Like U.S. Politics, the national game of lawn tennis was once the exclusive property of the East Coast. Even 30 years ago, just before the arrival of the great Californians—Vines, Budge, Kramer—tennis, clubs east of the Alleghenies outnumbered those from all the rest of the country put together. But tennis, like politics, was too vital and virile a game to remain the property of the exclusive few. The South and West grew in tennis magnitude, until by last year California alone boasted almost as many member clubs (193) as the eastern division (213). Nevertheless, until this year control has remained firmly in eastern hands.
Last week, with the appointment of California's Perry T. Jones as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, it suddenly began to seem as if something rather like a Jacksonian revolution had taken place in the ranks of American tennis. It was a revolution achieved without bloodshed or fanfare last month at St. Petersburg, Fla. when the nominating committee of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association, after months of quiet backstage politicking, put up a new slate of officers headed by Seattle Banker Victor Denny to succeed New Yorker Renville McMann, whose administration, like those of all before him, had been predominantly eastern. With a Chicagoan and a Floridian as his chief lieutenants, mild-mannered, hard-working President Denny went on to apply the Jacksonian spoils system to tennis by appointing two more West Coasters to key jobs: the chairmanship of the powerful selection committee and the captaincy of the cup team. He even hired a new auditor and a new official printer.
All this may well prove as beneficial to national tennis as Andy Jackson's healthy infusion of new blood proved to be for the republic. No man has done more to encourage tennis or to breed champions in his own bailiwick than 68-year-old Cup Captain Jones. But it cannot be overlooked that Jones's appointment was marred by a foot fault as crude as those of the Jacksonians who stood on the White House upholstery in muddy boots.
Just before appointing Jones, impatient Vic Denny picked up the telephone and summarily dismissed from the cup captaincy—conceivably from tennis itself—tireless, enthusiastic Bill Talbert, a staunch, competitive field leader who is going to be missed and a man, moreover, who shares all the progressive ideas of the Westerners themselves.
If Perry Jones can do for national tennis what he has done for the West, if he brings back the Davis Cup, if Vic Denny fulfills his promise to do something positive about an open tournament, all may yet be forgiven. But national tennis needs men like Bill Talbert too much to see them brushed aside without recognition or even so much as a thank-you.