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Full text of "MAN WITH A RACKET"

103788 



as told to Cy Rice 

What makes a champion? Ambition., de- 
termination, ability and a generous portion 
of some personal, often indefinable, quality 
that enables the individual to become out- 
standing in his field. Richard (Pancho) 
Gonzales has all the attributes of a cham- 
pion, but It is liis own special mixture of 
drive, single-minded concentration and sheer 
boyish delight in his sport which makes him 
victorious on the court just about every 
time. 

As a public figure, Pancho Gonzales has 
fascinated both sportsmen and the general 
public since his first appearance on the 
court. The myths that surround him are 
legion, and yet these legends have grown 
and developed in spite of Pancho, for there 
are few contemporary athletes who shun 
publicity as actively as he does. In Man 
With A. Racket Pancho Gonzales reveals the 
facts behind the legends and the result is a 
story remarkable for its candor and honesty. 

The tale Pancho has to tell is a very hu- 
man one. It is one of a great athlete fiercely 
dedicated to his sport, who treads the road 
to success in his own way and at his own 
breakneck pace. Always the incorrigible 
iconoclast, Gonzales has had only one su- 
preme ambition to play tennis, and to play 

it better than anyone else. Since he first 
shook hands with a tennis racket, the game 
has been the guiding passion of his life. As 
a young man of school age he defied par- 
ental opposition, the concern of his friends, 



Man with a Racket 




Man with cr 
Racket 



The Autobiography of 
Pancho Gonzales 

as told to 
CY RICE 



A. S. Barnes and Company - Neu> York 



1959 by A. S. Barnes and. Company, Inc. 
Library of Congress Catalog Card. Number: 59-7068 

Printed in ttte United States of America 
by The Colonial Press Inc., Clinton, Mass. 



To my friends of the Olympic Tennis Club, 
Exposition Park, Los Angeles. 



When my agent, Alex Jackinson, first suggested that I sign 
Pancho Gonzales to a contract and help him construct his life 
story, I jumped at the chance. Six months later I still wanted 
to jump but this time straight at Mr. Jackinson, landing feet 
first on tender parts of his anatomy. 

"What a fine opportunity," wrote Mr. Jackinson. "Here's 
the greatest tennis player in the world and no book on him. 
Get it!" 

Being a novice at biographical writing, I asked for in- 
structions. They were delightfully simple. "Just sit down 
in a big easy chair with a notebook," counseled Mr. Jackin- 
son. "Then he tells his life story, you listen, you make notes, 
and it all comes out in the proper sequence." 

This sounded fine in theory. Only it wasn't workable. Sure, 
I could sit down without suffering any hardship. I sit down all 
day anyway. The trouble was that Pancho wouldn't sit. Pan- 
cho can't sit. Sitting, no matter how you look at it, isn't vio- 

,7 



8 Man with a Racket 

lent exercise, which eliminates any expected cooperation 
from Mr. Gonzales. 

Pancho is perpetual motion. Something seems to be chas- 
ing him and he seems to be chasing something. Whatever it 
is, I wish he'd catch up with it; or it would catch up with him. 
If I'd known then what I do now, and had been given a choice 
of helping put the book together or climbing Mt. Everest, 
barefooted and in my shorts, I would have taken the latter. 

Our initial talk lasted one hour. Between pleadings, cajol- 
ings, and mild threats, Pancho intermittently grunted a few 
monosyllables, all extremely pertinent to the conflict in the 
story. They were either "yes" or "no." At the end of the hour 
he arose and said, "Well, there's my life story. Just put it to- 
gether." 

I'd have enjoyed taking Pancho apart and putting him to- 
gether again. However, this time by jigsawing the human 
figure I'd create him so that he'd have two posteriors one 
in the conventional place and one in the front. Then he'd 
have to sit oftener and longer. 

Interviewing Pancho is analogous to squeezing a slip- 
pery tube of tooth paste with a blocked passage. Nothing, of 
course, comes out. The feasible approach is to hurl him to the 
floor, tie him up with chains. I'm not strong enough to ac- 
complish this. Few persons are. 

So how do you pin down a whirling dervish? The answer 
is: You don't. You just follow the dervish and go into a spin 
with it. The drawback is that I never came out of it. I've 
hurled questions at him while he was taking a shower, board- 
ing a plane, between serves on the court just about every- 
where but underwater. I've hounded his very footsteps, got 
into his hair at every possible opportunity. 

I don't think he likes me very much. 

I hare no real proof of this except from a remark he made 
to me that "I never started locking doors around my house 



Preface 9 

until I met you/' Maybe he said this because I followed him 
into the bathroom, about the only place where I had him all 
to myself. 

There was the day I blew my top. Four weeks had frit- 
tered by. I had three scribbled pages of notes. 

"Pancho," I said over the telephone, "I want one full day 
with you." 

"Any time," he said obligingly. 

"Tomorrow," I suggested. 

"Tomorrow," he agreed. 

I said, "111 be over early." 

"Come any time," he said. 

Simple as that. 

I reached the Gonzales' house at 9:00 A.M. Pancho, to- 
gether with his wife, Henrietta, and three young sons, was 
having breakfast. Breakfast, throughout the world, is recog- 
nized as a quiet meal where people drink coffee slowly and 
begin conditioning their reflexes for the day. 

No such custom prevailed at the Gonzales' house. Pande- 
monium reigned. The telephone rang incessantly, the chil- 
dren argued, boxer pups kept leaping at me, and the friskiest 
tried teething on my ankle bone. One of them ran off with 
my notebook. Breakfast over, Pancho headed for the Los 
Angeles Tennis Club and I climbed into his car with him. 
This was going to be wonderful. At long last I had him 
trapped, sitting three inches away from me with no possible 
outside interference. 

I started a question. It never reached the vocal stage. It 
stuck in my throat, disappeared from my mind. All I kept 
thinking was: "I'm too young to die." Pancho was turning 
traffic-laden Wilshire into another Indianapolis Speedway. I 
shut my eyes; I clutched the door; I think I prayed a little. 

At the tennis club his entrance signalized a flying welter of 
human bodies strapping muscular bodies eagerly sur- 



10 Man with a Racket 

rounding Pancho, exchanging salutations with him. Arms 
and legs edged me out of the picture, but I managed to catch 
up with him in the locker room where he sprawled on a 
wooden bench and began yanking off his clothes. I tried ask- 
ing him a question. He didn't hear it. He was pulling his 
sweater over his head. 

Before I could repeat it, he yelled to the locker room at- 
tendant, "Willis can I have a clean towel?" 

He got his towel. I started the same question. Two words 
came out when a small boy wandered up to Pancho and 
asked, "What do you do with your thumb on the backhand?" 

I glared. I knew what I'd like to do with both my thumbs 
something vicious such as stuffing them into the two 
prominent holes in the boy's head. The targets were big. The 
holes were wide with hero worship. 

Pancho answered the boy who went away happy. I was glad 
someone was happy. It wasn't me. Pancho made for the 
courts. I followed. I waited three hours and he gave no indi- 
cation of stopping play. Sun is hot on cement. I'm a perspirer. 

I called, "Pancho when can I get to you?" 

He completed an overhead smash and answered, "Be 
through in about an hour. Then I'm going bowling. You can 
come with me." 

I couldn't stand it any longer. I headed for the nearest air- 
conditioned bar and ordered a cooling drink. While I sipped 
it I opened my notebook and read what I had written today 
on Pancho Gonzales. 

It was: "Willis can I have a clean towel?" 

Time skipped by quickly while research on Pancho 
progressed slowly. Then one day when I was deep in despair 
of ever finishing the project, Pancho the unpredictable 
pounded on my apartment door and announced: 

"I feel like talking." 

I certainly felt like listening; and listening, plus talking, 



Preface 1 1 

proved a successful equation equaling LIFE STORY. While 
my ancient wire recorder rasped through its longest workout 
Pancho talked on ... 

Hours later, finished, he said wearily, "Those are more 
words than I'll speak for the next two years." 

I'd be willing to bet my life on that statement. 

CY RICE 



Introduction 



Having toured thousands of miles around the world with 
Richard Alonzo Gonzales, I probably know him better than 
anyone with the exception of his mother, father, and wife, 
Henrietta. I've eaten with him, slept in the same room 
with him, argued with him, and been beaten on the tennis 
courts by him. 

I still like him. 

This is hard to do when a little guy like me continually gets 
picked on by a big guy like Gonzales. It's always a David and 
Goliath battle; but unlike the biblical struggle, David has a 
devil of a time winning. 

Playing against Gonzales has improved my speed, sharp- 
ened my reflexes. Self-protection is the reason. Otherwise, 
that power serve coming toward me at 112 miles per hour 
might knock my head clear back to Ecuador. Spectators can't 
begin to estimate its unbelievable, blinding speed. You have 
to face it. The racket in your hand becomes as impotent as a 
butterfly net trying to stop an atom bomb. 

13 



14 Man with a Racket 

Should you be lucky enough to make a return, a large, 
blurred image charges the net with the swiftness of a whirl- 
wind and powders the little white ball right back at you, or 
through you. 

Sportwriters have asked me to compare big Pancho's brand 
of tennis with the greats of yesteryears. I'm too young to do 
that. It's far easier to rate him with contemporaries easier 
because he's head and shoulders above them. Believe me, we 
who earn our bread and butter in the tennis business are 
thankful there's only one Pancho Gonzales. 

Actually, the only thing I could compare him with are 
those devastating hurricanes along the Eastern seaboard. 
There's a difference, though. Weather is fairly predictable. 

A lot of people say to me, "You know this guy in- 
timately what's he like?" Sitting in a comfortable chair I 
could answer that question in about seventy-five thousand 
words, but the publishers wouldn't let me because I'm told 
that's the length of the book. 

My only comment is: Pancho's no saint. 

But then did you ever see a saint with a tennis racket? 

They call him the "bad boy of tennis from the wrong side 
of the tracks." I don't know what this means. Sometimes my 
interpretation of the English language is faulty. This I can 
say, however: One reason I intend taking out my citizenship 
papers is because Pancho Gonzales is America, and America 
is Pancho Gonzales. Here is a man who does what he wants 
to do in a nation where he can do it. He is beholden to no one. 

Perhaps I'm not making myself very clear, but after you've 
read his story and discover what makes Pancho Gonzales play 
tennis like a demon and run fast through life, you'll under- 
stand what I mean. 

Francisco Pancho Segura 



Contents 



Preface by Cy Rice 7 

List of Illustrations 12 

Introduction by Francisco Pancho Segura 13 

1. I Had Arrived 21 

2. The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 32 

3. Conquistador 50 

4. I Don't Talk Much 60 

5. The Honeymoon 67 

6. AlFs Well That Ends Well 78 

15 



16 Contents 

7. The Years Slip By . 95 

8. The Dead-End Street 114 

9. A Tour Isn't Just a Tour 120 

10. I Begin to Think 133 

11. Life with a Wife 140 

12. Pot Shots and Drop Shots 149 

13. The Lowdown on Amateur Tennis 167 

14. The Day I Exploded 173 

15. And Now, Lew Hoad 183 

16. My Feud with Jack Kramer 195 

17. The Toughest Tour 204 

18. Tips for Beginners 214 

19. Not for Beginners 220 

20. Questions and Answers 228 

21. Favorite Stories 235 

Index 251 



List of Illustrations 



(The illustrations appear as a group following page 128) 
Pancho at five months. 
Now one year old 
Pancho 's parents. 
Pancho's first Communion 
Pancho and Johnny Shea. 
Pancho and Arzy Kunz. 
Pancho and Chuck Pate. 
Pancho fondles Blackie. 

Pancho and Henrietta with little Richard. 
Japan lays out the red carpet. 
National Singles Champion. 
Brother Ralph congratulates Pancho. 
Pancho works on his hotrod. 
Catching up with a low volley. 

Pancho receives the golden key to Juarez, Mexico. 
Film stars congratulate Gonzales and Segura. 

17 



18 List of Illustrations 

Ida Lupino presents trophies to Pancho. 

Relaxing on plane between tours. 

The young Gonzaleses. 

The Gonzales family. 

The famed Gonzales serve. 

Pancho about to take a backhand shot. 

A backhand follow-through. 

Pancho readies himself to deliver serve. 



Man with a Racket 




/ I Had Arrived 



Unzipping the cut-rate drugstore bag, I stuffed in my ninety- 
eight-cent tennis shoes, my fifty-nine-cent soiled T-shirt, and 
my rumpled buck-fifty shorts. Then I straightened up and 
glanced at a mirror. 

There stood Richard Alonzo (Pancho) Gonzales. Nineteen 
years old, six feet three, 183 pounds. Tennis player. 

What did I look like? A ferocious competitor? Or a lamb 
being readied for the slaughter? I had never played in a 
senior tennis tournament. In fact, there'd been quite a few 
tournaments I hadn't played in. But now, on that May day, 
1947, I had a rendezvous with destiny at the Los Angeles 
Tennis Club, where the Southern California championships 
were being held. 

I didn't feel like a lamb. Deep inside, something seared 
me with its white heat. I've heard it described as desire. With 

21 



22 Man with a Racket 

me, it was like a pilot light, constantly burning, and neither 
bad breaks, missed points nor blind linesmen could extin- 
guish it. That was the only way I knew how to play. 

"Richard!" Mom's voice halted me at the front door. 

She came from the kitchen, a damp dish towel in her hands. 

"You going to the . . . the . . ." 

"Tournament, Mom," I helped. 

"There will be many people, yes?" 

"Sure, lots of them." 

"And they'll be looking at you, Richard?" she asked. 

I shrugged. "Some of them will, I guess." 

"Your clothes are clean?" she asked, eyeing the bag sus- 
piciously. 

"Yes, Mom, they're clean," I answered, hoping I wouldn't 
have to stand inspection. 

She studied me for a moment. "You expect to win, yes?" 

I said, "Sure." 

"If you lose, you won't show your temper before all those 
people, will you, Richard?" 

"Of course not," I answered quickly. "But I'm not going 
to lose . . ." 

Mom patted my hand now, like she did so many times when 
I was a little boy. "You will not give up this . . . this ten- 
nis?" 

"Mom, not again," I pleaded, hoping to stave off still an- 
other full-scale discussion on the time I was squandering on 
the game. 

"You know how your father feels about it ..." 

"Yes, yes, I know. I've heard it a thousand times." 

Mom sighed and shook her head, and changed the subject. 

"You have eaten lunch?" 

"I had some beans," I said. 

She stood on her tiptoes and kissed me. I left the house. 
Halfway down the block I heard Mom's voice. 



/ Had Arrived 23 

"Win, Richard!" she called from the porch. 

I waved my hand. I would win, I told myself. 

I boarded the first of three street cars that would take me 
within walking distance of the Los Angeles Tennis Club. 
Riding a street car was sheer boredom its monotonous 
speed, the never-changing route. I had a flair for speed and 
thrills, and I got none of these for my ten-cent fare. 

I found a morning newspaper on the seat and quickly 
thumbed through the pages until I reached the sports section. 
They'd have my name in the schedule of the day's matches, I 
thought. I got a surprise. I was in the lineup, sure. But there 
also was half a column of type building up my second round 
match with Herbie Flam. 

I got the feeling that the interest in "Pancho" Gonzales 
was not based on what I could do with my racket, but, rather, 
on what I had achieved off the court as a non-conformist. I 
was a curiosity number. Only a few weeks before, when I 
turned nineteen, my period of suspension by the Southern 
California Tennis Association had ended. The officials hadn't 
become softhearted. I simply had outgrown their iron-clad 
authority over boys of school age. Now I was on my own. Some 
wondered how I would react. 

The story of my suspension had been somewhat distorted 
in the telling. It painted a picture of me as a "bad boy" a 
budding delinquent. The Association had banned me from 
competitive play in an attempt to rid themselves of the rotten 
apple that could spoil the rest of the bushel. 

Actually, the only offense involved was hooky-playing. 

Southern California tennis was ruled by Perry T. Jones. 
He was major-domo over all U. S. Lawn Tennis Association 
tournaments in his area; controlled expense accounts of the 
players; and decided which junior and senior players would 
be sent to play on the big-time Eastern circuit. Contrary to 
general belief, I bore no animosity toward Mr. Jones. I had 



24 Man with a Racket 

tried to play tennis and play tag with the truant officer at the 
same time. Mr. Jones had rules, and they were inflexible. It 
was either attend school or be suspended from tournament 
play. I refused to go to school. Mr. Jones simply did his duty. 

Prior to my suspension, I outranked Herbie Flam in the 
Southern California Boys' division, having beaten him four 
out of five times. Herbie was sent East, where he captured the 
National Boys* championship, while I remained in Los 
Angeles to continue my battle of wits with the attendance 
officers. It wasn't an easy game. In fact, I'm sure I covered 
more ground in one morning than a player would in a whole 
tournament. 

I hadn't played Herbie since 1943, but I knew his game 
and it hadn't changed very much. Herbie, a well-propor- 
tioned boy with crew-cut blond hair, was a favorite of the ten- 
nis patrons. He didn't play the so-called "big game." His 
service was weak, and he never really blew anyone off the 
court with any of his shots. But what he lacked in power he 
balanced with his determined, all-court play. He was a speedy, 
tireless retriever, a superb defender. What I had to do, I was 
convinced, was to overpower him, particularly on service. 

Leaving the third street car, I walked several blocks to the 
tennis club, showed my player's pass, and entered the 
grounds. Hundreds were milling about. The men wore smart 
sports attire and neckties. The ladies flashed the correct after- 
noon wear. I didn't exactly match their fashion standards. I 
wore what might best be described as a pair of pants and a 
shirt open at the neck. I don't like to button collars, and I 
hate neckties. They bind me. With this particular shirt, how- 
ever, I had no choice. It had no button at the collar. 

I found not a familiar face as I started for the locker 
room. Suddenly, there was Herbie Flam, encircled by a group 
of well-wishers mostly pretty girls. They smiled at him and 
appeared to swoon when he spoke. No one smiled at me. No 



/ Had Arrived 25 

one even talked to me except one guy I'd never seen before. 

Accidentally stepping on my toe, he said, "I'm sorry/' 

I felt better. Someone had broken the ice. 

As I drifted along, I wondered if any of my old friends 
from Exposition Park would show up. Probably not, I 
thought. Most of them couldn't get off on a weekday after- 
noon. Others wouldn't have the money to buy a ticket. Ex- 
position Park was where I had learned my tennis. It wasn't 
as swanky as the Los Angeles Tennis Club not quite. It was 
a public playground with eight hard-surfaced courts, standing 
in the shadow of the Los Angeles Coliseum. Many Mexicans 
and Negroes learned the game there. Many others who 
yearned to play but who couldn't afford even a small fee, 
watched enthusiastically from the sidelines. Most of us at Ex- 
position Park had two things in common very little money 
and a love of tennis. 

I dressed quickly in the locker room and found myself 
more comfortable in my tennis togs when I returned to 
the crowded clubhouse grounds. I propped myself against the 
wall of the tennis shop, awaiting the call to the post, and 
amused myself by studying the crowd and by attempting to 
pick up snatches of conversation. 

As I saw it, the tennis public was divided into two classes. 
The first group included the week-end duffers those who 
played a little and were anxious to see how the better players 
did it. The other segment was composed of those who were 
there not to see, but to be seen. The society-celebrity bunch! 

I watched the Hollywood movie stars stroll by. Male jaws 
jutted as smiles flashed on and off. The lovely ladies had 
much to attract the eye, but I was fascinated by their hair. 
Almost every color of the rainbow was accounted for, and 
seldom were there two shades alike. This seemed strange. 
The women of the race from which I have descended leave 
their hair as God intended it to be. 



26 Man with a Racket 

In the midst of this amusing exercise, a voice suddenly 
pierced my thoughts. "Pancho," it came. 

I looked up and there were my friends moving in on me. 
Frank Poulain, who ran the Exposition Park Tennis Shop, 
which, among other things, was my hideout when the truant 
officers were hot on my trail; Larry Negrete, my old doubles 
partner; Chuck Pate, who analyzed the flaws in my game; 
Fernando Isais, the national horseshoe pitching champion; 
Arzy Kunz, who operated a tennis shop; David Doughty, 
leader of the Olympic Tennis Club; and Hubert Scudder, 
who worked without compensation to develop the tennis 
talent found in the poor sections of town. 

They pounded my back and pumped my hand, and de- 
manded that I blast Herbie Flam off the court. 

I nodded, happily. I was no longer lonely. 

At match time, I elbowed my way through the crowd, 
walked onto the court, greeted Herbie and got ready for our 
warm up. We were on the No. 3 court, right next to the swim- 
ming pool. This was mighty convenient, I thought. If I lose, 
I can drown myself before my buddies have a chance to string 
me up with the net cord. 

The crowd buzzed a little as I gunned my serve in practice. 
I chased a stray ball near the seats, and as I bent over to pick 
it up I heard someone in the front row tell her companion, 
"Look at that scar on his face. It must be a knife wound.'* 

They were referring to my left cheek. No one could miss it. 

Today, I'm oblivious to the crowd, but there was a time 
when my ears picked up everything. I suppose that isn't so 
strange. Gussie Moran once told me: "I'm conscious of in- 
dividual faces in the crowd. I remember the same ones from 
match to match, although I don't know the owners person- 
ally." I'm sure Gussie saw expressions on faces that I would 
never see in my audience. My legs aren't as good as Gussie's 
and I've never worn lace on my shorts! 



/ Had Arrived 27 

When the match started, Herbie raced through me like he 
was scheduled to catch a train to Forest Hills. I was over- 
shooting the baseline and missing the sidelines by inches. 
That's the heartache of tennis it's a game of inches. Grad- 
ually, I began to zero-in on the painted lines, but it wasn't 
soon enough. Flam wrapped up the first set, 10-8. 

My concentration improved in the second set, but so did 
Herbie's dogged determination. My first service, hit hard and 
fiat, was cannonading off the cement, landing in the extreme 
corners. Whether it was to Flam's forehand or backhand, it 
mattered not. I followed it to the net faithfully, hoping to 
put away a feeble return. But Herbie's returns weren't feeble. 
Living up to his reputation as a scrambler, Herbie was get- 
ting everything back getting them back and putting pres- 
sure on me, to boot. It was very discouraging. 

At 5-all, I fell into a streak of inexplicable errors and my 
touch left me, momentarily. Flam pounced on the opportu- 
nity, revved his game into high gear, and moved out in front. 
To make things worse, he won the next three points on my 
serve to stand at love 04 and match point. 

In the meantime, the crowd around our court had become 
ten-deep, even though Ted Schroeder, the nation's number 
two player at that time, was performing on the center court. 
The word of our spirited tug of war apparently had been re- 
layed to the grandstand, bringing hundreds of spectators on 
the run. 

The crowd stood in hushed silence as I started what could 
have been my last serve. One more point for Herbie and I'd 
go down the drain. It was too late for planned strategy; too 
late, it seemed, for prayer. I took a deep breath. 

An ear-splitting cry shattered the silence. 

"Now, Pancho!" 

It was the booming voice of one of my buddies from Ex- 
position Park. 



28 Man with a Racket 

I served an ace. 

Again the cry came, "Pancho!" 

Another ace. 

It was like a battle cry now, and I aced Herbie for the third 
time. 

My confidence returned, but the danger flags were still 
flying. Twice more Herbie moved to match point, but each 
time I rallied to deuce the score. Silently, I took up the cry 
of my friends. "Come on, Pancho." I'd tell myself, "make it 
good, make it good, make it good . . ." 

Herbie scurried for every shot as though his life was at 
stake, but a well-plastered backhand to the corner was out of 
his reach. Another deep drive caused him to misfire and I 
pulled out the game. Ten minutes later, I had the set, 8-6. 

I had survived one crisis, but now there was the final set 
staring me in the face. I paused for a sip of coke and heard a 
spectator say: 

"Look at him! The worst thing he should do when he's 
overheated/' 

"Oh, I don't know," another voice suggested. "After all the 
fiery food he must put in his stomach, it doesn't really mat- 
ter." 

The voices faded out as I forced my thoughts to dwell on 
that deciding set. Barring a broken leg or an earthquake, I 
knew nothing would keep me from winning it. My fists 
clenched tightly as I weighed my desperate mission. It was 
only a second round match in a sectional championship tour- 
nament, true. But to me, at that moment, it might just as well 
have been the championship for the entire world. 

There was no indication that Herbie would run and hide 
in the third set. He'd be there on the baseline, sending back 
everything that came his way. He'd battle it every step of the 
way. He didn't scare easily. And he didn't discourage me, 
either. In the final showdown, Flam was at his best. But it 



I Had Arrived <>9 

didn't matter now. My game had answered the call to an all- 
out attack: I had the shots the big guns when I needed 
them most. And in the end I had the set, 6-4, and the match. 

I ran to the net and whacked Herbie on the back, and he 
smiled and said something kind. And then I sort of drifted 
off on a pink cloud for a moment to heights that had been un- 
known to my little world. When I touched down again, I took 
a solemn oath. I was going to be the best tennis player this 
game has seen, I told myself. Nothing would stop me now. I 
didn't care how long it would take, or how bumpy the path 
would be. I would make it. Damned right I would. 

My friends surrounded me now. Quite a few new friends, 
too. Beautiful girls joined the group some of the same girls 
who had been magnetized by Herbie before the match. Every- 
body loves a winner, I guess. 

Leaving the locker room after my shower, a cashmere- 
coated fellow offered his hand and introduced himself. The 
name rang a bell. He was a well-known playboy and man 
about town. He owned a mansion in Bel Air, complete with 
private tennis court, horses, show dogs, cars, and several mis- 
tresses. 

"I want you to drop by the house tonight, Dick," he offered. 

I said, "What's happening?" 

"Cocktail party." 

I told him I didn't drink. 

He seemed shocked. "Nothing at all?" he asked, incredu- 
lously. 

"Well, I like a little beer now and then," I conceded. 

"Beer? Well, we'll get some. What else do you like?" 

I told him I liked beans, and he stifled a laugh. 

"Beer and beans . . ." he repeated, pausing as if to double- 
check his hearing. 

The pause told me I wouldn't be heading for Bel Air that 
night. 



30 Man with a Racket 

"Thanks just the same/' I told him. 

I felt a touch at the elbow, and a small fellow explained 
that he was a reporter and had some questions to fire at me. I 
didn't help him very much and, after a few minutes of "yes" 
and "no" answers, he looked at me rather hopelessly. 

"You don't like to talk very much, do you?" he said. 

"Not about myself," I told him. 

"You'd better fix that idea," he said, half smiling. "Don't 
you ever want to be important enough to be misquoted?" 

"I just want to play tennis good tennis," I said with a 
shrug. 

He shook his head and walked away. 

Perry Jones stopped me and offered congratulations, and 
then mentioned that someone was waiting for me in the ten- 
nis shop. I went in and encountered a representative of a 
major sporting goods company. 

"How about some equipment, Pancho? What do you need? 
he bubbled. 

"Sure, I need equipment, but I haven't the money right 
now . . ." 

He chuckled and slammed me on the back. 

"Who said anything about money?" he roared. "Just call 
out the size of your shoes, waist, shirt and we'll dig into some 
of this stuff." 

I rattled off the figures for him and soon my arms were 
filled with an assortment of tennis clothes and two new rack- 
ets, I felt embarrassed by his generosity. 

"I don't know what to say. What do I have to. . . ." 

"Forget it," he interrupted. "You don't have to say any- 
thing and you're under no obligation. Now, how're you going 
to get home with all this stuff?" 

"The same way I came, I guess on the street cars." 

He led me outside the club and he whistled for a taxi. He 
handed the driver a bill. 



7 Had Arrived 31 

"Take this gentleman home," he said. "And keep the 
change/' 

I jumped into the cab and piled all my new treasures on 
the seat beside me. The clothes, I quickly decided, I'd give to 
my brother, Manuel. The rackets I'd take to Frank Poulain, as 
a part payment for all he'd done for me. 

These decisions made, I sank into the cushions, tired, 
happy. The city streets flashed by. The meter ticked away. It 
seemed to be clicking out a telegraphic message that I HAD 
ARRIVED. ... I HAD ARRIVED. ... I HAD AR- 
RIVED. 




Tfie Slums Were Always 
at Our Heels 



I was born in a small apartment near Wrigley Field, which 
used to be the home of the Los Angeles Angels until the 
Dodgers headed West. The date was May 9, 1928, which is 
important only because it establishes the fact that I was a 
"Depression Kid" one of the many millions who grew up 
during our country's most hectic days. 

Throughout my early childhood, right up to the day I 
married, the slums were always at our heels. Mom and Dad 
would find a neighborhood that was respectably middle-class 
a good environment for raising a family. We'd move in. 
Then, invariably, it happened. Poverty crept in and, in its 
wake, all the undesirable conditions we were trying to avoid. 

"Again," Dad would murmur, as he looked out the window 
at the disorderly, paper-littered street. 

32 



The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 33 

Mom wouldn't reply. She knew what would come next 
moving day. Even if we couldn't afford it. 

"I don't mind poor people/' I heard Mom say to Dad one 
night. "We're pretty poor ourselves right now, and we don't 
know what tomorrow will bring. But we do know what's here 
and it's bad. What kind of children will we raise in this filth 
and misery?" 

So we'd move. And before long, the slums would follow us. 
It was like a game of tag, and often we became tired of run- 
ning. 

Los Angeles, like any other big city, has always had a seri- 
ous juvenile delinquency problem. Big cities have slums, and 
invariably the slums produce many children restless kids 
seeking adventure and excitement. In the neighborhoods 
where we lived at various times, parents had to hold tight 
reins on their youngsters to prevent them from falling into 
bad company and all kinds of trouble. 

We had few luxuries at our house. Food wasn't abundant, 
but it was simple and filling, and we never went hungry. Our 
clothes were just clothes inexpensive but clean. We wished 
for many things that never came. And, yet, we were never 
bitter and we never got into trouble. The reason was simple, 
I think. My brothers and sisters enjoyed each other's com- 
pany. Home was a place to congregate. It was something 
Mom and Dad had drummed into our heads from the day we 
were born. If you made a friend at school or in the street, you 
brought him home and he'd become part of the family, too. 

My greatest pleasure in those days was to watch a Western 
movie with a bag full of candy in my lap. This didn't happen 
too often, which is probably the reason it was such a joy. It's 
still a favorite pastime. There's only one difference; now I 
eat the candy more quietly. 

I loved beans, milk, oatmeal, salads, and tortillas. Today, 
money has changed my eating habits. I like beans, milk, oat- 



34 Man with a Racket 

meal, salads, tortillas and steak! I never tasted coffee until 
I was seventeen, and never smoked until I went into the U. S. 
Navy. Hard liquor meant little to me then and still does. I 
like an occasional glass of beer or a vodka drink. My biggest 
vice not too long ago was poker. But I took the cure one night 
in a certain California city, where the game is legal, when I 
discovered that money that comes fast can leave even faster 
when you're playing with cautious players who can sit and 
wait for a hand I couldn't. 

The poker sessions were a result of the restlessness that 
constantly gnaws at me. It's as if some giant hand cranks 
the mechanism of my body too tightly and never lets it run 
down. I must be doing something every minute of th,e day, 
be it tennis, bowling, shooting pool, playing basketball, or 
driving my "hot rod" wide open. I detest easy chairs, and a 
bed can claim me only when my body demands sleep. Even 
at bedtime, I'll take a Western paperback with me and I'll 
spend the next couple of hours riding the hero's horse. 

I've always been this way. As a child, my mother told me 
to relax. A thousand times a week she'd say, "Sit for a while, 
Richard." But it was like being sentenced to the electric chair. 
When my boyhood pals tired of playing games, I wanted to 
keep going. I remember one boy the fat boy in our bunch 
sitting on the curb, out of breath. "Don't you ever get 
tired, Dick?'* he asked between pants. 

I shrugged my shoulders. 

"Golly, I think you must have swallowed a Mexican jump- 
ing bean," he said, shaking his head. 

Maturity, marriage, and fatherhood have had no quieting 
effect on this desire for perpetual motion. I love my wife and 
three kids. I like to be with them, but that go-go-go still has 
me in its grip. Domestication could take place, I suppose, if 
I broke a leg or something. Or maybe it will happen when 



The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 35 

I reach the age of seventy. Even then, I might take up dueling 
with canes! 

As a youngster, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I 
grew up. Living near the ballpark, I suppose I might have 
considered baseball as a career if someone had belted a ball 
through our living room window. But the Los Angeles club 
had no sluggers with that much muscle. 

I might have become a crooner if it hadn't been for my 
sister Terry. There was much piano playing at our house, 
and one day I got up and rumbled a few notes. Terry's hands 
went limp on the keys. Wheeling on the stool she stared at me, 
asking sarcastically, "That's singing?" Later my musical ef- 
forts were described as sounding like "a pair of kettle drums 
falling downstairs." 

I toyed with the idea of being a professional dancer until 
the night I took Bertha to a dance and asked her, "How am I 
doing?" 

That old career-busting sister of mine promptly led me to 
a chair, sat down, removed her shoes, revealing a series of 
criss-crossed red welts and said, "What do you think?" 

I might have gone into the fruit business if the boss I de- 
livered for hadn't fired me for sticking pins into cantaloupes. 
My motive was unclear. It simply fascinated me to stick pins 
into cantaloupes. 

I do know for certain I never would have become a tennis 
player if I hadn't wanted a bicycle. 

"Too dangerous," Mom discouraged. "You're only twelve. 
I'll get something safer." 

She went to the May Company and bought me a tennis 
racket. It cost fifty-one cents, including tax. 

At first I wanted no part of it. I wouldn't even touch it. 
"Watch, Richard," Mom said, swinging it wildly and barely 
missing a statue of St. Anthony. 



36 Man with a Racket 

She extended it toward me, saying, "Here, try it." 
I shook my head, backing away a few steps, paling slightly. 
"What's the matter, Richard?" she asked. 
"A a cat, Mom," I faltered. 

Turning around, her eyes searched the room. "Cat? What 
cat? Tobey's outside/' she said, referring to our household 



"The strings, Mom," I said. "Tennis strings come from a 
cat's gut, somebody told me/' I loved cats. Perhaps I'd even 
known this one. 

Mom laughed. "Not a cat, Richard. The strings are silk. 
The salesman said so." 

Reassured, I took the racket and swung it. St. Anthony 
nearly got it again. 

"Not in here, Richard, Take it outside." 

I did, straight to a tennis court a few blocks away where I 
found a beat-up ball worn down to the skin. Standing outside 
the wire enclosure of the court, I tried bouncing it up and 
down on the racket surface. Most of the time I missed. When 
I was lucky enough to make contact, a feeling of triumph and 
excitement rippled through me. And suddenly I found it 
challenging. 

In the days, months, and years that followed the challenge 
of hitting a white, fuzzy ball squarely on the strings of a racket 
grew and grew. Such is the strange hand of destiny. 

Undoubtedly the two most significant influences on my 
early tennis years were Chuck Pate and a Negro youth named 
Willie. Willie had no hands. How he lost them no one ever 
knew. No one ever asked him. To me, Willie was the most 
skilled competitor in the world. He could beat everybody I 
knew in a game of marbles by using his toes. Willie was an 
inspiration. When things looked gloomy for me, I'd think of 
him, and his handicap, and immediately feel better. I never 
forgot Willie. 



The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 37 

Chuck Pate was older. I gravitated toward older compan- 
ions. Chuck was a fine tennis player, a real student of the 
game. Why, even today, if something goes wrong with my 
stroking, Chuck can straighten me out, pronto. The first time 
he came to our house I wasn't home. Mom didn't know him. 

"Is Pancho around?" he inquired. 

My mother shook her head. "You must have the wrong 
house." 

Stepping back, Chuck squinted at the number and said, 
"It's the right house." 

Mom said, "No Pancho lives here." 

"I'm sorry," Chuck apologized, "but he does." 

By this time Mom was becoming a trifle irritated. "Young 
man," she addressed Chuck, "it's true I have a large number 
of children. Still, I happen to know all their names. I have 
no Pancho." 

Chuck wouldn't give up. 

"Suppose you tell me his last name," Mom said, growing 
angrier by the second. 

"Pancho Gonzales." 

Mom's eyebrows shot up. "My sons are named, Manuel, 
Ralph, and Richard," she said curtly. 

"The last one is Pancho," Chuck said. 

From that day on the name stuck. Mom fought it, but finally 
bowed to superior numbers. The official family acceptance 
came during the finals of a tournament. I was trailing Hugh 
Stewart and both my parents were in the stands. After a long 
rally, which I concluded with an overhead putaway, Dad rose 
to his feet and yelled, "Good work, Panchol" 

When he sat down, Mom tugged at his sleeve. "Did you say 
Pancho?" 

"I said Pancho," Dad replied fiercely. 

Mom shrugged. Recognition had been established. 

By the time I was thirteen, I was madly in love. It was a 



38 Man with a Racket 

blinding, choking, loyal love filled with devotion and dedica- 
tion. Obvious to all, it was understood only by a few. The 
object of adolescent affection was my tennis racket. 

My love spread from the first racket to the game itself and 
its many facets. The love was, and is, undying and possessive. 
With all due apologies to my wife, I'm wedded to it until 
old, faltering legs doth us part. 

Some might think it strange for an adult to cling so 
passionately to a sport. I disagree. I'll always remember Roy 
Campanella's answer when he was asked to describe the key 
ingredients that make a ball player great. The Dodger 
catcher, who stands with the best receivers of all time, ticked 
off "ability/* "desire" and some of the other qualifications 
commonly accepted as essential equipment in the big leagues. 

"But, I'll tell you something," Roy added, finally. "I think 
there has to be a lot of the little boy' in a fellow who expects 
to play baseball the way it should be played." 

Campanella's point applies to all sports. The athlete who 
can approach his game with all the zestful enthusiasm of a 
"little boy," even when that sport has since become his bread 
and butter, will always be a tough guy to beat. It's won many 
matches for me. 

That first racket of mine, to me, was the eighth wonder of 
the world. Loosely strung, producing none of the banjo-like 
music heard when you twang a tightly-pulled racket of split- 
lamb's gut, it would shatter today on a second service hit. I 
never let it out of my sight. I took it to bed with me to protect 
the strings and a warping frame from the temperature changes 
of the room. I coddled it like a helpless human. I gave it coats 
of varnish, and with Mom's manicure scissors clipped the 
frayed edges of the worn, unravelling strings. 

To find the proper grip, Chuck taught me to extend my 
hand toward it, shaking hands with the handle. I overdid 
this. I shook hands with it all day, more often than a politi- 



The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 59 

cian pumps the hands of prospective voters. Sometimes I even 
talked to it. 

I'd say, "Good morning, Senor Tennis Racket/' 

And, in my own falsetto, the racket would reply, "Good 
morning, Senor Gonzales." 

Then the daily conversation would begin. 

"Are you going to be a good racket today?" I'd ask. 

"It all depends/' came the high-pitched reply. 

"On what?" 

"The way you use me/' 

"How should I use you, Senor Racket?" I'd inquire. 

"Hit me in the middle. Squarely. Never on the handle. 
"Never on the wood." 

"Anything else?" 

"Yes. Also bend your knees. You got to bend your knees. 
Always." 

"Anything else?" 

"Face properly. Know where your opponent is." 

"Why?" 

"So you can hit it where he isn't/' 

"Anything more?" 

"Yes," the racket would reply. "Listen to Senor Pate. He 
knows. True, I belong to you but he knows me better than 
you do. He will tell you how to use me." 

"Yes," I would answer meekly. "I will do as you say, Senor 
Racket," 

Anyone overhearing this routine might have sent for the 
man with the white coat. But the repetition of this ritual 
hammered home the basic rules I learned in practice. 

For nearly eight months I hung around tennis courts 
watching the players their strokes and maneuvers. All the 
while I stood outside the wire fences bouncing a ball. on my 
cheap racket for hours on end. Eavesdropping, I learned how 
to keep score. The painful process took many weeks. It was 



40 Man with a Racket 

so illogical and confusing to the child mind. If you scored 
one point, it was 15-love; two points, 30-love; and three points, 
40-love. Somewhere along the line five points were lost. 

To this day I haven't found the missing points. 

Cropping up frequently as it did in the scoring, the word 
"love" bothered me. "Zero" or "nothing" seemed like such 
perfectly fitting words. Why "love," I wondered. The term, 
"foot fault" was also puzzling. At first I thought it meant a 
defective shoe. 

I had met Chuck Pate while I was attending Edison Junior 
High School. He was a student at Fremont, and in the after- 
noon I would watch him practice with the tennis team. 

"What's your opinion of the game?" Chuck asked me one 
day. 

Reflecting a moment, I said, "Like it, but . . ." 

"But what?" 

"Well, it's what everybody says about it . . .you know 
. . . that it's a sissy game/' 

Scowling, Chuck spat out, "They're crazy as belli" Grad- 
ually calming he asked, "What sports do you consider 
rugged?" 

I mentioned basketball and football. 

"Those are team sports," he snapped. "Tennis is different. 
You go it alone. No help from anybody. In football the action 
is concentrated. You wait between plays or after a whistle 
blows or for a ball to come your way. Tennis has action every 
second. You've got to make split-second decisions. 

"Who's the toughest kid in your school?" he suddenly asked. 

I named him. 

"Could he beat me in a fight?" Chuck asked. 

I grinned. "With one hand. He'd crush you like a tomato." 

"Okay," Chuck nodded. "Granted. One thing you don't 
know, though, is that if he played me a set of tennis I'd have 



The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 41 

him out on his feet helpless and gasping trying to suck air 
into his lungs." 

I'd never thought of this. I 

"You still think it's a sissy game?" Chuck demanded. 

'I've changed my opinion," I admitted. 

"You're damned right it isn't," he said convincingly. "It's 
the toughest." 

I was beginning to see the light. 

The next four years saw me enrolled at four different high 
schools. Intermittently I worked, delivering papers from 
3:00 A.M., until 8:00 A.M., fought with Dad, and outsprinted 
truant of&cers. Tennis was my only reason for ducking school. 
Once bitten by the bug, the sport ravaged me. And it spread, 
unchecked, despite Dad's efforts to stamp it out. Prior to that 
I had been a good student; in mechanical drawing and drafts- 
manship I was outstanding. But now I wanted no part 
of school, even though school wanted a big part of me. 

My tennis career started inconspicuously. After a little 
coaching from Chuck, I played my brother, Manuel. He beat 
me easily. One week later I reversed the decision, playing 
him left-handed. 

Manuel regarded the defeat with amazement. "How come 
and not even right-handed?" 

I answered his question with a question. "Did you want to 
win very badly, Manuel?" 

He shrugged. "Not particularly." 

"I did," I said. 

Since that early game with Manuel it's been the same with 
anyone who ever beat me. I wanted to know why. I went over 
the matches carefully in my mind, mentally replaying every 
point remembered. I reconstructed. If opponents had a stroke 
I didn't have, and it was effective, I copied it to perfec- 
tion, even tried to execute it better than they had. I borrowed 



42 Man with a Racket 

Jack Kramer's rise hitting, tried Ted Schroeder's looped 
cross-court shot, Pancho Segura's volley, and many others. I 
borrowed them and I tried to improve them. 

School became an increasing chore. How could I listen to a 
teacher explaining history when the only history I wanted 
knowledge of was tennis? How could I study mathematics 
when I only wanted to diagram the trajectory of a tennis 
ball in flight? How could I study chemistry when the chemis- 
try in my own body kept urging me to go to a court and run, 
run, run? 

When I wasn't playing I lolled around Frank Poulain's Ex- 
position Park Shop, soaring up atmosphere and learning the 
language of tennis. Ever since Frank took a love set from me, 
I hung on his words of advice. 

"I've been watching you play and I like you/ 7 Frank told 
me one day, "because you're a boy who knows how to cry." 

"You've got me mixed up with someone else, Frank," I 
said. "I never cry." 

"To get you mixed up with someone else is impossible," he 
replied. "There's only one Pancho Gonzales, remember that. 
Never try to be anyone else." 

"Okay, but what's this about me crying?" 

"You cry," Frank said lightly. "You cry when you lose. 
Always." 

"Never! I haven't cried since I was a baby," I insisted. 

He smiled and said, "Not from your eyes, Pancho. You try 
inside. I can't see it happen, but I know it is." 

I frowned and became uncomfortable. 

"Don't be ashamed of doing it. It's the mark of a champion. 
You wouldn't be worth a damn if you weren't bitterly disap- 
pointed when you lose." 

Frank Poulain is one of the finest men I've ever known. 
He's been like a second father to me. Many times I slept on 



The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 43 

the old couch in the back of his Exposition Park tennis 
shop and it was there I found sanctuary when the truant of- 
ficer chased me. Frank taught me to string rackets, and gave 
me rackets worth far more than the little work I did for him 
around the shop. 

After several lectures on the value of an education and the 
importance of finishing high school, Frank threw up his hands 
hopelessly and said, "I give up, kid. It's no use. I guess you 
know what you want to do with your life." 

I replied, "Yes, Frank. I want to play tennis. Nothing else 
matters." 

"Then play," he advised. "But one thing else become the 
best. I think you can do it, too." 

My father didn't subscribe to the idea. Although both Mom 
and Dad were born in Chihuahua, Mexico, they didn't meet 
and marry until years later in Arizona. They soon realized 
that, in this country, education is generally the pathway lead- 
ing to success. They vaccinated my brothers with this thought 
and it took. With me the verbal needle was sharp enough but 
my flesh and mind were unyielding. 

The inevitable showdown came one night when Dad 
said to me, "Richard, go to your room." 

I obeyed. My brothers and sisters and Mom became silent. 
I walked into my room, Dad following. He closed the door. 
I sank into a chair. 

