SUPERBRAT helped the U.S. tennis team to win the Davi Cup...

Salmagundi

December 10, 1992

SUPERBRAT helped the U.S. tennis team to win the Davi Cup back last weekend, and some of his teammates want him to be captain of the team next year. Superbrat is John McEnroe. In a sport that had seen poor sports before, he sank to a new level when it came to throwing tantrums on the court and using foul language. He is the only player ever disqualified from a Grand Slam event because of unsportsmanlike conduct.

The British press, which takes tennis champs as seriously as it does royalty, dubbed John "Superbrat." As the London Sun put it, "he is the most vain, ill-tempered, petulant loudmouth the game of tennis has ever known."

But he could sure play tennis, winning the singles titles at four U.S. Opens and three Wimbledons, and he has played in more Davis Cup matches than any American in history. At age 33, he's still good enough to win Davis Cup doubles matches, as he showed this year. He is by some experts' assessment the best doubles player who ever lived. He and a partner even won Wimbledon this year. It was his fifth doubles championship there.

But should he be Davis Cup captain in 1993? Well, in a sense, he has earned it. He has played in Davis Cup matches when other top-ranked Americans selfishly walked away. He has observed the informal boycott of South Africa's lucrative matches, when others took the money and looked the other way in the land of apartheid. He should be Davis Cup captain -- some day.

That doesn't mean next year, necessarily. The present non-playing captain, Tom Gorman, has earned it, too. He has led the team to the finals three straight years and won it twice. We think Tom and John both ought to be back next year -- the former as captain whose first responsibility would be to convince the latter to play on the doubles team one more time.

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