There seems definitely to be a strong revival of tennis interest among the half pints in the United States. If, as they say, the Davis Cup of 1958 was won or lost in 1953 (Alex Olmedo started in the U.S. in that year), then I think there is great hope for the future. We have some promising comers among our 12-to-l6-year-olds. That is the age when the tennis bug bites. It is then that our future champions become infected.
On the following pages you will see 11 of our more exciting prospects in this category. In the boys' ranks we have a quartet of excellent prospects. Among the girls our outlook is even brighter. I think we have more fine young girl players in the country today than ever before in our history, and this is an opinion shared by many tennis experts.
These talented neophytes from all parts of the country are not just gifted tennis players. They have the early mark of greatness, the kind that Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall carried in their formative days around Sydney; the kind the fabulous Maureen Connolly displayed as an ingénue in southern California. They show a natural aptitude for the game. They love it. They play it well. Unless they are sidetracked by other interests, they will be our Wightman Cup and Davis Cup hopes of tomorrow.
How do you explain the sudden wave of tennis interest among the small fry? Perhaps it's the glamour of Jack Kramer's professionals, or it may be the result of the United States Lawn Tennis Association's junior development committee, ably guided by Martin Tressel of Pittsburgh.
Tressel's program has set up junior tennis leagues, much on the order of Little League baseball. Young players are encouraged to play and compete. They are given the best possible instruction and are permitted free admittance to the big tournaments.
Perhaps we are on the road back. With the Davis Cup back home and this apparent revival in youthful enthusiasm for the game, the future looks bright indeed.
The 1958 National Girls champion, Vicki celebrated her 14th birthday in January by winning the Thunderbird Women's title in her home town of Phoenix. She has a big serve for a youngster, is strong, plays an excellent backcourt game and has apparently overcome an indifference toward victory.
This petite young San Diego lady-is a charmer from the tip of her Fauntleroy hairdo to the soles of her Keds. Now aged 15, she has been runner-up in the 1958 Girls Nationals. She has a steady backcourt game but must learn to force the net.
He won the National Junior Chamber of Commerce championship at Chapel Hill, N.C. last year. Now 14, he is a protégé of Welby Van Horn in Puerto Rico. He has a good serve and net game but needs tournament experience.
A determined Clevelander with a fine backhand, Clark, 15, is National Boys champion and winner of his class in this year's Orange Bowl Tournament. He is a real work horse, with a fine temperament, but lacks the necessary big game, which he will develop as he grows. His father and I were competing when we were both still in high school.
BILLIE JEAN MOFFITT
In California they are already talking about this 15-year-old from Long Beach as another potential Alice Marble. She has a devastating American twist service, a lot of strength and stamina and is definitely one of the most promising youngsters on the West Coast.
If pretty 15-year-old Roberta from Alexander City, Ala. fulfills her promise she could become the first player of national reputation from her home state. Instructed by her father, she plays mostly from the backcourt and has tremendous power off both her forehand and backhand.
An outstanding athlete hailing from El Cajon, Calif., Dave hits the ball with medium pace and has developed excellent control with his ground strokes. He volleys with a deft touch and moves about the court extremely well. He has a fine sense of strategy for a 15-year-old.
Cliff is the brother of the well-publicized Earl, who was with our 1958 Davis Cup squad in Australia. Aged 15, he is National Indoor Boys champion. The son of a St. Louis pro, he has lightning reflexes, easy and graceful strokes and a fine fighting heart. But he tends to overhit.
This smiling 13-year-old from New York City is a tennis star by inheritance. Her father, Julius, was once a ranking player in the U.S., and her mother, Gladys, publishes World Tennis magazine. Julie, who has a sound forehand and volley, holds the U.S. 13-and-under indoor title.
A big girl with a big game, Carol has a good tactical approach to tennis through the benefit of excellent coaching. She volleys beautifully, but she needs to work on steadying her ground game. Aged 15, Carol comes from St. Louis and holds the Orange Bowl under-18 championship.
One of the rare southpaws in topflight tennis, Justina brings back memories of Kay Stammers. Only 16, she has great natural ability, plays with great rhythm and grace. She was runner-up in last year's National Girls Indoors, but she lacks experience. She is from St. Louis.