While Hunt always has been treated as some kind of Texas badlands outlaw by the tennis establishment, his WCT brought style, class, organization and good p.r.—not to mention all those big bucks—to tennis. That's why, even as Hunt was suing them, the players held meetings with him last week and reassured him that as a body they wanted him to remain in the game. A younger player thought it especially "neat" that one of the world's richest men would give them all his home phone number.
The sticky point with Hunt is that the ATP is aligned with the MIPTC rather than being independent of the Grand Prix and WCT circuits. "The ATP-Grand Prix connection is so patently against the antitrust laws, it's ridiculous," says Hunt, who also owns the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. "I've always believed in competition, but this is like the NFL Players Association fielding a team in the NFL. The other side is full of baloney. It's chaos, and it's wrong."
Which pretty much sums up how Lendl feels about McEnroe. "He threw his racket the length of the court in Dallas and got away with it," said Lendl early last week. "I won't put up with it anymore. I'll take matters into my own hands.... But I don't see any realistic chance of him beating Vilas in the semifinals." However, soon after his tirade Lendl, who had ripped apart the T of C in 1982, winning six matches in about the time it takes to count the argyles on his shirt, was gone. He was a third-round victim of the lefthanded, go-for-broke attack of France's 19-year-old Henri Leconte, who won nine straight games en route to a 6-2, 6-3 victory. "Quickest arm I see since Rod Laver," said Leconte's coach, Ion Tiriac. "I'm also happy with his head." Ah, but that's the tricky part. The erratic Leconte doubtless plays more love sets than anybody on tour, both as lover and lovee. In the quarters Johan Kriek took him out 7-5, 3-6 and—c'est la vie—6-0.
Back in the foxholes, McEnroe had refused to pose with Lendl for a photographer. He accused Lendl of "extremely sour grapes." He said racket throwing was only serious if the racket "hit" someone and pointed out that the sainted Ken Rosewall "holds the world record for throwing rackets, but nobody calls him a bad actor. All of a sudden Lendl's cool because he's going to hit me? That shows what a classy person he is. We're in two different worlds. This is what hockey is trying to get away from."
By then it was time for Smid to take up the cudgel from his fallen countryman. Smid was still smarting from his own loss to McEnroe in Dallas. "I stand around while he complains for half an hour," he said. This time he sat around. And sat some more. Every time McEnroe challenged a call, Smid walked off the court and took his seat. Then the two had words across the net. Then Smid spat in McEnroe's direction. Then it got ornery.
In the sixth game McEnroe, "to prove a point," hit a backhand that narrowly missed Smid's clipped moustache. Next Smid ordered that a crying baby be removed from the stands. In the second set Smid hurtled forward to cover a drop volley and drilled a backhand into Mac's ribs. "You'll be sorry the day you hit me," said McEnroe during the changeover. He followed up that remark with the Communist crack that made him sound like the second coming of Joe McCarthy.
McEnroe didn't spare his old sparring partner, Chair Umpire Frank Hammond, either. "I don't want to hear bleep from you," McEnroe said. After Mac's 6-3, 7-5 win, however, the boys were sweetness and light. Smid called McEnroe an indelicate name and McEnroe called Smid a "total jerk."
Vilas, who admitted he actually is a friend of McEnroe's—"We do so many exhibitions together, but I don't get one Bic commercial out of it yet," he said—was the favorite in their match. McEnroe, remember, had won only five games in that humiliating Davis Cup defeat. But on Saturday a vicious swirling crosswind wreaked havoc with Vilas' hole card, his heavy, high-kicking top spin. The wind was so bad that one Vilas mishit sailed above the stadium only to flutter down just inside McEnroe's baseline. A startled Mac meekly tapped back a forehand, whereupon the ball took a squiggly bounce and died. "I wait to nail it," said Vilas, "but the ball disappear."
If the political pooh-bahs and the clay-court aficionados were waiting for WCT and McEnroe to disappear as well, the Tournament of Champions may have been a rude awakening. Though the WCT tour, per se, is no more. Hunt has a new 15-year contract with West Side. As for McEnroe, after winning his semi on Saturday, he smiled and said, "Call Lendl and ask him who beat Vilas." Mac didn't bother to add, "And tell him Johnny Boy will see him in Paris."