I have often been asked: "Just what does a nonplaying Davis Cup team captain do?" The nonplaying aspect of it seems to indicate non-work to many people, or at best a sort of tactical and organizational leader who cheers his boys on from the sidelines. This is misleading. A nonplaying captain has to be far more. He must be diplomat and locker boy, tough disciplinarian and father confessor. The ideal captain would be a combination of Leo Durocher, Anthony Eden, Bishop Sheen and Sigmund Freud, with the patience of a Job.
I suppose the best way to explain is to pluck out a typical day during a campaign. In Australia my day usually began at 8 a.m. when I would have breakfast served in my hotel room. This was the signal for the telephone to start ringing. Between bites of toast and gulps of cold coffee, I frequently answered as many as 20 calls in the space of an hour and a half.
ANGLES, TICKETS, RECEPTIONS
These generally were from newspapermen, all searching for a new angle. But calls came also from team well-wishers with nothing particular in mind, friends of the team requesting tickets for the matches and perhaps a local official reminding me of an afternoon reception. The ticket problem alone is enough to warrant the full time of one man.
These chores usually kept me busy until 10 a.m. when it was necessary to organize morning practice. I had to check on each of the players individually in their rooms, see how they were feeling, talk things over and advise them of the meeting time in the hotel lobby.
Then there were other details. Moss needed a dentist. The chef needed tickets in return for the choice steaks. Had the cars been ordered? Were Reg Dillon, our Australian handyman, Dinny Pails, our coach, and Husky Moore, our trainer, on hand? How about Jack Kramer? Would he be available to work out with the boys?
At the courts it was necessary to check the locker room. Had the laundry been done and shoes whitened? Was there plenty of everything to satisfy the varied needs of all the individual team members? Were soft drinks and fruit in the refrigerator? What about tennis balls?
Practice had to be organized with the idea of bringing each of the players to his peak at the right time. Also, practice pairings had to be made with the idea of working on known weaknesses and bolstering confidence. For instance, if Trabert was showing a weakening of confidence, it wouldn't be wise to put him against a peak-form Seixas and let him get his brains knocked out. It would only hurt his confidence more.
There was a quick lunch and the procedure was repeated in the afternoon. Practices were followed by informal press conferences and then huddles in the dressing room to iron out problems. Always, 24 hours a day, it was necessary to maintain positive thinking.
The captain had the responsibility—not an easy one—of seeing that all the "troops," as we called ourselves, were dressed and ready for dinner. Sometimes it was necessary to crack the whip to make the boys wear ties and jackets.