Saturday August 7th, 1977

The week drug by but now it's Saturday morning. Last night a few of the counselors went out after we got the kids to problem. But at 1:45 AM the security guard called Mr. B and woke him up, he reported that Tennis Camp counselors were out singing and raising hell over near Main Hall. It scared the hell out of the Sports Camp. Mr. B was red faced and mad this morning. He got in his car and rounded up the merry makers chasing them back in the stationwagon. But he never got close enough to see who was raising hell.
Sanderson and I were up at 8-am and FXB asked us what we knew about last night. We were both dead asleep by 11:30 so it was news to us. We were immediately taken off the FXB shit list.

Mr. B. then went to Sheridan's room and got him up and I heard lots of yelling, but Sheridan went to bed early too. Most of revelers were from the second floor so Tom went up there and had a meeting. He did a lot of yelling and I still dont have a take on who was out. A few of the gal counselors including Pat Rountree were out but they came back early, so they're not on the list.

At Ford Hall it was somber amongst the counselor ranks, a look around and I could pick out the guilty parties just by the 'hung-over' factor. I sat with Bevin and she asked if I was out last night, I told her that I went to bed early. I dont think she believed me. Mark and I dodged a big bullet!

We had field sports and the pool all lined up for the campers, plus we had the finals of the counselor tennis tournament. All of the guilty were assigned duties, so Sanderson and I had a day off and we went to the courts and played, after lunch we watched Riley take on Vrana in the finals of the counselor tournament. Despite limited mobility, Riley killed Vrana 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. It was an amazing match with Riley coming in off the baseline and cutting off the angles and sending the ball deep into the corners. Every ball was just inches from the baseline...with that kind of ball control it was hard for Tom Vrana to move the Scotsman. Riley never hit a hard serve, and he only hit a few second serves. I didnt see him miss a service return, but Vrana held serve throughout the match. It was fun to watch.

After the match we went to the Quarry again. Word had spread about the naked sirens, the beautiful girls that swim nude in the hidded cove. Sheridan drove and had a car full of anxious counselors but the sirens were gone. There seemed to be a lot toothless types there and the magic of the place evaporated into the air.

We got back just in time to take on the Sports Camp in softball. I played left field and had two singles and a triple. We beat a good team 7-5. Roger had a double, triple and a single. Bobby and Vrana had homeruns while Ken and John had some nice hits as well. All of the campers were there from both camps and there was a lot of cheering. It was one of the funnest things we did all summer.

We had a great dinner and then a camper dance. I helped set up and FXB and I went for ice cream and he was still mad over last night. I dont blame him, it was just a stupid incident.We have just a week to go and its not a good time to get on Mr. B's bad side. He said he wont ask any of the troublemakers back.

Jon Mudd was at the dance and at one point was just sitting there tarding out. I thought I was going to die it was so funny. I danced with Bevin and we talked again. I did mention that she could have said something and pointed out that she was in avoidance mode since the Washington Star tournament. I told her that I wasnt much of a mindreader. Later when I told Mr. B all about our talk and he shook his head and said I should have taken blame for being so dumb, I guess that was the wrong thing to say.

We gathered up the kids and walked back to the dorms, Bevin didnt say much but it was a nice walk, there was a lot of silent conversation going on. It was muggy and the fireflies were out and I cant remember seeing that many stars.


Friday August 5th, 1977, Mercersburg Academy

The session is moving along, I was out picking up balls and the corn is very high across the street. The tall corn makes Mr. B. very happy, the taller the corn the shorter the time till the annual trip to the Jersey shore. He's been whistling a lot and thats another sure sign that things are going well.

I sat with Bevin this morning at breakfast, for once we really got talking. She said something to the affect that we could have gone out all summer but that I was too big of a flirt. Had I known that I was that big of a flirt and that she was the least bit interested Im sure I would have been less interested in all the girls...especially Pat and the Haggerstown gal.

I told Mr. B. the sad tale and he chuckled all the way through the story. He thinks I need a seeing eye dog and tin cup, that it was obvious that she was interested, he said that she is so unique and special that theres no way that she would ever consider a flirty guy. I chuckled with Mr. B.; he's always right and Bevin is right. Im labeling this the camp romance that almost was.

Im guilty as charged, but is love blind, or in my case blind, love?

All things considered, I've had a great summer. My hair is bleached almost blond, and like my fellow counselors we are bronzed gods. We got to spend a summer on this amazing campus rent free and all meals paid for...we got to play tennis all summer and we got to study under Frank Brennan, does it get any better than this? My other option for the summer was to work construction with my Dad back in Pocatello. I did a couple of days last summer and it was brutal hard work because the laborers carry everything, and fetch everything. Pipefitting is very dirty and the time passes slowly, the hours long. Thank God Charlie Fenske got me this job...a week to go and I still have to be careful not to screw up.

We worked on the serve and overhead, Mr. B has the best description, he says with the overhead put both hands ups, point at the ball and replace one hand with the other...just like swatting a fly in your grandma's kitchen. The demo is always fun to watch because FXB has Riley feed him balls and he crisply smacks overheads to the corners. The ball sound pops beautifully because of flawless technique and immaculately strung racquets. I picked one up while I play with a 4 5/8 grip Kramer, he plays with a Kramer Pro with a size 5 grip. He strings his racquets with expensive narrow guage gut...I think its VS. He let me hit with it and it was like driving a Porche around the block.

