This obvious rivalry as much as their skill makes Gonzales and Hoad the invariable "main event" when Kramer comes to town; the young newcomers, good as they are, are only prelims.
Barry MacKay is 25, a big, good-natured Michigan graduate who made the pro ranks on a strong serve and little else. He will never be in the same class with Gonzales and Hoad, and when he considers his tennis future he thinks in terms of three years only, the length of his contract with Kramer. Consequently, he has been investing the money he earns with Vic Seixas, the old Davis Cup war-horse, who now works for a Philadelphia brokerage house.
Butch Buchholz, on the other hand, has an unlimited future. Only 20, he has, tennis people agree, all the strokes to become a superb player. The one thing he lacks right now is maturity. A bad call or an unlucky bounce brings a flush to the boy's face, and where an older man, like Gonzales, often plays better when angry, Buchholz crumbles.
Alex Olmedo—the Chief—is the loner of the troupe and often seems not to care much whether he wins or loses. He travels with the others, but always at a slight distance. At an airport coffee shop, if the others sit at a table, Olmedo sits at the counter. On the plane he goes up front when the others sit in the rear. "The Chief likes to travel incognito," says Olen Parks, another Kramer assistant.
The Chief also likes girls. He talks a good deal about marriage and his ill fortune at being unable to find the right girl. He is always trying to rectify it. On a plane he will ask the stewardess if she can help him. The stewardess will say certainly, what can she do. Olmedo will simply look at her and smile wistfully.
Olmedo's game varies with his mood and the lovesickness of the moment. At his best he can beat anyone, but when his fire is out—and it frequently is—he expires easily. "I can't figure him at all," says McNamara, and neither can anyone else.
The pet of the Kramer tour at the moment and a potential darling of the fans is Gimeno. Tall, slim and loose-jointed, this young Spanish champion looks on the courts like a marionette of Ricardo Montalban worked by a nervous puppeteer. Between strokes he is a quivering collection of twitches but when the play starts he suddenly becomes as graceful as a matador. Off court, he cheers up losers, compliments winners in delightfully broken English and offers helping hands right and left. Gimeno's career as an amateur was not distinguished, but Kramer saw in his powerful serve and fluid ground strokes the ingredients of a future champion whose price might rise, so he signed him quick. But Gimeno, though only 23, does not intend to stay long with pro tennis. He regularly sends a good portion of his earnings back to Barcelona, where his father owns a perfume shop. He is also buying real estate.
"I think in three years, if I do well, then I go back," he said one morning in Philadelphia, resting on his hotel bed. "I think by then I will have had enough of this. It is a tiring life."
That is one point on which all six players will agree. The life of a touring tennis pro is rugged. Every day there is a plane to catch, a hotel to check into, new hands to shake and new arenas to locate. Meals are often taken on the run, in airports and coffee shops. And the players are always tired. The matches rarely end much before midnight. When they are over, most of the players like to eat and enjoy a few beers, for they are too worked up to go directly to sleep. But departure for the next city is usually made at dawn, to allow for the inevitable delays of fogged-in airports and snow-laden highways. So the interval between lights out and reveille is often a matter of minutes.