In the last few years the United States Lawn Tennis Association has been heavily criticized for its failure to assist and develop young players. A lot of the criticism has come from me. For that reason, as well as others, I'm particularly happy to report now that the U.S.L.T.A. seems to have hit on a sound and workable solution to our major tennis problem. That problem, of course, is how to get players who can beat Australia.
On Aug. 10 the U.S.L.T.A. announced the formation of a "Junior Davis Cup and Special Training Squad." Certainly not a simple title—I shall hereafter refer to it as "J.D.C."—but a good plan nonetheless; and happily, a plan already in operation.
The seed for the J.D.C. program was sown last January by former World Champion Jack Kramer, who was asked for comment on the lickings we had taken in Australia. Kramer said he felt the U.S. did not have an effective junior development program. He proposed that the country be "combed" for promising players by tennis experts and that, once found, these boys be systematically and effectively coached.
The important thing is that Kramer did more than talk. He offered his services to the U.S.L.T.A. in organizing the national search, and volunteered to coach the youths finally chosen. The Lawn Tennis Association accepted. Late in July, Kramer attended the National Junior Tennis Tournament in Kalamazoo, Mich., and there, on the final day, he selected the program's first eight boys. The squad, with all members between 16 and 18 years old, includes: Arthur Andrews, Iowa City, Iowa; Donald Dell, Bethesda, Md.; Jon Douglas, Santa Monica, Calif.; Mike Franks, Los Angeles, Calif.; Mike Green, Miami Beach, Fla.; Ronald Holmberg, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Gerald Moss, Jacksonville, Fla.; and Allen Quay, Tampa, Fla.
Meanwhile the U.S.L.T.A. had made several nominations of its own. They included three of Kramer's picks—Douglas, Franks and Moss—and five others, some 19 years old: Al and David Harum of Coral Gables, Fla.; John Lesch, Los Angeles, Calif.; Barry Mackay, Dayton, Ohio; and Edward Rubinoff, Miami Beach, Fla.
Under "Coach" Kramer this combination of 13 tennis-hungry youths is now engaged in an intensive six-week campaign. Some of the J.D.C.s participated in the Orange tournament a fortnight ago. The whole gang came to Newport, and this week has moved on to the Longwood tournament in Boston. After Longwood comes Nassau, and then Forest Hills.
Kramer's kids practice mornings, play their tournament matches in the afternoons and then practice again in the twilight, working on mistakes revealed in actual competition. Kramer puts them all to bed at 10:30, and has no trouble enforcing curfew—the juniors know that he'll have them out "dog trotting" at daybreak.
This program differs from the Australian practice only in being shorter. With the boys from Down Under it's a year-round job. At the end of the summer our youngsters will be back in school, but they'll be brought together in tournaments as often as possible during the off season. And before they disband this fall, two of them will get a real test.
After Forest Hills the lucky 13 will play a round robin and the two winners will be sent to the Pacific Southwest tournament in Los Angeles. There they will play Harry Hopman's newest "whiz kids," Ashley Cooper and Roy Emerson, in a sort of junior Davis Cup. We may learn then and there whether we're really on the road to victory over the Australians.