CLIFFORD S. SUTTER | By Nancy Gill McShea
When Cliff Sutter's father and a few friends built two grass courts near the Sutter home in New Orleans during the early 1900's, they set the stage for the emergence of a future U.S. tennis champion. Personally, young Sutter would fit the image of the gracious old South, while combining art and artifice on the tennis court with a beautiful blend of coordinated movement and racquet work.
"I started playing on those courts when I was five,” says the 80 year old Sutter, who went on to win seven tournaments in a row in 1932, the year he ranked No.3 in the U.S. and fifth in the world. "My whole family played, including my mother and sister who wore long skirts and big bonnet hats."
"Cliff was so elegant in long flannel trousers, you thought it almost indecent if he donned white shorts," says a friend. "Opponents, however, who thought elegance and competitiveness couldn't go together made this mistake at their peril. Yes, the crease in his pants was sharp as a razor, but so was his fighting edge."
Two memorable Sutter performances illustrate that point. In 1930 at age 19, he beat 37 year old Bill Tilden in an Eastern grass court tournament at Rye, N.Y. Sutter was leading 6-0, 4-1 in the two-out-of-three-sets match when the gallery began chiding Tilden for his temperamental behavior. Tilden defaulted, citing an old knee injury as the reason. A week later at Newport, the two were again paired, and Sutter faked a limp when he saw Tilden, Tilden yelled, "I never said it was my knee, Cliff…!" to which Sutter responded, "I’ll finish this match anyhow, even with my bad knee!" Tilden beat Sutter 8-6 in the fifth.
In 1932, the determined Sutter faced Ellsworth Vines (still considered one of the world's best players ever) at the U.S. National Championships. A prominent tennis analyst wrote: "In one of the great semifinal matches of all time, Vines ran into Sutter, a young player of consummate style and consistency. Sutter won the first two sets 6-4, 10-8, and came within a stroke of match point three times in the third set and once in the fourth... Vines gradually came around, winning the third 12-10, the fourth 10-8, and the last one, when Sutter was tired, 6-1...The packed (Forest Hills) Stadium went wild when it ended. Sutter's magnificent challenge was the highlight of the tournament."
Sixty-one years later, Sutter is still resolute when he discusses the Tilden-Vines encounters. Of Tilden's default, he says, "I had him!" As for Vines, he insists, "I shoulda had him!!"
Sutter traveled on the USTA junior tennis circuit when he was 12, ranking as high as No. 8 nationally. Later, he was a semifinalist and four-times a quarterfinalist at the U.S, Nationals, during which time he ranked in the U.S. top ten five times-in 1930, '31, '32, '33 and '34; and was undefeated in U.S. Davis Cup team play in '31 and '33. He and his brother Ernest are the only brothers ever to win the NCAA singles title, and each won it twice as a student at Tulane-Cliff in 1930 and '32, Ernest in 1936 and '37-and they won the national senior doubles crown together in 1961.
Sutter joined New York's business commuters in 1933 at age 23, eventually becoming a vice president and account supervisor with the advertising agency, BBDO. He was later the marketing manager of Bancroft Sporting Goods until he retired in 1975. During those years, Sutter was involved in USTA tennis administration, as chairman of the Amateur Rules Committee and advisor to Russell Kingman (ETA president 1934-35; USTA president 1951-52). "The game was getting a bad image with press reports of under-the-table payments, and my friends on the Greenwich Railroad platform needled me about 'that game of mine' and how much better amateur golf was run," says Sutter, who served as ETA president himself in 1962-'63. "We worked to give tennis a better image and we did... Then the whole game changed-registered players and Open tennis."
Interestingly, the lives of Sutter and fellow ETA Hall of Fame inductee, Frank X. Shields, intertwined during their playing days and later. Sutter first met Shields at a junior tournament in Chicago when Shields, 16, hitched a ride with Sutter, then 15, to New York. In 1931, the pair, together with Sidney B. Wood, Jr., defeated Argentina 5-0 in a U.S. Davis Cup match. Sutter and Shields were later married to sisters-- Rebecca (Billy) and Suzanne Tenney, respectively, after Shields introduced Suzanne to Sutter.
Cliff and Suzanne Sutter recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on Cape Cod, where they retired in 1977. They have four daughters, one son, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Photo Credit: Steve Berman
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J. DONALD BUDGE | By Nancy Gill McShea
Before tennis, Don Budge loved baseball while he was growing up in California. He liked to think of himself as a slugger and figured sluggers play the outfield, so center field was his territory. Later, when he was king of the tennis world, he had the thrill of his life when his idol, the legendary Babe Ruth, presented him with the "World's Greatest Athlete" award, the Gold Laurel Wreath, at the 1939 World's Fair in New York.
