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Edwin Shrake
March 06, 1972
Mlle. Durr's strokes are bizarre, but she won $65,000 last year and now ranks high on the Virginia Slims tour
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March 06, 1972

A Long Way, B�b�

Mlle. Durr's strokes are bizarre, but she won $65,000 last year and now ranks high on the Virginia Slims tour

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"No. I mean co-ops. People who just want to cooperate with everybody and don't care about winning."

"I didn't realize the country was full of people like that," said the other person, feeling a little cheerier.

"It's full of them," Cutler said.

"I want to beat Nancy, but if I lose..." said Fran�oise.

"You won't lose," Cutler said. He looked again at the other person, whose knowledge of tennis bordered on the primitive—backhand, forehand, serve, run around a bit, partake of cooling liquids, that was about it. "You'd be surprised. I've noticed a tremendous predisposition among the women players about which ones they can beat and which ones they can't. Largely it's been the same women playing each other for the last six or eight years—though there are some good new ones coming up—and they'll remember matches they lost to a certain player three or four years ago. They'll think, 'That girl beat me, she's better than I am,' and they'll go out and lose to her again. For example, Frankie's got this idea that she has a hard time with Nancy Richey Gunter. Billie Jean King thinks she can beat all of them, and they know it, and she wins some matches she should have lost because her opponent will realize late in the match that she's not supposed to beat Billie Jean and will fall apart.

"Last year," said Cutler, "the big book on the women's tour was Psycho-Cybernetics, about how you do something in your mind before you actually free it physically, train your mind and body to perform perfectly, get rid of the idea that maybe you'll fail. The book went through the girls like fire. Frankie read it."

"I read half of it," Fran�oise said with a French accent she fears is becoming Americanized but sounded like a melody in the Oklahoma bar. "Then I put it down. If I am going to play the match over and over in my head, by the time I go onto the court I am too tired to play. I am worn out with thinking about it. I know what I am supposed to do—run Nancy back and forth, back and forth. So I wait until I go onto the court to do it."

"You'll beat her, honey," said Cutler.

"That is the kind of encouragement I need. Not this thing in that book," Fran�oise said.

Early that afternoon the women in the championship flight of the tennis tour had met in the student center at Oklahoma City University to draw for first-round opponents. (There are now close to 50 on the tour but only 16 usually play in the championship flight for the prize money, the others battling each other in two satellite tournaments, called qualifying and preliminary flights, for the right to move up.) The attractive, bouncy Billie Jean King, who at 28 refers to herself as "the old lady" of the tour, was seeded No. 1 in the circuit's point system based on matches won. Frankie Durr, 29, was seeded No. 2. The notion behind seeding is that the two hottest players are placed at the top and bottom of the brackets so that there is a good chance they will meet in the finals.

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