Jerry said tennis was what he wanted to do, and he reminded her that she had gone off to Europe with her sister for a month the year before. Finally Diana softened, but she warned him. "You better be back in time for Zoe's graduation."
It was at this point that I butted in again, telling Jerry he ought to stop off in Baltimore on the way to Tampa, to spend a couple of days with Steve Krulevitz, a 41-year-old veteran of the tour who had played in the U.S. Open 11 times and at Wimbledon nine times. Krulevitz, whom I know through a friend, was once ranked 42nd in the world and now coaches other pro players. So Jerry called him, and Krulevitz agreed to see him.
A maniac for fitness and mental preparation, Krulevitz added yoga, vitamins, sports psychology and concentration exercises to Jerry's daily regimen. He also fiddled with his grip, put him on a strict organic diet and showed him extensive footwork drills. By the time Jerry arrived at Hopman's, he was jumping rope every morning and eating breakfasts of egg whites, oranges, plain toast and water.
This time at Hopman's, Jerry was placed in the most-advanced group. "Nobody can believe I'm going to stick this out six weeks," he told me on the phone soon after he arrived. Then, in response to a question from me, he said, "No, no, I haven't told anybody I want to play on the tour."
By his second week there, despite marked improvement, Jerry began to miss his family and friends. He spent the evenings alone, cooking his rice and beans and baked potato for dinner in the kitchenette of his condo and then falling asleep by 9:30. "It's worth it," Jerry said. "Definitely worth it."
When he pulled a groin muscle and had to sit out for a couple of days, he didn't complain. Later he hurt a knee and lost two more days. "Part of the game," he said.
After three weeks at Hopman's, Jerry challenged Hopman teaching pro Jim Gray, who played No. 1 at Purdue in the late '80s, to a match. "You get a case of beer if you win a game," said Gray. "Beer for life if you take a set." Jerry was not to get so much as a sip. Love and love, in 40 minutes.
"I know, I'm not mentally tough, that's it," Jerry told me on the phone. "You can't dwell on the negative; you've got to cheer yourself on. Desire isn't enough, fitness isn't enough, strength isn't enough. I gotta say, I take my hat off to anybody who survives on the circuit." Jerry survived all six weeks at Hopman's.
When he got back to New York, he looked like an iron man on the court. He was pumping out first serves that must have hit 90 mph, and his ground strokes were finding the corners. After checking him out at the club, Bernard conceded, "He can beat me. No question."
I told Jerry the moment of truth was at hand: "You gotta deliver with a real win."