Jonathan Mudd sat at my table in Ford for dinner. We talked about the news and all the people he knows at CBS and PBS...its a long and impressive list. Hes not bragging, just stating fact. I told him that one day I want to report, I want to travel the its either be a reporter or a tennis pro...If I were better I would consider being a touring pro...but the fact that Im not good kind of elimates the latter.

Its bed time now and finally the Bevin talk is haunting me, I should have done a lot of things differently, but Im just a blind kid from Pocatello and dont know how these Ivy League girls work. I talked to X about it because he is the master observer of FXB tennis camp. He thinks that I was avoiding Bevin because there was a chance of falling for her and then getting hurt later...Bingo...thats it. That Xavier Combe nailed it, come to think about it, Ive been running from the right girls for years.

Its time for bed, Sanderson is already asleep and snoring, I know Ill be thinking for a few more hours...


Thursday August 4th, 1977

It's still hot and muggy and sleeping was tough last night because the heat was heavy and it pressed on the chest and was hard to breathe. It took a long time to drop off to sleep, we listened to WRCV till after midnight and then fatigue took over. Morning came too early, it was hard getting out of bed...

Mr. B talked about volleys. He had Riley up at the net while Feinberg fed balls and his demo was flawless. The Scotsman hit the ball dead center of his Maxply racquet over and over. The sound of a perfectly hit volley is like nothing I've heard; its music.

FXB lasped into a long talk about BJK and how her volleys changed the women's game. But emphasized that it's not enough to have a volley, one needs the touch and underspin and one must also have the depth. He stressed that BJK rarely hit the same volley, that she even had a volley that she hit down the line that would kicked out sideways on grass. He told the kids to attack the short balls approach deep down the line and success will find you. He also warned the players with the eastern grip that they need to figure something out because an eastern grip at the net is hard to manage and stressed again that the hammer grip is the most practical because you dont have to change grips.

The teaching went well and the kids were into it, it was hot but everyone is used to it. Mr. B had us watch the kids close making sure they're getting all the water they want or need. Today we had just a couple report to the infirmary and one has a cold, so Dr. Prevost thinks we're back on track there.

Just before dinner I stopped by the lounge in Fowle and Jonathan Mudd was there and we sat down and we watched his Dad do the evening news, he was filling in for John Chancelor on NBC news. NBC is high on Roger Mudd and one day he could be the next Chancelor, he's smooth and confident and makes a great network anchor.

After dinner I had gym duty and played basketball. Sanderson was there and we took on these these high schoolers and ended up schooling them in a game of half court...For me it was just a mater of getting the 6 feet 4, Sandy the ball on the inside...It was all passing and positioning. I was also able to shoot from the outside and Sandy rebounded...I dont think we lost a game. Jonahan Mudd and Rober London dropped by and went into his mongo routine and I was laughing hysterically...London also does impressions, he has a killer Clint Eastwood...we have funniest kids this session.

Mr. B. was out in the Hall when I got back and asked me how Terence was doing, I told him that the kid has a 30 or 40 best friends, no problem with him mixing in, hes a natural. We had a storm blow in from the coast tonight, it cooled down and we might get some sleep tonight. Im looking toward the highway from Fowle and can see the lighting heading this winds are blowing I can smell the rain, but its still in the distance.


Wednesday August 3rd, 1977, Mercersburg

The morning was hot and very humid again. The kids are starting to fold in the heat. We noticed that there’s some flu going around, I took two little kids up to the Infirmary and left them there. Dr. Prevost said that they were dehydrated and it probably wasn’t the flu. He ordered us to give water breaks every hour.

The kids were back on the court by 10:30, all in all we had 8 kids that had mild dehydration, its so hard to make these kids drink, I suggested that we call Peggy and have the dining hall staff bring us a big 10 gallon canister of lemon aid. We had it by 11 and that solved our hydration problem.

It was my afternoon off so Tom S. and I drove into Haggerstown to see the afternoon matinee of Star Wars. It was so visual and stunning, what a movie, the visual effects were mind boggling. It was a journey from beginning to end and I was lost in time. It was nice to be in air conditioning all afternoon, it was so cold in there. I told FXB he should see the movie and he asked if it was a musical, I said no…he said he likes the musicals.

We got back at 5 pm and noticed that the courts were deserted while the pool was packed. The kids were having a great time in the pool. We went back to the dorm, changed and went swimming until dinner, it was fun because a few of us played some water polo at the far end of the pool…talk about hard work!

Dinner was very good, we had lasagna and garlic bread and we all went back for seconds and thirds. For desert they had this Italian sherbert….and it was delightful. After dinner we had a huge soccer game with the sports camp. The first match pitted our campers against theirs, then the second match it was their counselors against ours…we destroyed them because of Riley, Hamilton, Varna (who is an amazing all state soccer player) Lenny, Feinberg and Solomon and Greenspan…all of whom also played high school soccer. I got in for a few minutes…but was so bad that I pulled myself out. Riley says I have a head like a six pence…whatever that means.

Mr. B came by and reminded my that we have 6 teaching days and a wake up and then we are out of here, he was in a great mood. He asked how I was set for cash and I told him that I still had 20-bucks in the bank and I should make it through okay. He said that there was this local lady that had called and wanted some lessons. He said Tom and Riley had first dibs…he said she was paying $15 bucks an hour! Wow.