"Get up!" he rasped. 

I jumped to my feet like a recruit. 

Dad is a quiet-mannered man who seldom raises his voice 
and rarely displays temper. He helps run our family by 
kindly words, pointing out and encouraging what is right 
rather than enforcing his wishes by actual commands. It was 
different now. His patience had left him. 

"I want you to have an education!" his voice boomed. I 



44 Man with a Racket 

had never heard him speak so loudly. "I want you to be a fine 
citizen. I want you to take advantage of the opportunities this 
country gives a boy. You understand, Richard?" 

I signified that I understood. 

"You will go to school every day, then?" he asked hope- 
fully. 

"I I can't truthfully promise that, Dad." 

His eyes flashed and he bellowed, "Why can't you?" 

"Because I have to play tennis," I said. "It . . . it's like 
it's part of me. Like a leg. Or an arm. It's hard to explain, but 
I can't give it up." 

"I think you will," he said evenly. His eyes focused on my 
racket and he moved toward it. "This will help you give it 
up." 

Seizing the racket, he broke it over his knee. 

"That won't stop me, Dad," I said. "I can get plenty more." 

I said it with no feeling of belligerence. I was merely 
stating a fact. He glared at me. 

"You will also give up your friendship with Charles Pate," 
he said, still operating under a full head of steam. 

"Why single out Chuck, Dad?" 

"He's a bad influence." 

"No. He's my friend." 

Dad was adamant. The discussion lasted for over an 
hour. Mom came in and saw me standing. I must have 
looked tired for she asked Dad if I couldn't sit down. 

"When I'm through with him, not before," he answered. 
Thirty minutes later he was through with me, but I wasn't 
through with either tennis or my friend, Chuck Pate. 

Dad discovered my affinity for Frank Poulain and his ten- 
nis shop and this was the next target. Storming into the shop 
one day, he announced, "I'm Richard Gonzales' father." 

"Fin happy to know you," Frank greeted. 



The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 45 

"I doubt if you will be," Dad said abruptly, 

Frank came from around the counter and faced Dad. 
"What's wrong, Mr. Gonzales?" 

"Specifically this/' Dad replied. "You encourage my son to 
play tennis. He doesn't need tennis. He needs an education." 

"I know/' Frank said thoughtfully. "Yet there's nothing I 
can do. The boy has a strong will." 

"I'll break it/' Dad said. 

"I doubt that you will, Mr. Gonzales," Frank warned. 

Dad mulled this over, countering with, "I can try." 

Dad started to leave when Frank halted him. "Mr. Gon- 
zales." 

Dad turned. 

Frank said, "The boy will have made more money from 
tennis by the time he's thirty than you will make in all your 
life." 

Acting like he didn't believe his own ears, Dad wheeled 
and faced Frank. "What was that you said?" 

Frank repeated his prediction. 

"You mean," Dad said incredulously, "that he'll make 
money out of these?" He pointed at Frank's collection of 
rackets for sale. "A man makes money from this this game?" 

"The exceptional players do," Frank explained. "And I 
think your boy's going to be one of the best." 

Muttering something unintelligible, Dad left the shop. 

He was gradually won over to my side. The process was 
slow. When full realization came that I was dedicated to ten- 
nis, he said to me, "Richard, it seems hard for you to go to all 
these tournaments on street cars," 

"I don't mind it, Dad," I said. 

"How do the other boys travel?" 

"Mostly in their own cars." 

"Then you shall do the same/' he said. The next day he 



46 Man with a Racket 

bought an eleven-year-old car for me. I practically dismem- 
bered the engine, but when I put it together again not a part 
was left over. And it even ran better. 

It was while I was in junior high school that I won my first 
tournament, held at the Slauson playground. There were 
only three entries. With the flip of a coin I drew a "bye/' call- 
ing "heads" and winning the toss. To this day I still call 
"heads" if I get involved in any coin tossing and invariably 
call "rough" when a racket is spun. Heads just seems more 
important than tails and rough seems to be the treatment I 
dish out to some opponents. 

Anyway, I won the tournament by beating Gene Connors, 
a man eighteen years older than myself. The third set went 
to 19-17. My reward was a yellow ribbon and a large chunk of 
confidence. The ribbon I took home to Mom. The confidence 
I stored for the future. Bringing trophies to Mom became a 
habit. Her living room is overflowing, and there's no use 
planting flowers in them or the family would have to hack its 
way through a jungle to go out the front door. 

Awards I treasure most are the Davis Cup replica of 1949; 
three sports awards trophies for accomplishment from the 
Los Angeles Times, presented by sports editor Paul Zimmer- 
man and Braven Dyer; and a tiny, battered piece of fast- 
fading silver won in 1939, at South Park, Los Angeles. The 
award was for a kid's decathalon events consisting of paddle 
tennis against a wall, roque, checkers, caroms, chess, basket- 
ball free throws, horseshoes, and ping-pong. 

After winning a few boys' tournaments, George Davis, 
sports editor of the Los Angeles Herald Express, mentioned 
me prominently in a column titled "Southern California 
Cradle of Tennis Champions." Frank Poulain clipped the 
article, slipped it into his pocket and said to me, "Come on, 
Pancho, we're going to see Perry T. Jones." 

"Who's Perry Jones?" I asked. 



The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 47 

"Mr. Tennis." 

"Pretty good player, eh?" I speculated. 

"He was once," Frank recalled. "Now he doesn't touch a 
racket." 

"What's so special about him then?" 

Frank tried to explain as we headed toward our meeting 
with Mr. Jones. He used the terms, "Brass hat" and "bigwig," 
but I didn't understand them. 

Let me digress for a moment. During the last decade it has 
become a popular pastime to take pot shots at the brass hats of 
the United States Lawn Tennis Association, either in print 
or by the spoken word. Frequently you hear those totally un- 
familiar with the setup comment: "The boys are okay it's 
the brass hats that cause the trouble." Nothing could be 
more untrue. I ought to know. I caused trouble. 

To some of the disgruntled, a brass hat was a cuspidor up- 
side down. To me it was a badge of authority placed on an 
intelligent head, a symbol of leadership and organizational 
ability. Somebody had to wear those mythical hats. 

Getting back to my trip with Frank, my first impression of 
the Los Angeles Tennis Club was unforgettable. I'd never 
seen such a layout. There were tennis courts everywhere and 
the place had a restaurant, cocktail bar, beautiful furnish- 
ings. It had, of all wonders, a locker room. And showers. I 
couldn't conceive of the luxury of taking a shower anywhere 
but home after playing. Why there were even two profes- 
sionals Gorge Tolley and Loring Fiske. 

Frank took me into Perry Jones' office, handed him the 
newspaper clipping, and introduced me as "the future cham- 
pion of the United States." 

Adjusting his glasses, Mr. Jones regarded me with half- 
closed eyes. "Maybe," he said after a long pause. And then 
he quickly added, "That's a long, long road." 

"He'll make it," Frank guaranteed. 



48 Man with a Racket 

"I've seen hundreds of promising boys/' Jones said. "Most 
of them fall by the wayside unable to pass the tests." 

"Test iny boy," Frank encouraged, asking, "You have a 
test?" 

Smiling, Jones removed his glasses, wiping them with a 
handkerchief. After a full minute had elapsed he said, "There 
is only one sure test that would work, but human feeling 
would have to be entirely disregarded." 

Frank asked what it was. 

"Take a dozen boys up a steep, slanting roof," Jones said 
with a straight face. "Give them a push. Out of the dozen 
maybe two would figure a way to get to the ground without 
being killed. From these two perhaps one would make the 
grade. Perhaps. He'd already have demonstrated courage, 
ingenuity, and fast reflexes." 

I had been listening carefully, and now for the first time 
I spoke. "Mr. Jones," I said, "take me to the roof." 

He chuckled. "I'm not that inhuman. Let's go to a court 
instead." 

We went to a back court where Mr. Jones found someone 
with whom I could rally. After ten minutes of hitting balls, 
he called a halt. 

"How's he look?" Frank inquired. 

"It's hard to tell," Jones said. "He seems lackadaisical. No 
incentive/' 

"That's right," Frank agreed, stating: "but it's true only 
when he's practicing. He has temperament. He has to have a 
challenge. When a match counts, he's up. If it's only practice, 
he's down. If he does well in the Dudley Cup matches," 
Frank pressed, mentioning the high school tournament, 
"would there be a chance of sending him East?" 

"There won't be any Dudley Cup matches for this boy, 
nor any Eastern trip," Jones stated with finality. 

Before Frank could ask why, Jones said, "I have already 



The Slums Were Always at Our Heels 49 

looked up Dick's scholastic record. He's ineligible because 
he's not in school enough." 

"Couldn't something be done to straighten that out?" Frank 
asked. 

"Sorry/' Jones said. "A rule's a rule. It's up to Dick to obey 
the rules." 

Riding back with Frank, we didn't talk much. Frank's an 
understanding guy and he didn't bombard me with ques- 
tions only one. He asked, "Made up your mind about 
school?" 

"I sure have." 

"What's the decision?" 

"I'm finished with school. All I want to do is play tennis. 
Nothing else. I'll play from morning until night." 

Frank sighed and said, "If that's the way you want it, I'll 
help all I can." 

"That's the way I want it," I said. 

And that's the way it was. 




Conquistador 



A mindreader with a tennis interest might have been shocked 
if he'd been able to get a glimpse of my thoughts at the end 
of the 1947 season. Or, perhaps, he might have gotten a good 
laugh. 

With only one year of senior tennis under my belt, a single 
thought occupied my mind. ''Next year, Pancho, you'll be 
the national champ," I told myself again and again. 

I could put my finger on nothing concrete to back up this 
optimism. Sure, I'd scored a few good wins. In my first visit to 
Forest Hills for the 1947 National championships, I had 
surprised a few officials by knocking off British Davis Cupper 
Derek Barton, and by forcing third-seeded Gardnar Mulloy 
to five furious sets before I headed home. And in the Pacific 
Southwest tournament that followed, I had upset big-name 
players like Jaraslov Drobny, Bob Falkenburg, and Frankie 

50 



Conquistador 51 

Parker before Ted Schroeder shattered my dream in the final. 
For this, I received a No. 17 national ranking at the end of 
1947. 

Now, that wasn't bad for a fellow just starting up the road 
in big-time tennis. But, the fact remained, I lacked the tour- 
nament experience that most fellows in the Top Ten owned. 
A two-year hitch in the U. S. Navy had forced me to tuck away 
my tennis game in mothballs for most of 1945 and '46 and 
this, more than anything, threatened to hold up my timetable. 
A player, aiming at something like the national crown, needs 
a couple of years on the big wheel in the East time to adjust 
to grass surface and the pressure of all-out, day-to-day play. 

As I made my plans for 1948, however, I could see no stum- 
bling blocks in the road ahead, but only a big golden throne 
with me sitting on it. Such is the blind determination of 
youth. It was this same determination and unwavering con- 
fidence that furnished the high-test fuel for the ride to my 
dreamland. 

As the 1948 season got under way, Perry Jones, who some- 
times is referred to as "The Emperor Jones/' informed me 
that he would send me East to play on the important grass- 
court circuit. It is such a decision that pumps fresh life into 
the heart of an amateur tennis player. In this case it meant 
that the Southern California Tennis Association would pay 
my travel and living expenses while I competed in the big 
events. 

This was very decent of Mr. Jones, considering my past 
suspension. Only a broad-minded person can forgive. He said 
to me, "Pancho, you're growing up. The circuit will do you a 
lot of good." 

He gave no hint whether he meant my game, my manners 
or my temperament. 

Mr. Jones was right. I was growing up. On March 23, 1948, 
I had become a husband. When I packed my bags for the 



52 Man with a Racket 

Eastern trek, my wife, Henrietta, further underscored my 
responsibilities by advising me to prepare for fatherhood. It 
was joyful news, but shocking news, too. An amateur tennis 
player has a difficult time supporting a wife especially a 
player of my standing. What would I do now that we were to 
become a family of three? The more I pondered this problem 
the more I realized how well the answer meshed with my 
dream of tennis grandeur. The national champion wouldn't 
have trouble supporting a family of three, I mused. The flame 
within me burned even hotter now. 

If I were to ascend the throne at Forest Hills, in September, 
I gave no indication of it in July, or even August. On the 
Eastern circuit I rapidly gained the reputation of an in-and- 
outer. At Southampton, Long Island, for instance, I wal- 
loped Budge Patty, the internationalist, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3, but in 
my next outing I lost to Gardnar Mulloy at Orange, New 
Jersey. At Newport, Rhode Island, to make my good win over 
Patty appear even more of a fluke, I fell at the hands of un- 
seeded Sam Match. 

I didn't panic, but simply worked on the flaws in my game 
and trusted I would have the kinks ironed out by the time we 
reached Forest Hills. In my spare moments, I studied the 
play of the fellows who loomed at my opponents in the Na- 
tionals. I tried to pick out weak spots I might exploit when 
the chance came, and I filed the data away, mentally, for 
future use. 

The 1948 Nationals stirred up a tremendous amount of 
interest since there wasn't a clear-cut favorite for the men's 
singles title. Jack Kramer, after dominating the game 
throughout 1946 and 1947, had vacated the throne to seek his 
fortune as a touring professional, and the tennis experts were 
having a picnic trying to forecast the outcome of the big event. 

Ted Schroeder, considered by many as the logical successor 
to Kramer, held the key to the situation. Since Ted was es- 



Conquistador 53 

sentially a businessman and only a part-time tennis player, 
there was always some question right up to the last minute 
about Schroeder's plans to play. Ted seemed to enjoy the 
mysterious role, too. 

When Schroeder finally decided he wouldn't compete in 
the Nationals, the scramble was on. Drobny, Parker, and 
Tom Brown were given bright chances to cop it all. Billy Tal- 
bert and Gardnar Mulloy, a couple of old-timers, couldn't 
be overlooked. Neither could Bob Falkenburg, who had won 
in fine style at Wimbledon a few months earlier. Here and 
there, a kind tennis writer would slip in my name as a "dark 
horse." 

American Lawn Tennis,, which was then regarded as the 
"bible of the game," fanned my hopes with its forecast. 

"Weak from backcourt on the forehand, dynamite at the 
net, Pancho Gonzales could take it all at Forest Hills this 
year, provided he hits a streak of hot-hitting that would hold 
out for the duration of the tournament. It is our opinion that 
the six-foot-three powerhouse from Los Angeles is one year 
away from the top. He must not be overlooked, however, for 
any player who is fast on his feet, continually attacks with 
accuracy, never knows defeat, and has the faculty for getting 
the points when he needs them, has the qualities of which 
champions are made." 

I read the writeups. Every guy does, no matter how earn- 
estly some might tell you that they don't. But ever since the 
time of my suspension for playing hooky, when some writers 
branded me as anything from a juvenile delinquent up to 
Public Enemy No. 1, I stopped believing everything I read 
in the papers. In this case, I found some encouragement from 
the American Lawn Tennis report. They had it figured the 
same way I did I had to get "hot" to bring home the big one. 

Arriving for the Nationals, I checked in at the Forest Hills 
Inn just a block away from the big horseshoe stadium. My 



54 Man with a Racket 

accommodations weren't exactly luxurious. Eight of us all 
players in the tournament slept in a room that was intended 
to sleep but four. Mattresses were placed on the floor for 
the extras, and I took turns with Hugh Stewart, a fellow Cali- 
fornian, in the rotation between the bed and the floor. 

I was strictly on my own at Forest Hills. I had no coach, 
no advisers. I practised as I pleased and mapped out whatever 
strategy I thought would be appropriate for a match. The 
officials paid little attention to me, and only Frank Shields, 
who later was to become non-playing captain of the U. S. 
Davis Cup team, expressed some concern over my prepara- 
tions for the big test. 

Observing my lackluster during a workout, Frank came up 
to me after the session and walked with me toward the club- 
house. Along the way, he told me how important it was to get 
started in the Nationals with a bang. 

"Get the momentum in the early rounds/' he said. "Win 
everything at 6-0, 6-0, 6-0, if you can, for in this brand of 
competition the 'killer instinct* pays off. It's the only way to 
keep your game 'up' over the entire ten-day period." 

It made good sense, and I thanked him for the advice and 
promised him I'd be a snarling tiger from the opening gun. 

The officials had placed me No. 8 in the seeding at the 
very bottom of the list. But I wasn't complaining. I was happy 
that I had gotten that much recognition everything con- 
sidered. Examining the draw, the first few rounds looked 
easy for me. The battle would shape up in the fourth round. 
From then on it would be like playing Notre Dame's foot- 
ball schedule a formidable foe at every stop. 

Drawing a first round bye, I got past Ladislav Hecht, the 
Czech, with no trouble, and then whipped Gus Ganzenmuller 
in the third round. This steered me smack into left-handed 
An Larsen, a fellow who worried me no little. Art was a 



Conquistador ^ 

scrambler, and a good one. And, what's more, he was quite 
capable of handling all the mustard I could put on my big 
serve. I sensed trouble. 

We started our match late in the afternoon on field court 
No. 16, and I quickly won the first set, 6-3. Midway in the 
second stanza, however, the sinking sun, which now had 
reached a bad angle, began to bother me on the volley. My 
attack faltered and Larsen was quick to respond to the op- 
portunity. He won the next two sets and I began to wonder 
if I'd ever get my game going again under those conditions. 

During the respite, tournament officials asked Art and 
me if we'd like to move our match to the Stadium court, 
which now was vacant. I was too engrossed with my desperate 
situation to weigh any advantage or disadvantage of such a 
move. I shrugged my shoulders in reply. Larsen, a guy who 
always enjoyed the center stage, thought the proposal was a 
great idea. And so we moved. 

It wasn't until we reached the Stadium court that I real- 
ized I might escape the tantalizing sun. Now the high, con- 
crete stadium saucer offered me complete protection. I 
charged to the net again and again with renewed confidence, 
and my volleying turned the tide in my favor. I won the next 
two sets, to pull out the match, and I was grateful that Art 
had made the decision to change horses in midstream. 

Frankie Parker was waiting for me in the quarter-final 
round now, and even though this old hand was top-seeded in 
the tournament and thirsting for his third national singles 
title, the situation didn't frighten me. Some of my confidence 
stemmed from the defeat I had hung on Frankie the year 
before in the Pacific Southwest tournament, but to prevent 
myself from getting too cocky I thought of the seventy-five 
thousand-dollar scare Parker had thrown at Jack Kramer in 
the 1947 final. Kramer, who was scheduled to accept a fat pro 



56 Man with a Racket 

contract upon the successful defense of his title, came dan- 
gerously close to losing his crown to Frankie. Jack just did 
pull it out in the fifth set. 

I treated Parker with respect, but midway in the third set 
I began to think I was home. At that point my game was, 
working like a charm, while Frankie was getting into trouble 
with his fickle serve and backhand. I won it in four sets. 

The excitement at the National championships generally 
reaches its peak as the play approaches the semi-final round.. 
Our lineup for the run down the homestretch was particularly 
interesting because it pitted two representatives of what was. 
being called America's "youth movement" against a pair of 
experienced foreigners. I was to meet Jaroslav Drobny o 
Czechoslovakia, while my old friend, Herbie Flam, faced Eric 
Sutgess of South Africa in the other half of the draw. Need- 
less to say, I was pulling for Herbie to come through. What 
a thrill that would be, I thought, renewing the feud with 
my boyhood rival right there in the final at Forest Hills! To- 
be completely honest, I must admit that I was giving some 
thought, too, to the lopsided won-and-lost record I held over 
Herbie. That, of course, would have made the meeting evea 
more pleasant. 

To kill the long hours between assignments on the court, 
I played cards. Sometimes it was bridge with a handful of 
officials at the West Side Club. More often, it was a hot game 
of poker with the players in the locker room. This operation 
did not produce a profit of any size, but it did keep my mind 
off tennis for a few hours and gave me a chance to work off my 
restless energy. 

I look back on the 1948 tournament very fondly. I think it 
was the most enjoyable of all the amateur tournaments I 
ever played in not because of anything I did on the court, 
but mostly because of the friendly atmosphere of the place 



Conquistador 57 

the way so many of the players made me feel welcome. 
Even the sardine-can conditions of our hotel room provided 
more merriment than wrangling, 

As I dressed for my rendezvous with Drobny, one thought 
seemed to beat out a tempo through my head . . . "two 
more to go. . . . two more to go. . . . two more to go." 

I pulled the switch. That kind of thinking was hazardous. 
Throughout the tournament I had been playing my matches 
one at a time. That's the only safe operational plan in a sud- 
den-death game like tennis. If you don't win today, you won't 
be playing tomorrow. Now, my thoughts dwelled on 
Drobny a left-hander like Larsen and a tough customer, 
too. 

More than eleven thousand people jammed into the Sta- 
dium for the semi-final match. Those who arrived early 
enough saw Drobny start out as though he planned to run me 
out of Forest Hills. His southpaw serve gave me fits, kicking, 
as it did, the "wrong" way. I answered back with all the 
power at my command and the first set settled down to a 
battle of serves. It followed this course for seventeen games. 
In the eighteenth, Drobny cracked through and took the set. 

He broke my service again at the start of the second set and 
opened up a 2-0 lead. Now I began to worry. I played cau- 
tiously and drew even, but Drobny was applying terrific pres- 
sure. As the set wore on, my serve found the target again and 
again, and now it was Drobny's turn to fret. And in the turn- 
about, Drobny's big cannon gave me less trouble. After thirty- 
seven games, I finally managed to get the lead at 10-9. A 
passing shot and another ace gave me the set. 

I ran ten consecutive points and soared to a 4-0 edge in the 
third set, and Drobny's game seemed to wobble. At this point, 
Drobny decided to concede the set and bank on the ten- 
minute respite to bring him back refreshed. It didn't work. 



58 Man with a Racket 

After five games in the fourth set, his stamina was gone, his 
keenness was no more. The match was mine, 8-10, 11-9, 6-0, 
6-3. 

My hopes of meeting Flam in the final were quickly ob- 
literated in the next match, when Sturgess breezed to a 
straight set victory. Tomorrow I would meet the South Afri- 
can stylist for the U. S. championship. For the first time in the 
tournament I permitted myself to anticipate the joy of writ- 
ing my name into everlasting tennis history. Overconfidence 
would never strike me down now. My thirst for complete 
success was too great to be denied at this point. 

A full house was on hand for the fateful hour. I thought it 
would never come. A long final in the women's champion- 
ship, plus a brief summer shower, had delayed the start of 
our match by almost two hours. There was considerable con- 
cern on the part of tournament officials over the possibility 
of darkness halting our play. 

I don't know if the fear of having to wait still another day 
to fulfill my dream was an influence. At any rate I got off 
to a winging start against Sturgess and quickly attained my 
most effective form of the whole tournament. My serve was 
faithful, my ground strokes strong as I took the first two sets, 
6-2, 6-3. Now Sturgess made his determined stand. 

In the twelfth game of the third set I stood at match point 
twice so near and yet so far away. The first time I hit into 
the net. The next time I drove over the baseline. The match 
went on, and now darkness began to envelop the Stadium. 
After I had cracked Sturgess' service in the twenty-fifth game 
to move ahead, 13-12, tournament officials came to the court 
and announced there was time for only one more game. If 
the match wasn't decided, it would be put over to the next 
day. 

Standing on the baseline, I remembered the proverb of 
my schooldays, "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do 



Conquistador 59 

today." I reached back for a little extra power for my serve. 
My tired legs suddenly had new vigor. The flame within me 
burned hotter than ever. Within minutes the job was done. 
Sturgess took my backhand on the half volley and lifted it 
into the net. Home, at last! 

Sixteen months after my first tournament outside the boys' 
ranks, I had come up smelling like a rose I was United 
States singles champion! 

American Lawn Tennis trumpeted my victory with this 
report: 

"The crowd cheered a handsome, dark-skinned Mexican- 
American youngster who smiled boyishly each time he cap- 
tured a hard-fought point, kissed the ball prayerfully before 
a crucial serve, and was human enough to show nervousness 
as he powered his way to the most coveted crown in the world. 

"Before play began, the experts said twenty-year-old Richard 
(Pancho) Gonzales was still a season away from the top. Some 
of the administrative rulers of the American game hoped he 
would never make it. But Pancho, a player who had to invite 
himself to important tournaments in order to meet topflight 
competition, turned out to be the player of the year. Every- 
one from the bluebloods to the fans who carried their lunch 
baskets seemed to be rooting for the kid from the West 
Coast. He never let them down." 

More important, I didn't let myself down. 




4 \ Don't To/k Much 



Personally, I have nothing against magazine writers, TV and 
radio commentators, except what they write and what they 
say. Some, overworking fertile imaginations, have created a 
fictitious picture of me the portrait of a Pachuco a Mexi- 
can-American delinquent type, specializing in knifings, 
thievery, vandalism, disobedience to parents. 

This is clear distortion. 

A few years ago on a major radio network, a sports com- 
mentator whose name is a household one, aired such opin- 
ions. Unfortunately, my family was listening. Dad, usually 
mild-mannered, exploded. Mom started crying. My six broth- 
ers and sisters all began shouting at once, pointing at the 
radio accusingly, just as if the little five-tuber was to blame. 

Dad dashed into his room. I waited a few minutes, then 
followed him. He was bent over a suitcase. 

60 



I Don't Talk Much 61 

"What are you doing?" I asked him. 

"Packing," he snapped, tossing a couple of shirts into the 
bag. 

"Why?" 

"Going on a trip." I had never seen him so angry. 

"Where to?" 

"New York," he fumed. "I'm going to find that lying radio 
man and beat the devil out of him." 

I put my hand on his shoulder. "Listen, Dad. You don't go 
after nationally-known figures with your fists." 

He stopped packing and looked up. "No?" 

"No." 

"Then 111 take one of your tennis rackets to him." 

"Look," I pointed out. "You and I and the family know 
that what he said is untrue." 

Dad didn't answer. 

"Don't we?" 

He slowly nodded. 

"Okay," I said. "What else matters? I don't care what 
others think. We know. Nothing else counts." 

He thought it over and finally jerked his head in agree- 
ment, pacified. 

Another popular misconception nourished by magazine 
writers, straining to come up with some sensational copy, was 
my scar. Around my parents and my own house it was simply 
referred to as "The Accident." To hear the writers tell it, 
this scar, which is quite prominent, running from under my 
left sideburn and ending at the nose, was inflicted during a 
pool hall fight. Thousands of tennis spectators believe it to 
be true, because they think a knife scar and Mexican-Ameri- 
can youth go hand in hand. 

Not only have I never carried a knife, but as a boy I didn't 
even have a bean-shooter! 

The disfigurement happened in 1935. 1 was riding a home- 



62 Man with a Racket 

made scooter bound for competition in a marble champion- 
ship. Bill Williams was with me. He was a bigger boy with 
longer legs and could push his scooter faster. I was lagging 
behind. 

"Come on, Dick!" he yelled. 

Trying to close the gap, and paying no attention to the 
traffic, I got too far in the middle of the street. A car shot by, 
the door handle hooking inside my cheekbone, laying it open. 
Results: two weeks of hospitalization and a permanent scar. 
The car was driven by an off-duty policeman. He was blame- 
less. 

A lawyer came over to the house and talked at length with 
my parents. Extracting some papers from a brief case, he 
pushed them toward Mom and Dad. 

"Just sign/' he said. 

Dad asked for what reason. 

"We'll sue and win the case," the lawyer explained. 

"No," Mom said, "it was Richard's carelessness. What's 
done is done." 

The lawyer was not easily dissuaded. His eyes ran over our 
inexpensive furniture, took in the many children. "You can 
use the money," he pressed. 

"Not that kind of money," Dad said, showing him to the 
door. 

Newspaper tennis writers, ranging from the great Allison 
Danzig of the New York Times down to sports hacks who 
don't know a tennis racket from a snowshoe, have been fair 
and factual. When you hit a clean placement there's little 
chance of being misquoted. 

Still, I can understand the untruths written by magazine 
staffers and voiced by radio and TV commentators. I'm a 
frustrating guy to interview, mainly because I don't like to 
talk much. Certainly not about myself. When I asked Hen- 
rietta to be my wife, I cut the proposal down to three words: 



I Don't Talk Much 53 

"Let's get married/' Standing still while being interviewed 
is harder than beating Rosewall, Hoad, Trabert, Kramer, 
Segura, and Sedgman on the same day. I'm in one place and I 
want to be in another like a bowling alley, or driving my 
hot rod, or playing snooker. I'm not rude or hard to get along 
with. I'm simply a guy in a hurry. 

Some of these interviewers get more than slightly irri- 
tated. An equation forms in their minds: Mexican-American 
youth, plus scar, equals fight. Sure, I know the American 
public loves color in their sporting figures and some writers 
are quite willing to appease the public at any cost even at 
the expense of my family. But I don't have to like it. 

There was a collection of writers who wore out the phrase 
that I was "from the wrong side of the tracks." I will go into 
this later, but if my family was from the wrong side of the 
tracks, there must be nothing but railroads in the United 
States. 

My early rearing and home environment differed little 
from that of any boy in an average American home of modest 
circumstances. There was only one exception. We were left 
alone every night. It was a necessity. Mom and Dad worked 
evenings, and also part of the day, to bring in enough money 
to give us a decent home. We needed no baby sitters. We 
never admitted we were babies. 

I was the boss due to seniority of years, having eleven 
months on my brother, Manuel. Unimpressed by my age, he 
wasn't easy to handle. One night when it was time for all of 
us to go to bed, Manuel refused. He simply shook his head 
wildly, growling, "No." 

I shoved him in the general direction of the bedroom. Stag- 
gering a few steps, he straightened up, stiffening like a 
ramrod. 

"You going to bed?" I asked, glaring. 

"When I feel like it." 



g4 Man with a Racket 

"Do you feel like it?" 

"I do not." 

"Well/' I said, not enjoying the stand I had to take, "I 
think you better do as I say before you have trouble on your 
hands." 

"I think not," Manuel retorted. His fists were clenched, his 
eyes blazing. My sisters looked frightened. 

I said, "You realize what this means, Manuel?" 

"Sure," he returned "It means I don't go to bed." 

"It means more than that," I implied, my eyes straying 
toward the door. 

He knew what I meant. "Let's go," he said, heading for 
the back yard. 

We went outside. I hated to do it. We were very fond of 
each other. But my position as head of the children was in 
jeopardy. I couldn't allow my authority to be challenged. 

It seemed like the fight lasted an hour. Neither of us got 
hurt. Actually, it was mostly wrestling and pulled punches. 
The other children were horrified onlookers. Manuel finally 
ran out of breath. We were both glad to go to bed. 

We had several more fights from time to time, but this was 
the only fight I ever won. Manuel developed a system. He 
would hit me and run. I couldn't catch him. 

Some reporters have compared me with a cloak and dagger 
operator simply because I don't like to talk much. I learned 
years ago that the man who listens never makes a fool of him- 
self. Switching a couple of proverbs to me, deeds are 
mightier than words, and the racket mightier than the pen. 

Some years ago I knew a businessman who had occasion to 
send many telegrams. One day I noticed that within fifteen 
minutes he dispatched two short wires to the same man. 

I inquired, "Forget something important in the first wire, 
George?" 



I Don't Talk Much 65 

"No," he said, smiling sheepishly, "I figure you can't be 
illiterate in ten words." 

Talking tires me more than a long set. I'll leave it to the 
politicians. Only once in the course of my entire life can I 
remember really enjoying talking, and this was on the tele- 
phone. The rare occurrence followed the 1949 doubles finals 
in the Southern California Tennis Championships. It was a 
marathon match, the longest in American, and possibly 
world, tennis history. The four tired participants were Gon- 
zales and Hugh Stewart vs. Ted Schroeder and Bob Falken- 
burg. The match lasted five hours and twenty minutes. 

Schroeder and Falkenburg won, 36-34, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 19-17. 

Hundreds of spectators sat without dinner, the final point 
being scored at 9:00 P.M. The crowd was chilled. It had been 
a balmy day, but after the sun dropped from sight the tem- 
perature fell about twenty degrees, catching the fans with 
insufficient clothing. 

At the finish of the match I went into Perry Jones' office 
and sat down at his desk to tackle a big, thick steak that a 
kind woman who lived near the Los Angeles Tennis Club 
had cooked for me. Every time I took a bite the telephone 
rang and somebody wanted to know the final score. I obliged, 
although the steak got cold. 

Mr. Jones came in and saw me trying to eat and talk into 
the phone at the same time. "You don't have to answer it, 
Pancho," he said. "Go on and eat your dinner/' 

"But I want to, Mr. Jones," I insisted. 

"Why?" 

"Well," I explained, "it's the first time I've ever felt like 
an executive." 

Even after I won the Nationals at Forest Hills in 1948, I 
didn't feel like talking. While still soaking wet with perspir- 
ation, I was hemmed in by reporters. The barrage of ques- 
tions began. There was no escape. 



66 Man with a Racket 

"How does it feel to be champion of the United States?" I 
was asked. 

"Fine/' I said. 

"Got any plans?" came from another. 

"None." 

"What's the first thing you're going to do now that you're 
the champ?" 

"Take a bath." 

"Are you considering turning professional?" was the next 
question. 

"Hadn't thought of it." 

"Whom do you credit with the development of your 
game?" a squeaky voice shouted. 

"Myself," I said. 

Henrietta pushed through the crowd and threw her arms 
around me. We kissed. "Darling, you were wonderful," she 
said. 

My shirt was sticking to me like glue. "I'm going to get you 
all wet," I told her. 

"Who cares," she said. 

I edged toward the clubhouse, holding her hand. I saw a 
slight clearing near the entrance and pulling her by the hand 
I broke free from the mob and made it. I had something on 
my mind. As a matter of fact, it began preying on my mind 
the moment the match was over. I had to do something about 
it. 

I wanted to ride the roller coaster at Coney Island. 




The Honeymoon 



When I first laid eyes on Henrietta Pedrin, my old black 
dog, Butch, was the only one to notice the chemistry change 
taking place within me. When she walked into my house I 
had been slapping Butch rather roughly on the rear. After 
taking one long look at this small, dark, seventeen-year-old 
girl, the hand pounding Butch became gentle and began 
stroking with affection. The dog couldn't quite understand 
what was happening, and maybe I couldn't either. All I knew 
was that when I looked at her and tried to swallow, some- 
thing like moons and stars seemed stuck in my throat. 

Henrietta was one mess of a name, I thought, and if I short- 
ened it to Henry, the connotation didn't do justice to ninety- 
eight pounds of softness. Later on I might think of a more 
fitting name; that is, if I ever saw her again. Somehow I 
thought I would. 

67 



68 Man with a Racket 

I'm supposed to inform the readers of my love, my court- 
ship, my honeymoon. A woman remembers these graduating 
stages better than a man. She recalls what she expected and 
what she got or didn't get. I have a knack of squirming out 
of things, and here is a good opportunity to turn over this 
part of the story to the girl I married. So let my wife speak. 

When I first met Richard in 1948, my hair was coal black, 
and still is, but how much longer I can keep it from turning 
gray depends on how much longer my husband races his hot- 
rod. His excuse is that the children are crazy for the trophies 
he brings home. All I care is that he brings himself home- 
in one piece. 

Richard's sisters, Margaret and Terry, had invited me to 
the Gonzales house to a party. I went with a boy friend. I was 
introduced to Richard, who was sprawled on the floor petting 
a black dog. They said he had just returned from playing in a 
tennis tournament in New Orleans. I knew nothing of ten- 
nis. 

Stacked in a corner of the room were a lot of silver tro- 
phies. I examined them. They were not engraved, and I 
couldn't understand why. I remarked to Richard, "Why 
isn't any writing on those cups?" 

He scrambled to his feet. He certainly was tall. I'm only 
five feet, one inch. When he spoke his voice seemed to float 
down from the ceiling. 

"Engraving costs money," he said solemnly. "We don't have 
much money around here." 

I nodded. I understood. I had grown up under the same 
conditions. "But," I asked, puzzled, "how do you remember 
where you won each one?" 

"That's easy," he said. "Tennis players are like elephants. 
They never forget." 

"I never met any tennis players," I told him. 



The Honeymoon 59 

"Well, have you ever met any elephants?" he joked. 

I shook my head. 

"Well, at least you know a tennis player now," he said, 
dropping back to the floor and flea-bitten Butch. And that 
summed up our entire conversation during the first meeting. 
One particular thing stuck in my mind: the way he flopped 
on the floor. It reminded me of a graceful parachute landing. 

He called me the next night and without wasting a single 
word asked, "Can I have a date?" 

I said, "When?" 

"Tonight," he answered. 

I was slightly surprised. At the party he seemed disinter- 
ested. "Well ..." I hesitated. 

"Harry James is at the Aragon Ballroom in Ocean Park," 
he announced. "You like to dance?" 

"I love to/' 

"I'll be over at eight-thirty," he said. 

I said, "Not so fast. I'll have to ask mother." 

Mother knew of the Gonzales family and consented. 
Promptly at eight-thirty Richard appeared in an old beat-up 
Ford that ran like a new car. He'd completely overhauled it. 
He drove fast and talked little. I didn't talk much either. It's 
hard to talk with your heart in your mouth, and that's exactly 
where mine was as Richard snaked through the traffic. 

When we went into the Aragon he said, "I used to be a 
lousy dancer, but I'm okay now." 

"You'll have to be," I said, doing some rapid calculating. 
"You're at least a foot taller than I am." 

He laughed. "Down on the floor our feet are even. The 
other end doesn't count." 

"The other end," I said, "will hardly be visible." 

A few steps later I knew that he was an excellent dancer 
with perfect rhythm. I strained on my toes trying to grow a 
few inches, to make it easier for him. During the intermission 



70 Man with a Racket 

I parked my shoes in a safe place and danced in my stockinged 
feet on top of his feet. 

We were having a soda and he said abruptly, "What about 
the boy who brought you to my house?" 

I glanced up at him. "What about him?" 

"You in love with the guy?" 

"Nope." 

"You in love with anyone?" 

"Not even myself," I replied. 

"Good," he said. "Let's dance." 

The next day he telephoned for another date. "You're so 
light on my feet," he laughed, "let's do it again." 

I said, "I don't mind being on your feet, but not at your 
feet." 

"What's that mean?" 

"That means I'm no hero-worshiper," I said. "I've heard a 
lot about your tennis. It doesn't mean much to me. It's the 
boy without the racket that counts." 

After a moment of silence, he said, "Does your mother like 
me?" 

"Sure. Why?" 

"No reason," he said. "Pick you up at the same time to- 
night." 

This was the beginning. With every date our mutual in- 
terest mounted. For two months we went steady, after- 
noons and evenings. Often in the afternoons I'd sit around 
the Exposition Park courts watching him practice. He 
handled his body beautifully. He had natural grace. He had 
a fierceness too the way he smashed at the balls. 

The next tournament on his busy schedule was at the La 
Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. La Jolla is a resort town near 
San Diego. I understand it compares in beauty with the 
French Riviera blue waters, white beaches, curving coast- 
line, mountains rising sharply behind the city. Richard 



The Honeymoon 71 

wanted me to go with him. This would mean staying over- 
night. He said he'd made arrangements for Beverly Baker, 
now Beverly Baker Fleitz, an ambidextrous, highly-ranked 
player to room with me. Richard's brother Manuel was also 
going along. Mother was won over after I satisfactorily an- 
swered a few questions. 

Richard failed to win the tournament but he won me, 
and I agreed to go to Yuma and marry him. Manuel would 
accompany us. Marriages were fast in Yuma, Arizona, and 
Richard enjoyed anything that was fast. 

We decided to keep our plan quiet. Richard said his folks 
would never give us their blessing, believing marriage at this 
particular time injurious to his tennis career. My own mother 
would never approve and I could almost hear her words, "A 
girl of seventeen doesn't know her own mind." I may have 
been a teenager, but I knew my mind. It was made up. Noth- 
ing could sway my decision. I wanted Richard. 

I lay on my bed the night before the big step and thought 
it over. I am sure that most girls contemplate a slow domesti- 
cation of their husbands that finally results in complete con- 
trol. I held no such ideas. I knew I could never handle 
Richard unless I used an electrically charged chair the kind 
a lion tamer uses. Furthermore, I knew I could never com- 
pletely own him, and the best I could expect was to share him 
with tennis. If I could compete with only one tennis court I 
might have the upper hand. But there were hundreds all over 
the world and only one Henrietta Pedrin. I shrugged it off. 
Don't fight it, I thought join it. 

The next day we raced toward Yuma. I wanted to fool my- 
self thinking, "He's burning up the highway for me ... 
breaking speed records to get married." I knew differently. 
Speed and Richard were twin brothers. 

After the secret marriage, I returned to my house and 
Richard to his. He hid the license in a desk at his house. I 



72 Man with a Racket 

hid my wonderful feelings and emotions at my house. Our 
parents suspected nothing. 

One night Richard called for me, and Mother greeted him 
with her arms folded across her chest. I knew the pose. 
Formidable! 

"Henrietta stays home tonight/' she stated. 

"Why?" Richard asked calmly. 

"Because," Mother explained, "she's too young to be going 
out every afternoon and night." 

I didn't intervene. I was curious to know how Richard 
would handle the situation. I could see he was angry. 

"Have you any personal objections to me?" he asked 
Mother. 

"None," Mother answered. "It's . . . it's just that she goes 
out too much." 

Richard put his hands on his hips facing Mother. He was 
boiling inside, and I hoped that he'd contain himself. I hate 
scenes. 

"Mrs. Pedrin," he said, "the law's on my side." 

"Law," Mother repeated. "I don't know what you mean by 
that, young man." 

"I mean," Richard said very deliberately, holding his an- 
ger in check, "that a married man has the right to take out 
his own wife." 

I gulped. Mother's face blanched. She groped for a chair. 

"It's true," I said, and I started explaining, fast. 

Before we had a chance to tell his parents, they found our 
marriage license quite by accident while they were going 
through the contents of the desk. Everyone knew now. It was 
better this way. For the first time I had the feeling of being 
married. We rented a small apartment and began to live a 
fuller life. 

Nearly every morning Richard was off to practice tennis. 
I wasn't jealous or felt neglected. My own hopes were tied 



The Honeymoon 75 

up in his life's work, and his life's work was tennis. We 
were dependent upon it for income, even though he was an 
amateur. Expense money for tournament travel can be 
stretched. We were just squeaking by. 

Richard had shortened my name to Henry. "It doesn't 
fit you/' he had said, "but it's the best I can do." 

"Henry," he reminded me one day, "we never had a honey- 
moon." 

"It can wait," said the economical wife. 

"No," he said impulsively. "We've got a couple of hundred. 
Let's go out and spend it." 

I didn't argue. No girl can turn down a honeymoon, even 
a late one. We packed old clothes. I knew better than to pack 
any fancy ones, being married to a guy who thinks he's go- 
ing formal if he wears a necktie. 

"We're going up the coast," he informed me. I didn't care 
where we went. Just having him to myself was enough. 

The second day of our trip, the scenery was startlingly 
beautiful, the highway curving around solid hunks of moun- 
tain. Far below were boulder-strewn beaches. We caught up 
to a station wagon, loaded with camping equipment, bearing 
green Vermont license plates. It was traveling at a moderate 
speed. 

Richard began to fret. He couldn't pass the car because 
there were no cutouts, no straight stretches and no side 
roads. For ten minutes he said nothing. Finally he grunted, 
"I don't want to spend our honeymoon breathing gas fumes." 

"Drop behind," I advised. 

Taking his eyes off the curving road, he fastened them on 
me. I should have known better than to suggest retreat to 
him. 

I looked at the sky. It was a reminder of Richard's face 
a massing and curving of black, spiraling storm clouds. Rain 
was in the air. I could almost smell it. We zipped around 



74 Man with a Racket 

another mountain, close to the perpendicular cliffs. Here the 
road ahead was visible for nearly five miles five miles of 
twists and turns, skirting more mountains, broken here and 
there by a few canyon mouths. 

Richard swore softly. The oath was mild enough, but he 
suddenly remembered me and said, "Sorry." 

Two more miles curved by and then suddenly Richard 
raised his arm, pointing excitedly, "A road, Henry! In the 
canyon!" 

I saw it, a thin, wavering ribbon of dirt that vanished from 
sight under a thick covering of leafy trees. The map was on 
the seat and I reached for it. A few seconds of scanning and I 
reported, "Not on here, Richard." 

He paid no attention. His eyes burned brightly, and color 
crept into his cheeks. Even his breathing was faster, and his 
hands gripped the steering wheel hard. 

"It isn't on the map," I repeated. 

"It's a short cut, Baby," he said. "My sense of direction tells 
me this road'll bring us back to the highway." I let him talk 
on. "Probably lots straighter, too. When it hits the coast 
again, the station wagonll be behind us. Can you imagine 
the face of the driver, Henry?" 

"Please, Richard," I protested gently. 

He patted my knee. "Wait and see," he said. 

I sighed. He swung the car sharply, treading the smooth 
asphalt for dirt. The road was bumpy. Behind us trailed dust. 

I heard a strange noise; like something following us. It was 
rain, torrents of it coming over the trees as if searching for 
our car. When it caught us, Richard slacked his pace, starting 
the windshield wiper. After a few seconds of hesitation, it 
began working. 

"Scared?" he asked me. 

"No," I lied, twisting a handkerchief between my fingers. 
It always helps. 



The Honeymoon * 

Night was coming, and the tall trees hurried the disap- 
pearance of day. Richard flicked on the headlights. The rain 
had stopped falling, and assorted puddles glistened under 
the dancing car lights. 

''Hungry?" he questioned. 

"A little." 

Five minutes later he squinted through the streaked wind- 
shield. "A light. Down the road." 

