- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
How's that for history? Or how's this? Nobody ever won Dallas without first having won either a Grand Slam title or the Grand Prix Masters. Indeed, the WCT roster of winners reads like a Who's Who of the sport over the past decade: Smith, Newcombe, Ashe, Borg, Connors, Gerulaitis.
This year Hunt enlarged his event in a couple of ways, with mixed results. By moving out of Moody Coliseum, the cozy little (9,000 seats) brick shack on the SMU campus, and into the glistening new Reunion Arena, closer to downtown and hard by a glamorous high-rise hotel complex, WCT nearly doubled its seating capacity. By beginning the matches on Monday night, WCT stretched what is basically a four-day tournament to an unduly long seven days. Given the field of Connors, McEnroe and six other fellows who might have arrived in Big D under cover of darkness for all anybody cared, a four-hour tournament is what it would turn out to be.
Simply because there is so much tennis money floating around, so many tournaments and, more to the point, so many of what the players refer to as "four-mans"—which are nothing more than half-effort exhibitions stacked with upfront appearance dollars—many of the name players chose to skip many of the eight WCT qualifying events.
Borg and Roscoe Tanner played in one apiece. Thanks a lot, boys. Harold Solomon, Gene Mayer and the P.E. (Prince of Exhibitions), Victor Pecci, made all of two. The improving Spaniard, Jose Higueras, showed up for three. While Vilas, Wojtek Fibak, Stan Smith, Eddie Dibbs, Brian Gottfried and Vitas Gerulaitis played in four WCT tournaments, they didn't exactly sweat to make Dallas when push came to shove.
Connors and McEnroe were old hands in the WCT finals, but the other six players were newcomers. Because all of them will be around long after Ilie Nastase has dropped his pants for the last time, here are capsule biographies of Dallas' Secret Six.
? Vijay Amritraj . Middle of three tennis-playing brothers from Madras, India. Only 26, has been around nearly as long as Indira Gandhi, a family friend. Enjoying best year since 1973 when reached quarterfinals of Wimbledon and U.S. Open as teen-ager. Has beaten Connors, Gerulaitis, Vilas and Dibbs of Top Ten. Graceful, elegant, popular. Not exactly brimming with dedication. Pulls out of tournaments with "mental fatigue." Probably from Hollywood parties. Runs with Vince Van Patten, Farrah, that crowd. Squired Star Trek's Persis Khambatta to Academy Awards. Lives in Marina Del Rey. You get the picture. Wouldn't be caught dead in a madras jacket.
?John Sadri. The 1978 NCAA runner-up to McEnroe. Entered court wearing blazer, cowboy hat and vestiges of shaved-head Mohawk look to standing O from classmates at North Carolina State. Served 24 aces. At 23, a late bloomer, or boomer. Finalist in Australian Open, semifinalist at Pro Indoors in Philly. Arnold Schwarzenegger in tennis whites. A monster server who goes for it on second delivery as well. Still too stiff on the volley. Off court, explores caves and drives Ferrari 142 mph. Almost as fast as serve. Known as "the Mad Marine" or "GI Joe." McEnroe says, "A funky, Southern, maniac, macho dude."
? Ivan Lendl . Whisper this: the next great player. Barely 20, out of Ostrava, Czechoslovakia. Not connected to the Prague contingent of Jan Kodes and all those Czech women—Navratilova, Marsikova, Tomanova, Mandlikova. At Washington Indoors beat Tanner but blew lead in final to Victor Amaya. Last month blitzed field—Higueras, Gottfried, Dibbs—to win Houston on clay without losing set. Vicious, flaming forehand. Dangerous backhand pass. Solid technique all around, just lacks strategy. Tall (6'2"), gangly; clipped hair of a punk rocker. Pronounces first name "Evonne." Wears funny two-tone, beige-and-yellow sneakers with black laces, two wristbands per wrist ("I am sweating so much"), striped shirts like cyclist. If he passes up Tour de France, will be real threat on European dirt this summer.
?Heinz Gunthardt. Came yodeling out of Zurich in 1976 as best junior in world, then ran in place for long time. Handsome, articulate and 21 years old. Rumor was he signed with Mark McCormack too early. Fell in love with money and self. Plastered name on car, drove through Alps countryside, became household name across those mountains. Stylish, rangy, but undisciplined, flaky. In 1978 at Springfield, Mass. became only player ever to be defeated in qualifying, get in main draw as substitute and then win tournament as "lucky loser." Last week appeared lucky to be alive after McEnroe put so many holes through him (6-2, 6-1, 6-0) he could have passed for Swiss cheese.
? Bill Scanlon , 23. Dallas' own. Richardson High School's own. Has made career out of whipping Peter Fleming in tournament finals: 1976 NCAAs, 1978 Maui, 1979 Maui. Players say he bears down in Hawaii, relaxes everywhere else. Seems confused. Natural, flowing strokes. Magnificent backhand. Gives away ton of points with casual demeanor. Guitar-playing has earned him friends in music world such as George Benson, the Eagles. " Billy the Kid is riding again on the plains of Texas," he said before taking Connors to two tie-breakers in Dallas. But—no hula skirts, no inspiration—he came up empty, just as he did to same man in Wimbledon quarterfinals last summer. One of these nights....