Tuesday August 2nd 1977, Mercersburg Academy

It was a long morning, by noon it already had reached 88, according to Mr. B. The heat is nothing compared to the west, it’s the humidity that takes it all out of you. Tom Sheridan put me out on court 13 all morning, that’s the price I pay for video taping and not hitting balls yesterday! Court 13 is the court that is the softest, for some reason no mater how many times we roll it, nor how much water we dump on the court we can’t get it to pack down tight…by mid morning its not much better than a sandbox and its been a ruin of many a good counselor.
We use court 13 as the teaching court for the beginners and everyone must do time there. Usually its just once per session but time doesn’t pass…the clock stops and it’s a bit hotter, its dustier, the water fountain is in another zip code. I barely survived.

In the afternoon I got to operate the V.T.R. and showed the kids the tape of their hitting yesterday. It was nice and cool in the drying room behind the gym…stark contrast to the courts where it was in the 90’s. That part of the afternoon flew by…at 4:00 the courts were empty because of the heat. Except for Sanderson and X and John Day and I. I played Sandy because he wanted another shot at my after beating him yesterday. I was up 2-0 when I realized how well I was playing, how crisp my shots were…that’s when I started to crumble and he beat me 6-4. I couldn’t do a thing with that 110 mph serve. I also tried to lob him because of the heat but he didn’t miss a single overhead.

I had dinner with Jonathan Mudd and then we hit after dinner, he's a cool kid with excellent ground strokes. His stories are interesting about his family and he wanted to hear all about Idaho. He told me that they have relatives in St. Maries…that’s 12 hours north of where I live but it’s a lovely town. He was telling me about his band that he and his buddies put together and they play high school parties and dances in Mclean, Va.; that sounds very cool; we have a teen idol right here in camp.

I got another letter from Tennis Coach Marty Holly at ISU. He said that he's recruited 6 players from California but said I was welcome to walk on. It turns out that Im the only one that got the letter, so I don’t know what that means other than the new coach has cleaned house. I think Charlie Fenske must have interceded on my behalf. Bobby Dickinson got a phone call from Holly earlier in the season and he told him that he was going to enroll at Texas Arlington. I’m writing back that I’m game and will challenge my way back on the team. Hell, I did it once already.

I told Mr. B about it and he said to show up and play and see what happens. I asked him if Frank Jr. could help me out at Ohio State, I liked the look on FXB’s face…amused, like I was crazy. Frank Jr. has done an amazing job at Ohio State and is a hot tennis commodity. I wouldn’t make the Jr.-Jr. Varsity.

Monday, August 1st 1977, Mercersburg Academy

I left the window open last night and the air was fresh and clean, out in the halls though, it was choas as new campers scrambled to get ready for breakfast. I could hear Mr. B. out in the hallway talking to campers, one kid asking if he could call home. Three, two, one…knock at the door; Mr. B. is standing there with a homesick 9 year old. I take the kid to breakfast dropping him off at a table of 9 and 10 year olds and the problem is solved. Later in the day I ask him if he wants to call home, “what for?” definitely, end of problem.

Mr. B welcomed all the kids to camp in his talk and then lapsed into a long talk about how this isn’t all about tennis. The kids are here because their parents love them and want a life for them that will challenge them, and sharpen them for the world. That tennis is a great way to connect with good, talented people, that tennis is a sport you can do for a lifetime, and perhaps the most interesting point: For the most part one cannot play a perfect match of tennis, just as one cannot have a perfect life, that once you think you have either mastered; it caves in on you. You can get frustrated and quit, or you can get up and find a way to win. One can pursue the perfect set and might come close …but odds are there’ll always be a mistake, a ball in the net, a missed serve, a ball hit out. He talked about how this game mirrors life, that life can knock us on the seat of our pants, but we must compete to live and while things may look perfect it seldom is, but to strive for perfection, strive to be the best person you can, to practice and work at it; is noble…and he called tennis a very noble game.

I watched the kids during the talk, they sit on the baseline and they draw and play in the green clay as Mr. B talks, you can see the wheels turning in their minds. When FXB talks its silent and his voice booms over the lower courts all the way to the cornfields across the street. I remember once in the first session I overheard a little 10-year old say that Mr. B’s stories were better than TV and that reinforces a thought that I had, that his talks are so visual and so real that you think it happened to you, that’s the mark of good storyteller.

We started video taping the kids on the expensive sony reel to reel video deck. We have a machine just like this at Idaho State and they are the best and the most expensive, I think our department paid 3500.00 for ours…Mike Kunz and I give the gear the white glove treatment, we’re the only ones that can touch it.

After feeding for an hour I got to go up on the balcony with FXB. We were shooting these girls from Tappan that Mr. B teaches during the year…Dunja and Randi Henrichs. He was talking about how talented Dunja was, she has beautiful strokes, kind of a tomboy, and then he lapsed into this story about BJK.

Mr. B told me than in the summer of 1959 he went to the Eastern Grass Court Championships where this 16 year old kid from Long Beach was up against Wimbledon champ Maria Bueno. He said that this little girl with cat eye glasses stood barely 5’6 and had as he described it 'more freckles than fear'. FXB said she did the unimaginable, she took hold of the match and that from the start he saw something special in the kid. Instead of being intimidated against the number one player in the world, that this Moffit girl walked on the court like she was going to win. He said that she attacked so well that it put the champ on her heels. He said that in the end Bueno had to change her game and attack to pull it out but the match was the talk of tennis that summer. Afterwards he talked to Billie and said she was red faced and mad and he was impressed with her fire. He said that he introduced himself and told her that one day she was going to be good, and that with some work she can beat anyone. They struck up a friendship and Billie started staying with Brennans every summer. FXB said they would pack up the station wagon and coach Billie through the summer circuit. He said that she so fit into the big Brennan clan that she was dubbed the 10th kid. Just three years later she beat Margaret Smith in the first round of Wimbledon.