I saw a faraway electric blur that gradually merged into a 
sign of four letters "FOOD". The building was a simple 
roadside shack, small and unpainted. 

Richard braked to a stop. "Let's try it," he said. 

We went in. An old man with a stubble of ragged, 
red whiskers snapped off a static-filled radio and greeted us. 

After we ordered, and the hiss of frying hamburgers and 
the tempting aroma of onions filled the shack, the proprietor 
turned from the grill, asking, "You folks heard the news?" 

"We haven't heard anything but rain," I said. 

The old man brought the hamburgers and milk to the 
counter and took his time before answering. When he got 
around to it, he said, "Landslide above the coast highway. 
Knocked a car plumb over the cliff into the ocean. Heard it 
on the radio." 

"How awful," I said. 

"Yes," the old man continued, "terrible thing. Big station 
wagon. Two got killed." 

I stopped eating. Richard kept on but he chewed very 
slowly. "Did . . . did the car have Vermont license plates?" 
I asked, and my voice trembled. 

The old man eyed me closely and scratched his head. "Yep, 
it was a Vermont car." 

We didn't talk about it. When Richard paid the check, he 
inquired as to the fastest way to the coast highway. 



76 Man with a Racket 

"Take the right fork at the top of the hill," the old man 
said. 

We climbed the hill, and at the crest our lights picked up 
the intersection. Richard slowed the car. His voice vibrated 
with excitement as he said, "I think the left road is a short 
cut." 

"Yes, Richard/' was all I said. 

I believe this story furnishes you with a true picture of 
Richard and the way he reacts. Believe me, it's never dull 
married to a man like this. It's much like living with a ball 
that never stops bouncing. He has, I admit, changed a little 
since we were first married. He's not as carefree. A few years 
ago when he crossed a street he scarcely glanced at approach- 
ing cars, almost challenged them to hit him as he swaggered 
along. Now he looks. 

Not long ago he was talking in his sleep, something he sel- 
dom does. He usually sleeps like he's dead. I woke him up 
because he seemed unhappy and asked what he was dream- 
ing. 

Snapping on the bed light, he peered at me long and ear- 
nestly. "Why are you staring at me?" I asked, minus my 
makeup. 

He grinned. "You don't look a bit like him," he said mys- 
teriously. 

I sat up. "I hope I don't look like any him." 

"I was dreaming the truant officer was chasing me," he 
said. "The funny part of it was he looked just like you." 

I didn't think it was so funny. Subconsciously he was real- 
izing the responsibilities of life. These things come hard for 
Richard. 

I try to be a good wife. The main thing is to give him com- 
plete freedom and keep out of his hair, never saddle him with 
a problem, leave his mind free to concentrate on being the 



The Honeymoon 77 

best tennis player in the world. Staying out of his hair is easi- 
est of all. He doesn't light in one place long enough. 

Of this I am sure: I married a tornado. But I wouldn't for 
all the world trade him for a zephyr. Richard is Richard. 
Wild, almost like an animal, always running somewhere after 
something. The formula for holding such a man is to throw 
away the leash. 

Once I heard a radio funnyman describe a well-matched 
couple. "They fight to a draw every night/ 1 he quipped. 

By these standards, Richard and I are misfits. We don't 
fight. You can't fight with perpetual motion. Somebody has 
to stand still for a minute. 

I guess it's better this way. 




6 All's Well That Ends Well 



I didn't expect the whole world to change suddenly when I 
became National champion. Frankly, I didn't know what to 
expect. My dreams usually took me to the point where I was 
tossing my racket high in the air in triumph. That was as far 
as they'd go and that had always seemed far enough. What 
more could a guy ask of a dream? 

I came to be thankful that my dreams had always stopped 
at that point. If I had expected the world to become some- 
thing like Alice's Wonderland once the title was mine, the 
letdown that followed might have been even harder to have 
endured. 

To be sure, the days immediately following my victory in 
the 1948 championships at Forest Hills were crammed with 
excitement and many "first time" thrills. And for a time it 
seemed certain that my world would always be bright and 

78 



All's Well That Ends Well 79 

totally beautiful. My picture was on the front pages of news- 
papers from coast to coast. Sports writers hailed my somewhat 
sudden "arrival" as the dawn of a new era for tennis, predict- 
ing that I would eventually lead tennis back from the grave- 
yard. I was wanted for television shows, radio interviews, 
magazine articles. I was the "kid from the other side of the 
tracks," as they put it, who had barged into the sweet-smell- 
ing game of tennis and had taken it for my own. And every- 
body loved me for doing it! 

It didn't take me long to learn the hard facts of life that 
the fellow on top has no place to go but down. When a cham- 
pion wins a good match he gets a shrug of the shoul- 
ders. Champions are supposed to win. But when he loses, 
well, that's something else. He's a bum. It's a simple pattern 
and I suppose it applies to most American sports. However, 
as a twenty-year-old come-lately from Exposition Park, I 
found the fickle affection of the gallery and press quite con- 
fusing. 

My California friends really whooped it up for my home- 
coming from Forest Hills. The sports writers, in the mean- 
time Mel Gallagher, Bion Abbott and Luipi Saldana were 
stirring up excitement over the possibility of a Gonzales- 
Schroeder match during the playing of the Pacific Southwest 
championships the tournament that traditionally follows 
the big show at Forest Hills. 

"A match with Ted Schroeder," one scribe pointed out, 
bluntly, "would soon let us know the real worth of our new 
National champion." 

I could hardly disagree with him. 

Schroeder was recognized in most tennis circles as the 
uncrowned king of the American courts. He had not at- 
tempted to put an "official" stamp on this reputation by play- 
ing in the National championships. His business interests pre- 
vented this, although he did have time to compete in the 



80 Man with a Racket 

Davis Cup Challenge Round, which had been staged at For- 
est Hills a few days earlier. But it never seemed to matter 
whether Ted played or not; many tennis observers es- 
pecially those in high, official places felt that Ted could be 
champ if and when he felt like it. 

Winning the title at Forest Hills had given me a tremen- 
dous shot of confidence, but I had to wonder how much this 
would help me when I faced Schroeder across the net. 1 had 
never been able to beat the guy. Jack Kramer sums up 
Schroeder's strange hold on me in one, brief sentence: "Ted 
simply was a better player/' 

I don't agree. 

Ted held some kind of psychological advantage over me. I 
was never able to understand it. I still can't. He'd get me 
worried long before a match started. Often as we dressed in 
the locker room, he'd approach me and the conversation 
would run something like this: 

"Hello, Pancho." 

"Hello, Ted." 

"Good day for tennis." 

"Yeah." 

"You know, I'm going to beat you again, Pancho. . . ." 

Then he'd stroll away, as nonchalant as ever. I'd stand 
there and burn playing right into his hand. He was halfway 
home before we'd even hit a ball! 

Chuck Pate helped me analyze Ted's game. Chuck did a 
great job. He spread out all the details on a table top, and 
everything made sense. It was like handing a fellow the com- 
bination to a safe but I still couldn't open it. There was no 
doubt about it, Schroeder was my jinx. 

Ted played almost daily at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. 
For a period of about a week, he didn't show up at all. This 
seemed strange. 

"Where do you think Ted is these days?" Chuck inquired. 



All's Well That Ends Well 81 

"He's probably at home practicing/' I said. 

Chuck looked at me, puzzled. 

"Practicing at home? How'd he do that?" 

"Not on a court on a doll/' I explained. "He's got a doll 
that looks like me, and he's sticking pins in it. You know, 
black magic!" 

Chuck smiled weakly. 

"Don't let the guy get you down," he warned. "You'll catch 
up with him one day." 

I wanted to catch up with him in the Pacific Southwest. 
That would give me a season I could really celebrate the 
National championship, and my first win over Schroeder. 
Wowl The thought flashed through my head like a beacon 
all through the early rounds of the tournament. It'll be dif- 
ferent now that I'm the champ, I promised myself. 

Evidently, Ted hadn't heard about me winning the title. 
If he had, he remained unimpressed. When we got together 
in the semi-final round, before a packed house at the Los 
Angeles Tennis Club, he showed no respect at all for the new 
crown that had been placed on my head. And it was like old 
times. 

It was a slam-bang, gallery-pleasing match all the way. At 
one stage, in the fourth set, I came within a point of tying up 
the match, but they don't pay off on "almost." When the final 
returns were in, Ted had the match, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 10-8. My 
title seemed a little tarnished now. 

But that was only the beginning! 

The following week, in the National hardcourt champion- 
ships at the California Tennis Club in San Francisco, Ted 
again demonstrated his supremacy. This was a particularly 
bitter pill. A victory in the hardcourt event would have given 
me a grand slam of U. S. outdoor championships, since I al- 
ready had won the clay and grass court titles in '48. But it was 
Ted who added to his glory. This time he breezed to a 6-4, 



82 Man with a Racket 

4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory, running his winning streak over me to 
seven straight. 

Two successive losses in the first month of my reign! What 
a disgrace, I thought. The next time out, however, my neck 
got even redder. Playing in the semi-final round of the Pan- 
American championships at Mexico City, I dropped a quick 
11-9, 6-0, 6-4 decision to Eric Sturgess the same guy I had 
beaten in the Forest Hills final. 

Now the tongues really began to wag. Some began to 
chant that my title win was a fluke. Others said I was still a 
year away from becoming a winning player. I wasn't in a 
position to argue. 

There was some speculation that the U. S. Lawn Tennis 
Association would break tradition and by-pass me for the 
Number One rung in the 1948 national rankings. The top 
spot almost automatically goes to the national champion, 
but considering my spotty record and my inability to beat 
Schroeder, it was suggested that, perhaps, Ted belonged at 
the head of the parade. When the lists were published, how- 
ever, the Association placed me at Number One; Ted, at 
Number Two. 

This confidence in my Number One spot, I believe, helped 
ine achieve what had loomed as the impossible. Playing in 
the La Jolla Beach Club Invitation tourney, I finally got 
around to beating Schroeder, but even then I had to do it the 
hard way. 

On the eve of my match with Ted, my doubles partner, 
Hugh Stewart, came close to spoiling my hour of triumph. 
Hugh's a big guy, with a strong overhead. In the middle of a 
doubles match, he drifted out of position on a high lob. Just 
as I was about to swing at the ball, Hugh's racket came down 
on the bridge of my nose. An explosion took place inside my 
head. Blood spurted. The match ended and I was rushed to a 
doctor. 



All's Well That Ends Well 83 

"It's broken," the doc informed me, as he worked it back 
into place. 

"Can I play tomorrow?" I asked, thinking of my date with 
Schroeder. 

He shrugged. "It's up to you. You won't be comfortable. 
You'll have to breathe through your mouth." 

The tournament chairman expected me to default be- 
cause of my injury. That night I called him. "The match is 
on," I told him. 

The next afternoon, with my swollen nose taped and my 
head still a little numb from anaesthetics, I played the best 
tennis of my life. I beat Ted, 6-2, 6-8, 9-7, and at the end of 
the match I felt like a new man. 

"I'll gladly break my nose every day of the week if I can 
be sure I'll play as well as I did today," I told reporters. 

The victory made the score 7-1 in my personal duel with 
Ted. It was still a bit lop-sided, true, but at least I had 
broken the ice. The next time it would be easy, I told my- 
self. 

But it wasn't. In our very next clash, Schroeder gave me 
the worst beating ever 6-1, 6-0, 6-2, and, what's more, it took 
him only forty minutes to wrap it up. 

I had started 1949 with two big goals in mind to win at 
Wimbledon on my first trip abroad, and then to defend my 
title at Forest Hills. This was the combination I needed to 
become a sound prospect for a pro tour, and, of course, a big- 
money tour was the answer to all my other problems. 

I had launched my program nicely enough by winning the 
National Indoor championships in New York, beating Billy 
Talbert, one of the finest players on boards. The metropoli- 
tan newspaper and wire service writers agreed that I had the 
knack for winning "the big one." I wanted to believe them, 
but in the months that followed, these writers, along with 
many others across the land, changed their tune. 



84 Man with a Racket 

At the River Oaks tournament in Texas, in April, I suf- 
fered a terrible loss at the hands of Sam Match. Sam blistered 
me in twenty-eight minutes. In the French championships 
at Paris, I was drubbed by Budge Patty. In my debut at 
Wimbledon, Australian Geoff Brown put me out in the 
third round. The tide turned, temporarily, when I returned 
to the States and successfully defended my National Clay 
Court championship against Frankie Parker. But when I 
checked in for the all-important play on the Eastern, there 
were few winners in my racket. 

Billy Talbert knocked me out at Spring Lake, New Jersey, 
and again at Southampton, Long Island, where we staged 
a grueling five-set final. On the plus side, I downed Vic Seixas 
for the Pennsylvania grass court title, and won from Gardnar 
Mulloy in four tough sets at Newport, Rhode Island. 

It was mid-August now, and the Davis Cup Challenge 
Round and the National championships were only a couple 
of weeks away. I needed time. I needed it desperately. My 
game was coming along sharpening with each tournament. 
I had that feeling in the finale with Talbert at Southampton. 
And when I followed with wins over Seixas and Mulloy, I 
knew I was getting closer to the target. But was it the right 
timetable? Would I be prepared for Forest Hills? 

My two singles matches in the Challenge Round, in which I 
defeated Frank Sedgman and Billy Sidwell, contributed two 
points to our 4-1 triumph over Australia. But they did more 
than that for me. The keen competition of Cup play was just 
what the doctor ordered for my game. I knew I was ready to 
put my crown on the line. 

On the eve of the 1949 Nationals, however, there weren't 
too many tennis observers who gave me a chance. Tennis 
expert John M. Ross, writing in Sport Magazine, summed up 
the situation without pulling a punch: 



All's Well That Ends Well 85 

"It has been a full year since young Richard (Pancho) 
Gonzales, the problem child of tennis, stood the net world on 
its ear with his awesome surge to the top rung of the amateur 
ladder. But most tennis addicts still have not recovered from 
the shock not even Pancho himself. 

"The unprecedented havoc wreaked by the dazzling Cali- 
fornian in last year's Nationals was branded at the time as a 
fluke by some, and a catastrophe by others. And, in the inter- 
vening months, his fickle form has not only glorified his critics, 
but has earned for him the rather ignominious accolade of 
'cheese champion/ 

"When Pancho struts across the turf in this year's edition 
of the Nationals at Forest Hills to protect what's left of his 
somewhat battered crown, he will be standing at the crossroads 
of his brief and hectic career. If he can duplicate his "miracle 
of '48,' there will be a pot of professional gold waiting at the 
end of the rainbow. But, if he fails, he may never hear the 
knock on the door again. 

"Not many tennis players have encountered such a crisis at 
the tender age of twenty-one." 

Ross was right; it was a crisis, indeed a seventy-five-thou- 
sand-dollar crisis. And it was a crisis I had created through my 
own mistakes, I can't honestly say that the national title went 
to my head it wasn't quite that bad. But I know I didn't 
train as hard as I did when I was gunning for the champion- 
ship. My next mistake was restricting myself to only local 
tournaments for about six months. This combination caused 
me to blow up to 208 pounds about twenty-five pounds over 
my normal playing weight. 

But even the knowledge that my problems were created 
by my own mistakes did not comfort me. It didn't make it 
any easier for me to read what the tennis writers were 
saying about me. The same fellows, who only a few short 
months before had labeled me as "the boy wonder/' suddenly 



86 Man with a Racket 

changed the tag to "cheese champion." The brand followed 
me everywhere and added to the pressure of trying to get into 
shape while playing in important torunaments. 

Although the newspaper blasts hurt me deeply, they also 
made me more determined than ever to land on my feet. 
But this wasn't the only factor behind my late-season push. 
There was the matter of Ted Schroeder. Our showdown was 
at hand. 

Ted was in the process of establishing himself "officially" 
as the best tennis player in the world. He had won the 
Queens tournament in London, and had followed this with 
a spectacular triumph at Wimbledon. He ducked the Eastern 
grass court circuit, but in the Challenge Round he won two 
matches, running his streak to seven consecutive Davis Cup 
triumphs. Now he figured to finish in grand style by copping 
the Nationals. 

Bobby Riggs, who at that time was in control of the big- 
money pro tour, had designated Schroeder as his next head- 
line attraction, and was planning to pit Ted against Jack 
Kramer, the newly crowned king of the pros. There was only 
one hitch in the plan Schroeder had to beat me. And I 
had some ideas of my own concerning the identification of 
Kramer's next opponent on tour. It mattered not that the 
record book showed Schroeder owned me. He'd find that 
snatching a potential seventy-five-thousand-dollar pro con- 
tract from my grasp wouldn't be like taking candy from a 
baby. 

The tournament officials added a little fuel to the fire that 
now was burning within me by designating Schroeder as the 
number one seed. I got number two. That was sort of an of- 
ficial confirmation of what everyone was saying. I didn't com- 
plain. Nor was I bitter over the way the tennis brass had ral- 
lied to Schroeder's side for the showdown. Almost to a man, 
the officials were pulling for Ted. He was their kind of guy 



All's Well That Ends Well 87 

personable, poised and a good talker. To underscore how 
they felt about him, U.S.L.T.A, officials gave him the William 
Johnston Trophy during the tournament, an award that 
stresses "character, sportsmanship, manners, cooperation, and 
contributions to the growth and development of tennis." 

To make sure I had at least one supporter in the gallery, I 
brought Henry to Forest Hills with me. Our little boy, Rich- 
ard, Jr., while a Gonzales fan, remained with his grand- 
parents in California. I had to wonder, as the tournament 
progressed, if I had made the right decision in letting Henry 
come. Henry was pregnant, and the ever-increasing tension 
of our most important hour was not conducive to her well- 
being. My wife, you see, becomes very emotional during my 
matches. 

When we arrived at Forest Hills I shied away from all 
invitations to parties and the like. Some of them were from 
important people. Henry was a little disappointed. She didn't 
come right out and tell me, but I sensed it. 

"Look, Henry," I explained. "I'm a plain and simple guy. 
I don't belong in this social whirl. Exposition Park is my level 
that's where my friends are. I've come here for one pur- 
pose to keep my title and get a professional contract. Noth- 
ing's going to interfere." 

"Nothing will," Henry said. 

And nothing did. 

Frank Shields, who had given me much encouragement 
during my visit to Forest Hills in 1948, again was in my 
corner. That made me feel better. Frank, who had been the 
nation's top-ranked player in 1933, is a sound tactician. He's 
also a big handsome guy who knows how to wear clothes and 
is poised and at ease in any kind of company. His polish and 
mastery of the social graces interested me as much as his ten- 
nis tips, and I watched him carefully and tried to acquire 
some of his self-assurance. I learned a lot from Frank, but to 



88 Man with a Racket 

this day I still don't know how to shake a lady's hand prop- 
erly. I know enough to wait until she extends it this puts all 
the risk on her side. More often than not, I'll grip it like my 
racket and the smile on fair lady's face suddenly becomes a 
grimace. 

After practice one day, Frank drove Henry and me to 
the private home which was our headquarters during our 
stay at Forest Hills. Along the way, Frank engaged in the 
small talk that made him such a pleasant guy to have around. 

"Did you ever think how lonely a game tennis is?" he sud- 
denly asked. 

"Lonely?" I countered. "With all those people around?" 

He nodded. "Oh, they're around, of course, but they're not 
on the court with you. You stand on a plot of finely manicured 
grass, seventy-eight by twenty-seven feet. It's yours to de- 
fend. Any ball that comes into it must be hit back. It's like 
having your country bombarded by the enemy. Only no 
allies. You do it alone." 

"Seventy-eight by twenty-seven," I mused. "Well, what do 
you know I" 

"You mean," Shields said in surprise, "you didn't know 
the dimensions of a tennis court?" 

"Never gave it a thought," I replied. "As long as my two 
feet can cover all those feet, I figure I'm alright." 

"Ill bet Ted Schroeder knows the dimensions," Frank 
said casually, trying to needle me at the same time. 

"Probably. Ted's a smart boy." 

There was silence for a moment. 

"Ill tell you one thing, though, Frank," I broke in. "Ted 
will have to know more than just the size of the court if he's 
going to get this title away from me this week." 

"Atta boy!" Frank roared. 

As the tournament got under way, the big crowds watched 
our matches carefully. The early rounds were uneventful. I 



All's Well That Ends Well 39 

got past Jack Geller, Straight Clark, and Jimmy Brink with- 
out losing a set. Schroeder kept pace by also winning every 
set in his first three matches. In the quarter-final round, how- 
ever, I ran into my old left-handed nemesis, Art Larsen, 
and I had a battle on my hands. Carelessness on my part, 
plus some sensational hitting by Art in the fourth set, pushed 
this match to the limit. But by the fifth set my game was 
working well and there was no danger thereafter. 

The semi-final round was much easier. My opponent, 
Frankie Parker, started off with a rush. He played almost per- 
fect tennis to win the first set, and was within two points of 
grabbing the next set, before my big serve pulled me out of 
trouble. I wound up with eleven service aces in that set, win- 
ning it at 9-7. I knew I had Frankie now. The next two sets 
were mine and I was in the final round. 

Schroeder had two stiff five-setters before he qualified for 
the finals. Frank Sedgman had Ted in trouble in the quar- 
ter-finals, before Schroeder rallied strongly to settle the issue 
in the fifth set. In the semi-finals, Billy Talbert, who had 
polished off Jaroslav Drobny in straight sets the previous 
day, jumped off to a 2-1 lead in sets at the intermission. But, 
once again, Ted came charging back, captured the fourth and 
fifth sets and landed in the final. 

The setting for the final round resembled the corn-ballish 
plot of a grade-B Hollywood movie. Considering the peril- 
ous path any player has through a national championship 
tournament, it did seem somewhat miraculous that out of 
101 players in the competition the two players perfectly cast 
for the drama of the final round should arrive for the 
rendezvous unscathed. Such things only happen in the 
movies. Nevertheless, there we were for our showdown, and 
America's tennis fans licked their chops in anticipation of 
the fireworks to come. 



90 Man with a Racket 

On the eve of the final, Shields invited Henry and me to 
dinner. 

"Let's relax over a nice, thick steak," he suggested. 

I declined with thanks, telling Frank we were going to a 
movie. 

"Well, be sure to pick out something soothing," he 
advised. 

I nodded. 

Henry and I went to a double-horror show. But I slept like 
a baby that night. 

The next morning, neither Henry nor I mentioned tennis. 
When we went to the West Side Tennis Club, there was 
no big scene at parting time no emotion. Henry simply 
patted my hand lightly, turned and went off. There was no 
need for words we knew what was in each other's heart. 

In I went to the locker room, and, remembering my past 
pre-match experiences with Schroeder, I made a point of 
steering clear of him. I put on my tennis togs slowly. I felt 
good. Imagine that! Feeling good when you're about to play 
the most important match of your life against a guy who 
had beaten you seven times out of eight! 

I examined my rackets carefully and an official came along. 

"They're ready for you over there, Pancho," he said. 

It was post-time. 

During the warm up on the center court, Schroeder seemed 
as nonchalant as ever, but when the match got under way he 
became dead serious and aggressive. The early games indi- 
cated the tenseness of our play. Most points were won on 
errors, rather than placements. For thirty-two games it was 
serve and volley, serve and volley, and the capacity crowd of 
thirteen thousand howled in delight as it watched history 
in the making. The break came in the thirty-third game. 
Trailing, Iove40 on my own serve, I stormed back to send the 



All's Well That Ends Well 91 

score to deuce. Schroeder took the advantage on a net cord 
shot. Now I went in for a volley and I hit the ball down the 
line, out o Ted's reach. Chalk dust flew in all directions as 
the ball hit the line. To my complete amazement, the lines- 
man signaled, "Out." 

That gave Ted the service break he needed, and when he 
held his own serve in the next game, he had the set, 18-16. 

Tennis historians point to this set as one of the all-time 
best. Certainly it was one of the longest. But after struggling 
for an hour and thirteen minutes, I had nothing to show for 
my labor but a one set deficit. In a much shorter time, 
Schroeder had the second set, too. 

At the start of the second set, Ted asked the umpire for 
permission to don spiked shoes. The grass was damp and 
slippery. The request was granted. It was a smart move 
especially since I didn't own a pair of spikes and couldn't 
borrow any. 

A lot of things started running through my mind now. 
That bad line call that cost me the first set still stuck in my 
craw. The spikes. It was shaping up as a bad day a typical 
Schroeder-Gonzales match, I thought, where everything goes 
wrong for Pancho. Poor Pancho! 

While I was feeling sorry for myself, Ted was piling up the 
points and he took the second set at 6-2. 

Now the odds really were stacked against me. No one 
ever spotted Ted Schroeder the first two sets and lived to 
pull the match out of the fire. No sir, you just didn't get away 
with such things against this great clutch player. I had no 
argument to offer. And when the second set was over, my 
morale was cracked. My only thought now was to give the 
packed gallery a good match for their money to play as hard 
as I could, even though my cause was almost hopeless. 

With this aim, I ran through the first four games of the 



92 Man with a Racket 

third set rather easily. Ted then appeared to make a decision 
to let this set go and concentrate on finishing me off in the 
fourth set, after the intermission. I won the set, 6-L 

I showered and changed clothes during the intermission. 
Frank Shields came in. 

"That first set was a tough one to lose," he consoled. 

I nodded. "But it might be tougher on Ted in the fifth set," 
I told him. 

"That's the spirit," Frank said, like a cheer-leader. "There's 
plenty of time to get him." 

"How's Henry taking it?" I asked. 

"Oh, she's been crying a little, but she's alright." 

Frank now mapped out some strategy that was to play an 
important part in the rest of the match. He noted that Ted, 
when he was a point ahead, was using his second serve first 
and winning points on my weak return. I was standing too 
deep for this serve, expecting, of course, the big first serve. 
Frank told me to keep an eye on the marquee, where he was 
sitting. He would give me the signal when to move in for the 
softer serve. By being better prepared for this, I could move 
in behind my return of service and be ready to volley at the 
net. 

Frank, sitting in the front row of the marquee seats, 
dangled his arms over the railing to signal to me. It paid big 
dividends. 

In the fourth set, my serve was my best friend. This, com- 
bined with the fact that I was now handling Schroeder's serv- 
ice better, caused my spirits to soar. I moved out to 3-1, then 
to 5-2. At this point, a leather-lunged guy in the gallery, 
obviously referring to Schroeder's work as a refrigeration 
salesman, roared: 

"Come on, Pancho, put Ted back in the deep freezer." 

The gallery laughed, and suddenly I felt I had thirteen 
thousand people pulling for me. Pulling for Pancho the 



All's Well That Ends Well 93 

"cheese champion/' I took the set at 6-2, and we were all 
even. The fateful fifth set was at hand. 

What would the betting odds be on such a fifth set? I don't 
know. Only four times in six decades of National cham- 
pionship play had a player dropped the first two sets and re- 
turned to win the match. But, of course, none of these was 
accomplished with Ted Schroeder as the opponent. Ted, a 
determined, gutty guy, was murder in that fifth set. He was 
such a consistent winner in five-set matches, that tennis ad- 
dicts had altered the sports axiom to read: Never bet against 
Notre Dame, the New York Yankees, or Ted Schroeder in 
the fifth set." 

But, frankly, I didn't think of odds or of Ted's reputation 
as the showdown started. I was strong. I was hitting good. 
And I was confident. A pretty good combination for any fel- 
low to have in the crucial moments of play. 

The games followed service through the first eight. In the 
ninth game, I cracked through Ted and all I had to do now 
was hold my own serve and the title was mine. Ted drove 
my first serve into the net, but I followed with a double fault 
and a netted backhand and I trailed, 15-30. Schroeder put 
the next delivery in the net and it was 30-all. Now I was two 
points away, but the crowd groaned as I went after a ball that 
would have gone "out" and clobbered it wildly. It was 30-40. 
Ted drove beyond the baseline for deuce and I quickly took 
the advantage by banging home a good placement. I stood at 
"match point/' 

The crowd sat in tomb-like silence. I looked across the net 
and saw my arch foe squirming and gritting his teeth. I kissed 
my racket and served. Ted returned. I fired it back and Ted 
took it on his forehand. The ball zoomed down the sideline, 
out of my reach. My heart must have stopped beating for the 
split second it took for the ball to land and the linesman to 
call his decision. 



94 Man with a Racket 

"Out," was the welcome call. 

I was home. Winner and still champion. 

I'll remember a lot of things about that moment. The gen- 
erous tribute from the gallery; the look of astonishment on 
Ted's face; the genuine smiles and affection from so many of 
those who had been so certain I wouldn't win. But the pic- 
ture of that wonderful moment that will stay with me always, 
is the photograph used by American Lawn Tennis on its 
cover. It showed Henry hugging me and smiling the most 
wonderful smile I've ever seen. And the caption read: 

'The Last Laugh." 
How true! How true! 




/ The Years Slip By 



Hardly had I returned from winning at Forest Hills when 
the telephone rang in my Los Angeles apartment and Henry 
announced, "Bobby Riggs." 

In two giant strides I crossed the room and grabbed the 
phone. I had a pretty good idea of the nature of the call. 
Riggs rarely telephones anybody to pass the time of day in 
idle gossip. 

"Hello, Bobby/ 5 I greeted, trying to control the excite- 
ment I felt. 

"What's on for tonight, Pancho?" he asked. 

"Not a thing," I answered, concealing the fact I had a bowl- 
ing date. 

He said, "Pick you up at eight, sharp. Something I want 
to talk over with you/' 

"Okay," I said. 'Til be ready/' 

95 



96 Man with a Racket 

He appeared on the stroke of eight, brief case in hand. 
From it he extracted some typewritten papers. Getting right 
to the point, he said, "I've got a contract for you to play Jack 
Kramer. A tour of the country. We'll go find a notary, sign, 
and wind it up." 

I held up my hand like a traffic cop. "Not so fast, Bobby/' 
A faint trace of surprise crossed his face. "You want to tour 
with Jack, don't you? What's the problem?" 

"Let's take it to Neil McCarthy," I proposed. "He's my 
adviser. If he says, 'Sign it,' I will." 

McCarthy was a smart lawyer and he took a fatherly inter- 
est in me. He lived alone in a big house off Sunset Boulevard 
with a flock of servants to take care of him. Since he had lived 
in Arizona for a time, Neil numbered among his acquaint- 
ances many Mexicans and knew their special problems. 

When, as an amateur, I was preparing to go to Wimbledon, 
he handed me four hundred dollars. 

"Who do you want murdered?" I asked him. 
He laughed. 

"Take this money and buy yourself some clothes," he or- 
dered. "You don't want the English to outdress you." 

I thanked him, and when I left, he called after me, "Be 
sure to wear a necktie for a change." 

After introducing Neil to Bobby we sat down while he 
read the contract. When he finished, his face was expression- 
less. With a slightly apologetic shrug of the shoulder he tore 
the contract into little pieces, dropping them to the floor. 

"Come back tomorrow night and I'll show you a new con- 
tract," he said to Bobby. 

The next night we were back and I signed. Bobby signed. 
The tour called for approximately 123 matches between Jack 
and myself; Kramer, World's Professional Champion vs. 
Gonzales the challenger. Jack was the King of the Courts 
rated by many experts as one of the greatest players ever to 



The Years Slip By 97 

reach this enviable position. Fresh from the amateur ranks, 
I was determined to snatch the crown from his head, and I 
was just cocky enough to think that I could do it. 

I had a lot to learn. 

We were in business together Bobby, Jack, and I 
partners in a great sports venture involving thousands of 
miles of travel over every conceivable type of roadbed con- 
structed by highway engineers of mixed abilities. Roads are 
important on a tour. All traveling is done by car. 

So closely did the agreement bind us together that it re- 
minded me of a marriage contract with its "for better or for 
worse" clause. At least it did in substance. 

I got the "worse/' 

I don't mean that the contract contained fine print or 
hidden or twisted interpretations. What I mean is I got the 
trouncing of my young life. Jack was merciless. He never re- 
laxed. His "off" nights were few and far between. If I man- 
aged to dump him in Boston and foolishly start thinking I'd 
solved his all-court game, he'd thump me so terribly the 
next night in Providence I'd wonder if the strings in my 
racket weren't just ornamental. 

Consequently, Jack wasn't doing the gate any good. How 
many persons, at the height of Rocky Marciano's career,, 
would pay to see him fight a flyweight? Our tour wasn't much 
different. I was clearly overmatched, and it began to dawn on 
me that my game, at the age of twenty-one and less than a full 
year out of the amateurs, was a far cry from the peak of pro- 
fessionalism. 

Prior to taking the court one night in Chicago, I overheard 
Jack talking to a well-wisher who was assuming the role of 
adviser. 

"Better take it easy, Jack," the man said. 

Glancing up from examining the strings of a racket, Jack 
inquired, "I don't understand." 



^ Man with a Racket 

"Well," the man went on, "I mean get smart.' 5 

"Smart?" 

"Yeah. Toss Pancho a few matches. Keep the match score 
closer. You'll draw bigger crowds/ 7 

Slowly Jack straightened up. He was clutching the racket 
and I noticed his hand trembled, but his voice was steady as 
he replied, "The only thing I'll toss on this tour is you, if you 
don't get out of here." 

The man took off like a rocket. 

"Jack," I said, walking toward him, "I heard what you 
said." 

He looked at me. His lower lip was shaking with rage. 
"Got any opinion on the subject?" 

"You did the right thing," I said. 

He calmed slightly. "I'm glad you agree," he said. "Now 
let me tell you something. I don't care if we lose money every 
night. I'll never let down one single point against you or 
anybody else on any tour. The public pays their money and 
they're going to see me at my best. And you too." 

"You'll get no argument from me on that," I agreed. 

Scooping up the rest of his rackets, Jack said, "Let's go." 

I followed. He was still boiling mad when we were intro- 
duced to the crowd. We warmed up and began to play. I was 
a feather caught in a tornado as Jack exploded all his pent-up 
anger on the innocent white balls. At the end of the two sets, 
I had won only four games. 

Jack walloped me ninety-six matches to twenty-seven on 
the tour, and I returned to Los Angeles dragging my tail 
behind me. For days I went around the house sullen, uncom- 
municative. Defeat burns me up and I was really afire. My 
attitude was hard on Henry. 

"Richard," she said, "do I in any manner, shape, or form 
resemble Jack Kramer?" 



The Years Slip By 99 

I scowled, which was as close to a laugh as I could manage 
in the midst of my doldrums. My eyes roved her figure. "Not 
with those legs," I assured her. 

"Then concentrate on my legs/' she ordered, "and realize 
I'm not Jack Kramer. I'm your wife. I'm the girl you married. 
Remember? Don't take your Kramer losses out on me." 

"I remember." 

"Start treating me like your wife again and quit brooding/* 
she commanded, and went on: "So you were beaten. He's 
the only man in the world who can do it." 

"He'll never do it again," I vowed. 

"Okay," she said, "but don't lose sight of the fact you 
gained plenty from the tour." 

"Sure I did. I learned that when he comes to the net and I 
dump a soft one at his feet he . . ." 

"No. Something else." 

"What?" 

"You gained seventy-five thousand dollars, more money 
than we dreamed existed. Let's do something with the money. 
Something wise." 

We talked it over and late that night decided we would buy 
a modest house and also one for my mom and dad. From now 
on money wasn't going to be one of our worries, if we had 
any worries. Maybe it didn't grow on trees as the saying goes, 
but it grew on tennis courts, and if I made seventy-five thou- 
sand dollars my first year as a pro, what would I make my 
second and my third? 

This was the thinking of an inexperienced mind. The 
thinking of a drunken sailor on payday. 

Almost immediately the shadows dimmed the glitter of 
the gold. In 1951, my second year as a pro, I worked long 
hours but played little tennis. It was profitable for those cal- 
loused gentlemen who figure percentages however, and run 



100 Man with a Racket 

legalized luxury poker parlors close to Los Angeles and have 
habitual customers like Richard Alonzo Gonzales. Slowly, 
yet always surely, they relieve you of your chips. Some nights 
you win, some nights you lose, but in the long run after hours 
of sitting, the money fritters away. And I sadly discovered 
it went a lot faster than I'd been able to earn it on the courts. 

The card players I pitted wits against were the type that 
could sit calmly for an hour, staying out of pots, waiting for 
cinches. I couldn't. I can't play this way. I push my hands too 
strongly. I bluff. And I get caught. 

Why was I squandering away the nights gambling? The 
motive was obvious. No tennis matches were lined up for me. 
I had become an also-ran. I needed the tonic of action. Gam- 
bling filled the vacuum, although it lacked the real thrill of 
tennis. 

I've lost as much as one thousand dollars in one night at 
cards, and more than two thousand dollars in a session at the 
dice tables in Las Vegas. I like to forget the bad nights, but 
as most fellows do who have a thirst for competition, I re- 
member the good ones. It's the same way in tennis. The de- 
tails of a bad day often are vague, but you always remember 
everything about your big wins even the temperature, the 
color of your opponent's eyes, and what you ate for breakfast. 
My big match at the card table came in a game of Stud Low 
Ball, table stakes. I won $890 for the hand, holding a seven- 
five low. 

All the while I was hounding Bobby Riggs. Finally he 
made clear the facts of life. They were both enlightening and 
discouraging. 

"Pancho," he said, "you're dead as a drawing card/* 

"Dead!" I repeated. 

"Professional tennis is a funny sport/' Bobby explained. 
"All the public really cares about is the champ and the chal- 
lenger. Mainly the challenger. The stamp of amateurism 



The Years Slip By 10I 

hasn't fully dried on him yet, so he's a knight in shining 
armor, the people's choice, a fresh new personality. 

"Like I was?" 

"Like you were," he agreed, continuing: "You're past tense 

now. Your name's worth nothing. You came, you saw and 

Jack Kramer conquered. 

"I see," I said sourly. 

Bobby's next words failed to lift the gloom. "Perhaps some 
day," he said, "we can build you up again." 

"And in the meantime?" 

"Keep playing, keep in condition, keep your weight down, 
save your money, and stand by." 

His words were hard to swallow and bitter to the taste. My 
future suddenly darkened. True, there would be a few 
exhibitions, a few lessons and a few sporadic tournaments. 
Not enough competition. When you've got a body that con- 
tinually cries for action, you've got to heed the cries. 

Following my card-playing disaster I was approached by 
Arzy Kunz who, at the time, operated the Olympic Tennis 
Shop at Exposition Park. Frank Poulain had retired from 
tennis and Arzy rented from him. 

Arzy came right to the point. He doesn't enjoy talking any 
more than I do. A guy we both knew once cracked, "If Arzy 
and you had a two-man debate, you'd just sit facing each 
other across a table in utter silence. At the end of the al- 
lotted time one or the other would say, 'Let's go out and have 
a beer.' End of debate." 

So Arzy said to me, "Want to buy my tennis shop? I'm 
thinking of moving out on LaCienega." The location was 
near some fine public courts in Beverly Hills. 

"What've you got to sell and how much?" I asked him. 

"A little equipment and a lot of good will," he returned, 
mentioning a price. 

I went over to the shop with him. Twenty minutes later 



102 Man with a Racket 

he handed me the key. I now owned the shop which I had 
loved as a kid the place which once had been my refuge 
from truant officers. 

I started stringing rackets and selling balls, but I'd knock 
off work if somebody like Oscar Johnson came by looking 
for a game. Later Oscar became the National Tennis Asso- 
ciation Champion (Negro Championship). I tried to coach 
him a little. It wasn't easy. I'd never had any tutoring myself. 

Often Fd play social tennis on other courts sometimes at 
Griffith Park, where, after a workout, I'd talk a little tennis 
in Fred Moll's shop. Fred had a good business and sold more 
rackets in a day than I sold all week. 

At night I'd play basketball in a semi-pro league, or bowl. 
Ten blocks from my home is the Twentieth Century Recrea- 
tion Bowl run by Charley Peroni, a high-average roller and 
teacher. Charley, together with the other boys who hang out 
there, knows nothing about tennis and cares less. This was 
evidenced by what Charley said to Al Stump, a magazine 
writer who was doing a story on me called, "All Dressed Up 
and No Place to Play/' 

"This Gonzales!" Peroni told Stump, "I don't know any- 
thing about his other game, but he could be another Andy 
Varipapa at bowling if he worked at it. I've seen him bowl at 
least 75 games of 240 pins or more. Some of the sharpest 
shooters in town hang out here and this Gonzales cleans 'em 
out in pot games . . . He's got that great wrist action." 

Three nights each week I'd roll with my wife in a Recrea- 
tion League. It gave me something to do, helped me work off 
steam. I enjoy the sounds in a bowling alley. A man can create 
his own thunder. They tell me that in Greek Mythology 
there was some guy named Zeus, who hurled thunderbolts. 
When I throw a strike, if old Zeus can hear me he must think 
he's back in business. 

My day would start pretty early in the morning. Don't take 



The Years Slip By log 

my word for it ask the neighbors. None of them needed 
alarm clocks. Late sleeping was impossible, for they'd be 
awakened by the sounds of my hitting tennis balls off the 
back wall of my garage. This is good practice. I can beat any 
player in the world today but not that old Devil wall. No 
matter how you hit the ball hard or soft the wall always 
returns it. 

After a workout with the wall, I'd go down to the shop. 
What I dreaded most was opening the mail and encounter- 
ing business forms that needed attention. I hate paperwork. 
I didn't even like adding up the receipts, but this wasn't a big 
problem. There wasn't too much to add up usually. A small 
business can be a headache to a man without a business 
head, and believe me, my business was small. 

To be sure, I had many tempting offers to teach a few rich 
people in Hollywood and Beverly Hills for fees much fatter 
than the prevailing Southern California hourly rates. It 
would involve taking a paunchy man in his mid-fifties, who 
should be wearing a corset, and showing him how to swing a 
racket so that he wouldn't look like a fat lady chopping wood. 
Southern California has plenty of self-styled pros who would 
jump at the chance to teach such pupils. These fellows have 
no club affiliations, doing most of their teaching on private 
courts. 

I passed up most of these opportunities, although in a 
weak moment I did agree to teach a female movie star. She 
had everything looks, figure, big home, private tennis court. 
Fifty bucks per lesson was the price, and if it involves just 
straight tennis, that's awfully good money. A lesson never 
runs much over an hour. 

A servant showed me to the court and informed that the 
mistress would be along in a minute. I had a large straw 
basket filled with practice balls which I set down at the rear 
of the court and waited. Then I saw her approaching. What 



104 Man with a Racket 

a walk! It belonged on a runway not a tennis court, but I 
wasn't complaining. 

Introductions over, I showed her the proper grip, made 
clear the rudiments of the swing, sent her deep into the court 
and began feeding her easy balls. She fanned the air hope- 
lessly, handling the racket as if it were a giant fly swatter. 
Occasionally she made feeble contact on the wood. She was 
setting the game back about twenty years, but her classic 
figure made this something less than revolting. 

Walking around the net I advised, "Just relax and let me 
swing for you/' I stood behind her maneuvering her arm 
through the correct motions. Slowly she leaned back until 
her head rested against my chest. The racket grew limp in 
her hand. Her eyes were misty. It was a throwback to some 
corny movie scene of another era. 

"Oh, Pancho," she whispered, and her eyelashes actually 
fluttered. 

"You interested in taking a lesson?" I asked curtly. 

"A lesson? What kind of a lesson?" she panted. 

I tried to ignore the obvious come-on. 

"Well, I'm supposed to teach you tennis" I replied, trying 
to stick to business. 

"Oh yes, tennis!" she laughed. "And I'm supposed to re- 
lax! Then let's try relaxing back at the house." 

Fingering the collar of my shirt she fluttered her eyelashes 
some more. I squirmed mentally. "Look, Beautiful," I said 
bluntly, "I'm married, and . . ." 

"So am I," was the prompt reply. "That makes us even." 

"Not quite." 

"What can your wife do that I can't do?" she wanted to 
know. 

"Well, she can bowl for one thing," I laughed. 

"Anything else?" 

"She can cook beans the way I like 'em." 



The Years Slip By 105 

She tossed in the sponge now, and with one brief, but noisy , 
salvo, told me to take my tennis lesson elsewhere. 

Now I don't want anyone to think I'm boasting of my 
virtues. The story simply points up how seriously I take my 
tennis. 

As I was pouring over the books in my shop one breezy 
day and hoping the wind might blow through the doorway 
and carry away the tantalizing paperwork, the telephone 
rang. It was Mom and she wanted me to come over. 

"Anything wrong?" I questioned. Mom rarely called me 
during the day. 

"It's about Sonny," was all she would say. 

I wondered what had happened to my brother, Ralph. 
Mom briefed me. Ralph called Sonny by our family was at 
the hard-to-handle age. He owned a beat-up 1934 Ford coupe 
and would hop into it right after dinner and take off for a 
pool parlor. This hangout, Mom felt, was full of characters 
that might shape Ralph's own character the wrong way. 

When I got to the house I tried to suppress a grin 
and failed. 

"You think this is a joke?" Mom demanded. 

"No," I assured her. "I was just thinking it wasn't too many 
years ago that I was considered the bad boy of the family." 

Mom shrugged off the past. "You are the oldest/' she stated. 
"He'll listen to you." 

I put my arm around her shoulder. "Don't worry, I'll 
take care of it." 

I located the pool hall, and Ralph was there as usual. His 
jaw dropped when he saw me. 

"Shoot a game, Dick?" he invited. 

I presented a proposition. "Shoot you for your car. Double 
a fair price or nothing." 

"You're too good." 



106 Man with a Racket 

"Okay then, follow me over to my shop/' I said. "I want to 
talk to you/* 

On the way out I collared the owner of the place and said, 
"This boy's under age. If I catch him in here again I'll see 
that you're reported." 

