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"Right now probably John."
For the most part the hard core of Ritzenberg's tennis following is made up of those who came to town or prominence during the Kennedy and early Johnson administrations and who have continued to hang around either because they enjoyed the amenities or are waiting for the political wheel to take another turn.
Though for the moment it may lack some of the high-court glitter it had a decade ago, Washington tennis has proved to be more than a passing fad. The game established itself on a very high plateau of popularity, influence and, in a business way, affluence. There are now some 100 indoor courts in the Washington area and who knows how many public and private courts outdoors.
"We turned an old warehouse into courts last year," Ritzenberg says. "This hardly provides elegant ambience but the courts are well-surfaced with AstroTurf. Also they have very low humidity; in fact, the building may even be a little drafty. Moisture has been a problem on some other indoor courts—among other things, hairdos fall apart. I called Maxine Cheshire at the Post and she ran a paragraph or so that said these courts were so dry you could play without wrapping a towel around your head. We sold $15,000 of court time in three days—mostly to women."
At the 10-court St. Albans Club, which remains Ritzenberg's headquarters, the waiting list for one of the 300 or so memberships is so long that there may not be an opening for 10 years. However, exceptions are made for exceptionally congenial people. The exact membership requirements, in addition to a $250 a year contribution, have always been flexible, but some indication of the St. Albans congeniality test may be indicated by the following:
Ritzenberg's office and pro shop is in a kind of pillbox overlooking the courts.
"So," says Ritzenberg, answering the phone, "how are things at Common Cause? Good. Thursday? Let me look. Maybe we can work you in just before lunch. Kit's canceled out. She's going to Montego."
An assistant is opening the mail, specifically an envelope with a Senate Office Building return address. "What kind of a Senator is so-and-so? He wants in."