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Trabert was in the Navy nearly two years and he doesn't particularly relish rehashing the old days. "Most of my Navy time," he said, "was spent on the aircraft carrier Coral Sea. I wasn't very happy as a seaman apprentice in a deck division, because most of the fellows aboard ship just wanted to read funny books. It was upsetting to me not to find anyone who could even carry on an intelligent conversation. Later I got into the quartermaster division and it was more interesting working on navigation.
"I took a 30-day furlough during the winter of 1952 and went on my second trip to Australia with the Davis Cup team. I learned the hard way the importance of being in good condition. I didn't have much time to get in shape and passed out after my match with Ken McGregor. A lot of the success I've had this year comes from having learned how to handle my training sensibly. I think 185 pounds is my best playing weight, and if I'm not playing I stay close to that doing roadwork, jumping rope and calisthenics.
"In the tournaments leading to Forest Hills in 1953 I didn't care so much about winning as I did in perfecting every phase of the game. Then, when I won—just like this summer at Wimbledon—people asked me what I considered the best part of my game. Ted Williams in your magazine said confidence can sometimes be detrimental. I agree with him. I seldom go on the tennis court in a big match feeling completely positive that I'm going to win. On the other hand, I have confidence in my own ability. I have confidence knowing that I'm in good shape. I know that I am capable of playing the game well, and I have confidence that I can produce under pressure in the clutch. I've always strived and attempted to make every phase of my game the same. Don't you see, if I don't think in my own mind that I have a real weakness, then I don't feel that anyone I play can discover a weakness and beat me by capitalizing on it.
"So I never have—or never would—admit to a weakness, because I don't think I have a particular weakness, and I don't care what phase of my game my opponent cares to attack. In short, I think I can play equally well with any shot.
"This, you must understand, is a sort of constructive confidence. It's not overconfidence or bragging. I know my capabilities and my limitations. I certainly know that because I'm reasonably big I can't be as quick as some of the smaller fellows who run around the court and get a lot of balls back defensively. So, quite simply, my game is that I make up in power what I lack in speed.
"Blisters on my hand gave me a rough time in 1954. Blisters and other things. The Nationals was the one big tournament I had won in 1953 and because of it I got a lot of publicity. In the eyes and minds of the people I was expected to be unbeatable. I wasn't up to it, and knew I wouldn't be until I gave up college to achieve my next goal: to be the best tennis player in the world.
"At Wimbledon I blistered my hand and also my feet while taking a five-set match from Sven Davidson. Without making excuses I think it's safe to say that I was handicapped. In trying to compensate and avoid pain, I changed my grip on the racket, and consequently my strokes didn't get the same result. I lost to Rosewall in five sets in the semifinals. I didn't play too well for the rest of the summer, including the match in which Rex Hartwig beat me in the quarterfinals of our own Nationals at Forest Hills."
Picking up a tennis magazine, Trabert thumbed through it quickly, then stopped at a picture of himself with his wife. "I met her in June of 1953 while playing the National Hard Court Championships in Salt Lake City," he said. "Her name was Shauna Wood and she had just graduated from the University of Utah and had been named Miss Utah. I took her out one night and fell in love with her. I hoped—but wasn't sure—that the feeling was mutual. We got engaged later that summer and were married in October. Although she's not very good at tennis, she does enjoy it. It was difficult, too, when she was first drawn into this thing because she didn't understand what we were all talking about. But now she doesn't get hurt when we can't go out late, although I guess there was a problem about that at first.
"Over your lifetime there's no big money in professional tennis. I don't want to end up as a teaching pro at a club. It's hard work and the compensations aren't that great actually. Of course the top amateur, the guy who has established himself in the eyes of the people, can make a big hunk on his first tour. He figures to do pretty well for as long as he's on top.
"But there's a question in my mind about turning pro—not that I've had any offers yet. You see, I want to work, have a solid sense of security, make some money and become a family man. Well, I already have a good job, starting this fall as the West Coast representative of the Security Banknote Company. I'll live in Los Angeles but there'll be no limit to my territory and .I'll be able to do business wherever I go. If I turned pro I might be able to put $60,000 or $70,000 in the bank, but then I might be out of luck in a couple of years. I've been thinking it might be better to remain amateur, pick my tournaments and carry on my business with the knowledge that in 10 years time I'll be better off from every angle than if I faded out of the picture after a couple of years on the pro tour."