- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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A further early handicap, especially in the United States, was that anyone walking along a street in white flannels swinging a tennis racket was likely to get whistled at by the vulgar. The vulgar could not stomach that word "love." But bold, brave men—very likely the ancestors of those who now wear Bermuda shorts to business—brazened it out, and when the golden 20s roared in like a latter-day hurricane and the Tildens, the Johnstons, Borotras, Lacostes and Cochets took to whaling away at each other, no one any longer thought of tennis as that game in which men pat a ball back and forth over the net. Borotra, incidentally, still plays in European tournaments and wins one now and then.
Tennis had one other big handicap. It was played on grass, which is expensive to establish and maintain as a playing surface. Clay and asphalt and concrete solved that. There is mighty little grass left now, except in the East. The number of clubs which provide grass courts has dwindled, a hardship to American players preparing for international tournaments, the most important of which are played on grass. Lawn tennis has all but ceased to be a fitting name for the game.
The "new" amateurism of which Mr. Menzies writes, the necessarily quasi-professional status of top players who cannot afford to do other than live on expense accounts if they are to give most of their time to tennis, is a more recent handicap. Cynicism and skepticism entered the game with the expense account, a situation summed up in the expression "tennis bum" (see CONVERSATION PIECE, page 31). It is not nearly so healthy a situation as outright amateurism used to be or outright professionalism would be.
The Australians solved that. An Australian amateur may work for a sporting-goods company and enjoy generous leaves of absence.
The chances are that, despite current objections of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, Mr. Menzies' prediction of "open" tournaments in which amateurs and professionals would compete in harmonious conflict, may yet come to pass. It has not worked out so badly in golf, a game which enjoys prestige in many acceptable areas. Then those tennis players who could afford to remain amateurs might do so and, with international competition on an "open" basis, the possibility of international squabbles over standards would be remote. Open professionalism, openly arrived at, might be a goal for tennis in its next evolutionary phase.
AMOUR TOUJOURS IN LEFT
OVER THE FENCE
Over the fence, and out of the lot!