STATE OF U.S. TENNIS
What a powerful story (The Great American Disappearing Act, Dec. 15)! As a former junior tennis player I agree 110% with Frank Deford. I fell into the same "yuppie" trap as did so many other American tennis players. As a college graduate with a comfortable job, I have lost the drive that I had in the juniors, when I played at least six days a week. It is sad but so true that we Americans are satisfied merely with good performance on the athletic field and are not hungry enough to reach down and sacrifice to achieve No. 1.
In defense of my former partner Nick Bollettieri and his coaching philosophy, I would like to point out that Jimmy Arias, Carling Bassett, Aaron Krickstein, Chip Hooper, Rodney Harmon, Eric Korita, Kathleen Horvath et al. achieved their highest level of international ranking while students at the Bollettieri academy, or shortly afterward. Who is to say that their decline as players was a result of their baseline style of play? Perhaps Nick's method of coaching Arias and Krickstein—i.e., building on their strengths—would have ensured them a higher international ranking when their minds and bodies matured and they were able to raise their level of play and add pace to their already patented forehands. Personally, I feel they left the academy too soon, before Nick had a chance to prepare the final chapter of their young careers.
I wholeheartedly agree with Deford concerning the USTA's lack of leadership at the international level of play. Therein lies the American problem.
MIKE DEPALMER SR.
Men's Tennis Coach
University of Tennessee
So American tennis aficionados worry that multimillion-dollar endorsements have taken away some of the top players' incentive. The U.S. men's volleyball team has dominated the world for three straight years without megabuck prizes and budgets but still completed the Triple Crown by defeating the Soviets in the world championships in October. So why doesn't tennis find some athletes with the will to excel, like our volleyball players, who would love to star on ESPN but will not settle for 35th best?
LASZLO KIRALY, M.D.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
? Dr. Kiraly is the father of U.S. volleyball star Karch Kiraly (A Tiger On Beach And Court, June 2).—ED.
It may well be that yuppification is destroying the moral fiber of the country, though it must be offered in their defense that yuppies represent one of our nation's smallest and hardest-working (if egregiously self-centered) minorities. More likely, Deford has simply fallen victim to yet another strain of the Golden Age syndrome.
If Deford is searching for the Big Parallel (the decline of tennis and the decline of our manufacturing industries? a weak backhand and a lack of parental discipline?), his metaphorical reach has exceeded his grasp. After all, it was the generation of managers now nearing retirement that presided over all that.
A more credible explanation—although it lacks the cosmic dimension—may be that today's mothers, fearful of unleashing another McMonster, are steering their children into more gentlemanly enterprises. Like hockey.
New York City
SUPER BOWL LOBSTERS
Many football enthusiasts have been placing orders with us to ship live Maine lobsters to their homes in late January. I don't profess to know much about this Super Bowl competition, but these fellas sure don't know a dang thing about cooking and preparing lobster. I'm on the boat most of the time, and my two staffers have phones hanging from their ears. We have plenty of lobsters but not a whole lot of time to give each and every football man a recipe. I would be mighty appreciative if you would pass along these directions for cooking lobster and our recipe for a cold lobster spread. That's what most seem to be asking for.