Terence had a good day at camp, I couldn’t help but notice his Fred Perry shirt with the BJK monogram on it, further evidence of the days when women players won clothes instead of money. Just like I asked Coleen Brennan during adult camp, I asked Terence is there a lot of Fred Perry stuff at the house? Terence said a closet full. BJK fought for the money, could careless about the clothes.

We got through the taping and then broke for lunch. It was a good lunch day…pizza and the kids were excited. Some were impressed with the fact that they could drink as much chocolate milk as they want and glasses were stacked up.

I sat with the camper Jon Mudd that I met the day before, he’s a junior in High School, He is tall and decked out in Fila Bjorn Borg stuff, he has a Donnay racquet and even the headband. The first thing I noticed about him is that this guy is a comedian. He had me laughing the whole time with his impressions and jokes. On tape he has excellent ground strokes and can hold his own with the best tennis players in camp, he’s a good athlete.

At 4 I played Mark Sanderson and beat him 6-4. I decided to hit off pace balls at him…he’s a power hitter and that screwed up his timing. He went back to the room because he was tired, I stayed and then hit with Pat Rountree, who is hitting very well.

I helped Pat with court duty and we brushed the courts, dragging the long brooms from end to end and then we turned on the sprinklers and sat on the balcony at sunset until the puddles started to form. We talked about her family in Toronto and her studies at York. She told me about their cabin up north on the Georgian Bay and how she usually spends her summers up there. I told her that I had met Peter Burwash a few times, he’s a famous coach that has a camp at Parry Sound. She was acquainted with him, the tennis world is so small. What a great gal.


Sunday, July 31st, 1977

We woke up to dead silence, there were no kids, no doors slamming, no running in the hallway. I heard Mr. and Mrs. Brennan up early packing the car. I heard Mr. B's whistling, he is a very good whistler, he gets a lot of practice because he whistles every morning...I like it, its my FXB warning system and he doesn't whistle when he's mad or upset; so when he is whistling he's happy.

We are resuming our counselor tournament, we have matches all day. I'm playing my second round match, I beat Andy Greenspan in the first round. I'm playing Bobbie Dickinson and I talked to Mr. B about the match. His advise was simple, hit deep down the middle, keep it to his backhand and cut off the topspin by coming inside the baseline...Dickinson and I played challenge matches at ISU and I could stay with him till about 3-3 and then he always pulls away by hitting angles to the outside, getting me off the court and forcing defensive lobs. I had a 6-4 match with him on the time I figured it out it was too late.

I'm now getting ready to man the check in desk at Fowle, We have 88 kids coming in...that's down 20 than the previous three sessions, it should be a cakewalk. I am on duty with Bevin, Marc Solomon, Feinberg, X and Pat it should be fun. Solomon and Feinberg have a dry sense of humor and they keep me laughing.

It's 10:30 now, we got all the new campers in bed and got them through lights out. Roger Mudd from CBS news brought his son Jonathan to camp, I got to talk to them and what a family. Mr. Mudd has a booming cheerful voice and Jonathan is funny. Mrs. Mudd is the classic Virginia mom...doting, cheerful, with wonderful southern manners. I've been a big news watcher since 1st grade and cant count the number of times Ive seen Mr. Mudd on TV. The most memorable I think was the 1964 Democratic convention, he anchored that one replacing Walter Cronkite. He's amazing on the air with a smooth confident way about him. I want to work in news one day...when Mr. Mudd comes back Ill ask him about it. I'm taking journalism and news writing classes now.

Mr. B came and watched my match. I don't think anyone has ever showed just to watch me play not even the parents. The advise worked, rather than play behind the baseline I played inside the baseline and stole set up time from him...meaning I was taking the ball on the rise and hitting deep back in the court before he had time to set up. On the backhand side I made him look bad because he couldn't get the racket back soon enough and I forced a lot of errors. We played even until 3-3 and then he broke me by hitting deep to the baseline on the return which forces a short shot...he angled the short balls and it was all over. I started running around his forehand and I had to change my game. I went to a high ball strategy to eliminate the short angles that played into his strength--the moon ball and I lost the second 6-1. Mr. B said that this was the wrong type of player for me. He says I'm a counter puncher and that's not a great thing to be on clay. He said he liked what I did in the first and should have kept at it...he said the unforced errors killed me and is right. Mr. B says I need to own the middle of the court, I need to mix it up and I have to be able to hit deep 10 or 15 times in a row. He had some great advise and said I'm not far from a break through. That made me feel good...He said I need to initiate and dictate play and everything else will fall into place.

Mr. B. said he had a great weekend with Mrs. B and was sad to see her go. He said they went out to dinner and had a great time, but said its all downhill from here. He said the corn is just about 'eye high to an elephant,' when its eye high, he says its time to head to the Jersey shore.

He said he and Mrs. made all the final plans for the shore. Its sounds like they have a ball because all the kids come and go and there's barbeque's and dinners with their friends, he says its his favorite time of the year. Then he says its just a few weeks from the U.S. Open, and the big tournaments in Mahwa and Orange.

I have to get some sleep, Mondays are huge, they are so tiring and the day seems to last a week.

