A couple of weeks later, they arrived in Palm Springs to play at the Tennis Club. The place was jam-packed with people who had come to see the new champion. By now, Hoad was up 18-9. He was starting to pour it on. It was late February 1958, a cold desert night.
Hoad never really loosened up, and Gorgo beat him. The next morning, Hoad woke up with a stiff back. He went to Phoenix and played there and lost again. The same thing in Albuquerque, then El Paso. Gorgo started to get his confidence back. Hoad needed three or four days of rest to get the stiffness out, and we were playing every night. In about three weeks Gonzales had caught up with him, and then he ran away. From 9-18, he won the tour 51-36.
That was the last tour to make any real money. Hoad made $148,000, 1958 dollars; Pancho made over $100,000. We tried Hoad-Gonzales again, but it was no contest. We tried everything: tournaments, round robins, a six-man tour (we brought in Anderson and Cooper that year). We tried a rule where the players couldn't volley until the ball had crossed the net three times. Nothing worked. We had all the best players, but the public didn't want to see them.
In a way, we were successful, in that we had more top players than ever before. Around 1959-60 I had seven players making more than $50,000—and how many baseball and football players were making that then? But there was no acceptance for our players. The conservative and powerful amateur officials were secure. Among other things, they had succeeded in making me the issue. If you were for pro tennis, you were in favor of handing over all of tennis to Jack Kramer. That was the argument.
It was always just a handful of us, hanging onto the wreckage. Segura was with me the longest. He was always second banana, but he gave it everything, and he made a good living. He must have cleared $50,000 or more seven or eight years running in the '50s—even if he never was the glamour boy with the big payday. If Segoo had any resentments, he let them show only twice. Both times he had a couple of drinks in him, too.
The first occasion, I remember, was in Johannesburg. I had refused to play South Africa until they guaranteed Segoo, who is dark-skinned, the same treatment as the rest of us. Maybe that's why I remember it was Jo'burg where he got mad at me. He said. "Your system is unfair, Jack. You never believed we should get away from the star system."
"You're wrong, Segoo," I said. "We tried everything, but the fans only wanted the stars." We argued some more, but to no conclusion.
Then, at the end, in 1962, when I volunteered to leave the sport, to give up my power, to free pro tennis of Jack Kramer so that nobody could use me as a red herring any longer, Segura came at me again one night. "You're running out on us, Jack," he said.
"No," I said—but wearily, this time, the fight having gone out of me. "I tried everything and nothing ever worked. I've got to leave, or we'll never see an open game." It took another six years, but then they opened it up and all the good things happened to tennis that we'd always figured would happen.