This spirit is especially important to the Aussies, who rarely get home. Americans can jet back to see their wives easily enough, or even bring them along for a week or two. So, without too much difficulty, can The Others. Roger Taylor of England recently had his wife with him when she was into her seventh month. So the Aussies stay together, the Americans stay together, and The Others, if perhaps only by process of elimination, stay together. In this respect, the tour much resembles any U.S. pro team, where whites and blacks split in separate directions. The only close and lasting friendship that crosses these lines is the one between Marty Riessen of Chicago and Okker, his Dutch doubles partner.
The Australian camaraderie is unique and most manifest in the elementary matters of names. The Aussies tag each other with diminutives and nicknames in much the same way as American preadolescents do. The American players are almost all called exactly what it says on their driver's licenses: Arthur and Cliff and Jeff and so on. And among The Others, only Ismail El Shafei, who is "Easy," regularly goes by his nickname. But virtually every one of the Aussies has an affectionate alias.
Emerson is always Emmo, never Roy; Newcombe is only Newc. And there are Philby, J.A., Hesh and Dave-O. And the descriptive titles: Muscles and Rocket, Boy, Bones and Nails. The Aussies are so close, together so much, that it takes very little time for a new name to stick. Bill Bowrey fell off a horse once a couple of years ago, somebody laughed and called him "Tex," and Tex it is to this day.
But the production of assembly-line Aussies, like Packards and Studebakers, has now halted. Not only has professionalism changed the nature of tennis, but the focus as well. While it remains perhaps the most international of sports, tennis has been increasingly Americanized. Already, the Davis Cup is a quaint diversion, like a week in the country. It takes no great foresight to envision Wimbledon becoming a kind of symbolic headquarters for U.S. tennis, as Delaware is for corporations.
Tennis is not so much shifting to the U.S. as tilting this way. J. B. Priestley once wrote: "I do not know where we are headed, but I'm sure the Americans will be there first." Priestley may have overlooked the fact that Albert Einstein did not hail from Butte, Mont., and Wernher von Braun has not always called Huntsville, Ala. home. These facts have not escaped the tennis pros, though, notably the Australians. "Ahh, the time is running out for us," says Newcombe. "Another live years and America will completely dominate tennis. But we'll keep a hand in," he adds, winking. "By then, all the Americans will be coached by the Australians."
It is already apparent that having a tennis pro who speaks with a broad "a" and chases down wallabies with a boomerang appeals to the same instincts, snob-wise, as having a British secretary speak well-modulated tones into the telephone. Club members can talk about having a genuine British Commonwealth tennis pro in much the same way as they used to boast possession of a Welsh corgi or a French chef.
As for the pros, taking a job in America has two distinct advantages: the money and the things money can buy. Leading the foreign parade to America was none other than old 'arry 'opman 'imself, who is now alive and paying taxes on Long Island. Laver and Emerson are residents of Southern California, long enough for Emerson's children to start losing their accents and say things like, "That's cool, Dad." Former New Zealand No. 1 Lew Gerrard is a pro in Columbia, Md., Newcombe has a tennis ranch outside San Antonio, "Tex" Bowrey has left the tour to take on club duties in Austin, and Owen Davidson is in Houston. Even the girls are in the act. Margaret Smith Court and her family have settled in Boone, N.C. at a new resort club. Drysdale may be the biggest status symbol of them all, since he was selected by WCT itself to represent the Hunt organization's own planned tennis community, Lakeway, outside of Austin.
It is a fair match for both Lakeway and Drysdale; he is the most stylish and articulate of the pros, handsome, jaunty and leggy lean. On court, he wears sexy little belted short shorts. The players call Drysdale Jack or SuperJack, which is derived from the supremely confident self-contained hero of I'm All Right, Jack. Drysdale used to leave the locker room saying "Till tomorrow, boys," and he still says "lovely" instead of "O.K." or "you bet." He possesses the sort of suavity that permits him, for example, while sitting in a loud public place between a bourbon-swilling American cynic and a beer-guzzling Australian comedian, to reach across the table, take his wife's hand tenderly in his, look deep into her eyes and then at last say, "Ahh, my love, I do love you so." And pull it oil".
You try that at the Elks Club some night.
When Drysdale first came onto the world tennis scene there was a tendency for the other players to reject him as too smooth and distant, an appraisal influenced by elements of jealousy because of his good looks and an earned reputation as a powerful ladies' man. In 1967, at Wimbledon, he married Jean Forbes, the tennis equivalent of the girl next door—she was a top South African player, as was her brother—and after he turned pro a few months later, he became a more familiar one-of-the-boys on tour. By now, Drysdale is one of the most popular and respected players in the game, and in recognition of this fact he was elected in September as the first president of the Association of Tennis Professionals, a new PGA-type players' guild, which has the potential to be a major force in the sport.