Mr. B came by a while ago and wants me to help with the video taping. I get to feed balls. Mr. B stands on the gym balcony with his bull horn and comments on camper groundstrokes...its incredibly hard work for everyone. We are so good at taping that we can will run all 88 kids through the chute by noon...then the kids will watch the tape in the afternoon.


Saturday, July 30th, 1977

Sanderson and I skipped breakfast because we were up so late last night. I remember hearing the kids stirring out in the Lounge, many were up early to watch cartoons, others headed to the courts, while most packed. The parents started arriving at 11-am and it was an endless parade of Volvo station wagons, argyles, Lacoste and topsiders. The parents were surprised to see their healthy suntanned kids. There were many smiles and hugs and so many reunions. We got to know the kids so well and then to meet the parents is a treat, its amazing how much the kids and the parents are alike.

Mr. B is always front and center when the parents arrive and they flock to him like a moths to flame. We always brief him on the kids so he has a report in his mind if asked how the kids did. He wants to hear all the success stories and also difficulties if asked.

At 11:30 Peg arranged a big chicken barbeque for the kids and parents, this is where the dining hall staff shines, they do such a great job and its always a yummy spread of salads, lemonade and ice cream deserts. I stuffed myself and I swear Sanderson has a hollow leg…the most surprising counselor on barbeque day is Roger Dickinson, he downed at least two chickens, where a thin guy like that can put that much food is one of the great mysteries of life.

Mrs. B came to the barbeque for a few minutes and I introduced myself and she said, ‘so you’re Jake, Frank’s told me all about you.” I hope that’s good--we talked for a while and she asked me to keep an eye on Terence, to make sure that he mixes in with the other kids. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem the kid is here a day and is best friends with a few counselors and the outgoing campers, he has that Brennan knack of making friends.

I played tennis in the afternoon with Sanderson. I was down 4-1 in the first against that killer serve and saw something…If I pick that ball up on the rise and return deep it catches Mark off-guard. I started catching the ball on the rise and returning it deep to the backhand, he started missing. On the second I approached and again he started missing. I broke and held and broke again…its 4-4 and he’s looking gassed and perplexed. I threw a few drop shots in the mix and some lobs and pulled out the first 6-4. I took the second 6-4 with just one service break, so Im happy.

I then hit with Chris Russell-Vick and we worked on lobs and overheads…I swear at one point I hit 30 in a row, her feeds were so perfect. She can lob and drop on a dime and give you some change. Its no wonder that she’s ranked in England and sponsored by Dunlop.

At 4pm we went to the Quarry for a swim…Andy Greenspan, me, Tom, and one of Andy’s friend that stopped by for a visit. The Quarry is an amazing place where they used to mine granite for buildings…its so deep and the water is emerald and people dive off the cliffs into the water. There were many crazy looking towny types there so we kept our distance. We found this little cove and we were diving and swimming there and to our surprise came upon 3 gals that were skinny dipping and diving off the cliffs naked. They were stunning and looked very much like the Siren’s I read about in my World Literature class, I swear…We chatted with them and they wanted us to join them but the water was soooo cold that none of us dared to drop our drawers! So much for adventure.

Tom’s parents came to visit from Michigan and they took us to Foot of the Mountain for dinner. I had the shrimp dinner and strawberry pie…and then a milkshake to go. What wonderful parents they dote on Tom and because Im his friend I got the treatment as well. These are about the most perfect parents one could have.

We stopped by Coves Gap, the birthplace of James Buchanon and Tom’s dad and I had a conversation about how strange President Buchanon was that he was a bachelor, his avoidance of the slavery issue and sat out the war on his farm near here. He died a bitter man and many people at the time were upset with him for not making an attempt to avoid the war, it was a good talk. Coves Gap is amazing…tall beautiful woods and a pyramid where the cabin once stood…now it stands near the gym on the Mercersburg Campus.

Mr. and Mrs. B left in the afternoon and when we got back Tom and I checked up on Terence. He was in the upstairs lounge talking to Dickinson , Vrana and Fanning…they had all gone downtown for dinner and were in good spirits. Roger was listening to a Phillies game on the radio. The TV had a Pirates game on it was sports choas so I went downstairs to read. X dropped by for balls and he and John Day were heading out to play 5 sets…I didn’t ask why. Five sets…are you kidding?

We went out at 9. Pat, Chris, Eric, Mike, Bevin, Marc and I went to the Mercersburg Inn for drinks. Stephie the manager made us popcorn and she came and sat with us. The place was empty and she was happy to have company. I stayed until 11:30 then walked Bevin back to Tippits. It was a beautiful night with a billion stars and the crickets and fireflies kept us company.


Friday July 30th, 1977, Mercersburg Academy

It's tournament day! The counselors all love tournament day because we don't have to teach, we get to officiate the matches give tips afterwards, congratulate the winners and counsel the losers.

Mr. B gave a great speech about competition, that the best competitors are nervous and after the first ball is struck if you can lose yourself in the ball, you can get over the nerves. He talked about how when he played that he would never take his eye off the ball, if the ball went to the corner, or into the net FXB would fix on the ball and everyone watching and every sound and balls rolling on the court. He said that when things are going wrong its usually feet or concentration and both are and easy fix.

FXB told us about watching Bill Tilden one time in Orange in the late 30's and how he fixed on the ball and how close he kept track of the balls and he looked at the ball longingly before he intently he watched the ball as the server bounced it, then lifted it, then struck he watched it come up off the court and how he would try to see which way the ball was spinning. What a great tip, concentration on this clay is the toughest thing because of the patience and the bad bounces.