When we reached the shop, I asked Ralph for the keys to 
his car. Puzzled, he handed them over. "I'll be keeping 
these/' I said, mentioning he was too young to own an auto- 
mobile. 

He protested. "I've got a big investment tied up in this 
car. You can't just move in and take over." 

"That isn't exactly what I'm doing. I'm buying out your 
interest/' 

He didn't answer. 

"And don't jack up the price," I warned. 

We settled on fifty dollars. I put the car in a bus parking 
lot near my shop, where it sat for two weeks gathering rust. 

In the middle of a slow business day I decided to look it 
over. I threw up the hood and started thinking and dream- 
ing. 

That dream was to cost me seventy-five hundred dollars! 

Beneath that battered, old hood I installed a 1951, eight- 
cylinder Cadillac engine "goosed-up" to 375 horsepower. 
Wide open, she could hit 160 miles per hour on a straight- 
away. No reasonable facsimile now existed between Ralph's 
former car and what I had now. It was renovated into a low 
slung, white-painted, stripped-down, sleek hunk of metal. 
I'd gone "hotrod happy." 

Contrary to the opinion of many who have fixed ideas, the 
average hotrod driver is not a juvenile delinquent or a case 
,o arrested mentality. He works hard on his car and work- 
ing keeps a boy out of trouble. He doesn't necessarily roar 
around corners on two wheels, or try to outspeed police cars. 
He is, for the most part, a sane, sensible driver perhaps a 



The Years Slip By 107 

little noisier than the average stock car operator. He races 
at one of several places. The king spot around here the 
Indianapolis o the hotrodders is an asphalt strip at 
Saugus, California. All races are under official supervision. 

Saugus, forty miles north of Los Angeles, the capital of 
jalopy racing, has a lightning fast "drag-strip." Here, I wear 
coveralls, a crash helmet and drive like hell. It's a far cry 
from the sedate atmosphere of Forest Hills. 

Hotrod racing can be dangerous. Safety is purely up to the 
individual. I'll admit its pitfalls to anyone but Henry. You 
start from a standstill. The getaway is important. You zoom 
down the converted airfield runway toward the finish line, 
a quarter of a mile away. I can reach a speed of around 70 
mph in 500 feet. 

Sure there's risk. If everything isn't in perfect mechanical 
shape you may blow higher than a kite. If you're unlucky you 
may get a broken arm, busted leg, or even worse. Sure, death 
might be breathing down your neck but that doesn't mean it 
has to catch up with you. 

What's the reward? It can't be measured materially. The 
prize trophy is worth about three dollars. I suppose it's the 
feeling of excitement, the emotional release, that satisfies. 

Henry put up strong arguments in the beginning. She was 
fighting a losing cause. The word-battle ran like this: 

"Think of me, Pancho." 

"I do." 

"Think of your family." 

"I do." 

"Can't you give it up?" 

"Sure but I don't want to." 

"Want me to be a young widow?" 

"No but you look good in black." 

"You're hopeless." 

"And you're beautiful." 



108 Man with a Racket 

And that's the way it went. 

Another sport I tried was golf. Frank Parker and Bobby 
Riggs introduced me to the fairways, and considering the 
way I dug them up the first time it wasn't a pleasant meeting. 
After three weeks, however, I carded a 75. Several friends 
urged me to switch from tennis to the links. The great tennis 
ace, Ellsworth Vines, had made a profitable change. 

"No," I argued, "my heart will always be in tennis." 

Anyway, golf was a trifle too slow for me. I loved smack- 
ing the ball; liked to watch it soar through the air. What 
bothered me was the lull between shots. There's nothing to 
do but walk. That's a little too mild for me. 

Because of the expiration of my contract with Bobby Riggs 
and no renewal in sight, I signed with sports promoter 
Jack Harris. Harris, who had promoted several tennis tours in 
the past, was trying to crack the Riggs-Kramer stranglehold on 
the pro shows. 

This was okay with me. Personally, I didn't care who was 
the boss just as long as I could return to the courts. So from 
1952 through 1953, I belonged to Jack Harris. I stagnated. 

Another activity I developed to take up the slack was 
breeding dogs. Boxers. I accomplished this by the air of pa- 
tience, nature, and a wired-in dog run in the back yard. I'm 
glad no neighborhood popularity contests were held. With 
the barking of dogs and the slapping sounds of tennis balls 
bouncing off the garage wall, undoubtedly I would have fin- 
ished last. 

Henry and I sold some of the pups for prices ranging from 
$75 to 1 125. But we didn't make much money; not even after 
Duchess, a fine female had delivered her third litter. Al- 
though boxers aren't supposed to be hunting or retrieving 
dogs, one of the pups disproved the theory by bringing in 
several missing tennis balls every evening. Today, the dogs 
have taken over the house. Friends who keep getting a 



The Years Slip By 109 

constant busy signal when telephoning us have often re- 
ported the instrument out of order. It isn't true. The pups 
keep knocking the receiver off the hook. 

During these years of tennis oblivion I had no club affilia- 
tions, although any time I wanted to play at the Los Angeles 
Tennis Club the Forest Hills of the West Coast George 
Tolley, one of its pros, arranged a game for me. Of course 1 
enjoy playing anybody, but I needed competition tougher 
than the club players could offer if I wanted to elevate my 
game to the Jack Kramer level. Patting the ball socially 
wasn't going to advance my game very far. 

Periodically the local tennis set invited me to cocktail 
parties. At this juncture, let me sound off loud and clear on 
what my opinion is of these so-called revelries. I may have 
been the toast of the tennis clique after the second straight 
year I won the national championships, but at a cocktail party 
I was like an olive that found its way into a glass of bourbon 
instead of a martini. In short, I was a misfit. 

Frankly, cocktail parties bore me silly. A lot of people, all 
dressed up, drink too much and try to outshout each other, 
claiming to be what they aren't. I can't be something I'm 
not because I am what I want to be at all times. If that 
doesn't make sense, skip it. Besides, I don't care about alco- 
hol. I can take it in moderation or leave it alone. Generally, 
I leave it alone. I recognize it as a condition destroyer. 

I like to circulate. It's hard for me to stand or sit in one 
place very long. You can't move around very much at a 
cocktail gathering hemmed in by a solid phalanx of bodies; 
there's always the fear of spilling your drink on some 
woman's expensive dress. 

And speaking of women at these groups, they'll back you 
into a corner and either tell you their life story or want to 
know yours. Some of them have asked to feel my arm muscles. 
One felt my calves. "I'm just taking a muscular survey," this 



110 Man with a Racket 

one said. Muscles seem to interest women. Maybe it's be- 
cause if a girl snares a guy with a bunch of them, she figures 
shell have no trouble getting him to move the furniture 
around every time she goes into a redecoration mood. 

Now I wouldn't mind a cocktail party so much if when I 
came in I'd be handed a printed floor plan with all exits 
clearly marked. Then I'd be able to slip away unnoticed at 
the appropriate time. Even that wouldn't be easy when you 
find yourself pinned against a wall by a bunch of chattering 
females. 

Getting back to tennis, the dead-stop in my career ended 
temporarily, late in 1953, when Jack Kramer called me. Be- 
sides being one of the foremost tennis players in the con- 
troversial history of the game, Jack has something else in his 
favor. He's an astute businessman. This is a rare combina- 
tion, and I've always regretted not having such dual talents. 

Jack had taken over the promotional reins of pro tennis 
from Bobby Riggs and his new organization was known as 
World Tennis, Inc. Jack listed himself as general manager. 
Olin Parks, a former sporting goods representative was tour 
director, and Myron McNamara, an excellent public courts 
player was the publicity director. 

Jack invited me to his office. I sat uncomfortably, in a hard 
chair. No soft seats were available. I suspect that Jack ar- 
ranged it so, purposely, with the object of denying a prospect 
any form of comfort. Jack, therefore, gained the advantage. 
The prospect couldn't relax, doze or let his thoughts stray. 
He had to pay close attention to anything Jack might be sell- 
ing. And Jack usually was selling. 

Jack had crushed Frank Sedgman, the Aussie ace, on a 
national tour in 1953, and now was in virtual retirement, 
appearing infrequently in doubles play or a fill-in match. I 
had gradually developed mastery over him. He was past his 
prime. Age and an arthritic back condition were taking a 



The Years Slip By m 

heavy toll. In our rivalries since my lambastings on the tour, 
I held an 11-5 edge. My game was steadily ascending. I had 
blown the U. S. National Professional Championship to 
Segura in 1952, but took the title the next year by beating 
Don Budge. Ground strokes had always been my weakness. 
Now, if necessary, I could stay in the back court and outstroke 
the best of them. 

I studied Jack as he launched into his proposals. He wanted 
me for a round-robin tour against Sedgman, the crowd-pleas- 
ing Segura, and the old redhead, Budge. The standings of 
the wins and losses would be tabulated, and the lion's share 
would go to the victor. I was ready to roar like a lion. 

Bouncing around on the balls of his feet the same bounce 
he does when he begins his service jack was waving a con- 
tract in the air and talking about the advantages contained 
therein. When Jack talks he projects and his listeners are both 
charmed and hypnotized. The only challenge he's ever had in 
this personality projection business comes from Nancy 
Chaffee Kiner, now semi-retired from serious tournament 
competition. Nancy's personality reaches even those in the 
fringe area and on days when her shorts are too tight she 
doesn't even have to talk. 

Anyway, Jack was reaching me. Every time he mentioned 
money, the entire room seemed to take on a golden hue. You 
see, from 1951 to 1954 I had lost most of my contact with 
income, and this money-talk was like meeting up with a long- 
lost friend. 

In the middle of a long sentence, which included more 
words than generally come out of me during an entire hour, 
I caught Jack at a comma and said loudly, "J ust a second, 
Jake!" 

Contract trailing from his hand, he walked over close and 
said, "What is it, Pancho?" 



112 Man with a Racket 

"There's only one thing that keeps me from signing your 
contract." 

His eyes narrowed, pupils contracting. I could tell he was 
thinking of money. "And what might that be, Pancho?" he 
asked pleasantly. 

"I haven't got a pen," I told him. 

He stared at me incredulously for a long moment, regained 
his composure and whipped out a fountain pen. It wasn't one 
of those ball point jobs, but something in the fifteen dollar 
class. You can tell a successful promoter by his fountain pen. 

"Here," he said, handing me the pen and smoothing the 
contract on the desk surface. "Write your full name and no 
Pancho, please." 

I signed Richard Alorizo Gonzales. 

Maybe I was on the road back. 

The only business matter on hand was disposal of the Ex- 
position Park Tennis Shop. Frank Poulain still owned the 
property along with an adjoining restaurant. Elsie Gabel, a 
former San Francisco tournament player who did a good 
stringing job, moved in. 

I won the round robin, but it wasn't exactly a howling 
financial success. However, it proved I could beat anyone in 
the world. The year I clashed with Kramer to initiate our 
tour in Madison Square Garden, eighteen thousand tennis 
fanatics showed up. I earned $5,400 for a single night's play. 
The round robin drew only 4,300 paying fans. In smaller 
places hardly more than four to five hundred turned out. 

At the conclusion of this tour, I went to tennis-booming 
Australia. Playing with the pair of local heroes Sedgman 
and McGregor plus Segura, we packed them in. Attendance 
records were smashed in Perth, Adelaide, White City, New- 
castle, Melbourne. I was at the peak of my game, inspired by 
a guarantee plus an individual prize of one thousand pounds 
($2,800) for each tournament won. I swept the tour, beating 



The Years Slip By 113 

Sedgman, 16 matches to 9, McGregor, 15-0, and Segura, 4-2. 

I killed them in Australia. 

From Australia we moved northward to Tokyo and then 
backtracked to Manila. The crowds were fantastic. The press 
gave us page one billings and four-column photos. More than 
fifteen thousand fans stood in line for hours on our final stop 
in Seoul, Korea. We created much goodwill. 

Yes, dollar-wise, 1954 was a profitable year. It was good to 
be back in action again, on top, swatting the ball all over the 
world, playing before enthusiastic crowds. 

I came home feeling like a million dollars. The feeling 
didn't last long. Not one reporter was on hand at Los Angeles 
International Airport. If newspaper readers donned strong 
glasses and meticulously read local sports pages they might 
have found a brief notice at the bottom of a column: 

"Richard (Pancho) Gonzales returned to Los Angeles today 
after completing a professional tennis tour in which he 
traveled many thousands of miles. His future plans are un- 
certain." 

Back to reality! 




The Dead-End Street 



Professional tennis is a unique sport. It has changed little 
since C. C. (Cash and Carry) Pyle came up with the play- 
for-pay notion some three decades ago. Pyle's headliners for 
that first pro tour were Suzanne Lenglen, the incomparable 
French star, and Vincent Richards, the so-called "Boy Won- 
der 51 of his day. Since that time, the greatest names in tennis 
have made the natural transition from amateur to profes- 
sional, but the format for the pro game has remained the 
same. It has not developed its full potential as has been the 
case with golf. And it still depends largely on the excitement 
stirred up in the amateur ranks for its own success. 

If the amateurs produce an outstanding champion, or a 
colorful performer of top-notch ability, it almost always 
means the pros have a potential headliner for another 
national tour. But when the amateurs have a quiet year, the 

114 



The Dead-End Street 115 

pros suffer, too. Pro tennis audiences demand new faces, 
fresh challengers the very best tennis produced by the 
world's best players. 

In 1955, pro tennis turned down a dead-end street. I fol- 
lowed the same discouraging road. There was no pro tour. 
No national pro tournament. No future to speak of. 

I had run out of competition. To be sure, there were plenty 
of competent players around the circuit, but no one who 
would attract cash customers on a pro junket. Other sports 
champions had suffered the same fate Joe Louis, Bobby 
Jones, Willie Hoppe to name a few. I had virtually sealed 
my doom by blasting Dinny Pails and Frank Parker, 45 
matches to 7, in Australia. 

"Why not go and live in Australia?" urged a friend. 
"They're tennis crazy over there." 

I shook my head. 

"How you gonna eat the rest of your life?" 

I shrugged my shoulder. 

In the meantime, I kept practicing. My game was never 
better. Two of the leading Italian players Guiseppe Merlo 
and Fausto Gardini were in this country for coaching. 
Eleanor Tennant, who tutored Maureen Connolly, was fur- 
nishing them with instruction. I saw them at the Los Angeles 
Tennis Club and invited them to have a game. They won a 
total of one game in four sets. And they'd been cutting quite 
a swath in European amateur circles. 

Seeking out Kramer, I argued with him long and futilely. 
I insisted he find an opponent for me. 

Jack shook his head. "I'd have to get a robot." 

"What about Seixas or Trabert or Hoad or Rosewall?" I 
countered. 

"Right now they can't beat Segura, let alone you. Maybe 
later." 

"Can't something be done?" 



116 Man with a Racket 

He was pessimistic. "I haven't any solution/' he said. 
"Hoad and Rosewall seem about two years away. They're 
only twenty, you know. It all adds up to one final conclusion, 
Pancho." 

"And that is?" 

"You're too good/' 

Some predicament! Twenty-six years old, in the prime of 
my tennis career, and no one to play. For obvious reasons 1 
followed the amateurs closely in 1955, noting that Tony 
Trabert swept Wimbledon and the U. S. championships at 
Forest Hills, only to run afoul of the Australian "Whiz Kids/' 
Hoad and Rosewall, in Davis Cup play. 

Kramer moved in immediately, signing Trabert to a pro 
contract. And then he set his sights on Hoad and Rosewall, 
Jack knew what he was doing. Trabert, the United States 
and Wimbledon winner, could tour the country against the 
powerful Aussies in a replay of the Davis Cup. It was box 
office. On paper it couldn't miss, if he managed to sign Rose- 
wall and Hoad. It was a big "if" too. 

Where did Pancho Gonzales, who could beat anyone in 
the world, fit into this picture? He didn't. He was left out in 
the cold. 

Meanwhile, the National Professional Hard Court Tennis 
Championship was on tap at the fashionable Beverly Wil- 
shire Hotel. This was staged by my good friend Frank Feltrop, 
the hotel pro. From the moment I entered amateur competi- 
tion Frank had always encouraged me and kept pounding it 
into me that I could be the greatest. 

Trabert was conspicuous by his absence from the Beverly 
Hills tournament. A reporter asked me why, and I pulled no 
punches in my answer. 

"He couldn't win it, and it would take the edge off the com- 
ing Kramer tour." 

Vincent X. Flaherty of the Los Angeles Examiner took up 



The Dead-End Street 117 

the cudgel for me, writing: "Gonzales unquestionably is the 
greatest tennis player in the world today and, undoubtedly, 
is one of the greatest performers the game ever has had." 

I'd never argue that point. 

Flaherty then made what I thought was a classic compari- 
son. He said: "Professional tennis is the only sport in which 
the Babe Ruth is left in the dugout while .220 hitters go to 
bat." 

He also wrote something that I hoped Henry wouldn't 
read. "Meanwhile," Flaherty said, "Gonzales might take a 
shot at motion pictures. He has been approached on the idea. 
Certainly the movies haven't a more virile specimen of mas- 
culinity. He causes the feminine heartstrings to make like 
soft chimes. If you don't think so, take in the Beverly Wilshire 
tournament during the next few days and listen to the ladies 
of the audience make lady-like sounds of total enchantment 
while tall, dark, and handsome performs/' 

Henry didn't mention the article, and although we sub- 
scribe to Flaherty's newspaper and she often glances at the 
sports pages, I was pretty certain she hadn't seen it. Later 
that same evening she asked ine quite seriously, "Pancho, 
have you ever sued anybody?" 

"Certainly not," I said. "Why?" 

She acted miffed, announcing, "I may." 

"Now what's someone done to you?" 

"Oh, not to me. Somebody said something about you." 

"Slanderous?" 

"No," she said. "Libelous." 

"Really? In the newspaper? What was it?" 

She said with a very straight face, "A man named Flaherty 
wrote that you are a virile specimen." 

"And those are grounds for a suit?" 

"Certainly," Henry said, her dark eyes soft, "unless you 
prove to me he was right." 



118 Man with a Racket 

"Right now?" 

"This very second/* she said, "and I quote, 'tall, dark, and 
handsome.* " 

"I'll prove it," I said, pulling her toward me. 

She never sued. 

I won the tournament by downing Segura in the finals, 
21-19, 6-3, 6-4. While the tourney was progressing Kramer 
was dickering with the two boys from Australia. It appeared 
a foregone conclusion to the press that they would sign. 
Kramer had strongly hinted that the deal was in the bag. But 
the bag had a hole in it. Both Hoad and Rosewall, undoubt- 
edly acting on the urging of the Australian Lawn Tennis 
Association, turned down the flattering offer. 

It was a blow to Kramer's plans, but now my chances 
brightened. 

As a matter of fact, they were glowing when, together 
with my lawyer, Lou Warren, I met with Jack. To preserve 
some of the Australian flavor, Kramer had signed Rex Hart- 
wig, the number three Aussie. Yet someone had to oppose 
Tony, and Hartwig wasn't good enough for that. It looked 
like I had stepped in through the back door. We conferred 
far into the night. Lou's gracious wife, Dorothy, kept pour- 
ing hot coffee and serving her specialty of the house, home- 
made almond cakes. 

Lou's fifteen-year-old son, Earl, kept dogging my footsteps. 
He's tennis wild, and I had given him one of my old rackets. 
Twice Lou told the boy to go to bed, but when a youngster 
is sports-minded such an order is apt to fall on deaf ears. 

"Oh, well/' Lou finally said, giving up, "he might want to 
become a lawyer some day Lord forbid and he may get 
some pre-legal training out of this meeting. 

Soon after the session opened it was evident Jack needed 
me. And I needed Jack. It was equitable thinking which, 
combined with wishful thinking, could be worked out thusly: 



The Dead-End Street 119 

Kramer plus Gonzales vs. Trabert reduced to a common 
denominator means money. 

"Tony and you should draw/' Jack remarked. "He's the 
world's champ. It'll be a real pro vs. amateur test. I'll play 
Segura against Hartwig in the preliminary, and team you 
and Segura against them in the doubles." 

I nodded. Lou nodded. Jack nodded. We had a deal. The 
next day I was signed, sealed and delivered. 

While Lou and Jack were engaged in discussion, I was 
doing a lot of thinking. It seemed as if I had suddenly 
matured that there was a transformation in my thinking 
processes, an awareness of duties to wife and family. If Tony 
beat me, I was through. Perhaps for good. On the other hand, 
if I beat Tony I would still be only twenty-seven years old, 
with a good three to five years, and possibly longer, left for 
me to stay on top. I had to. I was now the father of three boys. 

I recalled overhearing an Eastern tennis bigwig describe 
me over a bridge table. My ears are pretty sensitive at long 
range especially if someone's talking about me. 

"Pancho Gonzales," said the brass hat, "is 25 per cent 
primeval animal, 25 per cent lazy and 50 per cent good sport." 

I would alter this description. The animal part could 
stay, but the percentage of laziness was out. Sometimes in 
the past it had been hard for me to rise to a peak for each 
match. Things were going to be different. I'd fight in each 
match like it was the finals of an important tournament. 
The way Kramer blasted me, I'd try to blast Tony. It meant 
my future bread and butter. 

At the conclusion of the meeting I casually mentioned to 
Jack, "I got sort of a feeler from a movie company. They 
might be interested in 'The Pancho Gonzales Story* if I beat 
Tony Trabert." 

Jack cocked his head in my direction. "If there's a part 
open for a villain, recommend me, will you?" 

I looked at him. His face was dead serious. 




9 A Tour Isn't Just a Tour 



The word "tour" has beautiful implications. One thinks of 
travel advertisements where the American, accompanied by 
a covy of suitcases plastered with enchanting labels, 
cruises leisurely about the more interesting portions of the 
world. Usually his neatly tailored pockets are stuffed with 
travelers checks, and if he has a single worry in the world, it's 
merely whether to skip the Balearic Islands in favor of more 
sunning time at Cannes. 

"Tour" when applied to tennis is not even remotely re- 
lated to such luxury. "Grind" is a better definition. Whereas 
the international tourist often returns a little on the obese 
side after lapping up foreign culinary creations, the tennis- 
tourer comes back lean, jaded, and with a stomach that needs 
refurbished lining. 

The tennis tour tests a man's endurance, patience, and 

120 



A Tour Isn't Just a Tour 121 

courage. The day-to-day overland travel; the nightly tension 
of the "big match"; the need for being pleasant under the 
worst conditions combine to provide a set of conditions sel- 
dom encountered by any athlete in another sport. The great- 
est strain, however, seemed to be on my digestive tract. On 
these tours a man eats the lousiest food that ever failed to find 
a garbage can. 

Before domestic chefs try to boil me in hot lard, let me 
clarify that I love American food. But I like to sit back and 
enjoy it. On the Trabert tour I ate in 102 different cities 
also representing the number of matches I played against 
Tony. On this grind you might polish off a big dinner in 
Birmingham and not digest it until you have reached 
Memphis. 

I had plenty of trepidation about the 1955 tour with Tony. 
Tony Trabert of Cincinnati, clean-cut and crew-cut tennis 
hopeful, began blossoming in 1953. Billy Talbert, one-time 
captain of the American Davis Cup Team, took him under 
his wing, teaching him tricks not found in instructional 
pamphlets. Tony won the U. S. Singles title, also scored at 
Wimbledon, cornered the French Singles title twice, and 
earned berths on the U. S. Davis Cup Team. He played a su- 
perb game and his typical ail-American boy appearance made 
him a gallery favorite. 

I discussed the impending Trabert tour with Henry. I'd 
always heard that no man is a hero to his valet. I have no 
valet, but I have a wife, and I guess she comes under that 
heading because she has to pick up the clothes I scatter 
around our home. I found I was wrong. I was a hero to her, 
and to let her down would be an awful blow to her pride. 

"If I win the tour," I told her, "you get all the credit." 

She swore softly. She never did this. 

I raised an eyebrow and kept it raised when I heard her 
say, "Listen, Richard. I read a lot when you're away from 



122 Man with a Racket 

home. In most success stories I've noticed that the woman be- 
hind the man gets credit for pushing and prodding and 
eventually making the man what he is. She inspires him. She 
helps him. In my case it isn't true. I never helped push you 
toward the top." 

I insisted that she did. 

Catching her breath, she went on: "No. You've got a motor 
inside that does all that/' 

"You've always been a part of all this ..." 

"Sure, but a small part. I simply wind the motor up some- 
times/' she answered. 

"Well, wind it tight," I said. "Wind it tight enough to last 
for 102 matches." 

Her dark head nodded, "I will. But," she warned, "don't 
let it snap or it will knock your head off as well as mine and 
the three boys." 

I knew what she meant. 

I looked at the Trabert tour as a reprieve. It was a chance 
to come charging back to the lucrative big-time after once 
having been sentenced to tennis oblivion. A chance to get on 
top and stay on top. Oh, sure, I had won the National Profes- 
sional Championship four times and had defeated all the 
great players of the world, but that wasn't enough. If I lost to 
Trabert, I was a bum again unemployed, unwanted. If I 
beat him, he was a bum. Someone had to come out of it a 
bum. I didn't want it to be me. 

I played for peanuts. My share for the toil and sweat was 
fifteen thousand dollars, plus a percentage of the foreign gate. 
The foreign gate was a short South American tour. Tony was 
to receive a minimum of eighty thousand dollars. The play- 
ers had to pay their own traveling expenses. 

A. little lop-sided? Yes, but these were the best arrange- 
ments my lawyer, Lou Warren, could wrangle out of Jack 
Kramer, and if this little man with the big mind couldn't 



A Tour Isn't Just a Tour 123 

do better, I was sure nobody else could. In other words, I was 
second money, and my thoughts on that matter were bitter. 

"Why, Lou?" I said desperately. "Tell me why?" 

Lou doesn't beat around bushes. His voice is soft and sooth- 
ing. You have to lean forward in your chair to hear. Yet his 
words can explode in your brain. And they stick. 

"Ill tell you why/' he said. "You're on probation. Some 
people think you're unreliable. Immature. You've got a 'the- 
hell-with-everything' attitude/' 

Angry blood began burning around my temples. "I don't 
care what people think. I know that . . /' 

Lou interrupted. "That's where you're wrong. What peo- 
ple think is of prime importance. They pay to see you. When 
they open a newspaper, they want to read that you're cham- 
pion of the world. If the people know it, it helps in this busi- 
ness." 

I thought it over and replied, "All I read about now is Jack 
Kramer. You'd think he was still on top. Why, the guy is 
thirty-four years old!" 

"Sure," Lou agreed. "But his age doesn't matter with the 
public. He could be ninety-four, and they'd still think he 
could beat you." 

"Why?" 

"Why?" Because Jack has had wonderful press relations. 
He's left a lasting impression. The public won't begin to for- 
get him for a long time. It might hurry their memory along, 
though, if, if . . ." 

"If I beat Trabert?" I cut in, impatiently. 

"That could do it," Lou replied. 

I called on Jack Kramer at his World Tennis, Inc. office. I 
feel like a fish out of water in offices. They suffocate me. 
They're always cluttered with typewriters, files, and various 
machines to do jobs faster. Having tinkered with hotrods, 
I'm sure I could take any of these machines apart and put 



124 Man with a Racket 

them together again, but a simple procedure such as dictating 
a letter to a girl sitting behind a desk would scare me half to 
death. 

Facing the man who made Bobby Riggs, Frank Sedgman 
and me disappear from the headlines, I inquired, "Jake, 
what's going to happen?" 

Kramer chewed on a pencil, bounced to his feet and said, 
"I'm not sure. You're a question mark. I don't know how the 
public's going to react to you ... if they take to you." 

"You worried?" I asked. 

"Why not?" he returned the question, stating, "I've got 
money at stake/' 

"What have I got at stake?" 

"Only a reputation that you haven't really established." 

"Should I be worried?" 

"Sure," he said, with a forced smile. "Aren't you?" 

I nodded a weak affirmative. 

"Go out and beat his ears off," were Jack's final words. 

I was sure he'd said the same thing to Tony Trabert. It 
was the old situation of the promoter encouraging his two 
fighters to battle each other for the sake of the show. 

For the first time in my life, responsibilities were weighing 
heavily upon me. Carefree was a word that seemed associ- 
ated with a distant past. I launched into a physical fitness 
program, setting up my own training rules. This was the 
least of my worries. The hot California sun beating down on 
the concrete courts helped me melt off excess weight. I dieted, 
too, although I didn't cut out the beans. That's something I 
could never do. My game seemed on the upgrade. I was hit- 
ting sharp, and I felt mean. I worked on the two most impor- 
tant items in pro tennis the volley and the serve. Conquer 
them and you've got the game licked. 

I began to feel hard around the stomach a vital consider- 



A Tour Isn't Just a Tour 125 

ation. I've never seen an athlete with a roll of fat around the 
middle who was master over anything but a fork and spoon. 
When the tour reached New York a reporter queried, "How's 
your condition?" and when I said "Fine," he hauled off and 
punched me in the stomach. The blow was unexpected and 
stung, but I took it in stride. 

"That's where it counts," he said. "You'll be alright." 

Mental attitude also is important in training. To achieve 
this I went in for brain-washing, hammering one thought 
home I can beat Tony Trabert. Under my system, I even 
built up a hatred for a man I'd met only a few times and who 
had always seemed pleasant. 

When Tony reached Los Angeles, I watched him work 
out. I couldn't help but admire his game. He had everything 
fine stroking, sound judgment, determination. Perhaps, 
though, I pondered almost wishfully, he lacks a little speed. I 
thought my reflexes were faster. This was important for in 
this department a tenth of a second means a point won or 
lost. 

"Want to play a couple of practice sets?" Tony invited one 
afternoon. 

I shook my head. 

He seemed surprised at my refusal and countered with 
"Any particular reason?" 

"None," I returned, "except that I prefer to save it for 
later. We'll be seeing a lot of each other." 

"I'm sure of that," he concluded with a wide grin. 

Readying myself for the "make or break" tour was my re- 
sponsibility. Coordinating the tour was Kramer's job. Jack 
had plenty to do before getting the show on the road. Besides 
the various bookings, there was the advance publicity man, 
the special truck transporting our portable canvas court, 
equipment men, etc. The contestants were to travel in pairs; 



126 Man with a Racket 

Segura and I in one car, which I would drive, Trabert and 
Hartwig in another. Keep the competitors apart, was 
Kramer's credo. 

A week before the starting date I cornered Segura for a 
talk. Little Pancho has a knack of getting out of answering 
direct questions by shoulder shrugs. He tried this with me, 
but I insisted he give it to me straight. 

"What are they saying?" I kept repeating, meaning those 
close to the tennis picture. 

"They're saying what you already know that if you don't 
take this guy you're dead/' he answered. 

"What else?" 

"You better stay in shape for this one." 

"Anything more?" 

He hesitated, finally speaking. "Many think you'll break 
fast on top, but once Tony learns the ropes he'll pass you." 

I grinned. "Sounds like a horse race." 

As the time narrowed before I was to fly to New York for 
the Madison Square Garden opening, I hardly had a minute 
to spare. Wolfgang Alexander Gerdes von Testa (for obvious 
reasons they call him Bud), my personal publicist, had lined 
up a series of press, radio, and TV interviews to be sand- 
wiched between practices. After an appearance on the 
Groucho Marx Show a friend approached and commented, 
"You've changed, Pancho." 

"For better or worse?" I asked. 

"Better." He nodded emphatically. "Much better. You 
seem to like people now." 

"I got to," I said. "I understand the world's full of 'em." 

The day of departure for New York I took Henry into the 
bedroom, locking out the kids and the boxer pups. 

"Something important to tell me?" she asked. 

"An important goodbye." 

"All goodbyes are that way, Richard." 



A Tour Isn't Just a Tour J27 

My arms went around her. I have to be careful when I em- 
brace her. Something hard can always crush something soft. 
She felt good and she smelled good. My heart rose like a fast 
elevator and seemed to finally stick in my throat. 

I said, "I'll think of you." 

She shook her dark head. "No. Think only one thing to 
win." 

"I'll win," I said. 

"Stay cocky," she advised. "You can beat anyone in the 
world." 

"Sure," I said, kissing her and then disentangling myself. 
"Keep hoping." 

"I'll do better than that. I'll keep praying." 

So it was off to New York. 

I had no special strategy planned for Tony. I'd decided to 
make flash decisions influenced by whatever situations might 
arise, try to locate his armor chinks as the matches went from 
city to city. I thought: if I build up a lead, maybe this would 
intimidate him and give him an inferiority complex, making 
him happy to occasionally salvage a few sets. 

In the New York debut, the shoe was nearly on the other 
foot. Tony, blistering the sidelines and passing me frequently 
at the net, grabbed the first two sets. Many people believe a 
tennis player has no time to think that the next shot comes 
so quickly the mental strain is light. It isn't true. You simply 
think faster. My brain whirled like a roulette wheel when I 
was two sets down. Dreams were being shattered beyond re- 
pair; the future was there on the line. But when the wheel 
stopped and concentration began, the dream fragments were 
repaired and I ran out the final three sets. But it was a nar- 
row squeak. I learned that to beat Tony I had to stay on top 
of him, forcing him into errors. 

Every night I had to play it for keeps. Hell hath no fury 
like a tennis pro scorned financially, and I believe it was 



128 Man with a Racket 

thoughts of the uneven gate division that spurred my game. 
It was give and take, and I gave and took the sweet rewards of 
knowing I could beat him just like I could anyone else in the 
world. 

Segura was dealing out bad defeats to Rex Hartwig. They 
were playing under a point system, rather than by sets. The 
personable Australian would discuss his matches against lit- 
tle Pancho with rare displays of frankness, admitting the su- 
periority of his opponent. 

Asked once what he liked about the tour, he said, "Segura 
and the money." 

I doubt if I could pay such a compliment to any man who 
was murdering me night after night. 

Trabert, realizing that to lose on this major tour meant the 
end of big money offers, took his defeats hard. In one Eastern 
city, fed up with consecutive losses, he blurted to a newspaper 
scribe: "Gonzales tries every old pro trick in the game. He 
has no hesitation about trying to influence linesmen. He'll 
put his hands on his hips and turn around and look at them. 
He quick-serves me frequently. It's hard enough to return 
his serve when I'm ready, so when he tries this, I stop the 
ball. It may make me unpopular with the gallery, but I'm 
certainly not going to give him an additional advantage/' 

I am not going to elaborate on individual matches. But 
don't think I can't. I can separate each one in my mind and 
almost tell you the scores in any certain city. I can recall the 
highlights of each. The end of the American tour came at the 
La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Tony won the final match, 
1-6,6-2,11-9. 

I won the tour, 75 to 27- 

Given a choice, I'd like to have shellacked him 102 to 0. 
Each one of the twenty-seven losses cut into me deeply. After 
suffering defeat, I'd either go to a bar and slowly sip a vodka 




Future tennis champ at the age of five months. 




One-year-old Pancho eyes camera sus- 
piciously. 




Pancho's parents Manuel and Carmen on their tenth wedding anni- 
versary. 




Pancho Gonzales, age ten (top roiv, extreme left), receives first Com- 
munion at Holy Name Church, Los Angeles. 




Pancho Gonzales and Johnny Shea (left) before the start of 
a boy's tournament. 




Pancho relaxes with Arzy Kunz in Exposition Park Tennis Shop. Here 
is where Pancho kept one step ahead of the truant officers. 




Chuck Pate, Pancho's closest friend, holds son who tries on one of 
Pancho's trophies for size. It was Pate roho encouraged Pancho at the 
outset of his career. 




Pancho fondles Blackie, the dog he was playing with the day he first 
met Henrietta. On the mantle are a few of his earlier trophies. 




Pancho and Henrietta try to wake little Richard^ their first child. 




Japan gives Pancho the red-carpet treatment during a world pro tour. 




Pancho collects tennis' most exclusive hardware the National Cup. He 
defeated South Africa's Eric Sturgess (left) in finals, 




Pancho and younger brother Ralph enjoy Pancho's victory over Frank 
Sedgman at the Itoungsan, Korea, Tennis Courts. 




court Pancho keeps busy juicing up his hot rod. 





The golden key to Juarez, Mexico, has just been presented to Pancho 
by Sr. Francisco Cuellar, executive secretary to Mayor Margarita Herrera 
of Juarez. Presentation was made during professional tennis matches 
played at El Paso (Tex.) Coliseum. 




Humphrey Bogart and wife Lauren Bacall congratulate the two Panchos 
Segura and Gonzales at the Professional Tennis Tournament, Bev- 
erly Wilshire Hotel. 




Ida Lupino presents trophies to winners of Pacific Coast Professional 
Doubles Championship at Beverly Wilshire Hotel. 




Relaxing on plane between tours. Front (left to right): Pane ho Gonzales, 
Jack Kramer, Pancho Segura. Rear (left to right): Jean Sedgrnan and 




The young Gonzaleses Richard, Danny and Michael have inherited 
many of their parents' features. 




Gonzales family (left to right): Richard, Bertha, Joe Harless, brother- 
in-law, Margaret, Terry, Manuel. Front: Mr. and Mrs. Gonzales. (Ralph, 
another brother, not shown.) 




The famed Gonzales serve, from start (top} to finish (bottom). 





Pancho Gonzales about to take a backhand shot. 




A backhand follow-through Pancho-style. 




Pancho readies himself to deliver world's fastest serve. Service has been 
clocked at 112 miles per hour. 



A Tour Isn't Just a Tour 129 

or sit alone at a movie. I have a hell of a time taking defeat 
lightly. Some guys can brash it off like a fly. I can't. 

Segura crushed Hartwig in the other singles attraction, and 
Trabert and Hartwig ruined Segura and me in the doubles. 
We played before more than 200,000 fans and traveled in 
50,000 excess of 50,000 miles. The gross touched $175,000. 

At the conclusion of the matches Tony revealed his fine 
sportsmanship by stating to Ned Cronin of the Los Angeles 
Times: 

"Gonzales is the greatest natural athlete tennis has ever 
known. The way he can move that 6-foot~3-inch frame of his 
around the court is almost unbelievable. He's just like a big 
cat. He instinctively does the right thing at the right time. 
Doesn't even have to stop to think. 

"Pancho's reflexes and reactions are God-given talents. He 
can be moving in one direction and in the split second it takes 
him to see that the ball is hit to his weak side, he's able to 
throw his physical mechanism in reverse and get to the ball 
in time to reach it with his racket. 

"The way he murders that tennis ball, I think his real name 
is Pancho Villa, not Gonzales/' 

Now that the feuding, fussing, and fighting is over and the 
tour a matter of record, I'd like to say this about Tony Tra- 
bert: 

He's a born fighter who never gives up. You knock him 
down and he keeps getting to his feet. You may beat him, but 
you can't outgut him. I have nothing but the warmest regard 
for him. 

When the tour ended, the letdown was terrific. Waking up 
in the same place every morning was a novelty. So was facing 
the day with no schedule. One thing that failed to add to my 
good humor was a short conversation I had with Ted 
Schroeder. 



130 Man with a Racket 

Ted had said, "How old are you now, Pancho?" 

"I'm twenty-eight/' I said. 

"I'll give you one more year/' Ted prophesied gloomily. 

"One, hell!" I retorted. "I'm good for at least five." 

Ted just puffed on his pipe and walked away. 

I'll be good when I'm thirty-three. I'm going to make it. I 
simply won't accept the fact that my reflexes will slow, lead 
come into my legs, breathing be difficult before I reach that 
age. I keep thinking of Satchel Paige and how he pitches on 
and on, and of Jersey Joe Walcott who planned a ring come- 
back at fifty-one. I doubt if either of these venerables can hold 
physical fitness better than I. 

Just when I was starting to relax by slow degrees, Jack 
Kramer came up with a brand-new idea the Tournament 
of Champions. It was to be a round-robin affair held at 
the Los Angeles Tennis Club involving myself, Segura, Tra- 
bert, Sedgman, Hartwig and wonder of wonders, Jack 
Kramer, the old master himself. Doubles play was also sched- 
uled. I was teamed with Kramer. Other duos entered were 
Sedgman-Segura and Trabert-Hartwig. 

"If you win the singles, you'll get a cash prize of $1,750," 
Kramer informed. "The winning doubles team splits $1,000. 
The other competitors will be paid proportionally, depend- 
ing, of course, on how they finish." 

So there was to be no rest for the weary, but I wasn't com- 
plaining. 

Once again I would be called upon to put forth every ounce 
of effort. Losing this one would be a loss of prestige not to 
mention the money. I couldn't afford either. 

What especially pleased me was the chance to meet Jack 
Kramer in singles. By beating him here in his own back yard 
I could smother the voices of his loyal followers who still be- 
lieved him the world's best. I wasn't worried. Jack was carry- 



A Tour Isn't Just a Tour 151 

ing too much weight and his arthritis prevented bending 
with his former grace and ease. Frank Sedgman was the real 
threat. He's always tough and unrelenting. 

The tournament, played under the banner of a Catholic 
charity that shared in the proceeds, went according to form. 
When the final day of play arrived, both Sedgman and I had 
posted five wins. I experienced no end of trouble disposing 
of Segura and Trabert. Sedgman, to my surprise, swarmed all 
over Tony, dumping him 6-2, 6-1. 

Both Segura and I really got in our licks on Kramer. Little 
Pancho handled him 6-3, 6-0, and I breezed past him 6-3, 6-3, 
never losing service. The first time I served he barely nicked 
the ball, and from that moment on I sensed he was but a shell 
of his once wonderful self. He still performed creditably in 
the doubles, making the most of his strong overhead, but sin- 
gles is a vastly different game and Jack couldn't scamper 
around the court any more. The fighting heart was there on 
every point, but the legs failed to keep pace with his smoul- 
dering desire. The rewards of victory over Jack filled a long- 
time hungering, yet not with the satisfaction I had once sup- 
posed. Maybe I saw a crystal ball photo of myself in Jack, run- 
ning to make retrieves that didn't quite come off. 

Around the locker room where friendly bets are made, I 
found I was a 10-to-9 choice over Frank Sedgman. Many 
called him the "improved" Sedgman. Some smart bettors 
shied away from the action, calling it "a tossup." 

Nearly three thousand fans were in the stands paying top 
prices for seats when we clashed. My serve was never 
sharper; I lost only three points on it the entire first set, which 
went to me, 9-7. Frank took the second set, 6-3. The final one 
was a 6-1 romp for me. 

During the eight consecutive days of round-robin, sixteen 
thousand paid to see the pros play. The popularity of his at- 



132 Man with a Racket 

tempt drew forth the statement from Jack: "This is going to 
be an annual affair. Ill be back with a bigger, and if possible, 
better Master's Classic next year." 

Segura finished third, Trabert fourth, Hartwig fifth and 
Jack brought up the rear, not winning a match. Jack and I 
won the doubles with a three-win and one-lost record. Sedg- 
man and Segura were next while Trabert-Hartwig occupied 
the cellar. 

1 ' Were you worried?" I asked Henry after the Sedgman 
match. 

"Never," she said. "You're on top to stay." 

I felt she was right. 

Kramer talked considerably about his dismal showing. "I 
wasn't as bad as I looked/' he claimed. "I was a year and a 
half out of tennis, and it's tough to come back. I'm still good 
for one more tour, although I would no longer consider cast- 
ing myself in the top role. I intend to participate in the 1957 
world tour against the thirty-six-year-old oldie, Pancho Se- 
gura." 

Asked why he went into tennis promoting, Jack answered, 
"It wasn't a desire to make vast riches or be boss of pro tennis, 
but a deep-rooted wish to stay active in the sports picture. 
Right now the key to any tour is World Champ Gonzales, and 
I have him under a seven-year option. No tour can go without 
him." 

He then added a sentence that started cash register bells 
clanging in my ears : 

"Gonzales can't miss making one hundred thousand dollars 
next year." 

I've never been to a concert. They tell me I'm missing the 
finest music in the world, I doubt it. I had heard it in the 
words of Jack Kramer. 




7O I Begin to Wink 



Prejudice was a gigantic word for a youngster to grapple 
with. When I was about eleven years old I tried, and finally 
turned to Grandmother for help. 

"What does it mean?" I asked her. 

"People having unfair opinions against you/' 

Letting this sink In, I asked, "Against me? Why me?" 

"Because you're a Mexican ... a Mexican-American/" 

"Is that bad?" 

"You are a good boy, Richard/ 1 she said, "and you have 
been spared certain unpleasantness. Someday, though, it 
might come." 

Grandmother bade me sit down beside her. She was a small 
woman, and the chair in which she was sitting seemed to al- 
most swallow her body. Her voice was soft, and her speech 
precise, and the words slowed along like a gentle river. 

133 



134 Man with a Racket 

"You will know it, when it comes," she said. "Perhaps when 
you ask for a job ... or the look in a policeman's eyes . . . 
the glances in the stores . . . the restaurants. It is worse in 
the heat of anger, when someone denounces you calls you a 
Mexican and makes it sound ugly." 

I frowned. 

She reached out, putting her hand on top of mine. "Always 
control yourself inwardly," she advised. "Never lose your 
temper. Just gaze at your tormentor and conjure a picture." 

"A picture?" 

"Yes. Just imagine this man with his clothes off, standing 
in his long underwear." 

I laughed. 

"Laugh, that is good," she said. "That is what I want you 
to do. See the picture and laugh. He will look ridiculous, and 
if he appears ridiculous, his words will not hurt." 

I never forgot this. 

The favoring of one group of persons over another was 
something I wasn't conscious of for many years. Oh, I knew 
that the Mexicans' lot was a hard one, yet I never thought of 
them as children of a hybrid culture. I believed their troubles 
stemmed from being poor. I was wrong. We don't know what 
we haven't felt ourselves. 

