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Ever since Bill Talbert and his team won the Davis Cup from Australia last December, Australians have regarded the winning back of the famous trophy a task of almost national prestige.
The team assembled in Melbourne under my control two weeks before departure from Sydney at the end of May. Much of those two weeks were spent in physical preparation, including running and gymnasium work, but there was some tennis, too, and I roped in Frank Sedgman to play in various combinations against our Lew Hoad-Rex Hartwig doubles combination.
The majority of tennis writers in Australia seemed to want Ken Rosewall in the doubles, but too often I had seen Seixas and Trabert take charge of Rosewall's service. They had learned to anticipate it and to take it—a service without guile, spin or kick—on the rise and move in fast to a commanding position at the net. Additionally I knew that Rosewall, in a Davis Cup match, would play better singles on the third day if rested from the doubles.
There were sound reasons for confidence in our mission as we left Australia. Sure, we lost the first three matches as the Cup changed hands last December, but one of those losses was Rosewall's to Vic Seixas, a result we felt sure could be reversed; another was a very close Trabert win over Hoad, and we knew we had a doubles combination at least the equal of Seixas-Trabert.
Another reason for confidence was that Hoad, whose girl friend Jennifer Staley had departed for Europe six weeks earlier with an official Australian women's team, was gradually regaining the form which had made him the outstanding player in Australia in the summer of 1953-54. Some of Hoad's tennis troubles before the 1954 Cup defense were widely attributed to my "harsh discipline."
Actually, he was madly in love for the first time and his previous normal life of almost complete devotion to his love of the game of tennis was badly disrupted. "Get off my back!" he cried when he came off court after playing like a bush leaguer in the Victoria Championships and ending his match by whacking a ball out of the Kooyong ( Melbourne) center court stadium. Lew came under team discipline last year only 10 days before the Challenge Round when our team gathered in Sydney for a final preparation.
My one worry when we left Australia this time was that Hoad might be distracted from a 100% Wimbledon effort—and that such distraction might upset our over-all Davis Cup plans—when our team met up with the Australian women's team in London. I wanted greater concentration during Wimbledon than two young people in love wanted to give.
In London I suggested Lew bring Jennifer back to our hotel for supper and a talk. I was about to say my piece when Lew suddenly "took the ball off my racket."
"Hop, we're going to be married at 11 a.m. tomorrow," said Lew.
He was 40 minutes out in his reckoning, but that was not his fault and that delay was not bad for such a hastily arranged ceremony—and his form in the London championship finals was not too bad either, considering the circumstances. Rosewall won the singles but Hoad shared the doubles trophies with Hartwig to celebrate his wedding day.