Riordan coached the Wicomico High tennis team to a 58-4 record. He organized massive junior tournaments and sent to the state tournament good young players who came back champions. He started invitational eight-man weekend events, and the town became a hotbed of tennis activity for adults as well as children. During this period Riordan founded the Eastern Shore Tennis Association, was active in the Middle Atlantic Lawn Tennis Association ( MALTA) and was elected a delegate to the USLTA in 1964, the same year he brought the National Indoors to Salisbury.
That tournament was a landmark event in more ways than one. Sports Network televised it coast to coast and the announcer did a lengthy interview with Riordan. The announcer was Jack Kramer. A first-round loser in the tournament was Donald Dell.
With MALTA and the new indoor tournaments as his power base, Riordan became the strongest single figure in the USLTA. Certainly he was the smartest, although even then this was not considered that terrific a compliment. At one time he was a member of 11 USLTA committees. His players competed on both the Caribbean circuit and in some of his indoor events and he cemented relations with foreign players, especially South Americans and East Europeans.
" Riordan realized the key was getting close to the players," says Dell. "He was a damn good promoter and always treated everybody well."
In more recent years, however, some foreign stars have complained about Riordan. Ray Moore, the self-professed hippie from South Africa, claims Riordan barred him from the indoor circuit because of his outspoken opinions against U.S. marijuana laws. Patricio Cornejo, a Chilean, accuses Riordan of reneging on an agreement to let him play some U.S. tournaments. Jaime Fillol of Chile and Gerald Battrick of England speak of Riordan's carelessness regarding tax withholding money. Most recently Jan Kodes of Czechoslovakia says Riordan defaulted on part of a guarantee promised him for appearing on the indoor circuit last winter.
Underneath Riordan's bluster and verbosity, he is a devoted family man—his son is a junior at the University of Utah; a married daughter works in the physics lab at MIT. He is, moreover, a man of sharp intellect and simple tastes, who quotes Shakespeare and Donne, wears rumpled suits, drives a used Dodge and has an outrageous sense of humor. He once used his own home to stage a fiendish gag on what he considered the uppity social set of Salisbury. This was a fraudulent "musicale" to which 300 of the town's finest were invited. Properly wined and primed, the unsuspecting guests then sat in shock as a Riordan conspirator, posing as "the distinguished pianist from the Peabody School in Baltimore, Dr. Franz Hauptfmann," proceeded to play Jingle Bells while downing huge slugs from a bottle of Scotch.
Another time Riordan informed Dell, a student at Virginia Law who played Salisbury twice, that a bevy of beauty contestants was staying on the top floor of the players' hotel, but that the sponsoring Jaycees had been assured that there would be no monkey business. After midnight Dell was discovered poking around the attic with a flashlight in a vain search for the fabricated lovelies.
Riordan's most treasured inventions have centered on a fictitious player, Stanley Stampenzak, the great Polish junior champion, about whom he would regale his junior players for hours. Stampenzak was a dangerous sort who would arrive at his matches via Air Warsaw wearing a Nazi war helmet, swig from a thermos of vodka and coldcock anybody who got in his way. Since Stampenzak was always being suspended for terrorizing linesmen and opponents, nobody ever got a glimpse of him, but few are the pros now on the tour who did not fear Stanley in their youth. Brian Gottfried says, "I believed in Stanley for two years. Then I talked to somebody who said he played him in a tournament. The dummy gave me the wrong date."
Not only Dell, but Ashe—the current president of ATP—and most everybody else were friendly with Riordan back then. He was especially gifted in under-the-table handouts and, Ashe remembers, he sometimes rewarded a player who had had a good tournament with extra cash.
"The one picture I have of Riordan," says Ashe, "is him peeling some $100 bills off his wad, and saying, 'First class, first class' out of the side of his mouth. Other promoters paid you on the sly because it was illegal. Riordan made a show of it, acted like he was granting a favor and never looked you in the eye."