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William Talbert
December 09, 1957
It was spring in Australia last week but dispatches from the American Davis Cup team were wintry with despair. Durable Vic Seixas was eliminated in the quarter-final round of a regional tournament, and a doubles team of nobodies upset Seixas and Gardnar Mulloy—America's best available pair. Beset with dark, perhaps insoluble, problems, Captain Bill Talbert, who gazes somberly from the opposite page, can only envision the Challenge Round with the Aussies Dec. 26-28—provided the U.S. gets by the Philippines and Belgium—as a Black Christmas. The Australians, puzzled by the Yanks' dilemma, have been asking pointed questions. Here are Talbert's frank replies
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December 09, 1957

Dreaming Of A Black Christmas

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Mulloy added that he had personally tried to persuade both Patty and Savitt to make the trip but his efforts had come to naught. "Patty told me he wouldn't come just to play doubles," Gardnar continued. "I told him he couldn't be guaranteed a singles spot, that he should come and prove he deserved to play singles by beating the dickens out of everybody else. He wouldn't listen. And Savitt kept giving me that lame excuse about work."

I recalled that once, in hope of getting Savitt on the team, I had telephoned his boss, Oilman David D. (Tex) Feldman, who was at that time in Paris, and had asked him would he let Dick off for six weeks to play. "Certainly," Savitt's employer said. I asked him if he would tell Savitt that. "No," he said. "But he has my permission if he asks me."

Savitt got his job as an oil salesman through tennis contacts. Richardson's tennis background didn't hinder his becoming a Rhodes Scholar. Patty has toured the world on the sport for years.

"I think they're simply scared," someone else said. "I think they're afraid they will come down here and possibly fail. So they're ducking it."

"That shouldn't be the case," Mulloy said. "The honor is representing the U.S. in the Challenge Round, not in necessarily winning. People forget who won or lost but never forget who played."

Neale Fraser, the Australian star, said, "It looks to me as if they just don't care. It would never happen down here in Australia. Guys would break their necks to make the team."

Whatever the reasons, something is sadly lacking in our tennis makeup when we are forced to beg, cajole and make special deals with players to represent their country in a great traditional competition. We are the only nation in the world challenging for the Davis Cup without all of our best players. If the Davis Cup is not important enough to warrant our best effort, maybe we should forget it.

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