Up the Revolution
Mild-Mannered, methodical Victor Denny, the new president of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, chafes (we hear) at being called a revolutionary. Perhaps it is with good reason, for Vic Denny, a conservative and successful investment banker with carefully combed, thinning hair, seems about as radical offhand as a Series E government bond. Nevertheless, in his cautious, conservative way last week Denny was hard at work in Seattle with his Davis Cup captain Perry Jones plotting the details of what certainly seems like a fine revolution to us.
Like those of other great revolutionaries, the battle cry of Denny's new program for amateur tennis is "Expansion!" Its strategy: infiltration. "The U.S. is a cornucopia of athletic talent," he said, "but tennis has to compete with other sports to attract its share. Our prime objective is to make it possible to offer at least 200,000 to 300,000 additional youngsters the opportunity to play tennis."
One tactic by which Denny plans to net these small fry is by encouraging something like baseball's Little Leagues in tennis. While he and Jones conferred in Seattle last week, other USLTA plotters were busy in Chicago studying the ways and means of little league financing. "We want to expand the movement into every sizable city in the U.S.," says Denny. "It's been our experience that, once started, youngsters are soon gripped by the game." Denny hopes further to keep them gripped by giving them a greater chance to see the best. "One of our objectives," he says, "will be to drive home the point that no region can expect to stimulate great interest in championship tennis without giving the public a chance to see it."
Another part of the Denny plan involves exploration in depth. "By canvassing every club in the U.S.," he says, "we hope to explore fields never looked into before. We hope to find out how many courts they have, who belongs to their organizations, what is the character and condition of their facilities. Take this Seattle club—since it put in a heated swimming pool the rise in family interest has proved a great boom to tennis playing. It should be our business to keep in touch with current plans and research, to know about things like plastic coverings for out-of-season courts and anything else that might engender more active interest in the game."
Further Denny plans include raising the dues of member clubs to help pay for the expansion program, raising the traveling allowances of players to a realistic level ("It burns me to think it's been continued at $15 a day for so long, when the fact is you just can't live on that while you're traveling") and getting some positive action, maybe by fall, on open, or pro-amateur, tennis tournaments.
Speaking of pro-amateur cooperation, it was interesting, in view of the summary dumping of ex-Cup Captain Bill Talbert, that Denny and Jones also announced they were attempting to sign up four of the world's top professional players—Jack Kramer, Don Budge, Pancho Gonzales and Tony Trabert—as Davis Cup coaches to make up for the loss of Talbert.
"The tennis association," said Victor Denny last week, "now has its first truly national administration, and our objective is to make it something more of a hard-boiled businesslike operation. The only 'revolution' I'm interested in is the kind that will bring some 50 or so boys and girls now on the verge of tennis greatness over the threshold, the kind that will stimulate the interest of thousands of others who don't yet know even the joy of being 'just another player.' "
Well, Mr. Denny, we're sorry you don't like our word for it, but all we can say to that is, "Up the Revolution!"