rock-back' that flexes the pole and makes him a 16-foot vaulter. Yet now he says it's his own invention. He makes conflicting statements. First I read that he said hard work, not the fiber-glass pole, was responsible for the record vaults. Then he admitted that most of his training consisted of playing badminton."
Bragg also says he doesn't question the validity of Uelses' records. "But fiber glass makes the pole vault an entirely different event," he insists. "Now most of the emphasis is on coordination instead of speed, strength and coordination. I do extend credit to Uelses for perfecting this phase of vaulting. I just think it isn't the same sport."
Ice fishing has charm of a sort, but some of its elements are tedious, tiresome and productive of ennui as well as very few fish. This winter a student of human oddities has been observing Maryland ice fishermen at play and has concluded that the fishermen are more interesting than the fishing.
For example: Reuben Levin of Coatesville, Pa. was fishing with a sawed-off billiard cue. Just the right size and backbone for jigging a lure up and down.
Donald Dinges of Pascoag, R.I. was keeping nine holes from freezing over by squeezing drops of antifreeze into them from a syringe. Five or six drops in each hole every half hour did the job.
Alan Soule of Lancaster, Pa. had fitted out a bicycle wheel as a reel. With tire removed and mounted on a sled, the wheel permitted him to reel in his line four times faster.
Joel Turner of Philadelphia had added cardboard sails to the lines of his tip-ups. The sails let the wind do the jigging while Turner kept his hands in his pockets.
Several fishermen were equipped with metal discs. These were bottoms cut out of metal wastepaper baskets. At the end of a day's fishing, they fitted the basket bottoms into the holes. Returning next day, they built fires on them and the holes were reopened without chopping. And there was one fellow who was soaking his lines in his whisky flask. Kept them pliable in cold weather, the fellow pointed out, a warm, friendly glow suffusing his features.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Here, together with their current pergame scoring averages, are the first 10 college basketball players who will be picked in the National Basketball Association draft: Jerry Lucas, Ohio State (22.7); Dave DeBusschere, Detroit (24.9); John Rudometkin, USC (21.1); Bill McGill, Utah (36.1); Terry Dischinger, Purdue (27.1); John Havlicek, Ohio State (18.2); Paul Hogue, Cincinnati (15.8); Chet Walker, Bradley (26.6); Len Chappell, Wake Forest (28.6); Leroy Ellis, St. John's (23.9).
•Millionaire Ken Rich, co-owner of the car that Jim Rathmann drove to victory in the 1960 Indianapolis "500," is readying a new-style Indy car for Rathmann to pedal in this year's race. Costing more than SI million and utilizing parts from points as distant as California and West Germany, Rich believes the car should qualify at 167 mph. Major features of the racer will be an independent suspension system, an open rear end, magnesium piston and rods, power steering and a shorter, lower profile.
•The University of Maryland will award some football and basketball scholarships to Negro athletes this fall, thus integrating the Atlantic Coast Conference.
•Noel Carroll, regarded as the best track prospect to come out of Ireland since Ron Delany, will shortly be enrolled at Villanova.
John Spencer Churchill, nephew of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, likes to drink and listen to music. In A Churchill Canvas (Little, Brown, $5.75), he writes that he varies his drinks as much as his music, going from Bach to Sibelius to Mozart and from port to stout to gin as the day progresses toward night.
The John Spencer Churchill breakfast consists of lemon juice and hot water, followed by tea. After that dreary beginning the day quickly begins to improve. He writes: "For elevenses I have a glass of ruby port from the wood and a digestive biscuit if it is very cold; alternatively, a glass of stout or beer. Abroad it is a glass of vin rosé. For the midday aperitif, I have a pink gin, Bols gin or schnapps of some sort. In France I prefer a Pastis, Pernod or Ricard; in Spain a dopla of manzanilla. I might even vary this with Japanese sake."
With lunch, half a bottle of claret or a pint of beer suffices for Mr. Churchill, followed ("but not always") by a k√ºmmel, calvados or brandy.
Teatime calls for a whisky and soda or two, "followed by some sort of gin drink." Then comes the evening aperitif, consisting of dry sherry or manzanilla. Another half bottle of claret for dinner, followed by port and brandy. (When entertaining, he precedes the claret with a dry white wine and champagne.)
"At about 10 p.m. I start whiskies and sodas at approximately half-hour intervals until about 3 a.m. or 4.a.m. if I am working late," Mr. Churchill reports, and he concludes: "The result of this program is that I feel half my age and very healthy."
Here's how, and the best to Uncle Winston.
ET TU, PHILIP?
Phil Rizzuto, once an excellent shortstop for the New York Yankees and now a highly paid announcer for the Yankee broadcasting network, told a public gathering in Connecticut the other evening that the Yankees would not have won the 1961 American League pennant if Casey Stengel had been the manager. Thus Rizzuto lent his respected name to a shoddy move on the part of certain members of the Yankees' official family to help demean the image of Casey Stengel.
It is quite possible that Stengel might not have led the Yankees to an eight-game victory in 1961 as Ralph Houk did. Perhaps Stengel might have got less out of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, John Blanchard and Elston Howard. But it is also possible that Stengel would have won the pennant by 14 games. Some people believe that Shirley Temple could have managed the Yankees to victory in 1961.
SKATING TO SUCCESS
The Los Angeles Blades, unsuccessful applicants for a National Hockey League franchise, are in their first year in the Western Hockey League and, directly after two sorry failures in Los Angeles sport (bowling's Toros and basketball's Jets), they have come up with the city's biggest success story since the Dodgers.
Blades crowds were merely moderate in size early in the year. Now they have suddenly begun to double and triple. Attendance at the last five home games averaged 11,100, and one Saturday night recently the Blades drew 13,702 to surpass the former WHL attendance record by 3,300, turning away 2,000 would-be spectators. If the trend continues, the Blades' season average will be a third higher than anticipated and will assure a profit for the first year of operation.
General Manager Jack Geyer is somewhat astonished by this surge of interest. He feels that such factors as the end of the football season, television exposure, an improved won-lost record and a package ticket deal with sponsor Union Oil account for the upturn. All true enough, but the game of hockey itself has something to do with it. In iceless Los Angeles, the game has made fans of people who only recently didn't know a puck from a stick. One convert, a girl no less, started a Blades booster club a few weeks ago. At last count more than 300 were enrolled, each paying $1 for the privilege of wearing a pin, carrying a card, selecting outstanding players and attending pregame pep meetings in a big room at the Sports Arena.
The National Hockey League owners, tightfisted and cautious as they are, must be casting a wistful eye at all this. It seems inconceivable that major league hockey can be more than a year or so away from Los Angeles.
THEY SAID IT
•Cincinnati Infielder Gene Freese, explaining why Jim Brosnan was the first Redleg to sign his 1962 contract: "He's writing a new book, and the front office doesn't want to be in it."
•A New York Irishman, after watching Ireland's two-mile relay team (Basil Clifford, Derek McCleane, Noel Carroll and Ronnie Delany) win in Madison Square Garden: "Basil? Derek? Noel? Ronnie? What the hell's happened to Pat and Mike?"
•Bart Starr, Green Bay quarterback, on the football orthodoxy of his coach: "On third down and one, Johnny Unitas is likely to go back and pass. Coach Lombardi would pull his hair out if I tried that. In fact, he can't even stand it when the other team does it."
•Johnny Green, high-scoring UCLA guard, on California's set-pattern basketball offense: "Cal passes and passes and then takes the same shot they had 15 minutes ago."