August 29, 1994
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Q. Do you get to play any tennis now?
PAULENE BETZ: I play all the time. Still teaching, still playing. Playing in all the
FRANK PARKER: Likewise, me too.
PAULENE BETZ: I played the semifinals of a doubles tournament not long ago when it was
the Mid-Atlantic Championship. When I added up the age of my 2 opponents and my partner, I
still was a little ahead.
Q. What do you think about the modern equipment, the big slam bang and the speed of the
ball and the shortness of points, generally, on a fast court?
FRANK PARKER: I marveled this morning, I was watching them practice, especially the
girls. They hit tremendously hard and, of course, we used wooden rackets when we were
playing. I doubt very much whether they could do the same thing with our equipment. But
today, I find even playing with the graphite much faster and do more with the ball and get
more speed, and more control.
Q. Watching them and watching these guys practice, do you try to assess in your own
mind how you think you would play under those circumstances?
FRANK PARKER: Play against them?
Q. Well, not against them, I mean, that would be unfair with a wooden racket and
everything, but I mean how -- you wondered if you could have kept up that kind of play
with that kind of a pace and everything?
PAULENE BETZ: Of course.
FRANK PARKER: Sure, we could, yes. Definitely.
Q. You mentioned you are getting more speed with the graphite racket. Do you think with
the graphite racket now at your age, you hit the ball as hard as you did with a wooden
racket in your heyday?
FRANK PARKER: I think today I hit much harder than I did in the past. I never was much
for speed. I was more of a control player and, like, hit and run like a boxer and hitting
to a certain point was my main thing on the tennis court.
Q. You didn't go to the net that often; did you?
FRANK PARKER: Only to shake hands with my opponent. No, I didn't go to the net too
often. But I was able to volley all right. I mean, it wasn't my strength and my backhand.
Q. How about you, how do you feel about the equipment today; what do you play with?
PAULENE BETZ: I play with a hammer, wide body, and now-- I mean, it seemed when we
played, the equipment seemed fine, but now if you pick up a wooden racket and try to hit
with it, you realize what a tremendous difference there is. So they definitely can get
more power with today's equipment, no question about it.
FRANK PARKER: Welcome, Bud Collins. How are you?
BUD COLLINS: Welcome Paulene and Frank.
FRANK PARKER: Nice to see you, sir.
BUD COLLINS: Thank you.
Q. Can you save a lazy guy from looking it up; how old are you?
FRANK PARKER: 78.
Q. Have you lost a step? Probably not.
FRANK PARKER: I was 28 when I won it in 1950. No, wait a minute. 1944, I was 28 years
old then. Yeah, this is the 50th anniversary.
Q. One ever your contemporaries was George Bromwich.
FRANK PARKER: Good bless his soul.
Q. Do you think the way he played the game there would be anyplace for him in the game
today with the new equipment?
FRANK PARKER: With the equipment?
Q. Yeah, would he just be overpowered?
FRANK PARKER: He was one of the fellows who he had his racket strung like 40 pounds,
which was unbelievable. It was like a fish net. Every time he hit it, you couldn't quite
feel, on the other side, the speed of the ball coming at you. And he was very dextrous. I
mean, he could maneuver the ball left to right and get tremendous angles and he always had
you jumping at the time, you know, you were off balance. But he didn't hit very hard.
Q. What would happen to him today?
FRANK PARKER: With him, I doubt if the equipment would make much difference.
Q. Because he had so much talent?
FRANK PARKER: He had talent, yes. But it was -- it was a different kind of talent. He
didn't hit hard at all. It was amazing that he could control the ball the way he did.
Q. What was the first prize when you won in 1944?
FRANK PARKER: First prize? You must remember we were amateurs at the time. We played
for the love and the glory. Dollar signs didn't exist the way they do now.
Q. Do you feel with equipment and money, is tennis changing for the better? Is this all
good or do you lament some of the changes?
FRANK PARKER: I doubt if it can get any better prizewise. They can raise the --
yesterday I noticed that the golfer won the championship, he got prize money of $360,000
for the first place. I think now the winner here gets, what, about a $500,000?
FRANK PARKER: And when we played, I mean, we played --
PAULENE BETZ: Paid entry fees.
FRANK PARKER: We had to pay entry fees, that is true?
Q. One year at Forest Hills you lost to Kramer in the finals?
FRANK PARKER: I am sorry you brought that up.
Q. What year was that; just after the war; wasn't it?
FRANK PARKER: '46, I think.
Q. I think it was '46.
FRANK PARKER: Yes.
Q. Because that was -- I think it was first year I was back from the war.
FRANK PARKER: Yes.