My youthful world was narrowly confined. Schools I at- 
tended had mixed enrollments. Invisible barriers were un- 
known because we didn't try to climb any racial fences, stay- 
ing within our circle. 

Not until a few years ago in Texas did I experience "the 
feeling." I went into a small restaurant with Pancho Segura 
while we were on tour. It was near the edge of town a high- 
way cafe. Although the place wasn't crowded, we sat for fif- 
teen minutes, our hunger growing. Finally I called the pro- 
prietor. He slowly made his way to our table. 

"Can we have some service?" I inquired politely. 



/ Begin to Think 1$5 

He was a large, beet-complexioned man. All he said was 
"No. Not in my place." 

"Isn't this a restaurant?" Segura asked. 

"It sure is, Mister and a good one/' the owner declared. 

"Well?" Segura said, waiting for further explanation. 

"Can't you read?" he demanded. 

"Read? Read what?" I asked, puzzled. 

The proprietor jerked his thumb in the direction of the 
door. "Go outside and see what it says." 

Segura volunteered. He returned a moment later, and al- 
though having the rather dark skin of a South American, the 
red showed through. "Let's go, Dick," he said, still standing. 

"What does it say?" 

"Nothing," he said hurriedly. "Let's go." 

"Come on," I said. "Tell me." 

He hesitated before answering, "No Mexicans served 
here." 

"That's just what it means," chimed in the proprietor. 

I indicated Segura. "This man is no Mexican." 

"And this man," began Segura, pointing at me, "is the 
champion of the . . /' 

"Never mind," I cut him off. "Let's go." I got up, tense, 
fingers balled tightly into fists. I peered for a full ten seconds 
into the proprietor's face and a picture, startlingly clear, 
formed in my mind. My tenseness vanished as I saw him in 
long underwear. He seemed ridiculous. We walked out. I 
heard him muttering to himself: 

"Those Mexs' are all alike." 

A month later in Los Angeles I mentioned the incident to 
my lawyer, Lou Warren. 

"So it finally happened," he said slowly. 

"What do you mean?" 

"Look, Pancho," Lou paused to light a cigaret. "You've 
been lucky. You're a celebrity. You've escaped prejudice. 



with a Racket 

Any member of a minority group gets it in the neck at some 
time or another. Now you know what it's like." 

"It's not good/* I said 

"It certainly isn't/' 

"How come I've escaped it, Lou?" 

He blew a cloud of smoke into the air. "Happen to remem- 
ber what Walter Winchell wrote about you?" 

I couldn't, 

"I'll tell you, then," Lou said. "Winchell wrote, 'Gonzales 
is a man who prefers to have a hamburger and coke with his 
old friends rather than a cocktail with a celebrity/ " 

I smiled. "I can't say that isn't true/' 

Lou became serious. "That's one good reason you've es- 
caped. You spend most of your time with friends. The rest of 
the time where are you?" He answered his own question. "On 
the courts swatting a tennis ball around." Lou ground out his 
cigaret and glanced at me angrily. 

"What are you mad about? What have I done?" 

"Nothing," Lou said. "Absolute nothing. Maybe that's the 
trouble." 

"Lou ... I don't follow you." 

"Look, you're fast becoming an important man, an idol of 
a lot of people, including thousands of kids. You endorse 
things: what balls to use, what racket to play with, what shirt 
to wear. But there's one thing you don't endorse, Pancho." 

I remained silent. 

"Your people." 

"My people?" 

"Yes. Your people the Mexican-Americans. Their roots 
grow in shallow soil here. They need help. Especially the 
kids. They need understanding." 

The trend of Lou's thinking started to jell. I remembered 
the zoot-suiters, those gangs of Pachucos who gave the rest of 



I Begin to Think 137 

us a bad name. Why? I wondered. Driven by what motives? 
They were always linked with frustration, conflict, violent 
deeds, warped thinking. I glanced at Lou who was staring at 
me, and I was sure he knew that the first buds of thinking 
were beginning to sprout. 

"What do you suggest I do?" I asked. 

"Talk with some of the Mexican-American leaders in your 
community. Men like Ignacio Lopez, publisher of the Span- 
ish language newspaper, El Espectador, and Ed Roybal, 
member of the Los Angeles City Council." 

"And then?" 

"Then it's up to you. You'll know your people better and 
can help them get what they need most sympathy and un- 
derstanding. The younger generation will listen to you. You 
can start them off on the right foot in life." 

I thanked him for opening my eyes. "I'll try," I said, and 
I meant it. 

During the next week I called on a lot of people. Mostly, 
I listened. I learned plenty, I began to understand the tough, 
swaggering boy dressed in the long finger-tip coat with the 
long hair swept back into a ducktail haircut, rocking impas- 
sively on his triple-soled shoes, no expression on his brown 
face. This was a uniform he was wearing, the sartorial and 
physical mark of gangdom. 

I wanted to know why he had to join a gang, why he had 
to seek Panchuquitas the female counterpart of his gang 
for companionship. Why all the cops were his enemies? What 
he was trying to accomplish? 

I found out. 

When a German, Italian, Englishman, Swede, Frenchman, 
or any other of the majority of foreigners come to this coun- 
try, he becomes an American. It happens as fast as he learns 
the customs and cultures of this nation. Not so with Mexi- 



138 Man with a Racket 

cans. They can be fourth generation, but if their skin is dark 
and if they bear a Spanish name, they are never accepted 
they're always known as Mexicans. 

They cry for recognition, a life without restrictions, equal 
rights, to find employment with chances for advancement. 
When they can't find a place in the American way of life, they 
are forced to resort to their own groups, their own behavior 
patterns which are neither American nor Mexican. And they 
become a clique widely separated from the majority of their 
countrymen. 

This is a small but vicious group, numbering less than five 
per cent of the Mexican-American population. Yet, it is a 
group that attracts the attention of the press and the police 
and inadvertently smears the other ninety-five per cent until 
the blinded eyes of other Americans see all Mexicans in the 
light of trouble-makers. 

They are created and weaned by unsympathetic teachers, 
suspicious police, wary merchants who think along lines of 
stolen goods. They are snubbed by superior-acting American 
kids. They are born in tenement sections the sons and 
daughters of crop followers and track workers. Two strikes 
are against them the day they enter the world. 

The Pachuco group hates the boys and girls of normal 
Mexican families who are bent on obtaining an education 
and the multi-benefits afforded by America. They call them 
"squares." Actually, the Pachucos aren't any worse than gangs 
of American juvenile delinquents who often spring from fam- 
ilies that have given their children every advantage. But the 
Pachucos are the scapegoats, the cause of prejudice against 
hard-working Mexicans. 

Yes, I learned plenty about my own people, and I resolved 
to do something to help, and I was thankful that Lou had 
opened my eyes. 



I Begin to Think 1B9 

Many of the Mexican- Americans are a bewildered, lost lot 
because they lack leadership. I wish my grandmother could 
address them. I can almost hear her say: 

"Think of your tormentor standing in his long under- 
wear . . ." 




77 Li/e with a Wife 



If you'd ask my wife the direct question: "What kind of a 
man is your husband?'* she wouldn't smear my character. For 
two reasons: she's had only one husband, and she seldom uses 
profanity. Her answer, after a long moment of thought, might 
be, "Richard is kind, and he loves the children." 

She's right on both counts. But there's more to the story. 
I'm stubborn, temperamental, and worst of all, a dictator. 
Most dictators meet a horrible fate. I'm the exception. I re- 
main unscathed, head unbowed, issuing streams of dictums. 

I get away with it. That's why I'm going to carefully spill 
black ink over this page of the book, making the excuse to 
Henry, "Very careless of me, wasn't it?" 

Should she inquire what was on the marred page, I'd say, 
"My passionate declarations of love and fidelity toward you." 
She'd raise her eyes to me quizzically like a little chipmunk, 

140 



Life with a Wife 141 

not knowing whether or not to believe me. She's never sure 
because I'm a bedeviller. Next to tennis, I enjoy bedevilling 
her better than anything. Bedevilling is an art and a study, 
and I hold a master's degree. 

I'll cite some examples. 

Soon after Henry and I first started going together she in- 
vited me over to her house for dinner. "Mother's going out," 
she said, "and I'll whip something up in a hurry nothing 
fancy, just pot luck." 

Well, to make a long meal into a short story, Fve never 
eaten such food (and probably never will again). I don't un- 
derstand poetry, but if I did, I'd get poetic over that cooking. 
Each morsel of food was a delight. She must have spent hours 
in preparation, combed through cook book recipes, and en- 
listed the help of every woman in the neighborhood. 

When the last bite went down and tried to find an unfilled 
place in my stomach, I pushed my chair back, clasped my 
hands gently over the bulge in my midsection and purred 
contentedly. 

Henry's eyes sparkled delightedly. "Did you enjoy your 
dinner?" she casually inquired, waiting for the big compli- 
ment. 

I said tonelessly, "It was a simple meal, but well-prepared." 

See what I mean by bedevilling? 

Sometimes Henry discloses, "We're invited to a party Sat- 
urday and I have nothing to wear." 

"Good," I'll say. "You'll be sensational." 

"May I buy a new dress?" she'll ask. 

Ill shake my head sternly. "Of course not. We can't afford 
it right now." 

A couple of hours before the stores close on Saturday, 111 
say, "Show me the new dress you bought, Henry." 

"New dress?" she'll sputter. "Why, you told me I couldn't 
have one. I distinctly heard you." 



142 Man with a Racket 

I'll act surprised. "Why, I don't remember saying anything 
like that," I'll claim, adding, "but of course you can buy one." 

She'll rush to the store, just making it before they lock the 
doors, and invariably upon her return, say, "I'm so tired from 
last-minute shopping I won't enjoy the party." 

But she does. Particularly if the new dress gets compli- 
mented. 

Another incident, was the time a large mosquito buzzed 
through the bedroom. After arming myself with a wet towel, 
I said, "I'm an experienced mosquito-killer, a veteran of 
many Australian campaigns where they are more ferocious 
than anywhere else on earth, so listen to me. You stand in the 
middle of the room, acting as a decoy. You're sweet and taste 
good, you'll attract the mosquito. Then I'll get him." 

She did as I bid, standing rigidly in the center of the room. 
I took careful aim and snapped her smartly on the rear with 
the wet towel. 

"Ouch!" she screamed. "Are you sure the mosquito landed 
there?" 

"Of course," I said. "Thanks for the cooperation. We make 
a good team. Like mixed doubles." 

"I'm resigning from the team and you can get yourself a 
new partner," she announced, rubbing herself tenderly. 

Being absolute monarch in my own home, I enforce a num- 
ber of decrees. Chief among them is that Henry should never 
lounge around the dinner table after we've finished eating. 
Every dish must be washed first. I demand she be properly 
dressed for dinner at home no robe, negligee, or sloppy at- 
tire. Another tyrannical edict is that no cheese in any shape 
or form shall be served in the house. I hate cheese. Maybe 
because I was once called a "cheese champion." Several 
times IVe caught her sneaking it into cooked stuff not be- 
cause she loves it so but it's merely a manifestation of her 
independent spirit. Also taboo in the food line is fresh bread. 



Life with a Wife 143 

All bread must be toasted. I'm not fussy about what kind Is 
served, but it must be toasted. 

We have no television squabbles. I like fights and Westerns; 
she watches movies and variety shows. Luckily, there are few 
schedule conflictions. If our set is off, Henry covers the screen 
with a special drapery. She says it looks like a great, dead 
face. 

One of my bad habits is taking cigarets out of the mouths 
of athletic friends, even though I smoke when not training. I 
regularly sneak up behind Roxy Kunz, wife of my friend, 
Arzy Kunz, and remove her cigaret. Roxy hits a pretty hard 
forehand drive and it seems just a question of time before I 
get a closeup of the stroke. 

Henry never smokes unless we have an argument. Then 
shell light one after making sure I'm watching, while she 
struggles to keep from choking to death on smoke that goes 
down the wrong way. On the subject of arguments, we had a 
violent one several years ago. Henry very calmly told me that 
she read an article where a husband and wife each wrote 
down a list of each other's annoying habits, compared lists 
and lived happily ever afterwards. 

"Get me a pencil and paper," I said. 

She did, found a pencil and paper for herself, and retreated 
to the dining room table to start writing. I was in the living 
room. 

"Bring in your list when you finish/' I said. 

"See you in about two days," she called. 

Ten minutes later she stood before me, paper in hand. 
4 'Your list ready?" 

"Sure," I said. "Let's exchange." 

She handed me hers. I handed her mine. Both were blank. 
We laughed for an hour. I never thought having a quarrel 
was very important. It's the ending that counts. 

Another way I annoy Henry not purposefully this time 



!44 Man with a Racket 

is to take Richey, my oldest son, over to Bob Duncan's ga- 
rage and start tinkering on the hotrod. Richey helps. The 
boy is a natural mechanic. He even disassembles toy dime- 
store cars and, after sawing the bodies off, makes hotrods out 
of them. When we start working the time passes quickly and 
finally Henry locates us by telephone, often long after the 
dinner hour has passed. Incidentally, Richey's a good tennis 
prospect. Unlike most kids who just want to stand at the 
baseline and bang the ball, Richey prefers to serve. Some- 
how, he already senses that the serve is the important stroke 
to master. 

Still a further reason why I'm a hard guy to live with is the 
humor gripping me when I wake up. You could shake me out 
of sleep, slip a million-dollar check into my hands, and Fd 
be mad. I want to wake up of my own accord, not by human 
voice, someone else's disturbing movement or an alarm clock. 

I hate to poke around in stores. Everybody running helter 
skelter grabbing at things bothers me. I know next to nothing 
about shopping. The first time a salesman mentioned a lay- 
away plan to me I thought he meant taking a trip with an un- 
married woman. Henry buys all my clothes except my shoes, 
I figure that if a man walks on his own two feet he at least 
ought to pick out his own shoes to cover those same feet. Hav- 
ing your clothes bought for you has, I have learned, one dis- 
tinct advantage. If anyone comments, "You look like a bum/' 
all I have to do is jerk my thumb toward Henry. Sometimes 
her shoulders are broader than mine. They have to be. 

Approximately once a year Henry and I hold a business 
conference; nothing of grave importance, mostly centering 
around what bills we've paid or have forgotten to pay. It's a 
good thing we're not joint proprietors of a store because we'd 
just ignore filing applications for various licenses. Henry loses 
and misplaces a lot of things such as car registration slips, and 



Life with a Wife 145 

by the time she finds them we usually pay monetary penal- 
ties. I expect her to lose a lot of things and I write it off under 
the heading of WOMAN. A woman, I figure, loses about 5 
per cent of everything, but as long as she doesn't lose respect 
for the man she married it's okay by me. 

I'll always remember the day I came in the back door and 
heard the droning of women's voices in the sitting room, 
Henry was entertaining. Wondering what women talked 
about when they got together, I listened. Henry had the floor. 

I heard her say, "Richard was never born. He was in- 
vented by the man who gave us the wheel." 

"Is he sweet?" someone asked her. 

"He can be so aggravating at times," she said. 

"You're lucky," said another voice. "Sam won't pay that 
much attention to me." 

The chit chat continued unabated, and then someone ad- 
dressed my Henry. "What's your formula for a successful 
wife, Henrietta?" 

"Be independent," was her contribution. "Don't wait on 
them." 

Now when I want to use it I've got a built-in moose call 
voice that can rattle the window panes. I amplified loudly, 
"Henry! I can't find the apple cider." 

I peeked into the room and saw her jump like she'd been 
sitting in an electric chair when the switch was suddenly 
thrown. 

"Ill find it for you, dear," she said, rushing into the 
kitchen. 

I destroyed that theory in a hurry. 

For me marital adjustment was hard, because, although I 
love life for two, I don't adjust easily. In fact, I just don't ad- 
just. I'm like a stubborn rusted bolt on a weather-beaten hot- 
rod that no wrench can turn. I won't even compromise. Poor 



146 Man with a Racket 

Henry's been forced to do all the adjusting. She's done a fine 
job. She's a gentle, understanding girl, made to order for my 
sudden whims and moods. 

Few married men ever get spontaneous laughter like I re- 
ceive from Henry while telling a joke. I have a guaranteed 
audience of one. I'm sure I fare better than the top comics in 
the nation. Their laughter rewards come after the punch line. 
Often it's a long wait during an involved story. I get mine 
during the telling of the joke, and when the punch line comes 
it doesn't matter for Henry's all laughed out by that time any- 
way. Henry says it's not the joke but the dramatics I go 
through telling it that panics her. 

When chasing around the world on tennis tours, I seldom 
write a letter to Henry. Letters are tough for me. I perspire 
more composing a page than I do chasing a high lob on a real 
warm day. I prefer to use the telephone or the telegram. 

My infrequent homecomings follow a pattern. They go 
this way: 

"Why didn't you call or write you were coming?" Henry 
will say. 

"Surprises like this keep you faithful," I'll joke. 

"Hungry?" she'll ask. 

"Always," I'll answer. 

"For me?" she'll half-whisper and then in her loudest voice 
ask, "Or for a big, thick steak?" 

"Mostly for you," I'll say, "but now that you mention a 
steak . . ." 

She heads for the kitchen. 

Every general runs the risk of an eventual Waterloo. My 
defeat was suffered in London at the capable hands of Char- 
lotte Prenn, wife of Daniel Prenn, ex-German Davis-Cupper. 
At the insistence of our friends, the Prenns, Henry and I 
stayed with them during the playing of a professional tourna- 



Life with a Wife ^ 

ment in London. This was the longest trip Henry had 
ever taken. 

Charlotte Prenn is my self-appointed, in-absentia, mother 
and trainer. Living with her is like living in a training camp. 
She does everything but taste my food. She's a stickler for 
early retirement and a firm believer that husbands and wives 

should occupy separate bedrooms during training periods 

and never the twain shall meet. It was an inflexible rule. 

Henry and I were undergoing an enforced nightly separa* 
tion. We were unable to muster any legitimate argument 
against these conditioning tactics because I kept advancing 
through tournament opposition. One night, Henry and I be- 
came conspirators. 

"Bring some cards into my room and we'll play a little 
after the Prenns go to bed/* I told her. 

We bade our hosts goodnight. Henry went to her room. I 
went to mine. She allowed the Prenns a half hour to fall 
asleep before cautiously opening my door. We smiled. We 
felt good. We had pulled it off. 

Suddenly the door swung open and there stood an infu- 
riated Charlotte. Addressing Henrietta, she demanded, 
"What's the meaning of this?" 

"Wh-why," Henry stammered, "I just dropped in for a 
game of cards." 

"Cards, eh?" Charlotte said doubtingly, "Well, where are 
they?" 

"Where is what?" Henry asked. 

"The cards," Charlotte said impatiently. "Where are 
they?" 

Henry looked at her empty hands. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "I 
guess I forgot them." She slunk to her room. 

Charlotte's stringent training methods paid off when I 
won the tournament. 



148 Man with a Racket 

By all odds the worst habit my wife has and the one that 
can drive me raving mad is her littering the bed with a col- 
lection of stuffed animals. Imagine a man having to wade 
through an entire zoo every night before he can crawl be- 
tween the sheets. 

I repeat: this night-time menagerie of hers, headquarter- 
ing on my bed, drives me crazy. Yet one thing puzzles me. 
Why do I keep buying them for her? 

In March, 1952, a big, sticky, black blot was dropped on 
my private life. It stayed around until March, 1955, and I 
would enjoy eradicating it. It comes under the leading of 
"separation." Every day since that word was traded for a more 
compatible one called "reconciliation" I've been thankful 
and hope that I've now restored myself in Henry's eyes. 

I could blame it on restless years when I was virtually 
exiled from chances at top tennis money; getting married 
too young; the curvaceous body and pretty face that trapped 
my thoughts; or a dozen other things. But what's the use of 
looking for or manufacturing excuses? Why did I have to 
prove to myself and everybody else that I was a man, when 
everybody, including me, knew it anyway? I don't really know 
the answer. 

During those three unstable years I lived alone, going 
from apartment to apartment. Where I hung my tennis 
clothes and stored my rackets was home. I was drifting on a 
sea of impermanency, with no currents to carry me to the 
security of a port. 

My attorney applied for a divorce. Henry refused. I didn't 
push it too hard. When I came to my senses the clouds of 
doubt vanished, scattered by rays of penetrating truth. I knew 
I loved Henry. Only Henry. I always would. 

Her lawyer, Lew Warren, ended up as my lawyer, and I 
ended up with Henry. It was a very happy ending; far better 
than I deserved after three foolish years. 




12 Pot Shots and 
Drop Shots 



One standout advantage in being champion of the world in 
any sport is that people pay strict heed to whatever you may 
say. Attentive ears, hoping to pick up some fresh morsel di- 
rect from the playing fields, freeze in your direction like a 
pointer sighting quail. Reporters' pencils scribble into note- 
books. Your utterances, profound or shallow, become grist 
for the newspaper presses. 

Whether true or false, sports addicts believe that those who 
perform best know best. While the opinion of a champion 
may not be recorded for posterity, his views are at least 
stamped indelibly on the minds of the faithful. His name 
makes news. A gripe is a weak complaint if mouthed by a 
dub. 

So in this chapter I'd like to touch on a variety of subjects, 

149 



150 Man with a Racket 

bearing down hard wth a spiked shoe, an iron fist, and leath- 
ery lungs. 

Heading my Sound and Fury Department is temperament. 
Temperament is character; personality; mood changes. In 
tennis, temperament is like a girl's slip: it shows or doesn't 
show. Should it be visible, the player, according to audiences, 
is colorful. If it doesn't, he's drab, methodical. If it shows too 
much, the player is labeled unsportsmanlike. 

King of the temperaments is Art Larsen, now sidelined 
from tournament play by a motor accident. Art does the un- 
expected, motivated by impulses. He's tense inside. His nerv- 
ous system is a series of tautly drawn wires. Sometimes one 
snaps. Art has been known to hit a ball at a ball boy and 
climb into the stands bent on assault with a deadly weapon 
a tennis racket. 

Bob Falkenburg once sat down on Wimbledon's famed cen- 
ter court and before the astonished eyes of the fashionable 
crowd rocked back and forth in a fit of agony actually a dis- 
play of protest. The movement was called the ''Wimbledon 
Roll." 

Helen Wills walked off the court against Helen Jacobs dur- 
ing the finals of the Nationals, a mystery, never to this day 
satisfactorily solved. 

Tom Falkenburg has thrown his racket against numerous 
backstops. 

Earl Cochell's antics, touched off by temper explosions, got 
him suspended from U.S.L.T.A. competition. 

Frankie Kovacs and Carl Earn, two gifted clowns, amuse 
the crowds with a steady stream of wisecracks which relaxes 
them and often unnerves their professional foes. 

But don't ever believe that the current crop of tennis play- 
ers was the only group cornering the temperament market. 
Many years ago, Count Ludwig Salm of Austria, after being 
on the raw end of a number of bad calls, picked up the um- 



Pop Shots and Drop Shots 151 

pire's stand, carried it to a lake, and tossed the structure into 
the water. It just happened that the umpire who couldn't 
climb down in time got an unexpected bath. 

Long before my time, Suzanne Lenglen, the fiery French- 
woman, danced around the court im graceful gyrations, run- 
ning the gamut of emotions. The late Bill Tilden related an 
amusing story about this talented lady stroker. French news- 
papers, nationalistic in spirit, began hinting that Lenglen 
might be able to beat any man in the world. Tilden hap- 
pened to be in Paris, and he could read French. He invited 
her to play. Minus fanfare, they went to a court. 

Bill waxed her, 6-0. Furious, Lenglen picked up her rack- 
ets, striding from the scene of the slaughter. Newsmen had 
gotten wind of the match, and rushing up to Lenglen in- 
quired, "What happened?** 

The French champion, her face flushed with humiliation, 
shrugged and said, "One of us won 6-0, but I can't remember 
who." 

In 1956 staid Wimbledonians were shocked speechless 
when Vic Seixas made his final bid for the title. Seixas had 
broken Ken RosewalFs service twice in the fifth and final set 
to hold a 5-2 lead, having a semi-final victory within his grasp 
only to see the twenty-one-year-old Davis Cupper run the set 
out, 7-5. 

Seixas, according to the British press, took his defeat badly 
and got the thirteen thousand center-court fans against him 
almost to a man. After the final point he hugged his head 
with his hands and arms, threw down his racket, refused to 
come up to the net, and it was Rosewall who crossed the net 
and patted the American sympathetically on the shoulder. 

Seixas was charged with passing the umpire's chair without 
the customary "thank you" and other pleasantries. There 
were six line calls during the match disputed by Seixas. 

Vic certainly wouldn't have won any popularity contest 



152 Man with a Racket 

during the long match interrupted during a two-hour rain- 
fall. The only contest Vic wanted to win involved tennis. His 
emotions simply broke the leashes of self-control. It was a 
heart-breaker. A man torn inside can't always smile through 
the tears and be the faultless little gentleman of British prep 
school traditions. 

Temperament had cropped up where least expected even 
off the court. Althea Gibson, one of the normally calmest 
women players, while on an around-the-world tour sponsored 
by the U. S. State Department, lost control of her emotional 
faculties on several occasions. 

In England she snapped at a photographer, "Move back six 
feet! Don't make a close-up of me! I don't photograph well 
that way." 

Another time she told a tennis writer, "Get one of the old 
stories out of the files on me and use it again." 

In Paris a crew of Australian radiomen packed their wire 
recorder and departed after trying vainly to interview her. 

I say this: A tennis player is entitled to temperament. 

Nobody criticizes an actor or actress for temperamental out- 
bursts. Is tennis so unrelated to the stage? On a court in an 
important match a player performs before thousands. He's 
crowd conscious; perhaps not of individual faces, but of the 
throng which includes the swelling tide of voices, the thun- 
der of applause, the groans of sorrow. He becomes part ath- 
lete with a generous slice of ham thrown in. 

He hasn't been trained before footlights. There's never 
been a Robert Montgomery coaching him. Emotions slipping 
out of him, even if in poor taste, are honest, unrehearsed. 

Quite often a tennis player exhorts himself audibly to 
fight harder. Pancho Segura shakes a clenched fist, muttering 
the familiar war cry of "Come on, Pancho." I just scowl. They 
tell me it's a pretty black grimace. Other players get an emo- 
tional release by pounding their rackets into the net cords, 



Pop Shots and Drop Shots 153 

banging them into the palms of hands, taking vicious swipes 
through the air at imaginary balls. 

Turning back to the seemingly hostile and impatient re- 
actions of Althea Gibson, there are acceptable explanations. 
Her nine-month tour carried her from Mandalay to Trin- 
comales, the Middle East, Scandinavia and throughout Eu- 
rope. Such a tour can sorely test the stamina of a woman. Al- 
thea became road-weary. The strain rubbed her nerves raw. 
Is it any wonder then on a few occasions that she acted, let us 
say, as a human being? 

Althea, spotlighted the moment she walks on a court, is 
constantly in the public eye. If she stubs her toe, it has news 
value. Due to racial barriers, she is a test case. She's the Jackie 
Robinson of tennis. Any person playing under similar con- 
ditions, unless he can completely mask every emotion, is apt 
to be caught with his humor down and always at such times 
there is the ever-present sports scribe. 

Some players, particularly the Australians, bottle their 
emotions, rarely letting them fizz over the surface. I don't 
know how they do it. Perhaps medical science should exam- 
ine their nerve structures. I do know this: They also win the 
Davis Cup. 

Dick Savitt was none too popular in Australia for wran- 
gling with officials over whether to be allowed to wear spikes 
on slippery turf. Dick was fighting for his country, for the 
Davis Cup, for himself and he wanted every advantage. 

Questionable tennis tactics have been blasted by a num- 
ber of writers attempting to draw attention in their direc- 
tion. One of the most acid denunciations came from C. M. 
(Jimmy) Jones, former British Davis Cup player who now 
edits the influential British Lawn Tennis Magazine. His tar- 
get was the international tennis set. 

Jones said points of tennis behavior which repelled him 
most were: 



154 Man with a Racket 

The practice of questioning umpire decisions "either ver- 
bally or with such anguished glances." 

Bullying of ball boys and linesmen by international stars 
"until the unfortunate official is too scared to give a close de- 
cision against the star/' 

Delaying tactics when fatigued, which is "gamesmanship" 
carried to the point of almost cheating. 

Slamming of balls into crowds, foul language, muttering, 
scowling. 

I will try to answer Mr. Jones. 

Of late years a popular pastime has been intimidation of 
officials who try to call 'em as they see 'em but too often miss 
'em. I've done it myself. A scorching glare directed at a lines- 
man, or to swing around and stare and shake the head in- 
credulously, are all points, I think, which can aid the cause 
of victory. Speaking for the players, we figure that next time 
there may be slight intimidation on a close call and the 
break may be ours. 

Now I don't say this is highly proper; and maybe it isn't 
really too effective. But we're in there fighting for everything 
and it helps put on a show for the crowd. Years ago decisions 
were unquestioned. They were incontestable as if handed 
down by long-robed judges. Players took them with a smile. 
But I believe that audiences of today, if put to a vote, would 
prefer having us show our displeasure. At least it reveals 
we're not automatons. 

Speaking of delaying tactics, no great wrongs are com- 
mitted here when you consider that eleven men on a football 
team are stalling the closing minutes by running simple line 
plays and taking long counts in the huddle. 

This brings to mind an interesting story. Constantin Tan- 
asescu, who for nine years in his native Romania captured 
every tennis title in sight, turned professional and came to 
the United States in 1947. He now teaches in private schools 



Pop Shots and Drop Shots J-K 

and at the Rustic Canyon courts, Santa Monica. Tani said 
that in 1939 he reached the finals of the Italian International 
Championships in Rome. His opponent was Joseph Pimcec 
of Yugoslavia. Puncec, large and powerful, was ranked No. 
4 in the world. 

Tani took the first two sets, 6-2, 6-3. The muscular Yugo- 
slavian, by hammering overheads and storming the net, 
chased Tani, whose height was a mere five feet six inches, all 
over the court to win the next two sets, 7-5 and 9-7. The tiny 
Romanian's legs were growing weaker and he was gaspino- 

r T i O "^ & 

for breath. 

The crowd was wildly enthusiastic, all their sympathies 
centering on Tani. He was their darling, a midget contest- 
ing a giant another David and Goliath story. Added to this, 
racial prejudice was in his favor, because Romanians speak a 
Latin tongue. 

While sipping water and toweling himself, preparatory to 
starting the fifth and final set, Tani noticed half a dozen spec- 
tators who were sitting in the front row get up and leave. He 
thought that they, having sensed the handwriting on the 
wall, couldn't stand to see their favorite lose. 

Tani walked wearily to the baseline to begin service when 
he heard an excited babble of voices and smelled smoke. A 
blaze broke out underneath the grandstand, clouds of smoke 
blowing over the court. The umpire motioned for him to 
hold up service. He quickly made for a chair. It felt wonder- 
ful to be sitting. 

Puncec, observing him resting and getting his wind back, 
appealed to the umpire, contending that the smoke didn't 
matter to resume the match. The umpire's decision was to 
wait. It took ten minutes to extinguish the flames whose ori- 
gin was rubbish under the stands. 

Turning to face the audience, Tani noticed that the front 
row of spectators who had walked out were now back in their 



156 Man with a Racket 

seats. Sly looks covered their faces and one of them winked 
at him. Suddenly it became quite clear. They had started the 
fire in order to provide him with a much-needed rest. He 
smiled gratefully at them. 

The respite helped. Playing like he had in the first set, 
Tani took a 6-5 lead. Then he ran out of gas. One long rally 
did it. His feet seemed glued to the court. He needed a rest. 
He wanted to smell smoke again. He looked appealingly at 
the stands, and the spectator who had winked shook his 
head despairingly. 

He learned later that guards had been posted beneath the 
stadium. 

Puncec won the set 8-6, and the match was his, Tani, 
throughout the years, still thinks of the loyalty of that crowd. 

American audiences are the fairest-minded. Pint-sized play- 
ers perennial underdogs against the giants have long been 
their favorites. They'll clap their hands until calloused for 
Tiny Feliccimo Ampon of the Philippines. Bitsy Grant of 
Atlanta was another darling of the gallery. 

Some foreign audiences are replete with fierce national- 
istic pride and take defeat of their countrymen the hard way. 
Bill Tilden, up to the final stages of his life, ranted over cru- 
cial line calls against Wilmer Allison, U. S. Davis Cup team 
member when he was playing against the French team in 
Paris. 

"The attitude of the French," Bill related, "at least in 
those days, was to call them as they wanted to see them. Their 
policy was to get away with anything they could and if they 
couldn't, at least they tried/* 

Often I've sat in the stands listening to crowd reactions. 
Fve observed that when a player executes a spectacular shot, 
his opponent who can't get near the ball comments in an au- 
dible voice, "Pretty/* or "Good shot/' he is established in the 
minds of the fans as a "good sport/' Let me put you straight: 



Pop Shots and Drop Shots 157 

that guy is just voicing something stemming from sheer cour- 
tesy. Inside he's bleeding. Actually, he doesn't even think it 
was a good shot. He really blames himself for setting it up 
for his foe. Don't let those court commenters fool you. On the 
surface they may be gracious losers. In the locker room if 
given the opportunity they'd garrote their opponent with 
a long piece of racket gut. 

The tableau that is enacted as players change courts is a 
grim one. They're like boxers going to neutral corners be- 
tween rounds. Players go to opposite sides of the umpire's 
stand, wipe the handle of their racket, take a drink of wa- 
ter, towel, fidget, and rise to resume play. But never for a 
fleeting second do they look at their opponents sitting a few 
feet away. Above all, they never speak. No one breaks this 
unwritten law. Maybe some player should. It might jar your 
adversary out of the next game if you suddenly remarked, 
"Tony how's your wife?" 

Seldom does close friendship influence players. Most of 
them would crush their poor old mothers, 6-0, if she stood in 
the path of a championship. An exception was Ted Schroe- 
der, when, as an amateur, the luck of the draw pitted him 
against his bosom pal, Jack Kramer. I never thought Ted 
went all-out to win. Ted was a fighter, a tiger ivhen the chips 
were down, an inspirational player who never gave up. 
Against his close friend, Kramer, the spark was missing and 
Ted seemed to roll over and play dead. 

Many persons ask "How come when a player turns profes- 
sional he improves so rapidly?" and they point to Pancho 
Segura as an example. It's no secret that little Pancho during 
his amateur days was consistently beaten by players he could 
spot games to today. Why did he and others who have for- 
saken the amateur ranks skyrocket to sudden skill? 

I'll tell you. The moment you turn professional you face 
only top-notch competition. There is no coasting through the 



158 Man with a Racket 

opening rounds as in amateur tourneys. Each pro match is 
comparable to the finals of any amateur tournament. You 
can't afford to ease up. You must be sharp every day. You 
play more and in a more serious vein, with no time for clown- 
ing. Tennis to a pro becomes a business; your bread and but- 
ter and your future are wholly dependent upon it. 

Another question constantly tossed at me is: "Could the 
old-time greats beat the modern players?" 

The answer is a big and definite "NO." 

Before the storm descends on my head, let me explain my 
reasoning. In the first place, I never saw any oldsters at their 
peak. Naturally names like Lacoste, Borotra, Brugnon, Co- 
chet, Alonso, MacLaughlin, Billy and Wallace Johnson, 
Hunter, Bromwich, Crawford, Vines, and hundreds of others 
were headlines before my debut. From what I've been told 
and read of their terrific play I'm happy not to be a contem- 
porary of most of them. I did tangle with Don Budge a num- 
ber of times, but you can't in a strict sense of the word call 
him an old-timer. If you do, he'll take you to any court and 
make you eat the words. I've watched Bitsy Grant, Gilbert 
Hall, and Greg Mangin play when well over forty. I batted 
the ball around with Bill Tilden up to the time of his death. 

The capabilities of these players were tremendous, their 
strokes almost lyrical. Then, you may pose the question, why 
couldn't they beat the players of today? And you may cite, 
"Didn't Bitsy Grant take a set from Art Larsen during an 
age vs. youth battle," and doesn't that prove something? 

The answer is simple. The game has changed. The back 
court players have moved up to the firing line the net 
where points are won faster. The day of the long rally is 
doomed. The hard server and crisp volleyer wins today. 

I maintain that had the tempo of tennis been speeded up 
in the early days nearly all those players who strung their 
rackets with the cobwebs of antiquity particularly the ones 



Pop Shots and Drop Shots 159 

with strong overheads could have successfully made the 
adjustment. They were superb athletes, and men with such 
agility can always change their style. It was merely a differ- 
ent type of game then. A player stood in the back court and 
employed tactics. He was a field marshal plotting strategy 
on a small battle field. He searched for weaknesses, he ana- 
lyzed, he mixed strokes. Only on a forcing shot would he go 
to the net. Even public court sages of that era would exhort, 
"Hit it to his backhand and go to the net/' Now no excuse is 
needed for the forward surge. 

Championship tennis today calls for the big serve, fast re- 
flexes, some acrobatics. You smash the serve, rush the net. 
You keep your opponent off balance. It's a wide gulf of sepa- 
ration from the former game, but I say again that the stars of 
the past who had the physical equipment were perfectly 
capable of making the big change. I'm a guy who hates to 
take anything away from a memory, but I'm also a guy who 
dislikes building it into an incomparable legend. 

Belittling newspapermen is the same as starting a shooting 
war with popguns against atomic weapons. The newspaper 
boys can give you the sharp end of the stick in print, even 
changing your character if they so choose. They can get very 
nasty if irked and take out on you grievances against manage- 
ment chief of which is their being underpaid. They can 
make or break you, and it often depends on your personal 
press relations. I haven't been any champ at this but I'm im- 
proving. Regardless of what they think, this I've got to say 
that the majority of men assigned to tennis coverage in this 
nation don't know the basic difference between a racket and 
a shillelagh. There are, of course, exceptions. 

Every tennis writer is a babe at a typewriter compared with 
Allison Danzig of the New York Times, that erudite, thor- 
ough and scrupulous coverer of tennis news. Mr. Danzig is a 
linguistic master of tennis verbiage. He puts the thrill of a 



160 Man with a Racket 

football game into a tennis tournament writeup. His micro- 
scopic analysis of play includes a recapitulation where 
double faults, service aces, placements, etc., are accurately 
recorded. Reading him the day after a match is the same as 
going to a teacher and taking lessons on the revision of mis- 
takes made. 

The average tennis writer collects a batch of adjectives 
and tosses them carelessly into a couple of paragraphs. His 
cliches are so creaky it's a wonder the typewriter keys them- 
selves don't revolt against the touch of his fingers. 

I haven't the answer for tennis reporters' lack of under- 
standing of the game. Newspapers do a fine job on football, 
baseball, basketball, and other sports of major public in- 
terest. Tennis, being on the minor side, isn't allowed the 
space of other sports, yet this isn't excusable for the poor 
writing job. Of late, tennis writers have discovered the word 
"clobbered," and few are the players suffering straight de- 
feats who haven't been victimized by this over-used word. 

The attitude of ranking players has changed during the 
last few decades. Not too many years ago when a ranking 
player led a mediocre player, 6-0, 5-0, needing only one game 
to end the uneven match, he generally made a couple of pur- 
poseful errors trying not to be too obvious in order to give 
his opponent the present of a game. Thus was a complete 
whitewash averted. This was known as a courtesy game. 

None of this happens any more. 

If a current player can crush another without giving up a 
single point, he'll do it gladly, swarming viciously to the 
attack, showing no mercy. It amounts to attitude, something 
vitally important to a person hoping to become a champion. 
Attitude must be implanted in the head and left to harden 
like cement. When it crystallizes all thoughts are molded 
with one objective in mind to win and never let up. Giving 
a player a courtesy game might start a gradual disintegration 



Pop Shots and Drop Shots 161 

of this hard structure and eventually prove symptomatic of a 
careless collapse of attitude. Trying for every point is the 
order of the day, at no time giving any quarter. Kill, kill, kill 
is the campaign cry among the top-raters. 

Even when an outstanding player loses, he can't afford self- 
admission that he was beaten by a superior player. His of- 
fered excuses will be, "He was lucky," or "I was off my 
game/' or "I didn't pace myself correctly," but never, never 
under any circumstances, "He's a better player." 

You've got to beat it into your own head, washing con- 
tradictory thoughts out, except the solitary one, "I'll win." 
Otherwise, the proper attitude is lost. A man could re- 
peatedly defeat you and give you an inferiority complex like 
Ted Schroeder nearly gave me. While you are congratulating 
the victor you must think, "Wait until next time . . . I'll 
get you." Maintaining this attitude is obligatory. All thought 
must be directed toward achieving victory with never a vary- 
ing reflection that anybody in the whole wide world can beat 
you. If anybody should manage to beat you, why, all the 
breaks went to him BUT WAIT UNTIL NEXT 
TIME . . . 

While tennis courts in the United States aren't exactly van- 
ishing like the buffalo did from the American scene, on the 
other hand they certainly aren't multiplying. Today, public 
park courts are the only citadels safe from the earth-gouging 
implements of tract-mad realtors. Everywhere, near or within 
the confines of cities, property values have soared. It stands 
to reason that small tennis clubs staggering along under heavy 
financial burdens can be tempted to throw in the sponge 
when approached by lucrative offers for their property. New 
clubs searching for sites would have to locate outside even the 
suburbian area. 

Public parks are the last remaining fortresses whose bas- 
tions the armies of realtors will never scale. Yet in certain 



152 Man with a Racket 

cities Los Angeles for one there is a dearth of these courts, 
with swarms of week-end players awaiting their turns. Here, 
new freeways snake through the city, and the builders' bull- 
dozers have dug up some of the oldest courts. 

What of the future of tennis and where will the courts of 
tomorrow be built? I predict rooftops. New York has already 
found this feasible. Any roof of adequate size with a flat sur- 
face can be remodeled into a hard-surface court. High back- 
stops are a necessity, otherwise cascading tennis balls will add 
to the traffic confusion below. Courts nestled in the sky would 
be out of the realtor's reach and would keep pace with the in- 
creasing tennis population. 

Tennis, although far from dying on the vine in the United 
States, isn't gaining proportionate to population increases. 
With large families the vogue, additional tennis players 
should be born. To inculcate more with the germ, I have a 
few suggestions. First, we need more group classes and or- 
ganized tennis clinics. Then we haven't enough media of in- 
struction. Some of this can arise from motion pictures and 
television programs, coaching by physical education instruc- 
tors at all school levels. We also need provisions for free ten- 
nis equipment and free playing facilities for many who can- 
not afford such necessities. 

Taking the boy off the pavement of city streets and trans- 
planting him to the cement of the tennis courts goes a long 
way toward combating the seeds of juvenile delinquency. 
Good health, good sportsmanship, and good fun evolve from 
tennis. Buying a racket early for your child may spare your- 
self a lot of grief later. 

A bad line call causes a player much mental suffering. 
Naturally, I mean when the call is against you. Defeat or 
victory can hinge on a line call. Out of all the bad calls I've 
ever received in my life, only one proved beneficial in the 
long run. This call came when I was playing Frank Sedgman, 



Pop Shots and Drop Shots 165 

and a few seconds after the baseline man called "out," a 
woman's voice groaned, "No." Looking toward the direction 
of the voice I saw a pretty blonde head shaking negatively. 
The head, I recognized, belonged to Doris Day. Only a few 
nights before I had gone to a Western film and she was doing 
some singing on the other half of the double bilL 
Several days later I received a letter which said: 

Thanks for personally giving my husband and I a wonderful 
weekend. 

Doris Day 

Soon afterwards Henry and I met Doris and her husband, 
Marty Melcher, the film producer. We became firm friends. 

Long before quiz shows were page one news in newspapers, 
I met a Hollywood actor's agent whose business was second- 
ary to amassing tennis statistics. His name was Ben Pearson 
and he could qualify as a good Sunday player. 

Over a glass of beer we talked the sport and he suddenly 
asked, "Do you think Beals C. Wright was ahead of his 
time?" 

I didn't even know his time. In fact, I've never heard of 
Mr. Wright whom he explained was one of the early greats 
on the American tennis scene. 

Commenting on the beer, Pearson said, "This is a very 
plebian drink compared with what Randolph Lycette drank 
while playing." 

I learned that Randolph Lycette, a Britisher, downed 
champagne during his matches. 

Then he said, "I wonder where Itchy is today?" 

For my further edification I became acquainted with the 
fact that Ichiya Kurnagae was an old-time Japanese Davis 
Cup member. 

"Hell," I told him, "I'm lucky to go back to Don Budge." 

As long as the name of Don Budge has come up, I might 



164 Man with a Racket 

as well speak of the night there was a leak in the dressing 
room of the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium. It was the night 
that Don, described by sports reporters as "aging and faded," 
subdued me 6-2, 6-2, during a round robin affair. The leak 
was not in the ceiling or in a pipe. The leak was in the form 
of a report on my post-match conduct that escaped from the 
dressing room. Next day, much to my regret, a thousand peo- 
ple knew about it, including a segment of the movie colony, 
brought to the match by my friend Frank Feltrop, popular 
local pro. 

When I went to shower I was in a miserable state of mind. 
Squarely in the middle of my black broodings lay my suit- 
case. Approaching the bag I drew back my foot kicking a hole 
right through the side of it. It helped. Then I saw a sign that 
said, NO VISITORS ALLOWED. I hauled off and punched 
it. This didn't help. The sign was made of steel. 

Well do I remember the next day with my hand hurting 
and a friend calling up for a game. "Sorry," I told him, "I'm 
incapacitated." 

"You're what?" he uttered, amazed because I've never 
been known to use many-syllabled words. 

