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.
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 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.
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.
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.
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
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.
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 doubles...it 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.