- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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There was no reason that in the long four-set match Olmedo should not have solved the tricky delivery and learned to return it. Yet he never changed tactics. A chipper, particularly off his backhand, the Peruvian
The spin service is not new. Players used it as far back as the early 1900s. One of the cardinal rules of competitive tennis is always to change a losing game. Olmedo should have tried standing back of the line catching the ball at its height, driving instead of chipping on the return.
Jones said he suggested this to Olmedo, but the Inca youngster declined to change. "Alex is a touch player," said Jones, "and he always felt his touch would return."
Jones, of course, had the disadvantage as captain of never having gone through the competitive grind. He is a tennis administrator—a wonderful one—but by his own admission he is not a tactician, and from courtside could not be expected to catch the little faults that are quickly obvious to a man like Hopman, a former Davis Cupper himself.
Hopman deserves immeasurable credit. He did an excellent job of bringing his team of second-stringers and raw youths through the campaign into the challenge round. Ha took his team more than 25,000 miles and played on various surfaces and in various climates in beating Mexico, Canada, Cuba, Italy and India en route to Forest Hills.
The U.S. was derelict in organizing a good pair. Olmedo and Buchholz were teamed after Wimbledon and, while I think they are probably the best we could choose under the circumstances, they should have been forged into a stronger team. For one thing, they might have been paired earlier so they could learn to play together better. For another, Olmedo might have been more effective playing the forehand court, as he did with Ham Richardson last year. Hopman himself expressed private fears that Olmedo might be shifted to his more familiar station.
He was surprised that our team did not use more imagination. Olmedo, still plagued by Fraser's service, played poorly. He didn't poach and cut off enough shots. Buchholz, whose tension in such circumstances is excusable, made too many errors and wild gambles instead of playing percentage doubles.
While losing so decisively, the American team might have tried formation changes which worked so effectively in the past—such as the scissors play used by Vic Seixas and Tony Trabert in their big upset victory in 1953 or the tandem that Olmedo and Richardson sprang on Fraser last year. In serving to Fraser in the backhand court the netman on the Olmedo-Richardson team stood on the same side as the server, nullifying Fraser's crisp cross-court return.
Olmedo played better tennis-but not his best—in his Sunday match against Laver, the bowlegged Queenslander who had set points in each of the sets he lost Alex still showed lapses in concentration. At times he was brilliant, particularly in clutch spots, but at other times his play was shaky. Once in the third set—at a critical stage—he had Laver completely out of position and he tried a difficult stop volley. The ball hit the net cord and bounced back. There were other safer shots he might have tried. This was the Olmedo of the 1959 challenge round, tentative and unsure. A clue to what was wrong may be found in James Murray's study of him on the next page.