Chris at joint press conference: "It can be very difficult to play doubles with your spouse. Emotional. Since there are no feelings, emotions, between Jimmy and I..."—smirk, glance at Connors—"...I'm sure we'll make a great team." I heard it through the grapevine.
Chris at cocktail party: "I know I gave you the room key, John. Either you..."—smirk, laugh—"...or I gave it to Jimmy." Wouldn't it be nice if we could....
Jimmy at team practice, laughing, joking, playing righthanded, shooting a few quick moons. To Chris: "You know, I'd pay you to practice with me every day." You can't always get what you want.
The Lloyds and Connorses both stayed in suites at the Inn on the Park. The first afternoon the couples visited in the Connorses' suite for a couple of hours. They mixed at a party at Sonny Bono's restaurant. Jimmy and Chris practiced every day, sometimes with John. Patti invited Chris up to have her nails done by a manicurist. Chris couldn't make it. Jimbo took 4-year-old Brett to the amusement park and the Putt-Putt "We asked Jimmy and Patti to come to dinner one night," said Chris, "but Brett's favorite is chicken McNuggets, and we couldn't handle that He loves that kid." Joy to the world...All the boys and girls.
Jimbo used the tournament to unveil a midsize prototype racket made by Wilson, and Chris was breaking in her new Stevie Nicks-model frizzy shag cut. Nevertheless, they both performed as if nothing had changed in the nine years since they won the singles and played mixed doubles at Wimbledon and, oh yes, broke their engagement as well. Last week Connors was brash, crude, tough; Evert Lloyd was consistent, elegant, tough.
Good-humored fun infiltrated their matches up to the finals, straight-set jobs over Jimmy Brown-Zina Garrison, Van Patten-Bassett and Butch Walts-Betsy Nagelsen, at once the spunkiest and most obscure of all the duos, Walts having licked cancer, Nagelsen a household word only if your house is in Tokyo. C would put away a crisp volley, and J would stride off as if to say "excuuuuse me." The two would get crossed up, leaving the court open, whereupon J would point a finger at C, crying "your fault." J did much strutting, C much giggling. Both said it was "easy," that it wasn't as if they were "strangers."
"You had a great feel for the angles," John Lloyd said to Connors after one match. A few minutes later Chris told the press she would not like to meet her husband in the finals. "I would." Connors roared, pounding the table.
While the Lloyds and Connorses appeared ecstatic about being together in Houston. Borg was lucky to get out of the city alive. Paired with Bettina Bunge, who has been off the circuit since undergoing an ear operation in August, Borg looked fit, happy, content—and about Top 30 caliber. "He's not coming back," Riessen said firmly after his partner, Hu Na (no relation to Sha Na), fooled Borg a couple of times and Riessen-Na lost a third-set tiebreaker. Later, against Enigma, Inc., the team of Ilie Nastase and Hana Mandlikova, Bunge played as if it were her eyes that had been impaired. Then Borg was rudely aced by Mandlikova. "That's not the first time," Borg said. Sure, Bjorn. "No, I don't remember who the other woman was."
Early in the second set a Nastase serve took a bad bounce and Borg unloaded one of his roundhouse low-to-high discus-thrower swipes, slashing the ball off the wood high into the rafters. While everybody watched the ball's flight, murmuring "same old Bjorny, he can miss 'em just like me," Borg strolled off the court, blood streaming from above his left eye. "I have been hitting myself quite a few times." he said later. "I am not really suprised." After Borg had been patched up, the team of Hana K (for killer) and Nastase put BB-BB out of their misery 6-3, 6-2. "I have missed the fans and the atmosphere," Borg said, "but I think I will survive" Nobody asked if he meant the cut or the retirement, but on his is next comeback Borg had best bring along Dr. Ferdie Pacheco.
It wasn't only Swedish blood that was spilled in Houston, either. The semifinal pitting Tanner-Jaeger against Nastase-Mandlikova took on the charm of a tag-team wrestling bout after Nastase slugged two overheads in the general direction of Jaeger's tender gams. The second one connected—hard. At the time, Nasty-Mandy were ahead 6-2, 3-3. When Tanner figured out that Nastase was trying to add injury to insult, he quickly retaliated with one of his laser deliveries, which nearly parted Nastase's sneer on the fly. "Was I trying to hit Ilie?" said Tanner. "Aww, that was just my long, flat one. If I can nail him from 80 feet, he's not as quick as he used to be."