"Incapacitated," I repeated. 

"What does that mean?" he asked. 

"It's a common word," I stalled, trying to recall where I 
had picked it up and what was the definition. 

My friend was insistent. "If it's so common," he said, "tell 
me the meaning." 

"It means a sore hand," I said, punctuating the conversa- 
tion by hanging up. 

Cliff Sproul, one of the guiding hands of Australian Davis 
Cup players, opined that if the first twenty ranked U.S. tennis 
stars were pitted against a similar number of his countrymen, 
the Americans would come out ahead. 

I agree with Cliff; and if matches were staged between the 



Pop Shots and Drop Shots 165 

first one hundred American players in the order of their rank- 
ings, against a similar number of any other nation in the 
world, we would beat them easily. 

This hardly sparks the argument that as a tennis land we're 
fast becoming decadent. 

American tennis is blessed with an equality of skills. Win- 
ning the Davis Cup requires two outstanding players. Two 
is all it takes. We don't have two. So Australia keeps the hunk 
of silver, but we're still the strongest tennis nation in the 
whole wide world. 

Another fact I'd like to point up is that if the mantle of 
professionalism was removed from Jack Kramer, Tony Tra- 
bert and myself, wouldn't we, every year, be able to handle 
the dreaded boys from Down Under? I'd win both singles 
and doubles with Kramer. And there's the Cup. Substitute 
Tony for Jack and it would be the same. Use Tony for the 
two single matches and he might win one, or possibly both 
of them. 

The obvious reason that Australia owns the Cup is because 
over here the outstanding players turn professional the mo- 
ment a lucrative offer is dangled in front of them. You can't 
blame them. Money is a nice thing to have around. 

It was while touring against Ken Rosewall that we played 
in Kansas City where I met a local obstetrician, Dr. Marcel 
Mooney. Dr. Mooney, who recalled "hitting a few balls" dur- 
ing his youthful days, remembered when a slice was known 
around the public courts as a cut shot. 

I thought it was a good opportunity to discover what makes 
a man a tennis zealot, so I inquired: "Why did you come to 
the matches tonight?" 

He explained: 

"Watching tennis recaptures my youth . . . makes my 
pulses pound like an enthusiastic school boy again. When I 
watch you run and hit the ball, in spirit I am doing it with 



166 Man with a Racket 

you. When you flub an easy shot I know your disappointment. 
When you scorch the sidelines I know your exultation. After 
a match I'm almost as tired as you from mentally playing 
every shot. Old tennis players never die. They just fade away 
into a grandstand seat. I think . . .*' 

The telephone rang. It was for Dr. Mooney. One of his 
patients was going to have a baby earlier than expected. 

"I hope the new arrival has your forehand/' said the doc- 
tor, slipping into his hat and coat. 





The Loiodoion on 
Amateur Tennis 



Let's journey down memory lane . . . 

Remember the case o Wes Santee, former Kansas Uni- 
versity track star and America's premier miler, who was 
banned for receiving overpayment of allowable expenses? 

Remember the University of California at Los Angeles 
football recruiters accused of winking at various conference 
rules, resulting in a $93,000 fine and being placed on pro- 
bation for three years? 

Remember disciplinary measures taken against the Uni- 
versity of Kentucky basketball team? 

Remember relieving Jim Thorpe of his Olympic Games 
medals after discovery he had played some semi-professional 
baseball? 

These alleged violations of the concepts of amateurism 
would pale into insignificance today if Dan Ferris, Avery 

167 



168 Man with a Racket 

Brundage or Pincus Sober, the Kefauvers of the Amateur 
Athletic Union, investigated the amateur tennis situation. 

They could obtain an injunction to prevent participation 
in all major tournaments by any of the first twenty ranking 
amateurs. 

In tennis the difference between an amateur and a pro- 
fessional player is related to a phantom table. The amateur 
receives money under it, the professional over it. Today, a 
sought-after amateur can make from $8,000 to $10,000 yearly; 
yet in the eyes of the public he is pure as a virgin snow drift. 

The United States Lawn Tennis Association, governing 
body of the sport, is blameless. The U.S.L.T.A. is com- 
posed of successful men of unassailable integrity. Rumors of 
the taints of amateurism have reached their ears. Some be- 
lieve it. Others don't. Merely hearsay. Furthermore, it isn't 
their job to employ secret police or a spy system to track 
down such rumors. They merely impart the spirit and letter 
of the amateur code. 

The code is antiquated. It provides ten dollars daily ex- 
pense money. 

Throw it out, I say; or make sweeping revisions. 

Being that I'm in the playing end of the tennis business 
and not a member of its brain trust, I won't be presumptuous 
enough to name any cure-alls. However, unqualified as I 
may be, I'm bold enough to offer a few suggestions. 

First, let me present, minus distortion, a clear-cut photo 
of amateur tennis today. 

Put yourself in the role of the amateur. You're out of school 
and in the 20- to 30-year-old bracket. Perhaps you have a wife 
and a child or two. You may even have a grandmother who 
wants to take lessons from Mercer Beasley. 

Maintaining a high ranking is synonymous with playing 
the Eastern tournament circuit. Europe too. Tennis becomes 
a grind. 



The Low down on Amateur Tennis Igg 

Missing is the exuberance once derived from hitting a per- 
fect crosscourt placement. The game becomes a chore. Be- 
lieve me, a tennis player can suffer the same daily boredom 
as a CPA poring over columns of figures. Day after day he 
runs countless miles swinging at a wool-covered ball with 
strings made from a lamb's intestines. Physically, the game 
exacts its toll. He's dehydrated as a squeezed sponge. His feet 
take a terrific pounding on cement, clay, and the slightly 
kinder surface grass. His sacroiliac is endangered. His 
disposition can sour after defeats. His heart and body are 
taxed to the limits of physical endurance. 

While he may not realize it he's in business. And he's 
putting as much into it as the business man carrying the brief 
case under his arm. Sometimes much more. Players axe not 
the sons of the rich who burst upon a fashionable gathering 
wearing expensively tailored clothes and call: "Anyone for 
tennis?" More often, clad in a cheap T shirt and part woolen 
socks, they're the sons of the poor whose parents keep repeat- 
ing: "What are you getting out of all this with your education 
when you could have been a banker?" 

Undiluted amateurism implies that you cannot take one 
penny above the allotted expense money. On the ten-dollar- 
a-day allowance you're supposed to travel. Why, it almost 
means desertion and non-support to the wife left at home. So 
what recourse can you take? Tournament sponsors are bid- 
ding for your, services. You become receptive to the highest 
bid offered. 

You have ready excuses to make for yourself. Chiefly, you 
need the money. Sponsors can afford to pay; and after all, it's 
your name luring the customers. 

The first time you take this money a few qualms of honesty 
prick you like dull needles. The second time you hurdle 
mental barriers much faster. It's becoming easier. The third 
time you merely extend your hand and wait for it to be filled. 



170 Man with a Racket 

The next step involves negotiations. You're getting real 
smart; and you finally realize that due to your high ranking 
you've got bargaining power. So you take the initiative. In- 
stead of sticking a gun into some promoter's back and hold- 
ing him up for more, you shove a tennis racket into his ribs 
and make your demands. Usually, the victim ups the ante. 

True, that all this finagling might provide a modicum of 
business training, but think of the moral effect. You're not 
getting your money legally, coupled with the fact it's fraught 
with hypocrisy. A player seldom discusses his banditry with 
another player. One reason is a guilt complex. Don't bring 
it out into the open and it won't prick your conscience as 
strongly. Another is that some sponsors make you feel you got 
a better deal than the other players and it shouldn't be 
bandied about. This reminds me of a family hotel I knew 
about where each guest had a confidential rate which he or 
she thought particularly favored them. Had the matter been 
freely discussed, they would have unearthed the fact that 
everyone was being robbed. 

Personally, I don't care to see an investigation of amateur 
tennis ending in a complete whitewashing of the sport. Un- 
pleasant repercussions could kill off the game. From the 
amateur ranks spring the pros and, I hope, suitable opponents 
to challenge me. It's awful to run out of opponents. I know. 

I don't believe an open tournament would solve anything 
either. Everybody who won prize money would end up a 
pro. The same pros would repeatedly take the cash prizes. 

Amateur tennis can be a year-round activity if players want 
to follow the sun and are skilled enough to be in demand. 
You can chase the footsteps of Hugh Stewart or Tony Vincent 
and others play America, Mexico, Europe, and even South 
America and Australia, But for the most part our amateurs 
compete only in the United States, with a stab at Wimbledon, 
the French Championships, and occasionally the Australian 
Championships. 



The Lowdown on Amateur Tennis 171 

It wouldn't be feasible to be in a business even for them- 
selves and take that much time off. Frank Stranahan, as 
an amateur, could do it in golf, but no tennis player has the 
financial assets of this fine golfer. Dick Savitt and Ted 
Schroeder abandoned tennis careers for the world of business, 
and neither is employed by the type of organization where 
it's necessary to focus on their tennis reputations to boom 
sales. 

Monetarily speaking, an athlete attending college is pro- 
vided for through scholarships and jobs for just about his four 
school years. Couldn't the same be done for a tennis player? 
There must be some way he can receive monies while he isn't 
playing if he's expected to drop everything when the season 
opens. 

In the last few decades the tennis scene has changed com- 
pletely. Once the game belonged to the white flannel, polo- 
coated set. Not only did a player have to learn the book of 
social etiquette backwards, and grip a racket properly, he 
had to be able to lift a cup of tea without spilling a drop. Ten- 
nis and the Long Island horsey set were loving cousins. There 
was no so-called "wrong side of the tracks players." This 
group owned the tracks. 

Came the evolution. Tennis became the people's game. 
Public park courts mushroomed. Expensive clothes for play- 
ers were unnecessary. All a man needed was a drugstore T 
shirt, a pair of cheap shorts, dime-store socks and shoes that 
could be adhesive-patched if your toes broke through, or vul- 
canized on the soles when your feet showed. 

Audiences became plebeian, more demonstrative. Where 
formerly ripples of applause rewarded shotmakers, there 
were now roars of appreciation from shirtsleeved masses, and 
even choruses of boos directed at bad calls. 

Tennis became of age and widespread in popularity. Then 
the attendant evil followed bidding for the services of the 
players. I don't know who was first guilty. That is of small 



172 Man with a Racket 

concern. Once the cash payments gained momentum, they 
fanned out in all directions. 

True enough, tennis players get a lot of free things in life 
food, rackets, balls, strings, shirts, shoes, sweaters, lodg- 
ing, and lots of advice, none of which helps them later in life. 
In the life of each tennis player there's the point of no return. 
Here, you either drop the sport and concentrate on making a 
livelihood or stick with it, trying to live off its sometimes 
frugal returns. 

At the frayed edge of an amateur career, when a player 
touches the age of thirty, it's later than he thinks. To re- 
gress to the business world and try to carve a niche for him- 
self is a mammoth undertaking. He's already lost ten produc- 
tive years. He's too old to start at the bottom, too inexperi- 
enced to hold down a top position. All he's got to show for his 
efforts is a scrapbook, blistered feet, and tarnished trophies. 

Please bear in mind I'm not turning copper and blowing 
the whistle on amateur tennis. It's still the purist of the 
popular spectator sports. Only a handful of amateurs in ten- 
nis really make any money. Total these against the earnings 
of football, basketball, and track athletes. The difference is 
monumental. 

What's to be done about it? 

Let's face up to the situation. No circumvention. Shouldn't 
we make a choice between honesty and hypocrisy? But not a 
compromise. Otherwise, the evil side can undermine the 
strong side until the roots decay and collapse the entire 
structure. 

The line of demarcation between pros and amateurs is 
wavy and vacillating. A rigid line with no overstepping is 
necessary. 

To make a sincere start, let's compile an amateur tennis 
code that makes sense. 





The Day I Exploded 



Much credit must be given to Jack Kramer, who, operating 
without a medical license, and using a checkbook instead o 
a scalpel, disjoined the Australian "tennis twins" Ken Rose- 
wall and Lew Hoad. 

For two frustrating years, Kramer had been trying to snare 
Rosewall and his Australian partner, Hoad, but the young- 
sters preferred to help keep the Davis Cup in Australia 
rather than cash big pro paychecks. But now he had Rosewall, 
half of the famed combination, and a worthy headliner for 
his new pro tour. 

Hoad turned down cold Jack's fat offer which would have 
netted him $67,500, tax-free, at the end of two years. His rea- 
sons appeared to be nationalism and the desire to score the 
grand slam of tennis winning all four major tournaments. 

To me, the refusal was fantastic. Maybe it's the hard core 

173 



174 Man with a Racket 

of the old pro inside of me that cannot yield to such thinking. 
Since Lawyer Lou Warren is shaping my mind toward an 
investment consciousness, I immediately whipped out a 
pencil and started figuring 5 per cent of f 67,500. Three 
sheets of paper and plenty of erasures later, I found it 
amounted to f 3,375 per year interest on the earnings that 
might have been. That would buy Lew's wife, Jennifer, a 
barrel of nylons. 

But Kramer did bag Rosewall, who had beaten Hoad in 
their last three encounters, including the U. S. National 
Singles. Tennis forecasters felt that at long last he had 
come of age in assuming superiority over his blond team- 
mate. When the dark-haired, slightly built youth affixed his 
signature to Kramer's contract, he assured himself of a nice 
income. In addition to the $65,000 guarantee for a period 
covering thirteen months, he was promised 25 per cent of all 
receipts over the $300,000 mark, plus a 5 per cent bonus and 
an option on a new $25,000 contract if he beat me. If he beat 
me he would be crowned king of the pros. If ... 

Here for the first time in my professional life I was about 
to face an opponent minus my usual "I-can-beat-anyone-in- 
the-world" attitude. Two contributing factors influenced my 
thinking. Factor One I was dead tired. Since the beginning 
of the tour against Trabert in 1956, I had been on a tennis 
treadmill that took me to South America, Europe, South 
Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and finally home to Los 
Angeles, then after barely three weeks' rest I was to wing 
back to Australia again to play eleven matches against Rose- 
wall, compete in a professional round-robin championship, 
and then return to the United States to wind up a 100-match 
1957 tour against Ken. 

Factor Two my hand. A cyst the size of a half-dollar had 
formed beneath the surface of the palm of my racket hand. 



The Day I Exploded 175 

Believe me, it was painful. Several newspapers hinted my 
career might end. 

The moment I reached Los Angeles, I made an appoint- 
ment with Dr. Omar Fareed, whom Jack Kramer had recom- 
mended. His diagnosis indicated the cyst was attached to 
important tendons and removal might mean loss o power 
in my grip. He started a series of injections to dissolve the 
lumpy mass. I began worrying, which was something new for 
me. Rest was out of the question. Tour dates were being 
booked. The show must go on, even though I might end up 
playing the role of chief tragedian. 

Over one hundred people telephoned, keeping Henry busy 
as a switchboard operator. Sister Margaret Evelyn of the 
Saint Bridget's School, where our children attend, told us 
she was having a Mass said and novenas made for my re- 
covery. Gradually the cyst decreased to the size of a nickel 
which prompted some wag to remark, "It's shrinking in value 
like the American dollar." 

I left for Australia, realizing that my hand was still sore 
and I'd have to play with a pad on it for protection. First 
stop was Honolulu, and flying over the Pacific allowed me 
much time to think of Ken Rosewall. He certainly didn't 
pack the power game of any of the big names in tennis. Ken 
weighed 142 pounds, and was barely five feet seven inches 
tall. His tennis reminded me of a fencer, thrusting, parry- 
ing, nimbly dancing. Strategy was his forte. Strategy, I 
thought, can be overcome by sheer power. 

His stroking was flawless. He was exactly what the in- 
structor ordered. He played the game literally the way it was 
taught. His backhand, slightly undercut, looked stronger than 
his forehand. But that was deceptive. He took his forehand 
shots nicely on the rise with pace. His serve held no terrors. 
Yet it was effortless and well placed. 



176 Man with a Racket 

Reporters rushed to interview me in Australia. "Rosewall 
is in better condition than I am," I told them, "but I will 
guarantee he won't be for long." Queried as to whether I 
thought I'd beat him, my answer was, "Everything being 
equal, a good big man can beat a good little man." 

Kramer, writing in the Melbourne Argus, said, "Off the 
record, Gonzales appears a likely winner, but stand by for 
an upset." 

The Australian Nationals were ending and Lew Hoad was 
a surprise loser to Neale Fraser in the semi-finals. Hoad 
was in great pain during the match, but he offered no ex- 
cuses. Lew's trouble was thought to be a slipped disc, but a 
specialist later identified it as a strained ligament in the 
lower part of his back. It was necessary to encase his aching 
back in a sixteen-pound cast, and this raised a big question 
mark about the blond bomber's future on the courts. A re- 
currence of the trouble might jeopardize Hoad's chances 
of cashing in with the pros. So painful was the injury that his 
wife, Jennifer, had to put on his socks and shoes for him be- 
fore the contest against Fraser. 

In the opening match against Rosewall at Kooyong Sta- 
dium, Melbourne, I won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 9-7, during 125 
minutes of torrid play. Ken came right back the next night 
and dumped me 7-5, 6-4, 14-12. He seemed more assured and 
dictated matters right from the start. His reflexes were 
razor-sharp. It became touch and go. We had another mara- 
thon match lasting three and one-half hours. I took it 3-6, 
6-3,11-9,1-6,15-13. 

What surprised me was the ease with which he was re- 
turning my service. Waiting for it, he reminded me of a 
coiled spring. Then suddenly he would whirl in the direc- 
tion of the ball. Aces against Trabert were fairly com- 
mon. Not so now. 

Crowds were beating all expectations. Kramer wore an 



The Day I Exploded !77 

almost continuous smile. For the first six matches gross 
receipts totaled $113,000. Five o the outdoor matches were 
sellouts. Rain dampened the sixth. For the Kooyong appear- 
ances the gate touched $42,000. It looked to me like Ken 
would realize $100,000 for the tour. Quoting from a letter 
Kramer's wife, Gloria, wrote to Jeane Hoffman, the Los An- 
geles Times sports scribe: 

"It's a smash success. There is a bigger demand for seats than 

there are seats available, so they sell standing room only 

except that it's really sitting room and fans sit on the grass 
in front of the regular seats. Everything the boys do down 
here is front page news. In fact, even Frank Sinatra's arrival 
took a secondary spot!" 

The drawing power of professional tennis moved Donald 
F. Ferguson, ruling voice of the Australian Amateur Tennis 
Association, to complain that Kramer was dipping into the 
ranks of amateurs for his players, that he was robbing the 
country of tennis power. He also rebuked the owners of Koo- 
yong Stadium for renting the facilities to our troupe. It was 
apparent that his attitude was crystallized by falling gate 
receipts at the Australian Nationals with no Rosewall entry 
and Hoad failing to reach the finals. Seven thousand was the 
top crowd. 

The attack on professional tennis was launched at the an- 
nual interstate tennis conference held in Melbourne. Several 
delegates urged that amateur associations should stop co- 
operating with touring professionals. G, A. Bitcon proposed 
that no professional matches should be allowed on any State 
Association courts within a month before, or until fourteen 
days after, a national championship, Davis Cup, or inter- 
national matches. 

Another delegate, D. M. Frankenburg, said: "We should 
not allow the immediate dazzle of gold from the profes- 
sionals to blind us in our long-range vision. We should ask 



178 Man with a Racket 

ourselves: 'Are we helping to develop professional tennis to 
the detriment of the amateur game?' They make large 
amounts of money from our courts, whereas if they were 
pushed into other stadia they would make only half the 
money and be able to offer only half the inducements to our 
young players to turn professional. It hurts me to see them 
get rich by exploiting the amenities that amateur officials 
have worked to build up," 

Delegate A. R. Colvin, a man not given to verbosity, 
summed up the success of the pros by stating: "A polished 
acting society will always make more money than a repertory 
company." 

All this talk sounds too much like our troupe is composed 
of plunderers and cradle-snatchers. In defense of our actions, 
let me say that Jack Kramer presented the Victorian Tennis 
Association with $3,200 from the matches in Melbourne and 
the N. S. W. body received $6,000. Also, Jack made sizeable 
donations to the Lawn Tennis Association junior devel- 
opment plan and a project which operates in the Hardcourt 
Associations. 

No fanatical tennis partisans exist anywhere in the world 
like the Australians. They have rabid, shirtsleeved, cheering 
crowds comparable to Milwaukee's amazing baseball fans. 
It was to be assumed that I'd be on the short end of the ap- 
plause. Ken was one of the real sports heroes of the country, 
and my height stacked up against his turned it into a midget- 
giant struggle. 

Most of the Australian sporting public are fair-minded. A 
small percentage are wildly boisterous, completely lacking 
control the real noise-making, razzing kind. These antics 
are embarrassing to the majority who try hushing them up 
and later apologize to the competitors. 

While competing in the AMPOL Tournament of Cham- 
pions in Adelaide, South Australia, a spectator got my goat. 



The Day I Exploded 179 

Fifteen thousand people were watching the pros in a round- 
robin style of play. Though it was night, the temperature 
hovered around 105 degrees. Humidity was high. Some of 
the fans were sopping up beer, and beer and humidity and 
tennis just don't seem to mix. 

From the outset of the tour several newspapers had become 
habitual misquoters. Every statement I made was twisted 
until they had the overtones of braggadocio. One of the 
spectators with a retentive memory was catcalling some of 
the quotes. His voice echoed around the court. The con- 
stant heckling was bearing down heavily on my frayed nerves 
and over-tennised condition. 

I walked in front of a section holding about five thousand 
people, where somewhere the heckler was concealed, and 
called: ."Listen, Horsehead, you're very brave hiding among 
all those people. Why don't you come down here where I can 
see you?" 

Of course he didn't move. 

Later, Jack Kramer said he would probably fine me and 
demand an apology. He did neither. We both let the incident 
slide. 

As the match progressed, I won the first two sets and it was 
4-all in the fourth with game-point on my service. I faulted 
and threw the ball into the air for the second serve. Just be- 
fore it fell a voice boomed, "Go!" I let the ball drop, stood 
and waited. General bedlam broke out in the stands while 
hundreds tried to quiet the shouter. Finally I served again 
and double-faulted. I lost the game. 

I was thoroughly disgusted with myself as I walked to- 
ward the umpire's stand to change courts. My head was 
down and I was tense and brooding, seething with suppressed 
wrath. I looked up. Directly in front of me was a dead micro- 
phone, the only thing around that couldn't sue me if I hit it. 

I slugged it with my racket hard. I had to take out my 



180 Man with a Racket 

feelings and release my emotions on something. I like to 
think I'm human. 

I lost the set, and in the final set Ken played magnificently 
to take the match. 

Then the press really loused things up, claiming: "Gon- 
zales turned and hurled his racket at the umpire box. It struck 
with such force it hit a microphone and bounced into the 
stands/ ' 

This was unkind and untrue. It happened as I described 
it. While I admit my outburst was wrong, I don't think I 
shattered tennis etiquette too severely. Once in a while an 
emotion has to slip out. At least I didn't spit at the crowd 
like Ted Williams did in baseball. 

Back in Los Angeles, Henry commented, "If I know my 
husband, he called the heckler a much worse name than 
'HorseheadV Well, I admit I thought of a worse name but 
I didn't use it. 

Pancho Segura won the tournament. I'm glad he did. He 
won $4,500 in cash and an immeasurable amount of confi- 
dence. I played Rosewall once more before returning to the 
United States. He smothered me, 64, 6-4, 6-2. 1 was tired and 
weary, and my hand was hurting, but I got out of Australia 
with a 7 to 4 lead. I felt fortunate. 

And, oh, yes Jack Kramer paid for the busted mike. 

A few days before I left Australia a newspaper approached 
me and offered to pay for several byline articles. Believing 
it a good chance for a final, accurate interview, I accepted. 
Here are a few excerpts: 

"Now that I am calmed down over the Adelaide incident, I 
don't want Australians to think I am a knocker of the greatest 
sports nation in the world. Please don't put me in the same 
class as Art Larsen and Dick Savitt who squealed when they 
went back to the States that they would never return to 



The Day I Exploded 181 

Australia. Apart from the lame brains in Adelaide, the 
Australian public has been wonderful to me. 

'Tve tried to repay them by playing the best tennis I can, 
The truth is I've never had it better than in Australia. In one 
month here I've put away more money than I extracted from 
Jack Kramer in five whole months last year for blasting Tony 
Trabert in North America. 

"I made one hundred thousand dollars in my first pro year 
in 1950, but I played fast and wild with it. Then came lean 
years. Now I aim to get out of pro tennis with around two 
hundred thousand dollars which should give me a good income 
for life. 

"Only Ken Rosewall stands in my way this year, and after 
that looms Lew Hoad. If you want to know something, I 
think I am lucky Rosewall is only half my size. Every time 
he returns a well-placed first service it amazes me. He ought 
to be an inspiration to all the small players in the world." 

For the first time in my life, while riding on a plane from 
Honolulu to Los Angeles, I took sleeping pills. I felt no ef- 
fects. Upon arrival in Los Angeles I made several important 
appointments, including one with my income tax man and 
another with Lou Warren. I kept neither. The sleeping 
pills struck with delayed action, delivering a punch that 
knocked me out for eighteen hours. At a press luncheon the 
following day everyone said, "You look great. Refreshed and 
rested." I should. Eighteen solid hours of sleep is a precious 
thing. Yet I was worried about my hand. I told everyone: 
"It feels fine." It didn't. But, again, there was no time for 
rest. The test was coming February 18 in Madison Square 
Garden. 

The Garden held 11,416 spectators on the night our tour 
made its American debut. They paid from three to six dollars 
a seat. I wanted to give them more than a faulty, sore-handed 
exhibition. I believe I did. I put a pad over my cyst, put de- 



182 Man with a Racket 

sire in my heart, and played with a minimum of errors, 
trouncing Ken, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. 

My hand felt pretty fair. Confidence, big, wonderful gobs 
of it if such a delightful thing can come in gobs returned. 
I strongly felt I'd win the tour. The canvas-covered court was 
lightning fast and made to order for my serve and volley. If 
the serve and volley worked well, I figured I wouldn't have 
to fear my opponents' ground strokes. Still, I didn't think I'd 
beat Ken as easily as I handled Tony Trabert. Tony and Ken 
clashed in Australia and Ken won the decision in straight 
sets, taking up where he left off in Davis Cup play and the 
U. S. Singles. Ken moves better than Tony. 

An amateur switching to the pro game indoors always is at 
a disadvantage. The artificial lighting, the strange footing on 
the canvas court, and so many other first-time experiences 
stack up against him. But then there was my damaged hand. 
I wondered if it could balance the scale. 




15 And Now, Lew Head 



As my tour with Ken Rosewall progressed over wearying 
miles of travel, from city to city, from arena to arena, I 
gradually assumed complete mastery over my Australian foe; 
and by the time our troupe reached Bakersfield, California, 
to close out the long journey, the score stood 51-26 in my 
favor. I was very tired, very happy, very gratified. 

Plans had been made for scheduling the tour in South and 
Central America, but I begged off. I wanted to stay at home, 
rest, and begin knowing my family again. Ken, though, was 
committed to finish the grind. I felt sure that he was going 
to be relieved at my absence on the opposite side of the net. 

He may have been somewhat discouraged, yet he never 
showed it. In Princeton, New Jersey, he told a newspaper 
scribe, "Pancho just doesn't seem to have any bad nights. 
It's not human. He's not human. He's always tough. I have to 

183 



184 Man with a Racket 

work like crazy in every match, and it's only when I'm playing 
extremely well that I'm able to pull off a win. Somebody 
ought to define and spell the word 'slump' for Pancho. I don't 
think he understands it." 

Jokingly, Ken told reporters that he grows fearful when 
someone in the stands provokes me* "It is then," he com- 
mented, "that Gonzales takes it out on me, the innocent by- 
stander, and practically blows me off the court/' 

He was referring to one night in Boston, a night when I 
thought the old saying about "banned in Boston" might be 
applied to me as well as book censorship. I made for a heck- 
ler in the grandstand, but I'm happy to say I was restrained. 
Too many people enjoy suing these days. 

We interrupted our tour to compete in the National Pro- 
fessional Championships, in Cleveland. I got a respite from 
Ken. Segura neatly arranged this by eliminating him. After 
a first round bye, I handled Frank Parker, 6-2, 6-3; Tony Tra-* 
bert, in a battle down to the wire, 3-6, 8-6, 11-9, and went on 
to defeat Segura in the finals, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. 

At this point I want to contradict a rumor that reached 
my ears at least a dozen times. It's been said that after losing 
a particular hectic match to Ken I jumped into one of our 
tour cars without waiting for the customary passengers, driv- 
ing alone and in anger to the next city thus fouling up our 
transportation and creating an over-crowded situation. 
Added to this were whispers that I was trying to leave town, 
as fast as possible after losing. 

This rumor is untrue. I believe I know its origin. One 
afternoon after Ken beat me, I was anxious to get started 
for the next town and I hurried everybody up, nearly pulling 
Segura out of the shower before he was finished. I had a rea* 
son, childish as it might be. In my mind the sooner I got to 
the next city, the sooner I could avenge my defeat. Crazy 



And Now, Lew Hoad 185 

thinking? Sure it was, but it was the motivation for my hurry 
and too-fast driving. 

While we were winding up the tour I was taking a long- 
range look across the Atlantic at the forthcoming Wimbledon 
tournament, sharing Jack Kramer's worries about the dwin- 
dling class of first-rate amateur competitors. Jack expressed 
sorrow that America's first ten players were the weakest 
he had seen in fifteen years. For once I was forced to agree 
with him. Vic Seixas, an accomplished Internationalist, was 
too old; Ham Richardson was wrapped up in his studies; 
crafty Budge Patty was over the hill; and Herb Flam was 
unable to climb the same hill. 

Both of us agreed that the only hopeful prospect in our 
country was Alex Olmeda, a student at the University of 
Southern California. Alex is a good future bet. He even scowls 
like an old pro. However, Alex is from Peru. America has no 
fine prospect unless there's one hiding out in the woods. 

On the other hand, Australia, as usual, boasted of an abun- 
dance of fine players, like Ashley Cooper, Mai Anderson, 
Neal Fraser, Rod Laver, Bob Mark, Mervyn Rose, Bob Emer- 
son. Any one of these could rise to greatness. The Aussies seem 
to turn them out like a factory and must surely have a net- 
work of conveyor belts leading from the crib to the court. Still 
there was one player head and shoulders above the pack, and 
that was Lew Hoad, the powerful, chief guardian of the Davis 
Cup. Hoad was the star, if not sometimes recalcitrant, pupil 
of Harry Hopman. 

As previously stated, Lew had been stricken with the 
miseries and during 1957 his tennis was only spotty. I had 
an idea he was saving himself for an all-out effort at Wimble- 
don. I sincerely hoped so. The gap was wide between Lew 
and his countrymen. If Lew lost at Wimbledon, or for that 
matter even if he won and refused to turn professional, 1958 



186 Man with a Racket 

promised to be a dull year for World Tennis, Inc., and Pan- 
cho Gonzales. 

Interviewed by Jeane Hoffman, of the Los Angeles Times, 
Jack aired his views: 

"Overall/' he said, "there's nothing wrong with the tennis 
picture today. Tennis, on a sporting goods basis, is doing 
greater than ever. More people are playing it. But either the 
kids of top ability are going into other sports, or they aren't 
getting the right foundation. A degree of it is my fault; I 
helped popularize the boom serve and net game, and too many 
kids start out that way now. You've got to master the funda- 
mental strokes and baseline play first/' 

Kramer lamented that "Even Don Budge, who's forty-two, 
can take the measure of some of the kids coming up today. 
It's a rough situation. I've been accused of whipping the 
cream off America's amateur tennis, but at the moment there's 
no cream to skim." 

So it was squarely up to Lew Hoad. Only Lew could add 
more sugar to the already rich, creamy confection that was 
professional tennis. Without Lew the confection might go 
stale. Of course it was also up to Jack Kramer; up to him to 
come through with an offer that could not be refused. I had 
every confidence in Jack. Combine a bankroll with personal 
magnetism, add a dash of superlative salesmanship, and the 
merger is nearly unbeatable. It was Hoad winning Wimble- 
don, or bust, as far as my 1958 plans were concerned. 

First round play of the 1957 Wimbledon tourney provided 
no test for the stocky Aussie. He took Pierre Darmon of 
France in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3. The second round saw 
Lew score another easy victory as he raced through Roger 
Fancutt of South Africa, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. He was still untested. 
The third round found Lew stroking sharply and crushing 
Johnny Lesch, a UCLA student, 6-3, 9-7, 6-4. 

Fellow-traveling Australians were now crowding the brack- 



And Now, Lew Hoad 187 

ets, and all of them loomed as severe roadblocks along Hoad's 
pathway. Several of them had beaten him in major tourna- 
ments. Yet, when he swept aside the challenge of one of them 
Roy Emerson 6-4, 64, 6-2 to gain the quarter-finals, I 
breathed easier. 

Mervyn Rose, another of the Aussie contingent, was next 
on the docket. Mervyn, who had been playing in U. S. winter 
tournaments, was always tough. Lew mangled him, 6-4, 4-6, 
10-8, 6-3, and was scheduled to square off in the semis against 
Sweden's Sven Davidson, conqueror of Vic Seixas. Lew took 
the sometimes brilliant Swede, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. He was ready for 
the finals against still another Aussie, Ashley Cooper, who 
had polished off the retrieving Herbie Flam in straight sets, 
and countryman Neal Fraser, three sets to one. 

Cooper was a good-looking, power-type player. Bobby-sox- 
ers sigh at the sight of him. Hoad did anything but sigh. At 
his tremendous best, his attacking game completely demoral- 
ized Cooper. Twice Lew's stinging shots sent the racket fly- 
ing from the hand of his rival. Gardnar Mulloy, dean of Amer- 
ican players and 1957 Wimbledon doubles winner with 
Budge Patty, characterized him in World Tennis as "a re- 
minder of one of Disney's animated rabbits whose feet spin 
when running at top speed." 

It required only fifty-five minutes for Hoad to do the job. 
Cooper was beaten, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. 1 believe Lew, in winning his 
second consecutive Wimbledon, maintained a calmer attitude 
on that memorable day than I did. I paced. I fretted. I kept 
bothering newspaper sports desks by constantly calling in for 
results. Although Davis Cup play and the U. S. Nationals 
were still on Lew's tennis agenda, he was now fair game for 
Jack Kramer's offers. 

Lured to New York, Hoad signed with Jack, much to the 
consternation of the Australian Lawn Tennis Association. 
That august body had been counting heavily on Lew defend- 



188 Man with a Racket 

ing the Cup. Lew received a guarantee of $125,000 against a 
20 per cent gross for a two-year contract. 

Australian sports columnist Harry Green, long a protago- 
nist of pure amateurism in tennis, exploded in the Melbourne 
Sun that Lew's action had toppled the Davis Cup from the 
very insecure perch of the world's top tennis fixture. 

"From here at least for several years the Davis Cup is 
strictly for second-raters," he declared. 

Bitterly he wrote: "How can the challenge round be the 
test of the world's tennis supremacy when hardly any of its 
contestants are among the world's top ten?" 

"Surely, the only real battle could be between Hoad, Ken 
Rosewall, and Frank Sedgman, representing Australia, and 
Richard Gonzales, Tony Trabert, and Jack Kramer for the 
United States. If any of these six players are at the challenge 
round, it will be as newspaper or radio commentators. Out 
on the court will be players either too young or not just 
good enough for the professional game." 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Bonnie Hoad, mother of the twice- 
crowned Wimbledon champion, admitted that it seemed a 
miracle that her twenty-two-year-old son was even playing. 
She revealed that Melbourne doctors who examined him six 
months earlier placed him under a sentence of tennis death. 
Medicos believed that Lew, close to the peak of his career, was 
slated never to hold a racket again. 

Mrs. Hoad further disclosed that after the national titles 
in Melbourne in January, 1957, doctors told her that her son's 
injured back would forever stop him playing. "Instead of 
taking this advice," Mrs. Hoad said, "Lew placed all confi- 
dence in the Sydney doctor who had been treating him. The 
doctor found Lew's spinal discs had not been displaced, but 
that a ligament beside them was stretched. 

"He placed him in a plaster cast, gave him special exercises 
and gradually cured him." 



And Now, Lew Hoad 189 

It was this statement by Mrs. Hoad that provided me with 
an insight into the character of the youth I would face during 
1958 a young fighter who refused to give up even after doc- 
tors had read his requiem. 

Trying to familiarize myself with Lew, I began assimilat- 
ing scraps of information I had heard about him, adding to 
my own personal observations. I recalled that he didn't give 
a damn about diet, once stating, "I'm fond of ice cream and 
bananas for breakfast, so why shouldn't I eat them?" 

I could hardly conceal a laugh at this, recalling that I was 
a beans and Coca-Cola man myself. But one man who 
wouldn't think it funny was Jack Kramer. If he had his way 
and he generally does Lew's diet, especially the early 
morning one, would change to the more conventional break- 
fast type. 

Lew had little formal instruction. At nineteen he was al- 
ready an Australian hero, having beaten the ears off the 
Americans challenging for Davis Cup honors. He wore his 
hero's mantle unconcernedly. "I won," would be his only 
comment after taking a big match. If he lost he would ex- 
plain with equal feeling, "I lost," letting it go at that, minus 
excuses. And for a losing tennis player to be fresh out of 
excuses is heresy. 

Under the globe-circling taskmaster, Harry Hopman, 
boss of the Aussie Davis Cup team, Lew was a revolutionary 
hating rules and regimentation. Failure to do roadwork, 
using the wrong knife or fork, or profanity was punishable by 
small fines in the Hopman camp. Lew was steadfastly guilty 
of these offenses, regularly paying a shilling here or there. 
Some have said that Hopman himself absorbed the fines. 

Hoad is a cool customer before a tremendously important 
match. He displays no emotions. His eyes are dreamy, his 
manner carefree. 

Quoting from Life magazine, "One day his casualness 



190 Man with a Racket 

caused a minor panic. One o his teammates explains, 'The 
Duke and the Queen were there and we were all a bit jumpy, 
you know. When it was time for the match we suddenly 
couldn't find Lew. We looked all over the place and finally 
there he was, fast asleep on the massage table/ " 

See what I mean? 

Physically, Lew is a fine specimen. Accent is on the wrist. 
He attacks on backhand as well as forehand. His service is 
something discharged from a cannon. Opponents may beat 
him, but they'll never tire him out. He rarely breathes hard, 
and between sets, when most exhausted players drop grate- 
fully into a chair for a few moments of precious rest, Lew, of 
course, follows the custom. Yet it seems he would pre- 
fer standing or starting right in again. 

In summation, Lew may be a tough nut for Kramer to 
crack and orient into the pro game where you have to put out 
100 per cent every match. When an Aussie plays Davis Cup 
for the honor of his country, he's a fighting terror. When 
playing for cash, there could be just the slightest let-down. 
This is pure speculation on my part. Lew's wife, Jennifer, 
may help. Jennifer herself is a member of the Australian 
women's team. If Kramer wins her over to his side, she may 
be able to help shape her husband's moods. 

In the pro game, Lew must learn how to pace himself. 
This phase of the game took me years to conquer. You just 
don't blast every first service. You learn to place the ball, 
change tactics and become tricky. Amateurs, even if the score 
is love-40 against them on their opponent's serve, go all out 
for the point. Not so the pros. Only if the score is deuce or 
to their advantage do they make a herculean effort for a serv- 
ice break. Lew is a spectacular shot-maker, a specialist in the 
put-away and crosscourt placement. He'll have to curb these 
temptations in the professional ranks, eliminating chances of 
erring. 



And Now, Lew Hoad jgj 

Lew admitted he expected it to be tough as a pro, stressing, 
"You can't miss the easy shots and win." How right he is. No 
pro can afford to blow a setup, just like a golf pro can't flub a 
short putt. Lew acknowledges he has lots to learn. Every 
freshman pro does. 

While the plans for our tour were being made someone 
asked Lew how he expected to fare against me. "I think I 
have a better opportunity than anybody else," he said. "After 
all, I will have had a six months' period to get ready for him. 
Maybe Pancho will get soft. He's almost thirty now. At that 
age it's tough to take a layoff and then come snapping back." 

Pro debut for Lew came in Jack Kramer's 1957 Tourna- 
ment of Champions at the West Side Tennis Club, Forest 
Hills. Lew took Frank Sedgman apart, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. News- 
papers heralded the feat as a "smashing success." They were 
a bit premature. Sedgman, who moves with the agility of a 
cat, had been out of competition for over a year and his game 
was a far cry from its former sharpness. No one can take a 
long layoff and hope for anything but mistiming. 

The tournament was a round-robin affair in both singles 
and doubles, and offered ten-thousand-dollar prize money. 
Competing were the leading six pros in the world: Hoad, 
Sedgman, Rosewall, Segura, Trabert, and myself. I bowled 
over Rosewall, 6-2, 8-6, 64; Sedgman, 5-7, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3; 
Trabert, 6-3, 3-6, 11-9, 6-3; Segura, 6-4, 6-3, 64, and was ready 
for the final-day match against Hoad. 

But Hoad on that hot blistering day wasn't ready for me. 
I won 9-7, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and felt that I was always in command. 
Lew's chief fault was trying to finish a shot before it was really 
completed. He got out of position too fast. After the execu- 
tion, he sped for the center of the court too rapidly. His over- 
head drew raves. If I lofted one to him the best thing for me 
to do was to seek cover under the umpire's stand. 

He used the same grip as Frank Sedgman. If anybody 



192 Man with a Racket 

anywhere has any similarity whatsoever to Frank Sedgman, 
that's enough to place me on my guard. I would unhesita- 
tingly place Frank as second in the world rankings. 

Lew showed he is basically an offensive player. He can't 
change pace yet, and this hurts his game. It's bang, bang, 
bang all the way, and when those sizzling shots develop in 
accuracy I'm in for plenty of trouble. 

Where I was surprised was on my service. I thought I could 
back Lew up a few feet. I couldn't. He stood just inside the 
baseline waiting stoically for anything I sent his way. Only 
Segura stands so close on me. 

After a nine-day run, here's the final singles standing in 
the Tournament of Champions: 

W L 

Gonzales 5 

Sedgman 3 2 

Hoad 2 3 

Trabert 2 3 

Rosewall 2 3 

Segura 1 4 

Trabert and Sedgman proved too powerful a duo during 
the doubles competition, snaring first place. Rosewall and I 
took second. Then it was on to Los Angeles, for a replay, 
called this time the Master's Tournament. Dinny Pails was 
added to the cast, and all matches were to be two out of three 
sets. 

While Jack had anticipated a splendid turn-out for this 
tournament its second year he must have received one of 
the pleasantest surprises of his life when the fans fought to 
buy tickets. Myron McNamara, publicity director of World 
Tennis, Inc., who would part with a free ducat as readily as 
his right leg, performed in his customary manner by hand- 



And Now, Lew Hoad 193 

ing out few passes. I spent three hundred dollars on tickets 
for friends. 

At the conclusion of the firing I had won another one 
and was some three thousand dollars richer. I dropped one 
match, a thriller to Ken Rosewall, 22-20, 1-6, 6-2. Then Tra- 
bert and Sedgman obliged by eking out wins over Ken. 
Sedgman, against whom I'm always at my best, was the man 
I had to beat on the final afternoon. Entering the contest a 
3-1 clubhouse favorite, I won 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. Hoad was easy for 
me, and everybody picked on him. Again Rosewall and I 
grabbed second place in the doubles behind Trabert and 
Sedgman. 

Against Frank, I won the match early in the third set. All 
that's needed in this pro business is one quick break and the 
handwriting is on the wall. Three backhand passing shots 
that angled cross-court wrapped it up for me, breaking 
Frank's serve. After that I simply held my own and I was 
home. 

Lew proved a bitter disappointment. One reporter wrote, 
"He played like an amateur." I wouldn't go so far as to be- 
little him that much. I would say that he simply didn't look 
like a $125,000 investment, after losing every match. 

The money I won in this and the Forest Hills tournament 
averaged in excess of three hundred dollars per day; not bad 
for work that is enjoyable. I can only guess at the Los Angeles 
tournament gross, but I'd put it at better than fifty thousand 
dollars. 

The usual number of stars from the entertainment world 
were present. I noticed Dick Powell, June Allyson, Walter 
Pidgeon, Doris Day, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Howard 
Duff, Mark Stevens, Groucho Marx, MacDonald Carey, Burt 
Lancaster, and there were dozens more I couldn't identify 
with the lights in my eyes. 



194 Man with a Racket 

Friends of Sedgman had hinted of his having bursitis in 
his arm, combined with a bad leg muscle. Frank waved aside 
any alibis. "Pancho just beat me/' he said. "I felt fine, fine 
as can be expected at the end of a long tournament like this. 
I think Pancho has changed his game. He used to try power- 
passing shots. Now he passes you with sharp angles and dink 
shots." 

I can't agree with Frank's theories concerning changing 
my game. True, I changed my style against him, but against 
others I'd play my old tactics. I felt that to hit the ball hard 
to Frank would only be leaving myself open for errors. When 
he's knocking off those volleys, he is unbeatable. I'd rather 
try moving him around since I knew he was pretty tired. I've 
been lucky against him. One of these days that guy is going 
to handle me. 





My Feud with 
Jack Kramer 



Once I fought in a big war against dictatorship, and now 
I'm doing it again. Only this time the fight doesn't involve so 
many people. It's just a private war between promoter Jack 
Kramer of World Tennis, Inc., me and a piece of paper 
known as a contract. My signature is on the contract. 

