The long moribund sport of tennis received a lifesaving shot in the arm last year when open competition between amateurs and professionals was finally voted in. Wimbledon's first open tournament was a stimulating affair, and the first U.S. Open at Forest Hills was a smashing success. But now tennis is in trouble again. The Town Club in Milwaukee canceled its $40,000 national open clay-court championship scheduled for next July, and the West Side Tennis Club of Forest Hills, N.Y. is talking seriously and sadly about dropping the $100,000 U.S. Open.
Despite the arguments about "registered players," the core of the U.S. Open problem is simply the distribution of the money earned from gate receipts and television. The professionals, who provide most of the glamour, lost money playing in open tournaments in 1968. They would have done better financially if they had used the time for regular stops on the pro tours. Now, the professionals want to be guaranteed a lump sum to appear.
The West Side club feels that the pros do deserve a guarantee ("If we're going to hold an open tournament, we've got to have the pros," says Charles Tucker, West Side's president). But the United States Lawn Tennis Association, which must sanction the tournaments before any amateurs or "registered" players can appear in them, currently takes a generous share of the gate. If West Side gives the pros their guarantee and at the same time pays the USLTA its traditional take, the club ends up with all the headaches of a major tournament and an impossibly short end of the stick so far as money is concerned.
The next move appears up to the USLTA. It made a significant concession a year ago when it endorsed open play. Now it may have to strengthen tennis again by accepting a lesser share of the tournament income.
This is definitely not a good age for dogs. First, the deadly Bufo marinus toad infiltrated Florida, killing or grievously sickening those dogs rash enough to bite into its poison-laden neck. Now, there is a report from Jerseyville, Ill. of a "Devil Rabbit" that is playing havoc with the town's dog population. Supposedly, the rabbit has lured at least half a dozen dogs to their death by leading them on a zigzag course through busy traffic, where the heavier, slower, less agile canines are hit and killed by speeding automobiles. The rabbit has its burrow in a small wooded area of town and is seen—by people and unfortunate dogs—most often in winter, when it has less cover to hide in.
A campaign flyer arrived in the mail proclaiming: BASEBALL NEEDS JIM RHODES FOR COMMISSIONER. It was signed, "Rhodes for Baseball Committee, John W. Brown, Chairman." Jim Rhodes is the energetic governor of Ohio who was the focus of much interest at the Republican convention in Miami last August. Obviously, he is now gunning for the job of baseball commissioner.
Or is he? Turns out the campaign is a hoax rising from a tongue-in-cheek column by Ben Hayes in the Columbus Citizen-Journal, who suggested that Lieutenant Governor John W. Brown, an avid baseball fan, was keenly interested in getting Rhodes the commissioner's job—since that would leave the governor's chair open for Brown.
So it was all a joke. Except that, joke or no joke, a lot of people think it's a sound idea and that Rhodes may be precisely the man baseball is looking for.