In a dramatic change from the regime of the intense Ralston, Trabert ran a thoroughly casual camp. Once, spotting the U.S. team playing touch football (in past years, a no-no), Trabert inquired when somebody was going to "run a stop-and-go pattern." He also kept reminding everyone about "a 4 a.m. curfew for the boys in blue."
"I think Tony realized we've done enough on our own that he couldn't come in here and teach us how to win the Davis Cup," said Tanner. "He knows this is our team as much as his."
Venezuela, the first hurdle to the cup, turned out to be a fascinating conglomeration. There was the Cura�aoan, Hose, whose name is pronounced like the Spanish Jos� ("In Venezuela, though, it is Hose just like a water hose because if it was Jos�, they think my name backwards, Jos� Humphrey," he tried to explain). There was Jorge Andrew, Hose's former teammate at Corpus Christi College in Texas; blond Freddy Winckleman, a senior at Maryland; and Captain Angel Gracia, a veterinarian who participated in the first transplant of a cornea from dog to man.
Gracia was asked what kind of dog it was, Seeing Eye?
"No," he said, "was mixer dog."
"Of course," said a journalist. "Was Seeing Eye man."
The Venezuelan captain expressed confidence his team would handle the U.S. because, as he put it, "The balls are round, and Connors, in big ones, had pathological tensions."
"You know something?" said Riordan. "I think he's right."
After Tanner bombarded Andrew with his southpaw ballistic missiles, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 ("I don't see none of those serves few times," said the Venezuelan), Connors polished off Hose and declared, "I'm taking the game more seriously. I don't care about being the best in 1975. I want to be the best ever. It is important to me to be a legend by the time I'm 30."
The next day van Dillen and Stockton defeated Hose and Andrew 6-2, 6-2, 7-5 in 80 minutes to wrap up the win for the U.S. and start the team packing—probably to head for Mexico City and a revenge match in either December or January.