Throughout Jack's reign as King of the Pros and his suc- 
cessful tours against Bobby Riggs, Frank Sedgman and my- 
self, Big Jake received a 30 per cent guarantee of the gross. 
Since those days, to my knowledge, there's been no decline in 
the price indexes of any commodity on the market from ten- 
nis players to a loaf of bread. Everything's gone up. Well, 
everything but my percentage. That's gone down. 

Fresh out of the amateur ranks, I got 30 per cent when Jack 
walloped me on tour. Hitting the comeback trail a number 
of years later against Tony Trabert, my share was a flat fif- 

195 



196 Man with a Racket 

teen thousand dollars. Jack gave me 20 per cent against Ken 
Rosewall, a figure that later was upped to 25 per cent and 
called a bonus. 

Now my next opponent, Lew Hoad, was signed for a 
guarantee of $125,000 matched against 20 per cent gross over 
a two-year period. The sum involved is fifty thousand more 
than has ever been offered in a pro contract before. 

I asked Jack for 30 per cent of the Hoad tour. His answer 
was "20 per cent." Finally I tried to arbitrate and agreed to 
settle for 25 per cent, to which Jack still said no. 

My feeling is that no professional champion in any sport 
should earn less than the promoter. Kramer's cut is 50 per 
cent of the gross in the United States, 55 per cent if the tour 
goes over three hundred thousand dollars. But on European 
tours, he divides 75 per cent between the players and Fred 
Perry, European representative, and takes care of operating 
expenses out of the 25 per cent left. 

Jack has a counter argument. "I made only twenty-seven 
thousand dollars last year/' he claims, and offers to throw 
open his books to me. 

I don't read many books. 

Why, I ask myself, my friends and my lawyer, Lou Warren, 
should I drop in percentages? Have I dropped in class? Can't 
I make as many, if not more, service aces, placements, and 
smashes? I'm an improved player and a bigger gate attraction 
than ever. During the Rosewall tour spectators in large cities 
like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Washing- 
ton, Boston, and Philadelphia increased around 30 per cent. 
A lot more people are becoming tennis conscious, and I be- 
lieve I'm responsible for the trend. I even get a batch of daily 
fan mail. And a woman in Peoria has named her dog 
Pancho. 

Jack says his reason for holding me down to 20 per cent 



My Feud with Jack Kramer 197 

is that he's committed to the other players. Fine. I want to see 
the supporting cast on the tours well paid. They're my 
friends. They deserve it. But I deserve it also. I can beat any- 
one in the world, but I'm not being paid in proportion to my 
ability. 

Tennis seems to be the only sport where the champion 
must take short pay, while the challenger commands fantastic 
figures. Somebody will have to explain the reason to me. In 
my book it doesn't figure. I played and defeated Ken Rose- 
wall 51 matches to 26, and had plenty of anxious moments 
during my matches with the gutty little Aussie. He's a bull- 
dog that's hard to shake off. I played the series with a cyst in 
my right hand and later picked up a bad case of athlete's foot 
perhaps a combination of assorted germs from seventy- 
seven locker rooms. I still have it. 

You never know what ailments are going to strike as the 
tour stretches into thousands of miles of travel. Anything can 
happen. Your arches may start hurting in Kansas City; in 
Detroit you may catch cold; in Reno you may sprain your 
hand pulling the crank of a slot machine. A tour calls for 
total abstinence from anything in the slightest way detri- 
mental to fine physical condition. 

The position of a pro champ is extremely precarious; some- 
thing similar to walking a tightrope between two skyscrapers. 
Lose one tour and you're finished. Then your income can 
dwindle to the point that you can make out the tax forms 
yourself without outside assistance. Oh, you can pick up a 
little change playing the U. S. National Professional 
Championship at Cleveland, or the World's Professional 
Championship at Wembley Stadium, London, and perhaps 
in a supporting role on the tours but your earning powers 
have been decimated. You're an also-ran. You become a man 
with a racket in something that isn't a lucrative "racket" any 



198 Man with a Racket 

longer. So in this business you have to get it while the getting 
is good, and there are altogether too few years in which to 
pick the frosting off the cake. 

I'm thirty years old. To persons middle-aged or old, I'm 
still an infant. In tennis, I'm considered close to the wheel- 
chair. In this run-run-run vocation when you pass thirty the 
reflexes can slow, the legs fail to obey the will of the brain. 
I believe I'll be top dog until I'm thirty-five, but who knows 
what ambitious, hungry amateur will come to the fore within 
the next five years and run my shorts off. 

When Jack Kramer added his former doubles partner and 
my constant court nemesis, Ted Schroeder, to his World 
Tennis, Inc. organization, it came as a surprise to me. Ted 
had spent ten years in the refrigeration business, giving it 
all up to return to his first love, tennis. 

He joins a tightly-knit little group that includes, besides 
Czar Kramer, Myron McNamara, publicity; Olin Parks, tour 
director; John Stinson, equipment manager; Bob Barnes, 
Australian representative; Fred Perry, European representa- 
tive, and Cecile Kay, secretary. 

Ted will work on the booking end of the tours. He's 
a quiet fellow who will have to talk much more than he did 
while making a splash in tennis circles. Then his flashing 
racket did the talking for him, plus the umpire's final words: 
"Game and match to Mr. Schroeder." 

Bob Falkenburg once made what I considered a choice 
remark about Ted during a tournament. Bob said, "Ted's 
my doubles' partner, and the only time he's spoken to me in 
five days was when he asked, 'Whose serve is it?' " 

Ted acts as sort of a liaison man and a patcher-upper of my 
troubles stemming from Jack. I like him. He doesn't argue 
that I'm wrong, and he doesn't say that I'm right. But, he lis- 
tens. You can't get mad at a guy who just smokes his pipe, 
nods and listens. 



My Feud with Jack Kramer jgg 

My present contract with Jack, signed in December, 1955, 
runs until December, 1960. That's a long time to be in bond- 
age. It didn't take Lincoln that long to free the slaves. 

Of course this hassle places my relationship with Jack on 
the frosty side. Anything I do with him from now on is purely 
business. When Jack gave me a 5 per cent bonus against Rose- 
wall he called it an increase in pay. This is a misnomer. A 
bonus is something given as an incentive or reward. I'd like 
Jack to take a lie detector test on this point, but I guess 
such procedure is unheard of in a civil case. 

Recently I heard someone remark, "J ac and Pancho need 
each other." Truer words were never spoken. Jack needs 
me and I need Jack. He's the promoter and I'm the star 
the star who doesn't twinkle very brightly financially. To- 
gether we can make money. Divided, we fall on our respec- 
tive noses. Summing it up, the relationship is comparable to 
a marriage of convenience with mutual admiration entirely 
lacking. 

I was bitterly opposed to Jack's move when he signed Lew 
Hoad before the U. S. Nationals and Davis Cup play. So was 
the Australian Lawn Tennis Association. Jack tossed him 
into the Tournament of Champions at the West Side Tennis 
Club, and a replay of the same at Los Angeles, being known 
there as the Masters' Round-Robin Tournament. Jack's eyes 
were on the turnstiles, and he knew that Lew would play a 
tune on the cash register. 

My eyes were on the future, and I strongly contended that 
the Hoad defeats would take the edge off our 1958 one hun- 
dred-match tour. It's a matter of record that Lew was badly 
mangled by my fellow pros. He was as green as a St. Patrick's 
Day parader's necktie. He lacked confidence. 

Jack's argument was, "We're seasoning him." It was the 
same as a baseball team having spring training. Before 



200 Man with a Racket 

meeting me, Lew, playing in various foreign countries, would 
have had seventy to eighty matches under his belt. 

I even tried to help him. I never tried to help an opponent 
before. Perhaps I'm getting mellow. But in Lew I saw a rep- 
lica of myself just starting in with the pros and losing night 
after night. The image softened me. 

Yet I still say that even with this seasoning Lew's past per- 
formances are bound to bruise the gate. 

Yes, this is just one of my multiple disagreements with Jack 
Kramer. We've had several rows over the use of unauthorized 
endorsements, but I won't go into that. I'm a big boy now, 
and I don't like being pushed around, squeezed contractually 
or taken general advantage of. I'm caught in a wringer and 
I want out. I'm the best tennis player in the world, and I 
desire monetary as well as press recognition of this fact. 

Speaking of press recognition, it took me years to build up 
to the level where the public recognized me as the champion. 
On the Trabert tour the pretty printed poster screamed in 
large type: JACK KRAMER PRESENTS, and then I fol- 
lowed in small lettering. Half of the audiences still thought 
Jack was the No. 1 tennis boy in the world. 

I threatened to back out of the two round-robin tourna- 
ments, but each time Lou Warren and his partner, Eugene 
Glushon, broke down my resistance. I'm really a pretty peace- 
ful guy who likes to go around petting my boxer dogs, but 
when I think of how Jack is clamping me down, I begin to 
breathe fire. He makes like he's doing me a favor when he 
offers me the same percentage he did against Ken Rosewall 
and no bonus. 

So I went to court in Los Angeles to prove my point. Jack 
beat me again. The judge ruled I didn't have a case. But I'm 
hoping for another chance against him. He'll have the first 
serve, but if he doesn't ace me, LOOK OUT! 

Nearly every reporter who interviews me wants to know 



My Feud with Jack Kramer 201 

of my future plans. I never thought anything in the future 
was certain except dying. Certainly I've given some thought 
to what comes after Lew Hoad. Still I hate to look ahead of 
Hoad. He's my immediate future. 

Seriously, I hope to go on knocking off amateur threats for 
at least five more years, provided there actually exists an ama- 
teur threat. Tennis tournaments may well lose their sponsors 
unless a player of exceptional caliber comes to the fore. Why, 
in the 1957 Nationals the gallery was so conspicuous by its 
absence that when a small child began to cry somewhere in 
the depths of the stadium, it was so noticeable the referee ad- 
monished: 

"Try to keep that baby a bit quiet, please!" 

Some years ago fifty babies could have howled in chorus 
and I doubt if the noise would have bothered anyone. 

I'd also like to see a movie made on my life, and I could 
either play a role in it or hang around as technical adviser. I 
believe it would be an inspiration to underprivileged kids. 
Actor Charlton Heston, a tennis devotee, has shown some in- 
terest in my life story and, believe me, any guy who can come 
down off Mt. Sinai as Moses in The Ten Commandments to 
the tennis courts to play Pancho Gonzales must be one hell of 
an actor. I've heard that few sports pictures make money, but 
my life would have a guaranteed Spanish-speaking audience. 

By the time I retire from active tennis I hope to have some 
income property. If any of the tenants play tennis, they'll 
have an easy time stalling me for the rent. 

Where will you teach? I'm asked. I don't think I will. How 
can I teach when I've never had a single lesson? When you 
teach you have to keep hitting the balls to your pupils or 
they'll become discouraged. I doubt if I could do this. I'd be 
tempted to scorch one down the sidelines. 

Anyway, Southern California has enough tennis teachers. 
Competent instructors like Carl Earn, Harvey Snodgrass, 



202 Man with a Racket 

Bob Harmon, Bob Rogers, Sam Match, Johnny Lamb, Walter 
Westbrook, Phil Greens, Ray Casey, Vini Rurac, Frank 
Feltrop, George Toley, Loring Fiske, Jerry Hover and many 
others. 

Tennis has been good to me. It's improved my life. I just 
moved into a nice red two-story house in a quiet district in 
South Los Angeles. I gave my old house to my brother, 
Ralph. He helped me a lot on tours. My boys haven't been 
sick a day in their lives, and we've always been able to give 
them good food to eat. I don't know how long this financial 
independence will last, but it looks promising. I love and re- 
spect my mother and my father, and I want to make up for 
the bad times I gave them as a boy, when I wouldn't go to 
school. 

Speaking of boys, kids look up to me, and young boys need 
help. Pancho Segura and I have talked a lot about opening a 
tennis school for kids. I'd like to form a Little League tennis 
program. My oldest boy is eight now, and he'll be ready 
for something like that very soon. He thinks and dreams of 
tennis more than I did at his age. One good example came 
the time I was going to spank him. "Please, Daddy," he re- 
quested, "use a tennis racket instead of your hand." 

Young boys need support just like I did once. When 
you're of Mexican and Spanish descent very often you don't 
get off to a good start. It's like running the 100-yard dash and 
being forced to give a two-yard handicap. The Latin kids 
and kids from the East Side don't get the promotion they 
need. They need encouragement. You've got to make tennis 
available to these kids. That's why we haven't got any good 
Latin players in Los Angeles. 

Tennis is still at a stage where it takes some money to get 
started the correct way. But you can learn almost as much by 
watching as by playing. That's what I did. It's tougher, 
though. Patience is needed. I watched tennis bigshots hit cer- 



My Feud with Jack Kramer 203 

tain shots and tried to duplicate them with old rackets and 
beat-up balls. By practicing over and over again I licked it. 

I hate to think about quitting competitive tennis. I know 
111 be forced into retirement some day. But I'd like to stay 
in sports. I need a challenge for everything I do and sports 
furnish the challenge. To meet a challenge keeps me inter- 
ested and alive, sharpening my senses. 

Maybe in fifty years I'll slow down to the point where Hen- 
rietta will challenge me to a knitting contest. Ill accept. And 
111 beat her by ten stitches. 




// The Toughest Tour 



I'd enjoy writing off this chapter in a single sentence: 

I beat Lew Hoad, 48 matches to 34. 

But it's not that simple. Every trick I ever learned, more 
concentration than was previously required, rigorous condi- 
tioning, and, lastly, a maximum of determination were 
needed before Lew was conquered. 

Starting out like a whirlwind he ran up an 8-5 lead in Aus- 
tralia, extended it to 18-9 in this country and I didn't pass 
him until that night in Kansas City when I went out in 
front, 22-21. Lew was supposed to roll over and play dead 
when I lengthened this lead to ten matches. Instead of play- 
ing dead he came very much to life, moving to a slim 36-31 
deficit and hanging right onto my tail until the wear and 
tear of the trip sent him to the pits with an aching hip. 

At tour's end, back in Los Angeles where I was master in 

204 



The Toughest Tour 205 

my own home again (although Henry had just ordered me 
to take my feet off an end table) I was talking with Larry 
Negrete, 1957 Public Parks doubles champion who casually 
mentioned, "It's not that Jack Kramer did anything to you, 
Pancho, it's what he tried to do." 

I knew what Larry inferred. Jack had Lew on the road 
from the time he turned professional until our first clash in 
Australia. Lew, together with Jack, Segura, and Rosewall, 
played all over the world. Lew got slimmer, trimmer, wiser. 
He was readied for me as no challenger had ever been in the 
history of professional tennis. It was comparable to the New 
York Yankees, after a full season of spring training, opening 
against the White Sox whose squad had just reported for the 
first game. 

Money, I believe, was secondary in Jack's mind when he 
took Lew on this preliminary tour. The gate would have 
been just as satisfactory without Lew because many of the 
countries where they played rarely had a chance to see any 
stars in action. Jack's motivation was to whip Lew into such 
fine shape that he would knock me off the throne. 

Well ... he sure came close. 

I'm not a mind reader as I have often discovered in poker 
games with Jack, yet this time I had a piercingly clear picture 
of what went on inside his head. Lew represented a $125,000 
investment and was a genial, easy-to-handle chap. I'm not a 
genial fellow and, as Jack will tell you, even if you don't ask 
him, I'm hard as hell to handle. So if Lew beat me all would 
be rosy for Jack. I'd be out of the pro picture and out of Jack's 
hair. Lew would be in his rear pocket where he'd peacefully 
rest, coming out only for money. 

I understand that Gar Mulloy, while playing at Wimble- 
don, used to go to the London Aquarium and stare at fish to 
relieve tension. Gar's methods may be fine for Gar, but I 
have different ones. These are not to relieve pressure but to 



206 Man with a Racket 

touch off an angry explosion inside which makes me play 
harder. I don't have to visit an aquarium. I look into a mirror 
and see the biggest fish in Kramer's special aquarium trapped 
by a seven-year contract. 

When Lew began beating me in Australia and New Zea- 
land the writers had a field day. Almost to a man they de- 
serted Pancho Gonzales, now known as a "sinking ship/' 
"Time has run out on the champion" was the trend of think- 
ing. Out of all the experts and alleged prognosticates only 
Mercer Beasley supported me. 

"Gonzales will win by fifteen matches/' he predicted. 

The bookies in Australia made Lew a 6-to-5 choice. Im- 
provement of Hoad was cited as the reason, plus my age and 
lack of incentive. "Pancho is set financially," someone wrote, 
"and the desire to win will be lacking." How ridiculous this 
sounded to me! Maybe the writer forgot there's a little un- 
avoidable item in this country called income tax. 

This seems a good time to inject a letter written by Gloria 
Kramer, Jack's wife, to Jeane Hoffman and published in the 
Los Angeles Times. 

"Dear Jeane: 

Well, you've just got to put this Australia down as the 
tennis capital of the world! In 10 matches to date 75,000 
people have come out, and thousands more turned away. Add 
11,000 fans in New Zealand for three matches. And if you 
want to mention money, the tour has drawn in $135,000 
for the 10 matches in Australia and $28,000 in New Zealand. 

"No doubt you are surprised that Hoad is leading. So is 
everybody here. I keep saying to Jack, 'Why is Lew winning?' 
Because, earlier when Jack had written to me from Europe, 
he said what a great kid this Hoad was but he didn't think 
he'd ever win! 

"Obviously, the little 'warmup' trip to Europe under the 
tutorship of Jack did a lot of good. Also the steady competition 
against Pancho Segura, Ken Rosewall and Jack. It's sort of 



The Toughest Tour 207 

cute how Jack watches over Lew like a mother hen. Lew is 
very well liked by all the boys, at least the ones working for 
Jack. Wonderful disposition, very co-operative, will do any- 
thing to help make this tennis a success. 

"I'm not an authority, but from a spectator's view (and not a 
very good one, at that) Lew appears the stronger. He's built 
like an ox. Pancho seems to tire quickly. Lew is thinking in- 
telligently, and hitting with tremendous confidence. There 
have been some fabulous shots by both. 

"As for the relationship between Pancho and Lew, all I can 
say is that Lew has such a great disposition, you can't get mad 
at him. In the three matches I've seen, Pancho behaved very 
well, although the first match in Wellington was under a ter- 
rible wind, and it bothered Lew so much that Pancho won 
easily. That was the first match I saw in New Zealand. After 
that, Lew not only won the next four in Christchurch, Auck- 
land and two in Perth, but all wins were in straight sets. 

"Just a minute and I'll ask the boys if anything is wrong 
with Pancho. That's what people will probably start asking, 
isn't it? 

"No, nothing is wrong with Gonzales that anyone knows 
about. The regulars at the L. A. Tennis Club will have a lot to 
talk about figuring this one out. Incidentally, when the boys 
go into America for the opening in San Francisco I think the 
score will be 8 to 5, because the single matches will soon wind 
up down here. 

Love 
Gloria." 

Gloria expressed the situation pretty well. No, there was 
nothing basically wrong with me that a tour grind wouldn't 
fix up. Hoad is very strong and he is built like an ox and if 
I wanted to make a bad joke I'd say that I love to eat oxtail 
soup. And speaking of soup and cooking in general, Lew 
wasn't going to get any more of a native Australian speciality 
which was kangaroo tail soup. He was about to embark on a 
foreign diet. I knew what my stomach was made from cast 



208 Man with a Racket 

iron. Lew's stomach was going to get severely tested from 
restaurant to restaurant, night after night, and the strain of 
the eyes whether he's driving or a passenger watching that 
concrete ribbon of roadway could exact its toll. 

To get down to the main reason why we play money 
the tour, the National Professional Championship which I 
copped in Cleveland, the Masters that I won at Forest Hills, 
the Masters that I didn't win in Los Angeles, foreign exhi- 
bitions and endorsements netted me around ninety-one thou- 
sand dollars during the playing year, 1957-58. Now I know 
that all you office slaves clerking and filing away at seventy- 
five dollars per week will think this over and come up with, 
"How can he be mad at Jack Kramer when he earned that 
nice chunk of dough?" 

Well, I can. I'm not going to rehash why. I did that earlier 
in the book. 

Melvin Durslag, sports columnist on the Los Angeles 
Examiner, asked Jack if I had any nice qualities. 
The answer was: 

"I hate to admit it, but he does. For one thing, he's very 
good-hearted. He's also a very determined player. He's 
loaded with guts. He's very trusting. He has never yet asked 
to look at my books. And he's also honest. I would leave all 
the money I own in an open locker next to his and feel confi- 
dent he'd never take a penny/' 

Thanks, Jack. I'm not going to pass along my opinion of 
you. I'm not a hypocrite. 

Jack also mentioned to Durslag that if "Pancho ever got 
me over a barrel, he's going to turn the crank." 

There's no opportunity for a barrel or a crank in that iron- 
clad contract which has my signature at the bottom. I've com- 
mitted seven years of my life to him and even if he has put 
money into my pockets I've earned it the hard way under a 



The Toughest Tour 209 

trying condition. Did you ever hear of anyone in the Army 
loving his sergeant? 

The Hoad tour was the worst strain I ever went through. 
Frankly, I'm not too anxious to play him again. Even when 
my lead widened I couldn't afford to relax. I'd replay every 
match in my mind hours after it was over. Especially those I 
lost. I'd be mean for days, even scowling at waitresses and 
strangers on the street. A scowl didn't have much effect on 
Lew. It's hard to see across the court. 

March was the great month of the tour for me. I began to 
regain my touch, move in and handle Lew's second service 
better and I dropped down to my normal playing weight. A 
friend said, "Pancho, you're a cinch to win the athlete of the 
month award." 

"I doubt it," I growled. 

"Wait and see." 

I waited. I saw. They gave it to Silky Sullivan. Silky Sulli- 
van, in case your memory needs jogging, is a horse. 

On the tour I drove a Thunderbird. Alone. Those nights I 
lost and traveled to another city I really took it out on that 
car, in the form of abuse. And then I'd tinker it back into 
shape again. Tinkering with a car is the best therapy I know 
of. I found out that I average nearly 20 miles per hour faster 
on nights that I lose. 

Professional tennis strains a person more than any other 
sport. In basketball, football, or baseball when a player is 
hurt a substitute jumps in. This never happens in tennis. 
You've got to go on nearly every night. I've played with a 
sprained ankle and Lew splattered himself against a wall 
that nearly jarred his teeth loose, but finished out the match. 
Blisters, calluses, cramps, etc., are occupational troubles too 
minor to even mention. 

During the mornings when time hangs heavy on our hands 



210 Man with a Racket 

some of the boys visit museums to sop up culture. I never do. 
Maybe this is regrettable. I'm certainly not proud of it. The 
truth is that I just don't get any kick from cultural pursuits. 
All I want to do is bang the ball where my opponent isn't. 
When I do, a symphony concert or standing in contempla- 
tion before the Mona Lisa can't thrill me nearly as much. 

We gave the crowds crowds that broke all records to see 
us some pretty good matches. Since a tennis player never 
forgets I can recall that the real crowd-pleasers were in White 
Plains, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, 
Louisville, Kansas City, Missouri, Memphis, and St. Louis. 
There were also a share of bad ones. They were in Madison 
Square Garden, River Oaks, Muncie, Indiana, Toledo and 
Tampa, Florida. On these nights nothing worked for either 
of us. 

When Lew's hip began bothering him, Jack flew his own 
personal doctor, Omar Fareed, from Los Angeles to take care 
of him. Dr. Fareed had previously done a good job with the 
cyst on my racket hand. At his suggestion, Lew dropped out 
of the tour in May. The play stoppage cost him somewhere 
between twenty-five hundred and four thousand dollars. On 
several occasions during the tour Hoad had twinges of pain. 
Tests at the UCLA Medical Center confirmed the original 
diagnosis of Dr. Fareed that Lew was hobbled by right sciatic 
neuritis. It is believed this condition was an outgrowth of 
Hoad's previous back trouble. Physical therapy and drugs 
were prescribed. 

Early on the tour when I swung into stride taking sixteen 
of twenty-one matches, I was certain Lew would begin to 
crack and I would win in a breeze. Yet he managed to hang 
on like a bulldog. After I had a 10-point bulge, 33 to 23, he 
thumped me in East Orange, New Jersey, and went on to win 
the next four times. You see what I mean? I hope that I never 



The Toughest Tour 211 

meet a finer competitor. He really gave it all he had. Two of 
our matches will long remain in my memory. At Kooyong 
Stadium, Melbourne, Lew slid by me 4-6, 9-7, 11-9, 18-16. 
The struggle lasted three hours and forty-five minutes. An- 
other marathon occurred in the Masters at Los Angeles. This 
time I downed him, 3-6, 24-22, 6-1. 

I want to touch a bit upon Perry T. Jones' appointment 
to captaincy of the United States Davis Cup team. It's a well- 
deserved honor, arriving at long last to a man who has de- 
voted his life to fostering tennis. He's been in the promo- 
tional end of the game for forty years. Before then, he was 
a fine player. 

All Mr. Jones needs is one great player and we'll regain the 
Cup. Hell get that player, but when and who it will be, I'm 
not certain. The pros have worked with Barry McKay, and 
it might be big Barry; or even Chris Crawford, a Northern 
California youth; perhaps young Earl Buckholz is only a few 
years away. Southern Californians have high hopes for Don 
Kierbow. Little is known of Don except that in one of his re- 
cent brief tournament appearances he ousted Herbie Flam. 
And reaching far into the younger generation don't count 
my son Richard out of things, if youll pardon the parental 
prejudice. 

What amateurs are coming up for serious professional con- 
sideration? By "serious" I mean to play the role of challenger 
and not a member of the supporting cast. Only two: Ashley 
Cooper and Mai Anderson, both of Australia. Cooper bagged 
a rare "triple" in 1958 the Australian, Wimbledon, and 
U. S. crowns. Only the French Championships eluded him. 
At the present time I don't think he's ready to extend me, 
but if Jack ever signs him or Mai and benefits them by a slow 
seasoning and ripening process, I might have my troubles. 
Both are the phlegmatic type, schooled in the Harry Hopkins 



212 Man with a Racket 

drawing room etiquette manner of gentlemanly tennis play- 
ers. These boys are hard to ruffle and never let off steam on 
the courts. 

I got a big kick and a loud laugh the day Kramer amplified 
his feelings about me before the press at Forest Hills. "I'd 
like to get out from under this burden," he said, referring to 
me as the burden. "I am fed up with Pancho's gripes, his 
constant demands and his repeated holdouts. I can't find out 
what he wants. I can't make schedules or commitments. I told 
Pancho just this week that he could buy the contract himself 
if he wanted it at a reasonable price." 

Jack called fifty thousand dollars a reasonable price. 

Of course this idea wasn't original. Slaves bought them- 
selves out of bondage thousands of years ago. The world 
hasn't changed much. Only the prices. 

Sure, Jack's willing to sell my contract. He knows he hasn't 
got an outstanding amateur to play me next year. He's des- 
perate. If there was a good amateur or pro coming along, 
Jack wouldn't think of selling. 

Well, be it Cooper or Anderson or Lew Hoad again in the 
near future, you can be sure of one thing I'll show up. Every 
year from now on the critics will refer to my "slowing down" 
and be watchful for indications of decay. Their typewriters 
and words from mouths will be trying to make an old man 
out of me before my time. 

The rocking chair's a long way off. 

I'm the best damned tennis player in the whole wide world 
and I expect to remain so for a long, long time. 

Bring on the challengers, Jack! 

This book requires an appendage. 

It is necessary so that the readers won't construe the emo- 
tions exhibited by Henry and me toward each other as tinged 
with hypocrisy. Our feelings are unchanged since the day we 



The Toughest Tour 213 

married. I love her; and I believe she loves me. Only we can't 
live together any more. 

Henry and I are divorced. 

On December 22, 1958 in the Los Angeles Domestic Rela- 
tions Court before Superior Judge Burnett Wolf son, an 
agreement was consummated to the mutual satisfaction of 
both parties. 

When M use the word "satisfaction" I mean monetarily 
speaking, The heart has been excluded. 

I understand Henry's attitude. She says that I haven't 
matured enough to accept my responsibilities in life. She is 
referring to herself and the three boys. 

Maybe she's right. But I think it goes deeper than that. 
Perhaps T have some psychoneurosis. I just can't hold still 
long enough to be a model husband. I can't relax. I've got 
too much energy. I can't come home at night, put on my 
house slippers and lead a domestic, by-the-fireside existence. 

In this took I have the last word and by using this preroga- 
tive to sp^ak of our breakup; I am in no way seeking sym- 
pathy. A long time ago I came to the conclusion that I'm not 
composed of the stuff good husbands are made of. 

Something inside makes me want to run, run, run in all 
directions' and none of them lead toward my home. 




18 Tips for Beginners 



Obviously, the most important thing in tennis is the racket; 
without one, the game cannot be played. Thus it stands to 
reason that after purchasing a racket this instrument of pleas- 
ure should be afforded choice treatment. Tape the end of 
the frame if you're scraping cement courts, place in a press 
after using, slip into a case, clip any frayed strings, shellac 
when necessary. Don't be afraid to coddle it like a baby. 

Above all, don't buy a cheap racket. A cheap racket is com- 
parable to a cheap fishing rod. In the case of the latter, a cast 
can't quite make it where the big one is splashing; in tennis, 
a shot will be missed that normally could be made if the 
racket is first-class. 

A price-conscious mother whose son intends learning the 
game may argue, "We can't afford an expensive one. We'll 
start him out with a cheap one and then get him a better one 

214 



Tips for Beginners 215 

later on." This is just another penny-wise and pound-foolish 
argument. If you follow this line of thinking, you will invar- 
iably end up buying two rackets instead of one. 

Rackets by arrangement with tennis shop proprietors 
may be bought on time payments. Look upon this expendi- 
ture as not just a purchase of wood and tightly drawn and 
laced strings, but as a long-term annuity policy guaranteeing 
fine physical condition, socializing, and sportsmanship. 

Getting down to fundamentals. 

FOREHAND. Tennis grips come in three choices. Forget 
any of the modifications or exaggerations you may hear 
about, such as my own hammer grip. For the forehand, use 
the Eastern grip. The Eastern grip is obtained by shaking 
hands with the racket much in the manner you would shake 
hands with a friend. 

On the forehand, you either draw the racket back straight 
or take a circular swing. No two forehands are exactly alike. 
They vary like fingerprints. The circular swing leads the 
field in popularity and is the ultimate in rhythm. Hit the ball 
flatly with a good follow-through. No turn of the racket. No 
hitting up motion. Forget topspin. Topspin slows speed, en- 
abling opponents to cover the shot easier while a well-hit flat 
shot fairly flies toward the backstops. 

Extend your left foot toward the net but don't point the 
toe. On every return that isn't high the knees must be bent, if 
possible. Stand like a ramrod and you'll never be a tennis 
player. At first, knee bending is difficult. Soon it becomes, an 
automatic reflex. 

Hold the racket tightly. Keep a stiff wrist. A loose, floppy 
wrist is the curse of tennis. 

Most instructors from time to time bellow: "Keep your eye 
on the ball!" I never stress the point. The eye can't be blamed 



216 Man with a Racket 

for an error. I assume the pupil is going to keep his eye on 
the ball by sheer instinct. It's almost self-protective: keep 
your eye on the ball and hit it or it will hit you. Naturally, a 
space judgment is necessary to quickly and accurately meas- 
ure your distance from the ball. This also develops through 
instinct. 

BACKHAND. The backhand frightens many beginners. 
They hate to take a shot on what they feel is the wrong or 
weak side. True, you can't hit the backhand with the speed 
of the forehand for as many placements, but you can develop 
it to the point of less errors. It can easily become the steady, 
always dependable side of your game. 

Shots to the backhand cause the beginner to develop a ten- 
dency to run around balls in order to get off a forehand shot. 
Of course some running is acceptable where the chance for 
an unreturnable shot is presented. Otherwise don't consider 
any running around the backhand. Valuable time is given 
your opponent on such maneuvers. 

For a backhand grip the racket must be turned slightly, the 
top rim moving a couple of inches toward the right. Never 
put your thumb straight up; lay it across the handle. In this 
position, the backhand can be driven in the manner of the 
forehand or hit for safety's sake with a little underspin. Watch 
the head of your racket. If it drops, it's a danger sign. Keep 
it up, above the wrist level. 

SERVICE. To be able to serve you must possess a strong, 
agile back that is pliable and can be bent and twisted. Suffer- 
ers from sacroiliacs, discs, etc., will undergo trouble and 
ofttimes considerable pain executing the proper services. 

The generally accepted beginner's service is a slicing form 
of delivery abetted by the Continental grip. Hold the racket 
in your left hand directly in front of you. Grip the racket by 



Tips for Beginners 217 

the throat. Now, fasten the fingers of your right hand on 
top of the handle. That's the Continental. 

Stand barely behind the baseline, feet spread, weight 
adjusted in a way that it shifts toward the court after the ball 
is struck. Never toss the ball in excess of two or three feet over 
your head. Throw it slightly ahead of yourself above the left 
shoulder. 

Racket and ball meet at the height of the toss for the for- 
ward swing. After the racket descends you will find the head 
of it traveling by the side of your right leg. The serve requires 
more coordination than any single stroke and infinitely more 
practice. It is a combination of movements that gradually 
merge into a continuous one. 

Once the simple slice service is mastered, the pupil may 
advance to the twist by giving his back an arch and throwing 
the ball so that he has to reach for it over his left shoulder. 
After this service lands it has spin, often jumping to the oppo- 
nent's backhand, forcing him out of position. 

Additional speed can be generated by a first service varia- 
tion of this twist by tossing the ball up over your right shoul- 
der and hitting it with the full face of the racket. Although 
this move eliminates spin, exceptional speed is gained with 
the chance of service aces being scored. 

THE VOLLEY. No grip changes are necessary in going from 
the Continental grip service to the volley. Learning to volley 
(hitting the ball while it comes toward you in the air) is a 
step that is in comparison to graduating from high school to 
college. Here the beginner shakes off his apprenticeship, 
advancing to the stage where he can furnish anybody with a 
good singles workout and be desirable as a fourth for dou- 
bles. Nearly any player can learn to hit a fair ball from the 
baseline, but to move netwards and hit the ball while in flight 
is a different matter. 



218 Man with a Racket 

The majority of learners rush forward to crowd the net in- 
stead of standing the most advantageous distance from it, 
which is halfway between the net and the service line. The 
pupil's knees should be slightly bent. The backswing is short; 
the shorter the better, with elbow bent. Don't wait until the 
ball is opposite you; hit the volley when the ball is well in 
front and punch at it like a boxer delivering a short jab. It is 
a short, punching, crispy stroke. Every volley has underspin. 
Underspin gives you ball control. 

THE SMASH. The smash is exactly what the name implies, 
a crashing overhead stroke with the same grip as the volley 
and service. It always reminds me of an anti-aircraft gun 
downing a plane. Anything in the air you hit and hit hard, 
shifting weight to unload all possible power into the stroke. 
A clean smash can provide a great, uplifted feeling the feel- 
ing of sheer power. 

Not every overhead, of course, can be smashed. On some 
you may be out of position, or backing up. On these you must 
settle for half-power. 

Never allow an overhead to bounce if you can hit it safely 
in the air. Your opponent may be out of position and scurry- 
ing toward the center of the baseline. If you let the ball 
bounce first, you give him time to get into position and antic- 
ipate your shot. 

DON'TS FOR THE BEGINNER 

Don't foot fault. That white line has not been placed where 
it is by some brush-happy painter or whitewashes It's a 
boundary. Observe it. 

Don't return service using a half stroke. Whenever possible 
use a full swing. 

Don't play with balls until they are worn down to the skins. 
A light ball floats, the wind plays havoc with it, and the loss 



Tips for Beginners 219 

of weight from missing nap takes the real pleasure out of 
stroking. 

Don't try a running, driving, forehand volley. This is far 
too difficult for the beginner to master. 

Don't try to shave the sidelines or nick the baseline with 
drives. Keep hitting well inside the court. 

Don't try to drive the ball at your opponent while he is at 
the net. 

Don't try low lobs until you've reached an advance stage of 
the game. A poorly hit low lob sets up a "cripple" for your 
opponent. 

Don't purposely attempt half-volleys, which means hitting 
the ball on pickups. A half-volley is often a desperate save 
and almost always purely defensive. 

Don't try hitting balls on the rise. Hit them at the crest of 
the rise. Only the very talented can hit on the rise. 

Don't lose concentration. Rid your mind of everything ex- 
cept the game you are playing. 

Don't keep hitting to your opponent. Keep moving him at 
all times. 

Don't present an unkempt appearance. Tournament and 
club officials want to see a neat player with an all-white ap- 
pearance. 

Don't take too long to serve. Your opponent may do the 
same thing to you. 

Don't attempt to barely clear the net on drives. Keep a safe 
distance between the ball and net. 




79 Not for Beginners 



Just learning to play tennis? 

If such be the case, pay no attention whatsoever to the con- 
tents of this chapter. Run do not walk to a tennis in- 
structor, and discover in slow, graduated stages the rudiments 
of the game. Begin while you're barely big enough to clutch 
a racket in your tiny hand. Years later, when the blisters and 
calluses heal, open the book to this chapter. Perhaps then, 
and I use the word "perhaps" with many reservations, assimi- 
lation can follow. 

Let me first speak of condition. Condition is of cardinal im- 
portance. It is a state of body, not of mind. Condition alone 
can win matches. In the fifth set if you're 5 per cent 
stronger, you can be 25 per cent worse and still win. 

Better read the last sentence again . . . slowly. Digest it. 
Every word screams the truth. 

220 



Not for Beginners 221 

To be in tip-top condition before a match, eat a light meal 
from two to four hours before the start of play. The more 
sleep you get, the better. There is no such thing as being over- 
slept before a match. Each extra hour in bed means extra 
stamina on the court. Should a little tension exist and inter- 
fere with sleep, pick a pleasant subject to concentrate on. 
Never pick your opponent. Think of counting money, think 
of a pretty girl, think of a beautiful sunset. But no sedatives. 
Never, never any sedatives. 

Manage to wake from sleep at least an hour before match 
time. Sleeping up to the final few minutes makes it difficult 
to shake off lethargy. Don't watch TV or go to a movie di- 
rectly before a match. You'll suffer unconscious eye strain. 
It's tough enough to focus a pair of rested eyes on a ball, let 
alone tired ones. 

IMPORTANT. Warm up for at least twenty minutes. Should 
your opponent show an eagerness to get started and keep ask- 
ing, "Are you ready?", simply keep answering "no." Don't 
let him hurry you. Don't figure on gradually easing into the 
match and waiting for an opportunity to spurt into the lead. 
Start fast! Serve your speediest serve the very first time it's 
your turn. Get the early jump. The jump can mean the 
match. 

Never lose concentration. Forget the girl who jilted you, 
income tax, mounting bills. Turn off all stray thoughts. 

Keep an even temperament. Players have been known to 
lose matches when irked by a bad line call. And don't think 
you won't get plenty of them. Forget petty annoyances like 
applause at the wrong time and loud voices in the stands. Or 
even a fly. I've seen a player blow an important match because 
a fly annoyed him. Remember, that same fly can cross the net 
and buzz around your opponent. Don't let it bother you if 
most of the applause is for your competitor. Maybe he has 



222 Man with a Racket 

more relatives. As long as he isn't related to the umpire, 
you're safe. 

During intermission time after the third set, lay off hot 
showers. Take them lukewarm. A few minutes under the 
water is enough. Under no circumstances drink cold liquids. 
Cast aside the temptation. Hot tea is good. Lemon-sucking 
keeps the inside of the mouth just right. A small glass of or- 
ange juice is fine for energy restoring. Salt tablets are strongly 
recommended. Too much liquid is a condition destroyer and 
slows you down within a few games. Running becomes as 
difficult as rowing a water-logged boat. 

Before meeting an opponent, if possible, study his style. 
Learn his weak points and, believe me, every player has at 
least one. Ask other players for advice. They will readily ex- 
pound their knowledge. No one is impregnable. Hammer at 
these weaknesses, even if they seem strong points in the be- 
ginning. You'll eventually break them down. 

Try to be fair at all times. Never quick-serve, or take too 
much time on the service. If you're fair with your opponent, 
generally hell be fair with you. Don't stall. If you're out of 
gas, stalling won't help much. Only a rainstorm will save you 
then. Should anything bother you, tell the umpire. He'll try 
to correct the situation. Don't take it out on the poor innocent 
ball boys or the linesmen. They're doing you a favor by show- 
ing up. 

If you're a young player, I'll safely guess that you are try- 
ing to hit too hard. Forget blasting. Learn to keep the ball in 
play. I don't mean by pat-balling but by solid stroking. For- 
get nicking the sidelines. It would be difficult enough nicking 
them with a rifle bullet, let alone a tennis ball. Certainly you 
may score a brilliant unreturnable shot, but you're flaunting 
percentages. Playing percentages pays off. Above all, elimin- 
ate the idea of fantastic crosscourt shots. Learn to send up a 



Not for Beginners 223 

high lob in order to get back into position a real high deep 
one even if it brings rain. 

RUN, RUN, RUN your opponent. A player forced to run to 
hit a shot has far less chance returning it than one who doesn't 
have to move. Don't give him what I call the "rocking chair 
shot." 

Going back to lobs, make sure they come down near the 
baseline. A short lob is fatal. Keep away from trying to mas- 
ter the low, topped lob. When this lob strikes the court, it 
shoots toward the backstop and proves almost unreturnable. 
Admittedly one of the brilliant shots of tennis, it's too hard 
to learn. The Kinsey brothers were specialists at this, but if 
you're not a member of the immediate family, forget it. 

Don't even think about a drop shot. They are rapidly be- 
coming a thing of the past. If you're a woman, though, use it. 
There is no better weapon for draining an opponent of stam- 
ina. The speed of men cuts down its effectiveness. The drop 
shot of importance is the drop volley. It requires a sensitive 
touch. The payoff is big. Hours of practice will provide you 
with one. Don't be discouraged by repeated failures the first 
week. Keep practicing. 

Change of pace is also outmoded. Years ago it was consid- 
ered superb strategy when two players stood in the back court 
and the ball crossed the net dozens of times, Tilden once en- 
gaged in a rally where the ball went over the net 126 times. 
Today, if you play the big game, the ball is lucky to travel 
back and forth four times in a single point. So change of pace 
becomes meaningless when an opponent whacks the ball in 
flight. The only change of pace I've observed is the uninten- 
tional one of going from bad to lousy. 

If you are playing clay, cement, wood, or grass for the first 
time, practice on the surface a couple of days in advance. The 



Man with a Racket 
difference is tremendous, especially indoors on wood. The 
long, deeply stroked backhand loses its authority here unless 
shortened considerably. You'll rarely have to think about any 
wood except that in your racket frame unless you fill out an 
entry blank for the National Indoor in New York. The transi- 
tion from grass to hard court is not easily managed, and the 
results bring upsets in form. Remember this: the highest 
bounce is on clay, followed by cement and then grass. 

Time to speak of the serve. Periodically cross up your op- 
ponent by hitting the second service first. This maneuver 
gives you more time to storm the net due to the high hop of 
the ball. It's pretty foolish trying to baffle an opponent by 
employing your fast first service on the second serve. Again, 
you're bucking percentages. 

Another pointer is on service return. If you return it short 
and your opponent lowers his head to hit the ball, don't stand 
in one place. Keep active. Being conscious of the fact that you 
are running may cause him to take his eye off the ball for a 
fraction of a second to see where you are. Due to your move- 
ments he may overplay the shot. A departure from the con- 
ventional on receiving serve is to shift in position toward the 
backhand as if you believe it is weak and you are protecting 
it. Thus, when the server sees more court open he will make 
a flash decision to try for an ace which can cause a fault. 

In running for a well-placed lob barely within range, learn 
to lengthen the grip on your racket, holding it in a stiff-arm 
position. Extra inches are proved, and a few additional inches 
may spell the difference in making or erring on the shot. 

Dwelling for one paragraph on the racket grip, 1 cannot 
fairly advise which one to use, the Western, Eastern, or Con- 
tinental Try them all and then do what comes naturally after 
you have mastered the fundamentals of the game. My own 
grip has been called by Don Budge and others, a "hammer 



Not for Beginners 225 

grip/' It is in between the Eastern and Continental, for both 
forehand and backhand. My fingers are never spread. My 
hand is at the end of the handle, clutching it like I would a 
hammer. I wouldn't advise many to copy it. Control is much 
easier if the fingers are slightly spread. 

The weakest link in American tennis has been doubles. 
Kramer and Schroeder teamed smoothly together, and, of 
course, there was the famous George Lott and Les Stoefen 
duo and Johnny Van Ryn and Wilmer Allison, also Don 
Budge and Gene Mako. After these, memories must be 
strained to remember outstanding combinations. One reason 
for our deficiencies stems from too many pickup teams. Con- 
tinuous changes in team personnel hamper harmonious play. 
In Australia it is different. There, combinations are endur- 
ing. That's why the Aussies have captured 67 per cent of all 
Davis Cup Challenge Round Doubles matches. Next comes 
the U. S., with 46 per cent. Doubles is like marriage. Players 
must know each other's strengths and weaknesses. They must 
be tolerant. They must encourage and warn during tough 
sledding. 

Chances of a service break in doubles reveal the prohibitive 
odds of around 7 to L For this reason safety measures should 
be discarded by the team on the receiving end. Everything 
possible should be done to steal the offensive. Daring play is 
required. 

From the spectator's viewpoint, doubles is more spectacular 
than singles. It's a slam-bang affair with four players trying 
to take the net at the same time. However, it is not devoid of 
light touch shots dumped at the feet of the incoming server, 
acute angles and lobs. 

