A few days before play was to get under way in the 12-and-under division at the Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in Coral Gables, Fla., tournament director Ellen de Tournillon received a telephone call at home from one of the entrants. The lad, a European, had just arrived at the airport with his mother and wanted to know why nobody was there to meet them. De Tournillon explained that the tournament couldn't possibly provide transportation and housing for all the players, something other entrants seemed to understand. Nonetheless, the youngster demanded free transportation, housing and meals. Relenting, de Tournillon picked up mother and child and booked a hotel room for them.
"He started out angry, and he stayed angry," says de Tournillon. "He is a very pushy and spoiled child, who complained about everything and caused a good deal of dissension and disturbance."
Twice the boy was booted off the courts for practicing while matches were being played on adjacent courts. The No. 10 seed in the boys' 12s, he was trailing seventh-seeded Nicholas Barone of Des Plaines, Ill. 6-4, 3-0 when he stormed off, claiming he had been cheated. When de Tournillon offered him a ride to the home at which by now she had arranged for him to stay, the boy blithely informed her that he and his mother had decided to remain at the hotel. Next morning he was scheduled to play a consolation match but left town without informing tournament officials.
And who, pray tell, is this little ray of sunshine? Why, Mihnea Nastase, 12-year-old nephew of the original.
Back when bowl games were fewer and played mostly on New Year's Day, Leo and Linda Speros would've been plain out of luck. But bowls are now played all over the country and the calendar, and the Speroses—he's a Potomac, Md. restaurateur and a onetime Maryland football player—managed last month to see their three sons appear in three different bowls. On Dec. 15 they watched 19-year-old George, a freshman linebacker, play for Temple in its 28-17 victory over California in the Garden State Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J. On Dec. 22 they were in Memphis where 18-year-old Peter, a freshman tackle for Penn State, suited up—but didn't play—in a 9-6 defeat of Tulane. And on Dec. 31 they were in Atlanta to catch Jimmy, 20, a junior guard, in action for Clemson in a 24-18 loss to Baylor.
The Speroses have no other sons (they do have four daughters), so on Jan. 1 they watched the Rose and Orange Bowls on TV at home, presumably with a slightly empty feeling.
A CASE OF NEGLECT
A lawsuit in Canada brought by former Vancouver Defenseman Mike Robitaille against the Canucks raises serious questions about medical practices in professional team sports. British Columbia Supreme Court Justice W. A. Esson found the Canucks guilty of negligence and ordered the club to pay Robitaille $348,000 in damages. In so doing, Esson cast in the harshest possible light the accepted notion that there is something valiant about an athlete playing while injured.