In Miami last week one of the most traveled men of the year, California's Perry Jones, tucked the Davis Cup under one arm and Alex Olmedo under the other and boarded a plane for Peru. Jones's immediate mission was to fulfill a promise to exhibit the cup in Lima (SI, Jan. 19) and to hand over Alex for a hero's homecoming.
Next comes another trip for Perry Jones—to New York for the April 4 meeting of the lawn tennis fathers and the gospel Jones is ready to preach, i.e., that the West Coast deserves to be picked for the 1959 cup defense and that Pasadena's Rose Bowl is the place for it.
Officially, of course, the Westerners who dominate the USLTA are scrupulously insisting that nothing can be settled until the April 4 meeting. "We are engaged," says President Victor Denny of Seattle, "in a most comprehensive study of possible sites. And there are several under consideration." Full marks to Mr. Denny for his thoroughness, but the West Coast has been far too shy about the merits of its case.
The West Coast deserves to have the cup defense this summer, and here are a few reasons why; 1) every one of the 18 past American cup defenses has been in the East, 2) this year, as always, the East gets the national singles and doubles, 3) Alex Olmedo is a product of the southern California tennis system, 4) tennis is a national game.
There are even first-class fiscal reasons for moving the defense to the Coast. "The Davis Cup comes too close to the national championships," said a Forest Hills figure the other day. "If the challenge round were held here [before the national singles] the revenue for the nationals would certainly nosedive." Another way of saying it is that the West Coast has a big, untapped and deserving audience for such a defense.
There are financial hurdles to surmount before the Rose Bowl can be made ready for tennis. Jones estimates that to build, seed and nurture championship grass courts (nobody is seriously considering playing on concrete) will cost $18,000 and that crowds of 15,000 to 20,000 a day will be necessary to meet expenses.
We have faith in the enthusiasm and imagination of California tennis fans and can think of a few of them offhand who could subscribe the $18,000 over the weekend.
In fact the Californians might take an even more ambitious step and decide to build a new tennis stadium on the scale of some of those in Australia, or at least on the scale of that bastion of the East, Forest Hills. If they begin right away, in the spirit of the good old Seabees, the Californians could have a stadium ready by late summer.
In the same spirit, why shouldn't Texans (assuming the cooperation of Alex Olmedo) be building a stadium for the 1960 defense? There is a thought here for Chicago, Denver and Seattle, too.