A CALL FOR HELP
Not for the first time in history, Britain has decided to "go it alone," this time in the field of tennis. The momentous decision to remove the words "amateur" and "professional" from British rules was taken last week by the council of the Lawn Tennis Association. Out of 67 votes cast, 61 were in favor of restoring honesty to the game. Starting in January, all British tournaments, from the Wimbledon championships down, will be open to all who care or dare to enter. "Shamateur" under-the-counter expenses will cease. Agreed amounts will be paid openly. Cash prizes will become commonplace.
But Britain stands in all but utter isolation. Not one of the other 83 member countries of the International Lawn Tennis Federation has offered assurance of support, other than moral. There were cheers from South Africa, Sweden and Australia's John Newcombe, Wimbledon champion, who said that "at the moment" he favored playing at Wimbledon next year. But Newcombe is reported considering an offer to turn professional, anyway.
On the other side, Giorgio de Stefani, president of the ILTF, made it clear that any overseas amateur competing in British tournaments will face almost certain suspension in 83 countries. And the 84th country, Britain, must herself be suspended at the ILTF meeting in July, unless last year's overwhelming vote against open tennis changes to one of endorsement.
So Britain desperately needs allies. Even glorious Wimbledon could not survive more than two or three years with entries that are composed almost entirely of second-and third-rate home players plus a handful of top-line professionals like Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. For such help, it is to the U.S. that British eyes now are turned. Since formation of the ILTF in 1913 Britain and America have exercised a profound and benevolent influence on the other, less-experienced and less-sophisticated tennis-playing nations.
Now shamateurism, to which they submitted for far too long, is undermining their authority, and Britain is bravely bidding to re-establish moral leadership.
It is up to the U.S. to recognize the inevitable. Soon it will be open tennis or none of any interest at all.
A hydroplane pilot and avid fisherman, Bob Schroeder of Buffalo, N.Y. was in Seattle for a race and wanted to avail himself of the good fishing there, but his schedule made it difficult.
So he devised a method of fishing by telephone. He baited a hook, tied his line to the bedpost, looped it around the telephone receiver and dropped it out the window of his hotel room on Puget Sound. The idea was that if he got a strike in absentia the tug of the line would pull the phone receiver off its cradle and, when he checked by calling his room, he would get a busy signal.