The kids had a ball in the big tournament, they played hard...the group of juniors all breezed through the early rounds, the last eight fought savagely but Rick Fanning pulled out the win in boys singles, he is good...all that hitting with Vrana paid off, there isnt a situation he cannot handle. He can handle topspin the sharp angles the drop shots and he has a tough serve and tougher service return.

Mr. B. came by this afternoon and we ran to the store to get coffee and stuff because of the Mrs. B visit, he's just like a school kid getting ready for the dance. He also wanted me to get Terence fixed up in a room with linen and a key...we have a camper that's staying over a session and we fixed him up in that room. Hes a good kid with surprising long hair, a big smile and easy disposition, he'll do fine.

We had a great dinner and all the kids were scrubbed and excited for the dance...all the girls seemed to be on one side of Ford Hall and the boys on the other as if they were scoping each other out. I ate with Bevin and Roger Dickinson and we talked about which campers would end up with whom at the dance, love is in the air.

Mike Kunz and I carried all the gear to the drying room in back of the gym, thats where we have all the dances. We ran the speaker wire, hooked everything up and went through the music tapes...soon the first kids started to arrive...the young ones first. They were running around and rolling in the grass and having a great time, an hour later the older kids showed, looking sharp.

By 11:30 we had all the kids rounded up, Tom Sheridan and I walked the grounds to pick up stray kids, we then had bed checks, then it was our turn. We sat up in the Lounge and Roger and Kenny and X, Sanderson and Lenny and Mike all stayed up until 1-am. We went out and caught some campers sneaking out. We are sooo good, Roger heard it was going down and we scooped the kids up 15 feet from the front door of Fowle.

Its after 1-am...I must get some sleep so I can play in the morning!

Thursday, July 29th, 1977, Mercersburg

We have so many competitive juniors that Mr. B sent us to the High School for the afternoon so the kids could get some playing time on hard courts. They’re all playing in a big national tournament in Cleveland next week and its on Hard courts. I got to go and we got to play afternoon matches with them and I beat Glen a kid that Mr. B. teaches during the year. I barely took him in a competitive match 7-5, 7-5. The kid could play for Idaho State next year, instead he’ll be a sophomore in Franklin Lakes.

Mr. B came by talked to us in the afternoon, he wanted to make sure the kids all had tough matches. Bobby Dickinson played Rick Fanning and barely beat him 7-6, 7-6. Tom Vrana played one of the kids from Hawaii and ran the little guy into the ground but the kid still split sets with him. These are nationally ranked juniors and a handful.

Afterwards I stayed and hit with Pat Rountree. She is such a tall, cute girl and hit’s the ball a ton off her forehand. She’s one of our best counselors on and off the court and Mr. B likes her because she is all business. She runs that girls dorm like a platoon sergeant, and she loves to boss me around but she doesn’t get far, she’s had a crush on me all summer, Mr. B says I should give in, I told him what makes you think I haven’t? He gave me that amused look, he knows everything that goes on here.

Mr. B. told me that Mrs. B was coming down on Saturday, that she was bringing Terence and that they were going out to dinner to some French restaurant in the Maryland countryside on Saturday before she headed back early Sunday morning. He’s excited to see her because I noticed he did his laundry and cleaned up the apartment. Mr. B and laundry should not be mentioned in the same sentence. He washes his socks and underwear in the sink and his tennis shorts in the tub. I offered to take a load with my laundry a few weeks ago but he always refuses. He thinks twenty five cents for a load of laundry is highway robbery and reasons that the air is free.

I sat with X at dinner and we talked a lot about music and again I asked him why Ringo Starr isn’t a great drummer, he gave me that look of his and with great condescension said that he’s a fill drummer that while he’s great at improvisation he's not technically sound. I’ve watched X practice on his pads and he’s precise and perfect like a metronome, I know little but know that X sounds pretty good.

X and I played after dinner and what I thought was going to be an hour set turned into a three hour marathon in which he pulled out a 7-5 win. I had him 6-2 in the first but he ran me corner to corner, drop shot and lobbed me…Im still aching and dirty from gritty clay all over me. I don’t feel bad at all, we both played well. I know to beat him I ‘ll have to keep the ball deeper so he can’t angle me.


Wednesday, July 28th, 1977, Mercersburg, P.A.

I slept well, Mark slept well and when morning broke we were up and at 'em. The first thing we did was count the balls and we found that we're way ahead of last session in our ball count. We didn't get all the balls back from counselors last night so we'll get 'em this morning.

I heard Mr. B whistling first thing this morning and smelled the coffee from his his apartment so I knew he was up early. He took the 280 Z down to the gym and hit for a half hour behind the gym. He loves the routine and it keeps the groundies sharp.

We had Breakfast in the dining hall which was amazing as usual then headed for the courts. It's fun to show up a few minutes early and hit and many kids were already there and eager to burn off breakfast. Mr. B. showed up on the clay about 8:15 to watch us hit and he said he likes the new loop forehand. Im doing real well with it and have noticed more more depth and accuracy.

