Golenko had a good reason to be pleased. Soviet tennis is fast increasing in popularity, and it is expected that the U.S.- U.S.S.R. match will give it a further boost. There are now 70,000 players in the U.S.S.R., most of them young. Tennis schools pick out children when they are seven years old. Computers figure their reflex times and eye-hand coordination. When they mature, they are put through a rugged series of intra-Soviet tournaments. Only the best are permitted to go abroad.
Tennis is played in such tucked-away corners of the U.S.S.R. as Samarkand, the ancient Moslem city in Uzbekistan, and Vorkuta, known mainly as the place in the northern Urals to which political troublemakers were once banished. The game is developing into a substantial business, with 140,000 tennis rackets being produced each year at factories in Estonia and the Ukraine.
But the big new product is good young players, and Golenko says the best of all are two 14-year-old girls, Svetlana Cherneva and Olga Zaitseva. "Wait until you see them," he smiles. We can't wait.