We mean the reign of the United...

THAT DIDN'T LAST LONG.

April 17, 1993

THAT DIDN'T LAST LONG. We mean the reign of the United States as Davis Cup champion.

The country's leading tennis stars won the cup last December, bringing it home from France.

Since three of the four players on that U.S. team were available for this year's team (the fourth 1992 player, the relatively aged John McEnroe, retired), and since the first round challenger this year was the weak Australian team, who would have ever thought the U.S. would not only lose but be routed, 1-4.

But that's exactly what happened last month. What's worse, the loss may have been deliberate in a sense.

("You have to congratulate the Americans," said a French player. "They did everything to lose and succeeded.") We (nor he) don't mean that the U.S. players on this year's team took a dive. Brad Gilbert, David Wheaton, Jim Grabb and Richey Reneberg played gallantly. But they're second stringers. The first string -- Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and Michael Chang -- found excuses not to come back this year. They put personalities (they wanted McEnroe, not Tom Gorman, to be non-playing captain) or pocketbooks (a long trip to Australia to play on grass would interrupt their pro tour schedules and training) over patriotism.

The American no-shows would have made a dream team. All three are in the top ten players in the world. Their "hell-no, we-won't-go" antics reminded us of a real "Dream Team." The top-ranked U.S. basketball players put the nation and the game ahead of personal vanity and gain to play together for the U.S. in last year's Olympics.

The U.S. tennis program in recent years has produced some truly outstanding players, but it still needs to work on producing true sportsmen.

THE FINE ART of acronyming was dealt a devastating blow this week by the Maryland General Assembly. You know, like the National Organization of Women (NOW) or the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) or the Department of the Environment (DOE). Instead, we have been saddled with a new super-board in Annapolis to be known as the Maryland Health Care Access and Cost Commission (MHCACC). How unwieldy.

Surely there was a better name for this important panel. After all, this is the Gang of Seven given the power to mandate the basic health-care package all insurance companies must offer to small businesses. It is also the panel with the power to clamp down on outrageous doctor fees. It deserved a better fate than MHCACC as a moniker.

Why not the Medical Access and Cost Efficiency Commission (MACE)? Or the Health Efficiency And Regulatory Team (HEART)? That way, citizens would have an easy time remembering the acronymn for Maryland's health-care regulators. MHCACC? You can't even pronounce it.

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