The lecture today was about out chocking in a match. Mr. B says its natural to be nervous its how you handle the pressure. FXB thinks its best to redirect all that energy into the match and into the moment not about the past or the future--just the moment. He says most of the chocking comes from the dialogues we have in our minds specifically after the match, what people are going to say if you lose, FXB says keep it present and keep it now and you'll do fine. If your opponet can beat you so be it.
He told us about going to Wimbledon with Billie and seeing the Kipling quote in the tunnel on the way out to Centre Court. "IF you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you..." He talked about how important 'If' is... It was a wonderful talk about triumph not only over the opponet but one's self, and how you a person has so many things to overcome, but if you can keep your head and adjust to change you can triumph. He talked about BJK's first Wimbledon when she was a teen and how she and Karen just showed up every day and played doubles. They didn't look too far ahead and they didnt read about themselves in the paper, they just played and had a ball. There wasn't a sound during the lecture, all kids were fixed on FXB, as if we were all tuned into the same movie of the mind, then FXB, I dont know how he did it but he began to recite the 'If" poem.

"IF you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise...

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spokenTwisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools..."

He built it to a crescendo with the last paragraph from memory:

"If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minuteWith sixty seconds' worth of distance run,Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son! "

He finished with a great life lecture, that tennis is just a run through for the big game and that one day we must treat treat triumph and disaster the same. You could have heard a pin drop, Mr. B. played it like a great shakespearean actor...he let the silence linger and then told us to get on with the day, and our lives.

Goose bumps...what impact, you could feel the excitement, I doubt a Barrymore ever had a moment like this on stage. Mr. B on his good days was just about unbeatable, I doubt John Wooden could have beaten him today and he was beaming afterwards, he knew he hit this one out of the park. Who knows how many ships he launched into the business world, or medicine, or tennis?

Im sitting in the lounge of Fowle Hall now, Im on dorm duty and Im writing all this in my journal. Mr. B just came out of the apartment still on cloud 9. He looked at me and then my Journal and said "Jake a writer?, Christ, I should have known, I hope you got all that down this morning!"

I did Mr. B; and now its with us forever.


Tuesday, July 25th 1977, Mercersburg, P.A.

We worked hard this morning, it was back to grind after a rainy day and Mr. B makes sure we make up for lost time. We worked on the backhand and it’s a challenge because so many of the kids want to hit the two handed shot, they see Borg and Evert and think it will work for them. I think it limits range, motion and options. With a two hander, unless you have incredible talent, you will never master an under spin shot, will never have a great backhand lob or drop shot. I think you lose too many tools plus the mobility. There are a few that can still hit all the shots, I’m stressing few.

All things considered Mr. B likes the two hander, he says Evert, Borg and Connors have made it work for them…as well as Solomon and Dibbs. Mr. B. says for the shot to work the player has to have superior foot work and racquet preparation.

The kids were ready for tennis this morning, they had so much energy, I think it comes from the blue skies and the fresh smell after a long rain. Everyone was energized and the counselors all realized that we have just two more teaching days and then we can coast into this ‘tweener’ weekend. A ‘tweener’ weekend is a weekend between sessions and it’s one of the few weekends that we can actually go out on the town. The Scots have already scheduled Saturday night at the Mercersburg Inn, and then possibly McKinstry’s pub. These guys like their beer and they can drink a lot of it.

Lunch was fantastic today, they made pizza and it was cheesy and good and the crust was perfect. Many of us went back for seconds, I downed at least two pitchers of milk…afterwards I went back to the room and started reading, its my afternoon off.

I had to run to the bank, I’m broke. I’ve really been through the money over the past 7 weeks I’ve spent $50.00 and I only have $75.00 left in the bank. I went through my receipts, and found that I spent a big load in Washington. Mr. B had asked me how I was doing for money and said I could get an advance if I needed it. Mr. B. is the camp safety net, He advanced Bobby and Roger $20.00 a piece, I guess Mr. Dickinson had called Mr. B and had him advance them money.

Mercersburg on a summer afternoon is a delightful place, it was a beautiful walk to the bank with everything so bright and fresh. I knew that I was becoming a local when that Stoner kid, the camp terror nodded at me. Mr. B. hates the kid with a passion because as he tells it a few years back he caught him the girls dorm one night and found out from campers that he was selling drugs. He seems alright to me, but we’ve only nodded in the street. I know I could take him if I had to but he doesn’t seem like the fighting type.

I stopped by Brian Barkers house on the way home and he was sitting at his T.V. set drinking ice tea. Of course he had problems with the TV set when I showed and I gave the television a good going over, there was nothing wrong with it. He started telling me a story about coming over here in the 20’s and how in his youth he and a rival were the best caroline players in England, that he came to the colonies and his buddy went to Oxford. He says he made the right move. I bid Brian good bye and he told me to send Mr. B by for a tea with a wink (Brian’s been known to mix his tea with Irish whiskey).

At 4 I played a match with Pat and Ken and Chris, They beat us bad…8-2. It wasn’t Feinberg’s serve or his volleys that killed us but Chris Russel-Vick’s world class lob. She just ate us up…when we were both back after chasing a lob she would put it away with that crazy overhead of hers…that looks much like Frankie Durr’s from the pro tour.

After that set I played Feinberg in singles, it was a close match but I lost 4 and 4. He beat me in the most basic way…he held serve and broke once. It was a mental fight with both fighters moving the opponent off the court. I dropped him and then tried the mouse trap, the lob but he recovered too fast and would often move from defense to offense. Then there were the serving games, that’s the most critical thing on clay, just hold your serve. This transition to clay has been tough! Feinberg plays for Johns Hopkins University and says they had a good year.
After dinner Sheridan and I went for a car ride to Foote of the Mountain resturant for pie. I had the best strawberry and whip cream pie of my career, the pie took away the sting of the double loss this afternoon. Tom thinks I need to not force the points…he says I’m getting in the middle of a point and trying to end it, he says you cant do that on clay. I agree.

