After the Rose match it was difficult to get any work done at all. There was a flood of phone calls from well-wishers who as often as not wondered if I had any spare tickets. I must have given the ladies at the office switchboard a headache. In between calls, I tried to figure out how to play Holmberg, a man I had not beaten in three years. I consider Ron to be the most talented strokemaker in the game, and I am not alone. This opinion, plus the fact that I had never reached the fourth round at Forest Hills before, did not make me optimistic. The only ray of hope came when my wife told me she had learned fourth hand that Linda Holmberg, Ron's wife, had said that her husband was concerned about playing me because "Gene has been using that steel thing, and he really has a lot of confidence in it."
The match lasted five sets, which somehow I knew it would after we had played only a set and a half. At one point I remember thinking that even if I lost I should be satisfied because I had played well. Later, however, all the old circuit venom must have started flowing, for I started thinking about national rankings—something that hadn't entered my mind in two years—and how a win over another American is the single most important factor in gaining a high ranking. I realized that I wanted to win very much and, leading 5-4 in the final set, one good retrieve plus a bad bounce against Ron gave me the victory. It was one of the most satisfying wins of my life.
My appearance at work on Friday was only token. By now all my colleagues in the office knew what was up, and when I left for the courts they wished me luck.
"I'll need it," I thought. My opponent was Owen Davidson, a member of the Australian Davis Cup squad and a man against whom I had never even won a set. Davidson is a circuit regular, playing around the world all year long. Worse, he is left-handed, and even when I was playing well I had trouble with lefthanders. And yet for some reason I was confident. "Anyone who has gotten this far can win," I told myself, another Scott theory.
Graebner and Emerson had not yet started playing on the stadium court, and so our match in the grandstand drew a capacity crowd. I won the first set, but Davidson quickly took the lead in the second. Then his concentration seemed to falter—I wouldn't have blamed him if he was overconfident—and suddenly he was in danger of losing the second set. "If he does," I remember thinking, "he may just toss it in." Lose the second set he did, and while he certainly did not give up—he had a set point against me in the third—I was able to win in three straight sets. It was difficult to believe, but I had reached the semifinals and would play John Newcombe, the Wimbledon champion.
I didn't have long to bask in the glory of my victory. As friend after friend offered congratulations, Merrill edged her way up to me, gave me a kiss and said: "We're due at Andrea's bridal dinner at 8." And so instead of telling newsmen some more of my old tennis theories, I showered, changed and spent the evening listening to some nice lady tell me about her lawyer-husband, who had recently gone to work in the underwriting department of a brokerage house downtown.
When we got home we found a pile of telegrams. One, from Dick Savitt, a regular practice partner, said: HAVE ARMORY COURT SUNDAY AT FIVE. NEED WIN OVER NATIONAL CHAMPION. BRING SOME GOOD USED BALLS NOT TOO GREEN. GOOD LUCK. SAV.
Saturday morning we faced a major crisis. Merrill's shoes for the wedding had not arrived. Listening to her handle the saleslady at Altman's fired my competitive spirit for my match with Newcombe. The wedding itself posed another problem, especially if the match went more than three sets. Newcombe and I were due to start around one. Merrill, who was a bridesmaid, was supposed to be dressed and at the church by 3:30, and the church was 10 miles from center court.
Thanks to John Newcombe, Merrill made the wedding in plenty of time. Though I had a few chances to break his serve, I was never able to, and after he won the first set he gained confidence and momentum. He won the next two sets without much trouble, and it was over as suddenly as it had begun. All during the match I was having so much fun that I could not believe I was losing. When it was over, I shook John's hand, wished him luck and hurried down the gray-gravel path toward the clubhouse. It had been a good tournament, a lot longer tournament than I had planned on, and while it would have been nice if it had lasted one day longer, I had no regrets.
Andrea had a nice wedding, too.