One year earlier, of course, Budge had become a legendary slugger himself when he achieved the first Grand Slam of tennis at age 23, winning the four major national championships--the Australian, French, Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals – a record that stood for 23 years. And he won two other national championships in '38, the Czechoslovakian and Irish titles, to bring the total to six, unequalled by anyone!
One tennis expert said recently, "The awesome presence of Don Budge can be summed up in the fact that 20 years after his prime, it was still more important to have his name on a racquet than a manufacturer's.” Indeed, a sampling of the man's brilliant amateur tennis career from 1934-'38 is awesome:
- 1934- U.S. Nationals: round of 16 in singles; USTA Clay Courts: doubles winner; ranked No.9, U.S. men's singles;
- 1935- U.S. Nationals: doubles finalist; U.S. Davis Cup team, 7.2 record; ranked No.2, U.S. men's singles:
- 1936- U.S. Nationals: singles finalist, doubles winner; Wimbledon: mixed doubles finalist; U.S. Davis Cup team, 4-1 record; ranked No. 1, U.S. men's singles;
- 1937- Wimbledon: singles "men's and mixed doubles winner; U.S. Nationals: singles, mixed doubles winner, men's doubles finalist; U.S. Davis Cup team, 12-0 record; ranked No. 1, U.S. men's singles; winner, Associated Press "Athlete of the Year" (only male tennis player ever so honored); Time magazine cover story; Star of New York "Ticker Tape" parade down Broadway; winner of "Sullivan Award," given annually to greatest amateur athlete (only tennis player ever to win award);
- 1938- first winner of Tennis Grand Slam Australian: singles winner, French: singles winner; Wimbledon: singles, men's and mixed doubles winner; U.S. Nationa1s: singles, men's and mixed doubles winner; ranked No. 1, U.S. men's singles;. U.S. Davis Cup team, 2-1 record.
Budge was such a crowd favorite with his easy-going manner and good humor on the court, the press reported his every move. After he beat Bunny Austin in the quarters on Wimbledon's center court in 1935, he turned to bow to the Royal Box and casually wiped his brow. But the press immediately interpreted the gesture as a friendly wave to Queen Mary and headlined the story around the world. Two years later, when he was presented to the Queen after winning his first Wimbledon title, the Queen said, "Mr. Budge, I did not see you when you waved to me. Had I, I would have waved back.”
History shows that England's Queen had countless opportunities to wave to Budge, as he is the only player ever to win all three events at Wimbledon – twice. And he accomplished the same feat at the U.S. Nationals, albeit not in succession. Between '36 and '38, he won 14 Grand Slam titles (Gene Mako teamed with him forever in men's doubles, while Alice Marble and Sarah Palfrey Danzig shared the mixed winners' circle with him). In Davis Cup play, he was 25-4 overall, winning 18 singles matches (fifth on the all-time list despite a brief amateur career). In 1937, he won an historic fifth and deciding match against Germany in the Davis Cup tie, rallying from 14 down in the fifth set to defeat Gottfried von Cramm 6-8, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 8-6. Bill Tilden said it was the greatest match in tennis history.
The Budge era is noted for his sportsmanship and defense of professional tennis. Based on the amateur system, Budge felt promising players could not hope to compete successfully if they had to support themselves outside of tennis. With the incentive of financial reward, he reasoned, fewer stars would leave the game before they reached their full potential.
Budge turned professional in 1939 and was the world's pro tennis champ from '39-'46, thereby sacrificing his chance to win another Grand Slam, earn a U.S. ranking, or play Davis Cup. In fact, he was on his way to winning the first Professional Grand Slam in '39, having won the U.S., French and British titles, and was en route to Australia in September for the final leg when World War II broke out and the trip was cancelled. That year, he challenged Ellsworth Vines, who had been the reigning world pro champ for five years until Budge surpassed him, and Fred Perry. (The top tennis pros played a series of matches against one another to determine the annual champ. In 1939, Budge beat Vines 37-22 in 59 matches, and he routed Perry 28-8 in 36 matches. (They worked hard for their money!) World War II interrupted his pro tennis career, but Air Force Lieutenant Budge staged morale-boosting exhibition matches for the troops in the Pacific. In 1943, he and Jack Kramer played an exhibition in New York's Seventh Regiment Armory for a U.S. War Bond drive, and raised close to four million dollars for the war effort.