I went up to Lenny and Kunz’s room tonight and we listened to the new Earth Wind and Fire Album, I love that song “Shinning Star’ and “Way of the World”. They also have Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon that’s such a mind trip and sounds great in the headphones.

There’s a full moon with white puffy clouds, I went over to the girls dorm and hung out with Bevin on the steps, we talked till about 11:30. We discussed everything from school to families, she talked a lot about her sisters, they sound so cool, I would love to meet them. I wish I could go to the Cape with her after camp.


Monday July 24th, 1977

Rainy days and Mondays, Mondays are tough but add some clouds, lightning and thunder and a tough day is even tougher. It was dark and foreboding all morning and then after lunch the rain started falling. We got the kids in the gym and then Mr. B asked me to help him out. We went to the warehouse and picked up a couple of cases of new balls. This past two weeks we lost just 22 balls.

When I got back to the gym all 105 kids were playing around the world on the four indoor wood courts...the noise level was about the same as a 737...Its a tough environment to teach in, but the kids love it because they actually get a lot of hitting in.

At 4:30 we set the gym up for basketball and we also had the pool opened so the kids had a lot of different options. Mr. B. had Mike Kunz, Lenny and I set up the video tape so the counselors could look at their tape; some of us didnt get to see the tape, some wanted to see it again. Im amazed at my forehand. From a straight back forehand to a loop, it looks good and makes all the difference in the world.

The rain is still falling, its been falling since this afternoon, a lot of the kids came in early and the dorms have been noisy with lots of rough-housing. Mr. B came out of his apartment and was not happy with the kids, he came into my room and had me settle the kids down, I sent them to the girls dorm, they have a better TV room. Its quiet now and I think everyone will sleep well tonight because its nice and cool.

Sunday July 23rd, 1977 Mercersburg

A few times a day I walk the perimeter of the courts to pick up balls. I love to look out over the cornfields to the in the distance I see the Tuscarora Mountains. It almost looks like home, these mountains only rank as foothills in Idaho but beautiful nonetheless. Its always a time for reflection, I always hear the morning doves on these walks and in the distance I smell the familiar farm smells.

We woke with the great feeling of not having to work, that we can go to the courts and play. Sanderson and I had breakfast and then went down to the courts and hit for a half hour, then played a set. Even on clay, Sanderson's serve is too tough...he held serve with a late break and won 6-4. I need to stay with him and go for the break. I need to give him different looks and take him out of his rhythm. I was happy with the workout and by 11:00 we headed back to the dorms, because we had to get ready for the annual Sports Camp versus Tennis Camp basketball game.

The campers filed into the gym after lunch, Sports camp on one side, Tennis camp on the other. Sanderson was our center, Solomon Feinberg, and Day played forwards and Bobby, Roger, Mike Kunz X and I were the guards. Bobby D, and I played against each other in Intramurals at Idaho State so we know each others games quite well. Bobby is a good shooter, Im much better at defense. The game was close, we traded baskets and Sanderson had 12 points by the half, Bobby had 10 and I had 2, Roger had 4, and Feinberg 4. They clamped us down in the second half and the game went into overtime. Mr. B. dropped by to watch and he was snapping photos and was beaming like a proud papa. We scored first in the overtime but then Sports Camp scored 6 straight and ran out the clock for a 54-48 win. It was great fun and we proved to the Sportsters that tennis players can play. Mr. B came talked to us afterwards and said that this was one of the better basketball teams he has seen over the summers, that's saying a lot with Charlie Fenske,Marv, Skip and some of the basketball greats.

Eric Riley and Doug Hamilton played Bobby D. and I in was a classic match up, Scotland versus Idaho State. Bobby played number 1 doubles during the year and had some great matches in conference, I played number 3 and we won our share, but we're both singles players and we didn't come to the net much, that's a problem. The Scots beat us 6-4.

I had a letter from Mike Zaladonis, a teammate from ISU. He apologized for our last match before I came to camp. We met at the Reed Gym Courts and I was confident coming off the conference tournament and thought I would roll over him, in fact he rolled over me 2 and 2. I thought I was playing well and and I ran to the net post I said 'lets play two out of three, there's no way Im losing to you today." That pissed Zaladonis off and he said you re on. I won the third 7-5, won the fourth 6-3 and won the fifth 7-6. As I ran to the net to shake his hand 2 hours later with a big beaming smile on my face, I held out my hand and he nearly broke my wrist. He said, I beat you, but this god dammed sticky grip..." we walked off the court both wounded, it was a victory that I won't forget. Mike wrote that he was upset because he had beat me in straight sets and was pissed at my cockiness. I wrote him back that the apology was accepted but I wasn't cutting him any slack, that I'll be kicking his ass in August when I get back. That should renew the rivalry!

Its a quiet Sunday night, the kids are in bed, Sanderson is still bragging about 18 points in the basketball game. Mr. B was out in the hallway a few minutes ago, he said that he had a call from Frank Jr. and that things were going well there and then both talked about the Jersey shore. That's just three weeks away and Ive noticed everyone is talking about getting back to college. I have to get back to ISU, I have a new coach to meet and the word is that Bobby D and I will have to walk on to play. Bobby took it as an insult because he was MVP and the number 1 player, I had to walk on last year so its not a big deal for me. Bobby is thinking of going to Texas Arlington next year. That's the world of college tennis, play to play.