TENNIS: MESSAGE FROM THE SPONSOR
After reading your article Olmedo: The Enigma of Tennis (SI, Sept. 7), I feel that it needs correction in a few minor respects, as it relates to the so-called Olmedo incident during the National Clay Courts matches at River Forest.
First, while it may be significant for Mr. Murray's character analysis, the truth is that Alex was recognized instantly when he appeared at the club gate, and greeted by the tournament press chief, Bob Kubicek. Alex refused to enter and wanted to know only the directions to a sporting goods company, where he was to meet Perry Jones.
Second, it was the River Forest Tennis Club, the National Clay Courts Tournament, the game of tennis and the spectators who were insulted by Alex, not vice versa. The tennis club planned the largest welcome that had ever been shown to a visiting player. Dr. Oscar Benavides, Peruvian Consul General in Chicago, more than a hundred Peruvians living in the Chicago area, and tournament officials planned to meet Olmedo at the airport. All this fell through when Alex declined to inform us of his arrival time and, in fact, refused telephone calls in New York when we tried to find out his arrival time. We at the River Forest Tennis Club pride ourselves upon the welcome and attention to all players.
Third, he did not "have" to play four matches in one day but rather insisted upon it after winning the first three easily. The ostensible reason was that he would thereby be ready for Segal the next day. It is notable that his fourth opponent said to the Invitations Chairman, "Gee whiz, Mr. Evans, I think Alex was trying to lose to me, but I was so bad he just couldn't." The significance of this was lost until the following day.
Fourth, he said an official "started" the booing. This is completely false.
Finally, Alex's quote implied that the River Forest Club puts on the tennis tournament for money. This is simply ludicrous. Several hundred of our members spend thousands of hours from January of each year preparing for the tournament. These same workers also subscribe for the season and box-seat tickets which underwrite the expenses. Sixty percent of the gross profit goes to the USLTA, 10% to the Western Association and 10% to the Chicago Association; the balance of 20% goes to the club. In 1958 the club received less than $20 from the tournament!
The RFTC members do this work in the interest of promoting amateur tennis. Alex in just one hour did more harm to tennis than can be measured.
General chairman, USLTA
Clay Court Championships
River Forest, Ill.
TENNIS: WHERE IS THE FUN?
"The life of a tennis player is hard. People think it is fun. It isn't." With this quote from Olmedo, James Murray ends his excellent portrait of the tennis "enigma." Isn't it about time that the fun was put back in tennis? It used to be fun, you know. Tournaments, except for the big international and national events, used to be informal and relaxed; the game itself emphasized strategy and change of pace.
I think the promoters have taken over the game as they have so many other sports. Big and little self-perpetuating chairmen of this or that committee are organizing ever more elaborate tournaments, putting the pressure on overplayed competitors to appear for "their" tournament and generally making their presences felt.
They do it, so they tell us, for "the good of tennis" and players better cooperate in playing in "their" tournaments and participating in all the mishmash of receptions and ceremonies because "look what tennis had done for them."