Budge played an aggressive game, most notable for his backhand drive. He transformed the stroke from a defensive groundie to an offensive weapon. Willie Shields says his pop, Frank X., admired Budge's "roll-over corner-to-corner backhand." The elder Shields would say, "Watch this! You’ll never see a more beautiful backhand than this!"
After his playing days, Budge moved to New York in 1954 and opened the Town Tennis Club on East 56th Street. Shields and Sidney Wood, Jr., who were inducted with him into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1964, ran a chic N.Y. laundry service. Budge later bought out Shields and re-named it "Budge-Wood" under the slogan, "Grime Does Not Pay." They then sold out to Arnold Palmer, who subsequently sold the business to NBC. Today, Budge and his wife Loriel travel extensively in the interests of tennis. He is a spokesman for Prince Racquets, and conducts junior clinics and teacher forums around the country.
Who was the greatest tennis player? Budge says, "Vines was the best player on a given day, but Kramer was the most consistent 365 days a year." Don Budge wasn't bad either!
Photo Credit: Steve Berman
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FRANCIS X. SHIELDS | By Nancy Gill McShea
Armed with devastating good looks, irresistible charm, superior athletic ability, and an extraordinary constitution, Frank X. Shields made a run through life on earth which few people had seen before and few have seen since. Such was the consensus of the press who reviewed Willie Shields' 1986 biography of his late father, "Pop," entitled Bigger than Life.
Born in the Bronx in 1909, Shields was heralded as the self-taught tennis champion with the big serve and all-court game--beginning with USTA National junior titles in the 1920's and finishing up in the Forest Hills twilight in 1947. He was a finalist at the U.S. National Championships in '30 and at Wimbledon in '31; was a playing member of the U.S. Davis Cup team with an overall record of 19-6, including victories over Perry, Crawford and Hopman; was Davis Cup Captain in '51; and was enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1964. Ranked No.1 in the U.S. in 1933, he was in the U.S. top five six times and top ten eight times from '28 to ‘45. He ranked in the world's first ten five times. Later in the 1950's, he won the National Court Tennis Championships with Ogden Phipps.
But Shields was more than a great athlete who chose to play tennis. He was a true sportsman whose gregarious spirit mirrored the innocence of the 30's and 40's when the world was younger and tennis was an amateur sport. Says Willie, "Pop loved to bring people together so they could enjoy each other. He had a genius for connecting directly to a person's soul, he could find the lost child in a tycoon and the dignity in a sanitation worker. He was brought up to believe that what counted was how hard and attractively a man did what he did, that making money was a vulgar way of keeping score."
Having fun was a big part of living well in those days, perhaps because of the reality of The Great Depression and the immediacy of World War II. In between tennis matches, Shields partied with the rich and famous (often changing into his tuxedo right after a match), was as proficient at the bridge table as he was on the court, joined the Army, and took a shot at Hollywood. (He also introduced friend Errol Flynn to Jack Warner. Next scene-Flynn launches career with lead in "Captain Blood.") Tennis players had to earn a living, so he and tennis pal Sidney Wood, Jr. ran a laundry business which catered to the New York society set, and he was involved in a successful 30-year insurance venture with early childhood friend and tennis partner, Julie Seligson. (The pair won the USTA Boys' 18 Indoor doubles title in '27 and were both ranked in the U.S. top ten in '28.) Shields' trousers' pocket was his bank, and he was generous to a fault. Through it all, he experienced a series of triumphs and catastrophes, eventually falling victim to the latter.
"Frank was special, he never made judgments about people,” says his third wife, Katharine Mortimer Blaine. "He loved everybody; he was totally non-selective. I never knew him to refuse an appeal for help, and no one was too seedy or disreputable to qualify for one of his rehabilitation projects. Everyone he met felt that Frank was his best friend. He spent 25 percent of his day selling insurance and the other 75 percent solving other people's problems." Shields also supported many charitable causes. He started the first Pro-Am Celebrity Golf Tournament to benefit the Boys Club of New York. With the proceeds, the Club constructed a second building, which was known as "The House that Shields Built."
Frank X. Shields died in 1975 at age 66, and the flag at the Meadow Club in Southampton flew at half mast the day he was buried. Wood, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame with Shields in '64, wrote, "Frank's heart was as warm and stubborn as any that beat...His abilities exceeded his exploits, however notable... In his first year as an insurance broker for Equitable, he led the entire national sales force with more than a million in volume. But he was forever more giver than taker... Wherever he played, Frank was the gallery favorite...No athlete of his era evoked more admiration, envy, wonderment...on and off the court...He is surely the only man, before, or since, who landed in Paris for the French Championships and, following an extended celebration, found himself back aboard an ocean liner en route home to the U.S.A. with only a dinner jacket for luggage...A sentimental Irishman, he once took it upon himself to lead the St. Patrick's Day Parade up Fifth Avenue, without invitation, when he was ill and confined to bed... The overworked word, charisma, came much later than my unforgettable, beloved friend Frank. But if ever such a term was formed to fit a man, that man was Shields."
Photo Credit: Courtesy of International Tennis Hall of Fame
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DR. IRVING V. GLICK | By Nancy Gill McShea
Back in the 1970's, Dr. Irving Glick wrote a regular column for Tennis Week, "The Doctor's In," until, he says with a chuckle, "I ran out of anatomy."
Publisher and Tennis Week's editor-in chief, Gene Scott, sums up the man's impact in tennis: "In a business world where power, money and a threatening-tone-of-voice carries sway, Irving Glick is an anomaly. He is our game's best example of how the world should change its priorities. This doctor is 'always in’, and he is always quiet and modest with a tone of voice almost inaudible. But listen up. You do want to hear what he has to say."
Indeed, Dr. Glick, a New York City native and a certified Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery since 1952, returns to New York tonight fresh from the French Open in Paris where he participated in a meeting of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Medical Commission. He pioneered new concepts in sports medicine long before they were accepted procedure, recommending fitness training, conditioning, and strengthening and agility programs for the "Who's Who" in professional tennis from- Stan Smith and llie Nastase, to Martina Navratilova, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Vitas Gerulaitis and Tracy Austin, among many others.
And in terms of nutrition, his 1980 brochure, "Eating for Fitness," stressed the importance of complex carbohydrate as the chief source of energy, a revolutionary concept at that time.
"When it comes to the orthopedic problems of tennis players--tendons, muscles, bones, pulls, tears, fractures--there is probably no man with more world-class experience than Dr. Glick, the orthopedist who serves as official physician of the U.S. Open," asserts John Sharnick in his 1986 book, Remembrance of Games Past.
In addition to the U.S. Open, he has served as, or is now, the tournament physician for the Virginia Slims, the Nabisco Masters, the W.C.T. Tournament of Champions, the Maureen Connolly Brinker Cup, and the Port Washington Tennis Academy Rolex International Junior Championships. He is also the orthopedic surgeon and team physician for the St. John's University Basketball team, the medical advisor to the ATP Tour, honorary chairman of the U.S. Tennis Association Sports Science Committee; and he was the ITF medical representative to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Along with other professional responsibilities, he maintains a thriving private medical practice on Long Island and plays tennis four days a week!
The Doctor combines his medical expertise with a "great big shoulder to lean on," which is why he is one of the most visible and popular characters in Eastern tennis. He has a reputation for genuinely listening to people, for letting patients and friends articulate their physical (and emotional) symptoms at length, rather than hurrying them along with a quick diagnosis. Not surprisingly, he likes to refer to everybody as "family."
Of his own family he says with obvious delight, "I have two children (John and Betsy), two grandchildren, but only one wife (Tommie, who hails from Texas)...And she's a lovely lady."
The Doctor clearly enjoys life and people. His friends and tennis cronies at the Port Tennis Academy say the twinkle in his eye and easy smile complement a wry sense of humor which is contagious. "He always brings humor into the conversation and picks up people's spirits," they say. "Doc started an epidemic here (at Port) with his puns (we call them 'Glickisms'), to the point that we all imitate him now..."
He is trim and fit, a walking advertisement for his health formulas. Despite a staggering work schedule, he plays tennis regularly at Port. The Academy's head pro, Bob Binns, marvels at his stamina: "Doc's a very good player. But what's amazing is he’ll come to play after he's been up working all night, and he'll climb the stairs so slowly you worry about him. As soon as he gets out there, though, the man starts sprinting around the court like he's Carl Lewis!"
Dr. Irving Glick regards tennis as one of the consolations of age and believes that the quality of senior tennis keeps improving with better conditioning and proper diet. "Tennis is physical, emotional therapy for me, it's recreation," he concludes. "I've been playing for more than fifty years...They talk about a runner's high. I get a tennis high...That's enough to keep us seniors playing."
Photo Credit: Steve Berman
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