Sunday Night and the Player Draft

Newk's Legends campers 2012

The record crowd on opening day

There are a number of differences already between this year’s Tennis Fantasy Week and last year’s—more campers, better weather, an on-site documentary film crew the size of a Hollywood production, to name a few—but the most substantial agent of change for me is the presence of Fred Stolle.

Portrait of the Legends at Newk's Legends Camp 2012

Newk’s Legends, assembled for the troops: (left to right), Pasarell, Stolle, Emerson, Riessen, Davidson, Case, Leach, Stockton, Woodforde, Jensen and Gottfried. Mal Anderson overslept.

Stolle was introduced (or reintroduced) on Sunday afternoon, after missing last year’s session because of a family wedding. I hadn’t paid as much attention to him and to his career in the mid-Sixties, when he was in his prime (two Grand Slam singles titles, 10 GS doubles titles, three Davis Cup championships), and had little sense of his personality compared with, say, Emmo or Newk or Rod Laver. But his Wikipedia entry is interesting in that it begins with the statement that “Stolle is notable for being the only male player in history to have lost his first five Grand Slam singles finals, the fifth of which he led by two sets to love.” One can imagine that kind of history could breed substantial free-floating hostility, or that one of his old Aussie mates contributed the text.

Stolle, wearing a white t-shirt, a cap and a pair of plain navy shorts, would be leading the Dunnies, my team from last year. But there was no guarantee I’d be a Dunnie in 2012. The player draft was set for Sunday evening, but with so many more players this year and 17 or so newbies (the total number of attendees is now 96, and could have been more—eight registrants dropped out in the past 24 hours), teams would inevitably be reconfigured. Stolle began by correcting my impression that a Dunnie was a toilet. “It’s an Australian outhouse,” he explained. Well, not exactly. It was more along the lines of, “Eff you all, you effing effers. You gave my best effing guys to Newk, and you all went in the effing toilet, and you effing stunk. And that’s why it’s called an effing outhouse. And it’s not effing happening again.” Or something along those lines.

Film drew following John Newcombe at Legends Camp

Newk, exhorting the campers to pay no attention to the cameras

There was a sustained uproar of laughter, except from the film crew (many of them female, though, one imagines and hopes, toughened by years of assignments in war zones, urban jungles, and smoke-filled backrooms). Then Owen Davidson, leader of the Musclemen, followed, cautioning, “I hope you realize that Fred was not joking. That’s exactly how he feels.” The next laughs sounded bit forced, a little hollow.

By the time dinner arrived (lobster tails, tenderloin, salad, broccoli, grilled tomatoes, cheesecake, Aussie cabernet, and French beaujolais on the tables), my 2011 doubles partner Rich Flisher and I had played a couple of practice doubles sets, winning one easily and going 5-5 in the other. We both felt pretty good about the workout. But sitting next to Dick Stockton at dinner, we couldn’t get him to confirm we’d be playing together this week. The night ended with each group of coaches announcing their teams and calling their players to the front of the room. Newk went first, then Emmo, then Stolle, and finally Davidson. Stolle assigned Mark Woodforde the task of making the announcement. Woody called my name, but not Rich’s. Flisher would be hitting for the Musclemen.

As I made my way forward to pick up my team shirt, I saw Stolle eying me, skeptically. I shook his hand solemnly, and kept my mouth shut.

Practice Session, Meeting with Coach Stolle >>

About 

E.J. Kahn III—known to most as Terry—is an author, journalist, and, most recently, communications consultant. He has written Net Results with psychologist Jim Loehr, a book focused on junior tennis parenting and coaching, and co-authored the award-winning autobiography of New York police officer Steven MacDonald. As a consultant, he has worked in Washington and New York with—among others—the Postal Service, Colgate-Palmolive, the State Department, and the City of New York. He lives with his wife Lesley in Manhattan, and plays most of his tennis at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, where he sits on the Board of Governors. A former college lacrosse player, he first competed in USTA tournaments in 2009, when he was ranked 10th in the East and 67th nationally in the Men's 60s.

    Find more about me on:
  • facebook
  • twitter

One thought on “Sunday Night and the Player Draft

  1. Wil

    Terry -Nice synopsis of the week. It is very hard to accurately describe this week to folks who were not there. Unique and loads of fun. Getting encouragement during a match from the likes of Emmo, Ross, Dav-O, Mark, Rick, etc. is a pretty amazing experience. And so, the 51 week warmup begins . . . .

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *