Amateurs or hidden professionals pre 1968

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by urban, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    A cliche i often read, is, that the pre 1968 amateurs were only club or college players, whose standard was low. That's far from the truth. I am not denying the real pros of that time there greats status, to the contrary i find it sad, that so many records are uncleared by the amateur- pro-split. The pro game was an elitist circuit then, but it relied on a solid international circuit controlled by the ILTF and the national federations. Most of the great pro champions had great amateur careers, and there were great players, who remained amateurs despite the sirene calls of Jack Kramer. I mention Ted Schroeder, Budge Patty, Jaroslav Drobny, Vic Seixas, Dick Savitt, Art Larsen, Neale Fraser, Roy Emerson, Nicola Pietrangeli or Manolo Santana. In fact the amateurs of the day were sort of professionals themselves, many playing a year long schedule over the continents and getting paid under the table. It is known, that Pietrangeli and Santana got money from their federations not to follow the Kramer pro group and to stay amateur. The title 'shamateurs' came up. The amateur code never was that strong in tennis (tennis wasn't an Olympic sport), the real struggle was for control. Many national federations as the Australian, searched for complete control of their players, people like Emerson or Court were banned for playing their own schedule.
    The standard was high, some tournaments as the 1949 Wimbledon were as intense as every pro event of the time. Some amateur matches 1946-1967 rank among the best ever: Gonzales-Schroeder US final 1949, Drobny-Patty Wimbledon 1953, Hoad-Trabert DC 1953, Rosewall-Savitt US 1955, Laver-Emerson RG 1962, Laver-Santana Wim 1962, Santana-Osuna Wim 1964, Emerson-Lundquist DC 1964.
    Maybe some of the historians here can give some impressions of the old amateur circuit and name a few other matches and characters, who made a lasting memory.
     
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  2. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Great thread again. I will return with responses...
     
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  3. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Urban,

    Just as a general rule of thumb I would tend to think that most of the players you mentioned were not really amateurs but really in actuality professionals who were "officially amateurs." A lot of them did not turn pro because they made more money under the table than they could as professionals.

    I would tend to think of it as similar to American Baseball. There was the majors leagues, with Laver, Rosewall, Gonzalez, Hoad, Gimeno and other greats.

    Then there were the so called amateurs who were really professionals playing a lower level of tennis that would be akin to AAA baseball, a lower level of baseball but the players playing the game were still top professionals. I would tend to think of the Official Amateurs of that time to be like this, at least the majority of them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2009
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  4. veco

    veco New User

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    so if the combine pro/amateur top 8 or 10 rankings were made for the 1946-1967 period it would pretty much be the same deal like most of the 30's,half pro half amateur field?
     
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  5. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    veco, In the 1950s and 1960s there were more top pro players than in the 1930s. For instance I rank nine to ten pros among the top ten in some years of the early 1960s. The pros were clearly better than the top amateurs.
     
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  6. Pete M.

    Pete M. New User

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    I already read here some information about Santana and the Franco’s regime. I would like to know, if someone knows, what are the historical sources and if that information is consistent.
     
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  7. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Certainly the top amateurs were capable of beating the top pros some of the time (not a majority of the time). Guys like Emerson, Fraser, and Santana would have been tough outs in a tournament for Laver or Rosewall and did beat those guys on numerous occasions even though they weren't overall as great as those guys.
     
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  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    You named it: shamateurism
    Glory, fame, big titles with big bugs for top amateurs like Santana, Fraser or Emmo
    Maybe only the top 4-5 pros made more money than the under table paid amateur elite

    EXACTLY LIKE NCAA or OG GOLD MEDALLISTS
     
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  9. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Professionals openly and officially played for prize money. If some amateurs were paid, it was under the table, and thus unofficial.
     
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  10. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    NCAA guys like Jordan or Ewing got paid a lot...and so were, through sponsorship and advertising guys such as Bolt or Phelps, so it is about norma the best ams of the 60´s got paid...

    The problem is, the big titles were forbidden for the pros.
     
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  11. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Actually, after 1962, the top amateurs made more than the top pros.
    After Laver announced his signing in January, 1963, the Australian federation got angry and increased the "stipend" paid to keep the boys amateur.
     
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  12. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    As I said earlier in this thread, professionals openly and officially played for prize money. The only official money that amateurs got was for expenses only, and any extra money would be paid under the table and thus unofficial.
     
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  13. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    How were the Federations generating revenues - in order to pay the amateur players? From Tournaments they ran?
     
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  14. BTURNER

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    The mere fact that amateurs had no control over where, when or what surface they would play, inevitably impacted their growth as players, their consistency in result and their records regardless of the financial reward. I can see some players under that pressure, playing with injuries they shouldn't.
     
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  15. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    The landed privileges of aristocracy, or the privileges of bourgeois profit making. Tennis was traditionally seen as a rich man's sport. The allegations are that many of the national federations paid money under the table to keep the feather in their caps (i.e. top amateur players) from deciding to turn professional and play to earn a living from the sport. There was hysterial uproar from the amateur federations when players like Lenglen, Tilden, Vines, Perry and Sedgman turned professional.
     
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  16. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    theeree was real money at stake, but not much went downwords. Very manipulative system.
     
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  17. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    The pros played injured, too.
    Both Gonzales in 1950 and Sedgman in 1953 had nagging injuries (Gonzales the knee, Sedgman his serving shoulder), but Kramer refused to give them time off to heal. Kramer won both series.
     
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  18. muddlehead

    muddlehead Rookie

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    Just started reading Laver's 1971 book "Education of a Tennis Player." Early on, I was surprised how little credence he took from winning the '62 slam vs the '69 one. He says Pancho Gonzales and Ken Rosewall were better ( as pros, of course) in '62. Laver says Budge was the best on the planet when he won in '38. Interesting to note in '69, and many of you probably already know this, Laver said he was paid a guaranteed 90k up front for the year by his management team. His prize money for '69 was 124k. He only got the 90k. Managers pocketed the 34k.
     
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  19. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    Laver has always been extremely humble and self-deprecating. In his own "Top-10" lists, he never even includes himself on his own lists.
     
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  20. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    muddlehead, I'm not sure if Laver is right that Budge was the world's best player in 1938. Ellsworth Vines was very tough at that time. Even a year later, when Vines way a bit injured and not anymore focussed ontennis (he started a golf career soon after) Ellsworth lost a big world tour to Budge only by a small margin.

    At least we can say that Budge would have had tough opposition when realizing the GS if pros were allowed to participate. Vines, Perry, old Tilden and Nüsslein would have been stronger opponents than Budge in reality had. Also banned von Cramm would have been danger for him.
     
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  21. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Bobby Riggs was the promoter of the 1949-1950 Kramer vs. Gonzales tour.

    Well, Gonzales was retired in 1962 and didn't play a match, but I take Laver's point.

    Maybe Vines was better. I personally think that Vines was still better in 1938. Budge turned professional and toppled Vines the following year, of course. The gap between the top professionals and top amateurs in the 1930s was close, in contrast to the 1960s when the top professionals were considerably ahead of the top amateurs.
     
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  22. muddlehead

    muddlehead Rookie

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    Back from the bookshelf. Didn't want to be guilty of misquoting the Rocket. ""In Don's year he was unquestionably the best player in the world, though an amateur. I couldn't very well consider myself the best when I won the amateur Slam in 1962 so long as such splendid pros as Pancho Gonzales, Ken Rosewall, and Lew Hoad were at large.""
     
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  23. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    However, Gonzales complained to Kramer when his knee was injured, telling Kramer that he couldn't play for a while.
    Kramer responded, "We play every night, kid."
    That was the end of the argument.
    I think that Kramer was calling the shots as much as Riggs.
     
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  24. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    It might be worthwhile to compile a list of pro tours, especially head to head, whose outcome was determined not by merit of play, but by injury. By injury, we do not mean chronic conditions such as arthritis or blisters.
    These would include;

    1) 1939 Budge/Vines
    The final winning margin of 22 to 17, or 5 match wins, coincides with the 5 match winning streak, the only winning streak for either player in the series, where Budge won when Vines suffered a pulled muscle in his right rib area which impacted on his service motion, weakening his serve.
    The series should probably be declared a draw.

    2) 1946, 1947
    Budge lost two series to Riggs by a close margin, probably caused by the weakening of Budge's serve following a severe shoulder muscle injury in 1943.
    Also, Budge's conditioning was suspect, and weight issues.

    3) 1948
    Riggs opened a significant lead on Kramer, but Kramer's consistency wore down Riggs' service and Rigg's shoulder became inflamed and injured. Riggs claimed that his shoulder was "on fire" and he could not maintain his service quality.

    4) 1949-1950
    Gonzales began to get the measure of Kramer, and won 8 out of the 12 matches played in the California portion of the tour, but Gonzales injured his knee, perhaps on the flimsy and dangerous portable carpet the pros played on in high school gyms. The result was a runaway for Kramer.

    5) 1953
    Sedgman led the early portion of the tour in Australia 12 wins to 6 against Kramer, but Sedgman pulled his shoulder muscle on his serving arm, and Kramer refused him time off to heal.
    Kramer won another tour, 51 to 41.

    6) 1958
    Hoad trailed Gonzales after the first Kooyong match 5 match wins to 4, and then won an eighty-game marathon in the second Kooyong match. This started a 15 to 3 streak for Hoad, who led 19 to 8 by the time they played at Palm Springs, CA in late February. Gonzales indicated to Kramer that he had given up hope.
    Hoad's back stiffened that night and eventually gave out, ending a nine month period of health for his back injury. Hoad had no choice but to take time off, with Rosewall and Trabert substituting for him, and angering the ticket holders. Final score, 51 to 36 for Gonzales.

    7) 1959
    Hoad led Gonzales 13 to 5 in their series, when his back acted up again. Hoad coasted to a 15 to 13 win, and managed to play 150+ matches on the year.

    By this time it was clear that long head to head series were not a realistic way to determine tennis supremacy, and these marathon tours were abandoned.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2013
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  25. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Dan, I can agree mostly, maybe not with your conclusion...
     
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