know which side his backhand is?"
knew all these things. That helped. We weren't playing big-time (or even
medium-time) tennis, but I couldn't have asked for a better season. Six
opponents were on the schedule, and we beat them all. None of them—Tufts,
Babson and Merrimack were the toughest—could have taken a set from the UCLA
kitchen help, yet a win is a win is a win, as Stein used to say—Morry Stein,
the Brandeis fullback of that time.
Abbie Hoffman was
extremely useful during the defeatless campaign. I've always felt that we
couldn't have done it without him, a sentiment seconded by the Chicago Police
Department in 1968 after Abbie and his crowd inspired the Windy City's finest
to unloose their best overhead smashes.
Stocky, nimble and
highly competitive, Abbie won all his singles matches, which was a good thing,
because he and I got along as well as he and Judge Julius Hoffman did during
Abbie's trial alongside Jerry Rubin, Rennie Davis and the rest of the Chicago
Seven. He didn't care for authority of any kind. As the only senior, Abbie
informed me he'd been elected captain by the previous year's team and was in
charge. I replied that the coach was in charge. Everybody started equal—no
captain. That infuriated him. He seethed all spring, and we communicated warmly
through sneers. But communication was unnecessary because he also seethed at
opponents and beat them one after another, more by the strength of his
determination than his strokes. Sadly, I must tell you there was nothing
revolutionary about Abbie's style. If anything (sorry to reveal this, Abbie),
he bordered on the reactionary, believing that every ball should be returned
safely over the net. He played like a cop—Inspector Javert?—doggedly pursuing
It worked, and the
coach was pleased. How could I know then that his training on the playing
fields of Brandeis would carry over onto the battlefields of Chicago? The Duke
of Wellington would have understood.
If Abbie had
showed at the team reunion, the guys would have filled him in on the seasons
following his graduation. Our situation improved. Though we didn't go unbeaten
again, we won more matches each year as the schedule expanded, interest
increased and the school furnished more courts and better equipment. Moreover,
we began to take prestigious season-opening junkets, known in college sports as
Ah, those Southern
trips. A seeker of palm trees and grits may be disappointed upon arriving in
New Brunswick, N.J. We were when they appeared on neither the horizon nor the
menu as we explored the Rutgers campus at the climax of one of those glorious
journeys southward. New Brunswick was as south as we got.
exposure," moaned Alan Lotterman, a New Yorker. "I could almost get
here from home by subway, Coach. Harvard and Princeton go to Florida. MIT goes
to the Carolinas. Amherst goes to...."
progress, Lotterman," said I. "At least you won't get sunstroke. It's
3� warmer here than in Waltham, and we're closer to the Mason-Dixon Line than
we were on our last stops, aren't we?" They had been Kings Point, N.Y. and
Rutherford, N.J., where we had defeated the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and
Fairleigh Dickinson, respectively. "It's progress, Lotterman."
seeking to be conciliatory (and recognizing my power as keeper of the lunch
money) soothed his teammate, "Yeah, Lotterman, it's better than the trip we
took to Maine two years ago, when we got snowed out at Bowdoin and