Many young tennis aspirants say to me, "I can't afford les- 
sons. Have you any suggestions?" Yes, I have. It's the eaves- 
dropping system. Move as close as possible to any court where 



226 Man with a Racket 

a teacher is instructing. Keep your eyes and ears open and 
your feet ready for mercurial duty should the pros chase you 
away. This is learning the hard way, but you will pick up 
plenty of pointers. One of our nationally-ranked players used 
this system. 

If you can talk somebody with a home movie camera into 
shooting pictures of you in action, certain flaws in your game 
are possible to correct. During screening camera action can be 
halted precisely when a mistake occurs. 

The most truly valuable advice I can offer is never to play 
against players you can beat. Play those who can beat you. 
Then you will learn the hard way, but the productive way. 
Should your ego require a few victory plums, these can be 
snatched where they really count most in tournaments. 

Men can learn a lesson from women in that the latter in- 
variably practice against the opposite sex. Once they are used 
to the harder hitting, there remains little to fear from the 
comparatively soft shots of members of their own sex. 

Never take defeat lightly. It's fine to be a sportsman and 
smile through your tears while on public display. Surface- 
wise you can be the carbon copy of a laughing boy, but once 
exiled from the crowd, brooding should be in order. Deep 
inside let the loss nettle and goad you into discovering why it 
happened, and better still, what you are going to do about it 
should you ever cross rackets again with the same foe. 

Try to recall where you made the important mistakes. 
Practice against a repetition. Practice for hours. Have a rally- 
ing partner hit two or three hundred shots to your weaknesses 
and watch them vanish. Laborious hours must be spent in 
practice. 

Practicing with a tennis machine is a wonderful and mod- 
ern method for improvement. The machine can be set to 
send balls to any given place at different speeds. Even lobs. 
But few have access to such machines. So borrow a human 



Not for Beginners 227 

machine a friend. If you haven't got a friend, find a back- 
board. Any handball court will do. A backyard fence or the 
side of a building is next best. 

The road leading to the pinnacle of tennis success is 
bumpy, slippery, steep, lined with pitfalls and booby traps. 
If you make it, the rewards are incomparable. 

I'd sooner be what I am than President. 





Questions and Answers 



Everywhere I go people ask me questions. I try to answer 
them to the best of my ability. Often it's difficult. I may be 
hurrying to a match, rushing for a shower, hungry, late for 
an appointment, or in a bad mood. 

To those I gave hasty retorts, I apologize. To those I 
wouldn't reply, I apologize. To those I gave the wrong an- 
swers, I again apologize, 

I wish to make amends. 

Many of these questions culled from my memory were, I 
realize, good, honest questions. Some have remained firmly 
lodged in my mind. Now I am going to answer them. 

X Do spectators ever bother you? 
A. Only by staying away from my matches. 
>. Is amateur tennis in the East snobbish? 

228 



Questions and Answers 229 

A. More so than in the West. 

). A national magazine once stated you were refused admis- 
sion into the dining room of the Forest Hills Inn because 
you weren't wearing a tie. Is it true? 

A. No. Some sports writer was reaching for a story. 

Q. Do you ever talk jive talk? 

A. I don't dig you. 

Q. Have you entertained ambitions of becoming a bull 
fighter? I've heard it mentioned on account of your fast 
footwork and graceful movements. 

A. Never. I like animals too well to stick anything into them 
but a fork. 

Q. If you hadn't become an athlete, what do you think you'd 
be doing today? 

A. Working in a garage as a mechanic. 

Q. Do you sleep soundly? 

A. Like a dead man. I hear nothing. And I hope no burglars 
read this. 

Q. Would you want your three children to become tennis 
players? 

A. Not champions. Just play a social game. 

Q. Could Pancho Segura beat Frank Sedgman on a tour? 

A. I don't believe so. 

Q. Could Pancho Segura beat Tony Trabert? 

A. In any given match, yes. On a tour playing under adverse 
conditions, I seriously doubt it. 

). Who's your favorite sports announcer? 

A. Sam Baiter, KLAC, Hollywood and Los Angeles Herald- 
Express sports columnist. He plays a pretty fair game of 
tennis himself. 

Q. Whom do you hate worse than anyone in the world? 

A. I can't think of anybody. People say I'm lazy. 

Q. Whom do you consider the best tennis writer in the na- 
tion? 



230 Man with a Racket 

A. Allison Danzig, New York Times. 

). Do you believe the national championship will ever be 
played on hard surface courts? 

A. I hardly think so. Grass has tradition behind it even if it 
does become pretty worn and slippery at times. 

). Do you believe in lessons? 

A. For everyone in the world except myself. 

Q. What do you consider the most important stroke in ten- 
nis? 

A. No doubt, the serve. If you don't believe me ask those 
considered fairly easy servers like Rosewall, Flam, Segura. 

Q. What was the most surprising defeat in your career as 
both professional and amateur? 

A. When as a pro Don Budge beat me on the stage of the 
Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, in my own home town. 
His tennis was a throwback to his youth. 

Q. What's the main difference between pro and amateur 
tennis? 

A. Skill and money. As a pro you earn all your money legit- 
imately. 

Q. Do you have any superstitions when you play? 

A. Not to my knowledge. I have a habit, however, not far 
removed from a superstition. When playing I don't roll 
or fold my socks. I wear them straight up. 

). Why aren't women tennis players better looking? 

A. Did you ever see Gussie Moran, Louise Snow Isaacs, Carol 
Fageros, Laura Lou Jahn, Nancy Chafee Kiner, and 
others? But on the whole I'm inclined to agree they 
aren't exactly starlets. The main reason's sun beating 
down on them all day. Skin dries up, becomes leathery, 
legs get muscular, shoulders broader. 

Q. Are you romantically inclined? 

A. I'm of Latin temperament. 

). Are you friendly with any movie stars? 



Questions and Answers 231 

A. Yes. Walter Pidgeon, Gilbert Roland, Howard Duff, Doris 

Day, Ida Lupino. 

). Any suggestions for recapturing the Davis Cup? 
A. Just one. Keep the same men playing doubles together for 

a number of years. 

Q. Give me your definition of a "tennis bum." 
A. A tournament player who keeps postponing going to 

work. 

Q. Do your best friends call you Pancho or Dick? 
A. Both. Some call me Gorgo. Means gorilla in Spanish. 
Q. Are there any amateurs today who could press you? 
A.. No. 

(). Does your wife accompany you on tours? 
A. She'll meet me in certain cities and then fly back home. 
. What are the best tennis balls to use? 
A. I represent A. G. Spalding. 

Q,. What would be your idea of a super-tennis player? 
A. A player with two heads. Then he could intimidate the 

linesmen and argue with the umpire at the same time. 
Q. If a handpicked squad of the best amateurs in the world 

battled the best pros in a replica of the Davis Cup 

matches, what would be the outcome? 
A. Five to nothing in favor of the pros; with a chance o 

4-L There is a possibility the pros might lose the doubles 

as they often change partners and rarely play too long as 

a unit. 

Q. Has the drop shot much value in tennis? 
A. On a hard surface court, no, except to take a little out of 

your opponent by running him. On hard surface if you 

chase the shot you stop short like you have brakes and 

race into back court for the lob which usually follows. 

On clay or grass you skid and can't always get back into 

position in time. 



232 Man with a Racket 

Q. Were you ever socially snubbed or felt you were unac- 
ceptable? 

A. I wouldn't know. You never find out those things with 
an ego like mine. 

Q. Who is your favorite racket stringer? 

A. Arzy Kunz, Olympic Tennis Shop, Beverly Hills, Cali- 
fornia. Besides mine, he strings Kramer's, Segura's and 
many other leading players. 

{7. Will Mr. Kunz take mail order stringing jobs? 

A. He'd be delighted. 

). Do you advocate showering during the rest period after 
the third set of a match? 

A. In my case, yes. Possibly in the case of a slow starter, no. 
You can judge what's best for you. 

). How can you cure "tennis elbow?" 

A. You'll have to get medical advice. 

Q. What happened to that grand old tradition of leaping the 
net to congratulate the victor? 

A. It probably ended in a flurry of broken legs. It's enough 
to leap around the court, let alone take a running high 
jump when you're dog-tired after a match. 

(). If you win the spin of the racket for choice of court or 
serve, which would you take? 

A. The service, even if yours is weak. 

<>. Name your favorite tennis book. 

A. The one you're reading. 

Q. If a tennis ball gets wet, will it become dead? 

A. No. 

Q. If you had your life to live over again would you make 
any changes? 

A. Only one. I'd never learn to play poker. 

(X Why was Pancho Segura one of the last players to wear 
shorts? 

A. The answer is obvious when you study his legs. 



Questions and Answers 235 

Q. Will smoking injure your game? 

A. I've posed in a Viceroy advertisement. 

(). How good is a nylon gut? 

A. Lasts a long time and is excellent for beginners, poor 
for tournament players. 

Q. Is there anything that can be done to restore life to a 
dead tennis ball? 

A. Heating them in an oven gives a temporary higher 
bounce. 

Q. Does a windy day bother you? 

A* No more than my opponent. 

Q. Some people say you'd like to be an actor. Is it true? 

A. I'm already one every time I'm on a court. 

Q. Do women use drop shots more than men? 

A. Yes. It's a deadly weapon made to order for women's play 
because the other sex can't cover the court as fast. Beverly 
Baker Fleitz and Dottie Knode are masters of this spe- 
cialty. 

Q. What's the most difficult shot in tennis? 

A. The drop volley, which is difficult to execute. They must 
be just eased over the net, sharply angled. They require 
a fine touch. 

Q. What's the size of your racket handle? 

A. Four and three-quarters. 

). What weight racket does Jack Kramer use? 

A. He uses a 15, which is too heavy a war club for me. 

f). Name the advantages of playing on grass over cement. 

A. Cooler, kinder on the muscles and more traditional. 

Q. What should the beginner learn first? 

A. Ground strokes. 

}. After intermission following the third set, is any practice 
serving allowed? 

A. No. 

Q. Who were the best lobbers you ever watched? 



234 Man with a Racket 

A. Budge Patty, Ken Rosewall, Tony Trabert, Art Larsen, 

Maureen Connolly, and Bobby Riggs. Riggs was the best 

of the lot. 

Q. What do you think of two-handed hitting? 
A. Twice as difficult to learn as one hand, and not twice as 

effective. 

Q. Where can I sell my used tennis balls? 
A. Playballs, 540 South Kenmore, Los Angeles; or American 

Novelty Company, Box 625, Merrick, L. I., N. Y. 





Favorite Stones 



A good tennis tale always intrigues me, especially an off-beat 
one that manages to escape from the stereotyped, "I was 
down 5-0, and match point . . ." kind. There's a scarcity of 
interesting stories dealing with the sport. The few going the 
rounds are doled out like half-rations. Players themselves are 
poor narrators, preferring deeds of the racket to the racon- 
teur. A notable exception is George Lyttelton Rogers, per- 
haps the tallest big-time competitor in the history of the 
game. 

Rogers, former Irish Amateur Champion, turned pro when 
he moved to the United States. He still retains his Irish citi- 
zenship which gives him the privilege of slight embellish- 
ments. This is not intended as a slur on the Irish, and before 
they swarm down from their green hills demanding a retrac- 
tion, let me hastily add that I love them. 

235 



236 Man with a Racket 

Returning to George Lyttelton Rogers, the man is a pow- 
erful spinner of yarns. He needs no leprechauns, banshees, or 
werewolves. His characters are tennis players and in the fol- 
lowing story, related to me in London where we faced each 
other in a professional tournament, George plays the princi- 
pal role. For reading convenience it has been transposed into 
the third person. 

A CHARACTER FROM IRELAND 

When an athlete owns two diverse and outstanding talents, 
one must be subjugated. Top-flight success comes only to the 
specialist. Such an athlete was George Lyttelton Rogers. 

In 1930, Rogers, a gigantic combination of knife-and-forker 
and tennis player arrived in the United States to concentrate 
on legally lifting some tournament trophies. Had the tour 
been confined to restaurants, the depression might have 
ended a few years earlier because the visitor could point with 
pride and bicarbonate to the following records: 

Liquid Department 

Drank a magnum of champagne in three minutes flat. 
Downed seventeen steins of German beer in thirty min- 
utes. 

Tossed off twenty-one straight glasses of water in Paris, 
where a single glass of the stuff is considered unusual. 

Food Department 

Breakfast consisting of five soup bowls of oatmeal, six eggs, 
eight slices of bacon, six pieces of toast, washed down with a 
full quart of orange juice, topped by three cups of coffee. 

Afternoon tea: twenty-one cakes and one cup of tea. 

Had the largest single dinner tab in the history of Simp- 
sons, famous London roast beef house. 

Rogers differed physically from contemporary epicures. 



Favorite Stories 237 

While nourishment bulged the latter's stomachs, the starches, 
fats, and carbohydrates he consumed ran to length. He was 
six feet, seven inches tall, thin and wiry. 

George Rogers did not come to the United States for the 
purpose of eating, although it was a habit picked up since he 
was a baby and one which could not easily be broken. He 
came here for tennis. While his native Ireland is thought to 
be the greenest country in the world, he found the United 
States even greener, the chlorophyll difference fashioned by 
the coffers of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, 
where expense accounts, even then, were important issues. 

Newspapers immediately tagged the visitor from Erin as 
the 'Irish Giant," and tennis writers with unfailing regular- 
ity inserted into their copy "tallest player in the world." He 
was. 

He played a sound all-court game. His towering figure at 
the net presented lobbing problems. Opponents had to hit, 
almost high enough skyward to bring precipitation, in order 
to get the ball over his outstretched arm. 

His record was little short of terrific. Naturally, he was the 
Irish champion, a title he could have won by substituting a 
shillelagh for a racket. He had swept over the continent like 
a vacuum cleaner, winning eighteen international tourna- 
ments in successive weeks. Henri Cochet, the remarkable lit- 
tle Frenchman, one of the Four Musketeers, and Jack Craw- 
ford, the dependable Australian, were among his victims. 

Receiving an entry blank from Perry T. Jones, Rogers jour- 
neyed to Los Angeles for competition in the Pacific Southwest 
Tournament at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. This tourna- 
ment was treated like the Forest Hills of the West Coast. The 
difference lay in the fact that few, if any, foot faults were 
called and that during a sensational rally the appearance of 
a female movie star took spectators' eyes from the flight of 
the ball to the curves of the torso. 



238 Man with a Racket 

Jones allowed Rogers eighty dollars for round trip food ex- 
pense from New York to Los Angeles. The train ride was 
tedious, and there was little to do but wait for the porter's 
announcement, "The dining car is now open." When Rogers' 
ears picked up this bit of interesting information, he would 
disappear down the aisle in a flying welter of arms and legs, 
hell-bent for the diner. 

Upon reaching Los Angeles the first thing the young Irish- 
man did was call on Perry Jones. The conversation went 
something like this: 

"Mr. Jones, my name is George Rogers. Eighty dollars 
round trip is insufficient expense money for my food." 

Mr. Jones was unaccustomed to the direct approach on 
monetary matters from his players. Usually his well-framed 
question such as "How are you hitting them?" would derail 
complaints from money thoughts. Slightly stunned he coun- 
tered with, "Why not? The average man could eat hand- 
somely on that amount." 

"To that I agree," returned Rogers, adding, "but I am not 
the average man." 

"Hmmm," Jones pondered, running his eyes over the 
elongated Irishman. 

While Jones was in such a speculative state of mind, Rogers 
asked him, "How tall is Bitsy Grant?" 

The Atlantan was the smallest of American players ranked 
in the first ten. Jones knew his tennis statistics. "Five-one" 
he said. 

"Correct," Rogers nodded, and fired another question. 
"Now how much food money would Bitsy Grant get if he 
came to this tournament by train?" 

"Eighty dollars, same as you," Jones answered without hes- 
itation. 

Rogers nodded again and pulled a slip of paper containing 
neatly inscribed figures from his pocket. Consulting it he read 



Favorite Stories 239 

slowly, "Grant is five-one. ... I am six-seven. Subtracting 
Grant from me, this leaves a discrepancy of 18 inches." 

"But-but. . . ." began Jones. 

"So you see/* interrupted Rogers, scanning the paper be- 
fore him, "if little Grant would receive $80 and he's 18 inches 
shorter than I am, the breakdown is simple. He receives ap- 
proximately $1.16 per inch. At the additional height advan- 
tage I have, or . . ." he paused and glanced sternly at Jones, 
"don't seem to have in this case, the differential in inches is 
equal to $20.88. 

"Therefore, Mr. Jones, you owe me $20.88." 

Jones sighed, helpless against such irrefutable logic and 
reached for his checkbook. While his fingers wrote, his mind 
planned to invite Bitsy Grant to the next tournament and use 
the same figures and logic, but in reverse, on the Georgian. 

Rogers drew Lester Stoefen in the first round. Stoefen, a 
promising junior in those days, was later to become part of a 
near-perfection doubles duo with George Lott. 

The match, played on an outside court, drew hundreds of 
spectators who were not interested in the fact that the youth- 
ful Californian extended Rogers 8-6, 8-6. What attracted 
them were the shorts worn by the Irishman. Introduced that 
season by Bunny Austin, the English star, they had failed 
to capture the fancy of the players after all the years of tra- 
ditional long white flannels. George Rogers was a progres- 
sive. He took to them immediately. They gave him running 
room. His extraordinarily lengthy limbs resembled hairy un- 
dulating poles as they scurried around the court. 

At the conclusion of the match Rogers was summoned to 
Jones* office. The Western tennis major-domo was known as 
a stickler for conventional court dress. 

"Mr. Rogers/' he said, "tomorrow you meet Ellsworth 
Vines in a center court attraction." 

"Yes, sir/ 1 said Rogers, waiting. 



240 Man with a Racket 

"I want no shorts on the center court/' voiced Jones. 

Rogers launched a vigorous protest, ending with "I 
brought only shorts." 

Jones had a solution. "Hop into a taxi, buy a pair of flan- 
nels and charge them to me." Mentioning the name of the 
haberdasher he handed over taxi fare. 

Rogers was unhappy. 

As if to placate him, Jones led him outside where he 
pointed to the top of the stadium. Here the flags from coun- 
tries of various competing foreign players blew in the breeze. 

"I could locate no Irish flag," Jones said. "But in your 
honor, when you play tomorrow, there will be one. You have 
trousers made, I have a flag made. We compromised," he 
chuckled. 

When Rogers arrived at the stadium for his match, he saw, 
floating from its moorings, a large green flag bearing on the 
surface a white harp and shamrock. The official Irish flag was 
blue with a golden harp in the center. He made no comment. 

In the locker room, Rogers painstakingly, and not without 
some torture and the help of a ball boy, managed to work 
into his new trousers. They bound him severely in the crotch, 
pressed into his stomach, clutched at his bony knees. He made 
a test run around the dressing room, listening for ripping 
sounds. Hearing none, he felt reasonably safe as he went to 
the court. 

In sports parlance when an athlete takes it easy he's "play- 
ing under wraps." Well, Rogers didn't take it easy and he 
was playing under trousers choking, binding, non-resilient 
trousers. He was a man with two left feet in two bear traps. 
An exceptionally long-strider, he found it difficult to reach 
balls normally within range. There was nothing he could 
loosen. Not even a zipper in those days. 

Thirty-seven minutes later he was blasted out of the tour- 
ney, 6-1, 6-2. 



Favorite Stories 241 

Before leaving the court he stood for a long moment peer- 
ing at the supposed flag of his country, a gesture translated 
by the crowd as patriotic and perhaps seeking forgiveness for 
his poor showing. 

Actually, he was figuring the easiest way up the pole. 

Sitting in his office the next day, speculating on the size of 
the gate, Perry Jones was disturbed from his reveries by an 
assistant who burst through the door gesticulating wildly and 
muttering gibberish. Jones followed him to investigate. 

He saw, substituting for the Irish flag, a pair of soiled white 
flannels, the long legs flapping in the stiff wind. 

Here is another one, a tongue in cheek tale, written by my 
biographer, Cy Rice, that should appeal to every person who 
ever coveted a cup. 

THE KING AND MR. BELL 

To the French Riviera, that crescented, craggy coastline of 
Southern France where rugged mountains wet their rocky 
feet in a warm blue sea, there came a turbanned visitor from 
India, the Rajah of a small but prosperous province. Accom- 
panying the Rajah was a retinue of servants carrying the lug- 
gage and accouterments associated with gentlemen of wealth. 
With them was a man lugging an oblong case. The case con- 
tained six tennis rackets. He was known simply as Mr. Bell. 

Mr. Bell was a somewhat mysterious character along the 
fashionable Riviera in the early 1930's who might be de- 
scribed in Indian social circles as being "from the wrong side 
of the jungle." An avid tennis devotee and player of fair abil- 
ity himself, the Rajah had, for the convenience of a partner 
always within beck and call, hired Mr. Bell as a secretary. 

While Mr. Bell might fall flat on his punctuation trying to 
insert a semi-colon in its proper place during letter dictation, 
he rarely missed an overhead smash at the net. His forehand 



242 Man with a Racket 

carried the sting of a cobra. He hit his slightly undercut back- 
hand on the rise; and when forced into a defensive lob, he 
employed a short upward stroke which generated so much 
top spin that when the ball landed it jumped toward the fenc- 
ings, making it almost irretrievable. 

Taciturn, phlegmatic Mr. Bell had one weakness. It was 
not a fleshly one, nor the pop of champagne corks or the click 
of roulette chips. His basic impotency was tennis trophies. In 
plain language, Mr. Bell was cup-happy. On days of tourna- 
ment finals when trophies were placed alongside the court 
on a table, Mr. Bell might be observed standing before the 
glittering array, his body slightly bowed in an almost reverent 
position, while softly murmuring admiring words. 

This overpowering passion for cups often drained the 
pockets of his tennis flannels of every rupee put into them 
by the Rajah. Each tournament he entered found Mr. Bell 
long and earnestly studying the entry list in all six events in 
which he was scheduled to play the singles, doubles, mixed 
doubles, and the three handicaps for the same events. If 
placed in what appeared to be a favorable position of the 
draw, and his chances of winning seemed bright, Mr. Bell 
approached the tournament director with a stunning propo- 
sition. 

"Sahib," he would say, "the cup in the men's singles is very 
small." 

Before the startled director could frame a reply, Mr. Bell 
interjected, "I will personally replace it with a larger one if 
you have no objections." This he invariably did. There never 
were any objections. 

King Gustav of Sweden, royalty's most enthusiastic tennis 
player, was on the Riviera that season. While the King pos- 
sessed a forehand, the elbow of which rose like a broom han- 
dle wielded by an energetic housewife, he had never, 
throughout his tennis-playing career, tasted defeat, an ac- 



Favorite Stories 243 

complishment due solely to the courtesy of opponents. The 
King played a fair game, comparable to a Sunday-only busi- 
ness man on a public court. Perhaps in a town such as Toledo, 
Ohio, he might have ranked ninth in the veterans* class; 
surely first in the septuagenarian, if such a division existed. 
Tennis decorum called for the King to win but make it 
close. It was a must. An infraction meant social oblivion. 
There were no transgressors. 

The kindly King took a fancy to the Rajah, inviting him, 
together with Baron Gottfried Von Cram, the great German 
Internationalist, and other net luminaries to be his guests 
and play at the Stockholm summer palace courts. Mr. Bell 
was included. 

The invitation was readily accepted. After a series o gay 
social activities centering around the palace, the players 
grouped one evening, without the presence of Mr. Bell, and 
decided that to repay the King for his graciousness they 
would stage a select tennis tournament. Naturally the King 
would be the victor. Near the conclusion of the meeting 
there was a long moment of silence. All eyes were on the Ra- 
jah. He sensed the reason. 

Arising, he said, reassuringly, "Do not worry, gentlemen. 
I will talk to Mr. Bell." 

Karl Schroeder, Swedish champion, flexed his muscles and 
suggested, "Are you sure you wouldn't like me to handle the 
situation?' 1 

The Rajah, understanding the implication, smiled. "I see 
what you mean. No thanks, just leave him to me/' 

That evening the Rajah unwound his yards of turban, sat 
comfortably in a chair and dispatched a servant for Mr. Bell. 
The secretary arrived, bowed respectfully and asked, "Dicta- 
tion?" 

"Yes," said the Rajah. "Dictation. Very important dicta- 
tion." 



244 Man with a Racket 

Mr. Bell whipped out his notebook, unscrewed the cap of 
his fountain pen. "I am ready, Master," he announced. 

The Rajah said crisply, "My dictation is verbal. Pay close 
attention. We are playing in a tennis tournament here at the 
palace. The King is competing. The King must win! Do you 
understand?" 

"Yes, Master. The King must win/' 

"Then it is fully understood?" 

"Yes, Master. Is that all, Master?" 

"Not quite." The Rajah pointed his long dark forefinger 
at Mr. Bell. "Remember this. If you meet the King and he 
does not win, you lose your job." 

Mr. Bell nodded. "Anything else, Master?" 

"Yes," the Rajah said grimly. "There is something else. If 
you disobey my orders you will lose not only your job, but 
upon return to my province you will also lose your head." 

"Have no fear, Master," said Mr. Bell. 

"I have none," said the Rajah. "The fear will all be on 
your part." 

Next day the draw was made. The King and Mr. Bell 
were in opposite halves. As the competition was formidable 
it was considered a certainty that Mr. Bell would fall by the 
wayside in the early rounds. However, Mr. Bell confounded 
the prophets by playing the best tennis of his life. The cool- 
ness of the Swedish climate seemed to inoculate him with 
super-human energy. He scampered around the court like 
an electrically-charged rabbit. At week's end he was in the 
finals, pitted against King Gustav, the world's only unde- 
feated player. 

The day of the finals was dark and drizzly. Toward mid- 
day a fine mist developed which gradually slacked and died 
by afternoon. A tarpaulin was unrolled from the court and 
the contestants began warming up. The white balls were 
fuzzy, ivory spheroids against the backdrop of bleakness. 



Favorite Stories 245 

"Don't worry, gentlemen/' the Rajah whispered to his 
friends, "Mr. Bell understands." 

And it seemed that Mr. Bell did. Under the overcast sky 
the King took the first set handily, 6-1, and jumped into a 
2-0 lead in the second. It was a two out of three set match. 
Everything was going according to plans. Those in on the 
plan breathed easily. 

When it became obvious that increasing winds had chased 
the rain away, it was decided to move the cup a huge one 
subscribed to by the players to its official resting place on a 
table by the umpire's stand. This was done. It was hardly no- 
ticeable, obscured by the blackness in the Heavens. 

With his own service coming up, the King swung into a 
comfortable 4-0 lead. Just then the sun burst from its cloudy 
imprisonment. Bright light flooded the court at precisely the 
exact moment the King hit a weak return that barely cleared 
the net close to the alley near the umpire's stand. Mr. Bell, 
anticipating the shot, came charging in, brought back his 
racket and to the amazement of the spectators barely touched 
the ball. It dribbled to his feet and looked more like a ping 
pong stroke than tennis. Something had diverted his atten- 
tion. 

The cup! 

The full glory of the sun shone on the resplendent trophy. 
Silvery light rays reflected off its metal surface. It was a daz- 
zling sight. Mr. Bell stood transfixed. Seemingly with a great 
effort he tore his eyes from the trophy, trotting back for serv- 
ice return. 

From this moment on the entire complexion of the match 
changed. Mr. Bell mercilessly hammered the ball to all cor- 
ners of the court. He was the composite of a Tilden, a Budge, 
a Kramer. 

Mr. Bell took twelve games in a row, gave the dazed King a 
cursory handshake over the net, rushed to the cup, clasped it 



246 Man with a Racket 

lovingly into his arms and ran from the court in panic haste. 
He has never been seen or heard from since. 

The concluding story comes from the files of Sam Baiter, 
Southern California sportscaster and columnist. It's an oldie 
from his One For The Book collection. Sam relates it with 
warmth and compassion, and to borrow a phrase from TV, it 
has more strength in audio than in video. 

A NEED FOR EACH OTHER 

Tragedy is a grim, unwelcome ghost that stalks the lives of 
humans, raising its unseen hand to strike when least ex- 
pected. It hits hard and fast and has the power to blot out or 
alter the course of a life. Tragedy is ubiquitous and visits un- 
expected places like a tennis court during the French Cham- 
pionships under the radiant serenity of a Paris sky. 

France was a tennis-minded nation long before its Four 
Musketeers Cochet, LaCoste, Borotra, and Brugnon be- 
gan three years of invincibility. In those pre-Musketeer days 
the name of Andre Gobert cropped up with frequency. He 
was a stylist, a crafty change of pace wizard whose game was 
fortified by a smashing first service. 

His service was never more devastating than the afternoon 
he was playing the flashy but unsteady William Laurentz in 
the finals of the French Championships. Early in the match 
Gobert's cannonball thundered off the wood of Laurentz' 
racket, caroming into his right eye. Laurentz threw his hands 
to his eye, lurched blindly around, staggered against the back- 
stop and slumped unconscious to the court. 

Gobert vaulted the net, rushing to aid the stricken player. 
There was little he could do. A few hours later a surgeon re- 
moved Laurentz' eye. Gobert paced the floor of the hospital 
waiting room, nervously clasping and unclasping his hands. 



Favorite Stories 247 

The tragedy weighed heavily upon him, and although in the 
strictest sense the blame was not his, he nevertheless felt a 
strong responsibility. 

After a recuperation period, Laurentz was back on the 
court, once more engaged in the tennis wars. But it was a dif- 
ferent Laurentz. No longer was he the impetuous, daring 
player whose game rose to brilliant, dizzy heights and then 
often slumped to netting easy returns. Caution was the key- 
note of his play, a one-eyed conservative, far removed from 
his former formidable self. 

Gobert and Laurentz had contrasting personalities stem- 
ming from their backgrounds. Gobert came from a modest 
family; Laurentz was a rich and dashing figure. Neither one 
had ever sought out the other as a doubles partner. Now Go- 
bert practically implored Laurentz to form a tandem. He con- 
sented. 

They immediately became a feared combination, losing 
few matches. Gobert seemed to have an uncanny knack of 
sensing Laurentz* blind spots. Standing near the center serv- 
ice line he covered many shots difficult for Laurentz to reach. 
Such tactics improved Gobert' s footwork and provided him 
with a keen anticipatory sense. 

Actually he was trying to atone for that awful moment in 
the French Championships, by playing the role of benefactor 
and big brother. He became irrevocably bound to the man 
whose singles game he had ruined for all time, and he felt he 
was paying him back by becoming his partner in the world's 
best tennis duo. 

Neither man ever spoke of the incident. Laurentz, it ap- 
peared, had shut the door of his mind on it and never cared 
to open it, even a tiny bit. His attitude bothered Gobert. Go- 
bert wished to talk it out. Better, he thought, if Laurentz 
would be openly resentful and speak the words that were in 



248 Man with a Racket 

his heart. He began to almost take offense at what he consid- 
ered was mock bravery in his partner's attitude, a too martyr- 
like approach.- 

If Gobert believed that Laurentz harbored any pent-up 
intolerance that would some day burst the leashes of self-con- 
trol, he was wrong. Laurentz kept his mouth shut, and some 
surmised that he thought Gobert unnecessarily charitable. 

Despite what may have been smoldering under the sur- 
face, they played beautifully together, although tension 
mounted with each tournament. They became high strung. 
Gobert was too patronizing, overly solicitous. It was inevita- 
ble that the pair should break up. There were no arguments, 
no discussion, just a wordless parting due to each knowing the 
other's instincts. 

Both entered the singles at Wimbledon, England. Even 
though Gobert had played no singles since the accident, he 
was a far superior player than at any time of his life. He was 
an odds-on-favorite to capture the title, a title tantamount 
to world supremacy. A large delegation of Frenchmen crossed 
the channel to support him. 

With Gobert watching from the stand, Laurentz fell vic- 
tim to a greatly inferior player in the first round. Following 
his ex-partner to the court, Gobert barely eked out a bitter 
five-set match with an opponent he should have romped 
through. Tennis writers could not fathom his poor showing. 

Only Gobert and Laurentz knew what was wrong. Still 
blaming himself for the old tragedy, Gobert could not dis- 
tort the clear-cut image of the flight of the ball striking Lau- 
rentz in the eye. It was similar to the hackneyed movie plot 
of the pugilist, who after accidentally killing an opponent in 
the ring, can never fight again. As his own shot once effaced 
the sight of Laurentz, so did the memory of it now hinder his 
every move. 

It was a miracle that he reached the finals, being on the 



Favorite Stories 249 

verge of defeat in nearly every match, only his splendid phys- 
ical conditioning proving the determining factor. His game 
during the finals was at the lowest ebb ever witnessed by 
Wimbledon spectators, and the former great singles player 
was easily crushed. 

Moved by what he saw, the heart of Laurentz melted into 
compassion. It became clear to both of them that individually 
they were worthless, but together, bound securely by the 
tragedy, they could be unbeatable. 

When Gobert, filed from the court after his loss, Laurentz 
caught up with him, touched his arm and murmured, "Too 
bad, Andre/' 

Gobert smiled and asked, "Will we play together again?" 

"But of course/' Laurentz said. 

A real friendship existed at last. 



Index 



Abbott, Bion, 79 
Allison, Wilmer, 156, 225 
Amateur Athletic Association, 168 
American Lawn Tennis, 53, 59, 94 
Ampon, Feliccimo, 156 
Anderson, Mai, 185, 211, 212 
Austin, Bunny, 239 
Australian Amateur Tennis Associa- 
tion, 177 

Australian Lawn Tennis Association, 
118, 178, 187, 199 

Baiter, Sam, 229, 246 
Barnes, Bob, 198 
Barton, Derek, 50 
Beasley, Mercer, 168, 206 
Bitcon, G. A., 177 
Borotra, Jean, 158, 246 
Brink, Jimmy, 89 

British Lawn Tennis Magazine, 153 
Bromwich, John, 158 
Brown, Geoff, 84 
Brown, Tom, 53 
Brundage, Avery, 168 
Buckholz, Earl, 211 
Budge, Don, 111, 158, 163, 164, 186, 
224, 225, 230, 245 

Campanella, Roy, 38 

Casey, Ray, 202 

Clark, Straight, 89 

Cochet, Henri, 158, 237, 246 

Cochell, Earl, 150 

Colvin, A. R., 178 

Connolly, Maureen, 115, 234 

Connors, Gene, 46 

Cooper, Ashley, 185, 187, 211, 212 

Crawford, Chris, 211 



Crawford, Jack, 158, 237 
Cronin, Ned, 129 

Danzig, Allison, 62, 159, 160, 230 

Darmon, Pierre, 186 

Davidson, Sven, 187 

Davis, George, 46 

Day, Doris, 163, 193, 231 

Doughty, David, 26 

Doyle, Judge Elmer D., 213 

Drobny, Jaroslov, 50, 53, 56-58, 89 

Duff, Howard, 193, 231 

Durslag, Melvin, 208 

Dyer, Braven, 46 

Earn, Carl, 150, 201 
El Espectador, 137 
Emerson, Bob, 185 
Emerson, Roy, 187 

Fageros, Carol, 230 

Ealkenburg, Bob, 50, 53, 65, 150, 198 

Falkenburg, Tom, 150 

Fancutt, Roger, 186 

Farced, Dr. Omar, 175, 210 

Feltrop, Frank, 116, 164, 202 

Ferguson, Donald F., 177 

Ferris, Dan, 167 

Fiske, Loring, 47, 202 

Flaherty, Vincent X., 116, 117 

Flam, Herbie, 23, 24, 26-29, 56, 58, 

185, 187, 211, 230 
Fleitz, Beverly Baker, 71, 233 
Frankenburg, D. M., 177, 178 
Fraser, Neal, 176, 185, 187 

Gabel, Elsie, 112 
Gallagher, Mel, 79 



251 



252 



Index 



Ganzenmuller, Gus, 54 
Gardini, Fausto, 115 
GeUer, Jack, 89 
Gibson, Althea, 152, 153 
Glushon, Eugene, 200 
Gobert, Andre, 246-249 
Gonzales, Bertha, 35 
Gonzales, Henrietta, 9, 13, 52, 62, 66- 
77, 87, 88, 90, 92, 94, 95, 98, 99, 
107, 108, 117, 118, 121, 122, 126, 
127, 132, 140-148, 163, 175, 180, 
203, 205, 212, 213 
Gonzales, Manuel, 31, 41, 63, 64, 71 
Gonzales, Margaret, 68 
Gonzales, Ralph, 105, 106, 202 
Gonzales, Richard Alonzo (Pancho) 
AMPOL tournament of champions, 

178-180 

Australian tour, 112 
Davis Cup Challenge Round, 84 
divorce, 212-213 
early years, 32-49, 63, 64 
French championships, 84 
future plans, 200-203 
La Jolla Beach Club invitation 

tourney, 62, 82, 83 
marriage, 51, 71 
Masters tournament, 192-194, 208, 

211 
National championships, Forest 

Hills, 50-59, 65, 78, 84-94 
National clay court championships, 

81, 84 

National hard court champion- 
ships, 81, 82, 116-118 
National indoor championships, 83 
National professional champion- 
ships, 111, 122, 184, 208 
Pacific Southwest championships, 

50, 55, 81 

Pan American championships, 82 
Pennsylvania grass court title, 84 
River Oaks tournament, 84 
Southern California championships, 

21-29, 65 

tour with Hoad, 204-211 
tour with Kramer, 96-98, 112 
tour with Rosewall, 175-185, 196, 
197 



tour with Sedgman, Segura and 

Budge, 112, 113 

tour with Sedgman, Segura and Mc- 
Gregor, 112, 113 
tour with Trabert, 121-129 
Tournament of Champions, 130- 

132, 191, 192 
Wimbledon, 84 
winning first tournament, 46 
Gonzales, Richard, Jr., 87, 144, 211 
Gonzales, Terry, 35, 68 
Grant, Bitsy, 156, 158, 238, 239 
Green, Harry, 188 
Gustav, King, 242-245 

Hall, Gilbert, 158 

Harmon, Bob, 202 

Harris, Jack, 108 

Hartwig, Rex, 118, 119, 126, 128, 129, 

130, 132 

Hecht, Ladislav, 54 
Heston, Charlton, 201 
Hoad, Bonnie, 188, 189 
Hoad, Jennifer, 174, 176, 190 
Hoad, Lew, 63, 115, 116, 118, 173, 174, 

176, 177, 181, 185-193, 196, 199- 

201, 204-212 

Hoffman, Jeane, 77, 186, 206 
Hopkins, Harry, 211 
Hopman, Harry, 185, 189 
Hoppe, Willie, 115 
Hover, Jerry, 202 

Isaacs, Louise Snow, 230 
Isais, Fernando, 26 

Jackinson, Alex, 7 
Jacobs, Helen, 150 
Jahn, Laura Lou, 230 
Johnson, Billy, 158 
Johnson, Oscar, 102 
Johnson, Wallace, 158 
Jones, Bobby, 115 
Jones, C. M., 153, 154 
Jones, Perry T., 23, 24, 30, 46-49, 51, 
65, 211, 237-241 

Kay, Cecile, 198 
Kierbow, Don, 211 



Index 

Kiner, Nancy Chaffee, 111, 230 

Kinsey brothers, 223 

King and Mr. Bell, The, 241-246 

Knode, Dottie, 233 

Kovacs, Frankie, 150 

Kramer, Czar, 198 

Kramer, Gloria, 177, 206, 207 

Kramer, Jack, 42, 52, 55, 56, 63, 80, 
86, 96-98, 101, 108-112, 115, 116, 
118, 119, 122, 126, 123-125, 130- 
132, 157, 165, 173-181, 185-192, 
195, 196, 198-200, 205-208, 210, 
212, 225, 232, 233, 245 

Kumagae, Ichiya, 163 

Kunz, Arzy, 26, 101, 102, 143, 232 

Kunz, Roxy, 143 

Larsen, Art, 54, 55, 57, 89, 150, 158, 

180, 234 

Laurentz, William, 246-249 
Laver, Rod, 185 
Lenglen, Suzanne, 114, 151 
Lesch, Johnny, 186 
Life Magazine, 189, 190 
Lopez, Ignacio, 137 
Los Angeles Angels, 32 
Los Angeles Examiner, 116, 117, 208 
Los Angeles Herald-Express, 46, 229 
Los Angeles Times, 46, 129, 177, 186, 

206 

Lott, George, 225, 239 
Louis, Joe, 115 
Lupino, Ida, 231 
Lycette, Randolph, 163 

Mako, Gene, 225 
Mangin, Greg, 158 
Marciano, Rocky, 97 
Margaret Evelyn, Sister, 175 
Mark, Bob, 185 
Match, Sam, 52, 84, 202 
McCarthy, Neil, 96 
McGregor, Kenneth, 112, 113 
McKay, Barry, 211 
McNamara, Myron, 110, 192, 198 
Melbourne Argus, 176 
Melbourne Sun, 188 
Melcher, Marty, 163 
Merlo, Giuseppe, 115 



253 

Moll, Fred, 102 
Montgomery, Robert, 152 
Mooney, Dr. Marcel, 165, 166 
Moran, Gussie, 26, 230 
Mulloy, Gardnar, 50, 52, 53, 84, 187, 
205 

Negrete, Larry, 26, 205 

New York Times, 62, 159, 230 

Olmedo, Alex, 185 

Paige, Satchel, 130 

Pails, Dinny, 115, 192 

Parker, Frank, 50, 51, 53, 55, 56, 84, 

89, 108, 115, 184 
Parks, Olin, 110, 198 
Pate, Chuck, 26, 36-41, 44, 80, 81 
Patty, Budge, 52, 84, 185, 187, 234 
Pearson, Ben, 163 
Peroni, Charley, 102 
Perry, Fred, 196, 198 
Pidgeon, Walter, 193, 231 
Poulain, Frank, 26, 31, 42-49, 101, 112 
Prenn, Charlotte, 146, 147 
Prenn, Daniel, 146 
Puncec, Joseph, 155, 156 
Pyle, C. C., 114 

Richards, Vincent, 114 

Richardson, Ham, 185 

Riggs, Bobby, 86, 95-97, 100, 101, 108, 
110, 124, 195, 234 

Robinson, Jackie, 153 

Rogers, Bob, 202 

Rogers, George Lyttelton, 235-241 

Roland, Gilbert, 231 

Rose, Mervyn, 185, 187 

Rosewall, Ken, 63, 115, 116, 118, 151, 
165, 173-184, 188, 191-193, 196, 
197, 199, 200, 205, 206, 230, 234 

Ross, John M., 84, 85 

Roybal, Ed, 137 

Rurac, Vini, 202 

Ruth, Babe, 117 

Saldana, Luipi, 79 

Salm, Count Ludwig, 150, 151 

Santee, Wes, 167 



254 

Savitt, Dick, 153, 171, 180 

Schroeder, Karl, 243 

Schroeder, Ted, 27, 42, 51-53, 65, 79- 
83, 86-94, 129, 130, 157, 161, 171, 
198, 225 

Scudder, Hubert, 26 

Sedgman, Frank, 63, 84, 89, 110-113, 
124, 130-132, 162, 188, 191-195, 
229 

Segura, Pancho, 13, 14, 42, 63, 111- 
113, 115, 118, 119, 126. 128-132, 
134, 135, 152, 157, 180, 184, 191, 
192, 202, 205, 206, 229, 230, 232 

Seixas, Vic, 84, 115, 151, 152, 185, 187 

Shields, Frank, 54, 87, 88, 90, 92 

Sidwell, Billy, 84 

Sinatra, Frank, 177 

Snodgrass, Harvey, 201 

Sober, Pincus, 168 

Southern California Tennis Associa- 
tion, 23, 51 

Sport Magazine, 84, 85 

Sproul, Cliff, 164 

Stewart, Hugh, 37, 54, 65, 82, 170 

Stinson, John, 198 

Stoefen, Lester, 225, 239 

Stranahan, Frank, 171 

Stump, Al, 102 

Sturgess, Eric, 56, 58, 59, 82 

Talbert, Billy, 53, 83, 84, 89, 121 
Tanasescu, Constantin, 154456 
Tennant, Eleanor, 115 
Tilden, Bill, 151, 156, 158, 223, 245 
Thorpe, Jim, 167 
Tips for beginners, 214-218 
backhand, 216 



Index 

don'ts, 218, 219 
forehand, 215, 216 
racket, 214, 215 
service, 216, 217 
smash, 218 
volley, 217, 218 

Tips not for beginners, 220-227 
Toley, George, 47, 109, 202 
Trabert, Tony, 63, 115, 116, 118, 119, 
121-132, 165, 174, 176, 181, 182, 
184, 188, 191-193, 195, 200, 229 
234 

U. S. Lawn Tennis Association, 23, 
47, 82, 87, 150, 168, 237 

Van Ryn, Johnny, 225 
Varipapa, Andy, 102 
Victorian Tennis Association, 178 
Vines, Ellsworth, 108, 158, 239 
Vincent, Tony, 170 
Von Cram, Baron Gottfried, 243 
Von Testa, Wolfgang Alexander 
Gerdes, 126 

Walcott, Jersey Joe, 130 

Warren, Dorothy, 118 

Warren, Earl, 118 

Warren, Lou, 118, 119, 122, 123, 135- 

138, 148, 173, 181, 196 
Williams, Bill, 62 
Williams, Ted, 180 
Wills, Helen, 150 
World Tennis, Inc., 110-112, 123, 186, 

187, 192, 195, 198 
Wright, Beals C., 163 

Zimmerman, Paul, 46 



m 



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