A couple of boys from Sydney were banging the ball around at Forest Hills last Sunday. It was a friendly game between nonseeds—"hackers" they call each other—and during the match the wife of one of them left to call the babysitter back at the hotel. She returned just in time to see her husband, Fred Stolle, crowned champion of Sydney, of non-seeds and of the United States.
Stolle has made a successful career of finishing second, but it was only natural that when he finally won a big one it would be the U.S. nationals. Lock up enough monkeys with typewriters and one of them will write Hamlet: unleash enough Australians with rackets at Forest Hills and one will win the tournament. Stolle's win over his Sydney neighbor, John Newcombe, was not, however, a particularly inspiring one. Both their powerful services were too dominant. During one stretch, service was held for 30 straight games and for 30 of 31 points. Newcombe weakened slightly, though, and Stolle's mastery of lob and overhead was enough for him to win 4-6, 12-10, 6-3, 6-4.
In women's play, Maria Bueno of Brazil won her fourth U.S. title, this time over Nancy Richey of San Angelo, Texas. Nancy's grudge match with the other top U.S. woman, Billie Jean King, never transpired, because Mrs. King was beaten by a young Australian, Kerry Melville. Nancy beat Miss Melville in the semis to give her a TKO over Mrs. King, but in any case neither of them was the best U.S. girl. That honor went to 17-year-old Rosemary Casals, who lost in the semis to Miss Bueno after taking her to three sets. Miss Casals, who is only 5 feet 2, looks like the best young prospect since Maureen Connolly.
In the men's division there were no bright new U.S. faces like Miss Casals, and no bright old ones either. It was the same old result, except that to break up the tedium the Australians every now and then get someone new to sing September Song. This year their domination—and the U.S. inadequacy—in the U.S. Nationals was more pronounced than usual. By the quarter-finals five Australians and only one American—Clark Graebner—were left, and Graebner was staggering with the flu. Stolle expeditiously eliminated him in straight sets, thus completing a neat rout of the U.S. Davis Cup team by its Australian counterpart. Previously Owen Davison had beaten Cliff Richey, Roy Emerson had beaten Marty Riessen, Newcombe had trounced Arthur Ashe and Stolle had dispensed with Dennis Ralston.
Yet another Aussie, Bill Bowrey, reached the quarters. He defeated last year's runner-up, Cliff Drysdale, and went out only after five sets against the defending champion and the world's top-ranked player, Manuel Santana. The only Australian disappointment was left-handed Tony Roche. He lost to Mark Cox, a blond, curly-haired Briton who recently graduated from Cambridge and is just beginning to fully concentrate on tennis.
But Newcombe rallied to take care of Cox in the quarters. Indeed, once he had dispatched Ashe, Newcombe became the Aussie in charge of conquering the world. Besides Cox, he also eliminated Wilhelm Bungert of Germany and then, in the semifinals, Santana of Spain.
Stolle's victory continued an impressive tradition of Australian clutch wins. In the millennium that the USLTA swearshas been only 11 years—since Tony Trabert won the nationals by beating Lew Hoad in the semis and Ken Rosewall in the finals—20 Aussies have reached the semifinals at Forest Hills, and not one of them has lost either his semifinal or final match except to another Australian. During the same period, 11 Americans have reached the semis, and only one of them—Frank Froehling in 1963—gained the finals, where he lost, of course.
The cold figures of U.S. frustration and Australian glory are overwhelming. Consider these simple statistics: 12.5% of all players who participate in the round of 16 (the fourth round) will qualify for the finals. But in this Dark Age of U.S. tennis hardly 1% of U.S. players who have made the "16s" have lasted to the finals. In short, we are 1 for 83. On the other hand, of the 38 Aussies who have made this round, 17 of them, 44.7%, have won their way to the finals.
The statistics of head-on combat are even more embarrassing. Counting all matches since 1956 in the fourth, quarter-final, semifinal and final rounds, U.S. and Australian players have met each other 49 times. The Australians have won 38 of these, for a devastating .775 win percentage, which is good enough in most years to win the American League, the National League, the Run for the Roses and Cook County, Illinois. Moreover, the later the round, the better the Australians. They are 12-3 over us in the quarters, 7-0 in the semis.
Despite these devastating statistics, the USLTA persists in overlooking most Australians, while seeding Americans on a first-star-I-see-tonight basis. This year Ashe, Graebner and Richey were seeded fifth, seventh and eighth, while Stolle, Newcombe and Davidson were all ignored. (In 1957, the last time a nonseed—Australian Mal Anderson—won, U.S. players were seeded 2, 4, 6, 7, 8.) But in proving once again that they cannot evaluate players any better than they can produce them, the USLTA succeeded in getting the Aussies hopped up for the event.