Q. I wasn't sure whether it was '46 or '47.
FRANK PARKER: I won the first two sets. Then he won the next three. And he turned
professional right after that and Jack Harris was in the stands and he was the promotor
putting on the pro matches and you can imagine how nervous he was, and I don't know what
actually happened. The third set, I sort of let go because I won the two and I had played
Bromwich the day before. I had played Segura the day before that and they were all tough
sets and matches and I was getting a little weary, but that is no excuse. Jack, he just
upped his game and he prevailed.
Q. I had a sideline on that bench.
FRANK PARKER: You had a what?
Q. A sideline. I was calling the sideline.
FRANK PARKER: Really? You knew more what was going on than I did.
Q. I don't know about that. Do you have --
FRANK PARKER: Ask her a question.
Q. Both of you. Do you have particular favorites that you like to watch play, of the
PAULENE BETZ: I like to watch Becker, I think, because he throws himself around so well
and among the women, I like most of them. Davenport, now, I really enjoy. She blasts that
ball. I would love to see Seles again.
FRANK PARKER: Yes.
PAULENE BETZ: I hope she is going to make a comeback.
Q. What is there about Davenport's game that you admire?
PAULENE BETZ: Such power. I just love-- she really just can blast the ball past
somebody which I never really did. I had a little more finesse .
FRANK PARKER: I like to watch Lendl play.
PAULENE BETZ: Not with that hat that he wears.
FRANK PARKER: Oh, that Australian neck warmer. In Australia you have to wear something
like that because the sun is so strong. We played Davis Cup there and Christmastime it was
like 103, 104 degrees, but that was on grass which made it much cooler. But now they play
in the new stadium with the hard courts in 120 degrees; the heat rises from the court. I
don't understand how the players do it today except they have --
PAULENE BETZ: They have an incentive.
FRANK PARKER: Well, yeah, and also the fact that they can rest 30 seconds between every
point. We didn't. We just continued right on playing and changed on odd games.
PAULENE BETZ: 20.
FRANK PARKER: 20 seconds, time flies.
Q. Paulene in 1944 there was pretty much a complete women's circuit in the east. But
not too many tournament for the -- tournaments for the men. It seems strange without the
men in those days.
PAULENE BETZ: It was nice, we got all the better -- it was practically like it is now
with two separate tours the men were sort of down there, so we enjoyed it.
Q. Was it hard to get around; did you drive or. . .
PAULENE BETZ: I always drove. That was the only thing I could afford.
Q. You got the gas all right?
PAULENE BETZ: Yeah.
Q. Friendly rationed board, whatever --
PAULENE BETZ: We seemed to be able to get enough.
FRANK PARKER: On Tour with you was Gussie Moran.
PAULENE BETZ: Pro Tour with Gussie.
FRANK PARKER: Who else was on, Bobby?
PAULENE BETZ: Bobby promoted it and Jack Kramer played Segura.
Q. You were ruled a pro even though you hadn't taken any money; is that correct?
PAULENE BETZ: I was suspended for negotiating to turn pro and I remember coming home
from Europe to meet my fate. I read -- Time Magazine had an article on one side was
"Exit Leo" and one was "Exit Paulene;" - Leo being Leo Durocher at
that time. We were both kicked out but actually I wasn't -- I was suspended, but if I had
won it, I am sure I could have been reinstated, but at that time I was tired of playing as
an amateur, really was ready to turn pro.
Q. Did you make any money as a professional?
PAULENE BETZ: Well, not by today's
Q. What sort of money would you have made?
PAULENE BETZ: When I toured with Gussie, I think I got something like 500 a week.
FRANK PARKER: That is the same with me, when I turned pro with Gonzalez, Kramer and
Segura, about 500 a week.
Q. You played the starter with Segura, was that it; then you played the doubles, the
FRANK PARKER: That is correct. Yes.
PAULENE BETZ: Seemed like pretty good money at the time.
FRANK PARKER: Not bad at all.
Q. Frank, are you still living in Chicago?
FRANK PARKER: I am in Chicago.
Q. You are still at those courts?
FRANK PARKER: Same courts.
Q. Off Michigan Avenue?
FRANK PARKER: Yes, we have three indoor courts. I am the sports director there and we
have all the facilities, aerobics and swimming and anything you -- except a track, but
they run in the summertime outside along Michigan Avenue.
Q. Paulene also is an active teaching pro. Tell them where you teach, Paulene.
PAULENE BETZ: Well, I have been for about 25 years at an indoor tennis facility that we
own, but we lease the land, so we have lost that now and I work for Park and Planning
there at the same facility, Cabian John in Bethesda, Maryland. I ran a kids tennis camp
for about 25 years down at the school in Washington D.C., so. . .
Q. Do you still play?
PAULENE BETZ: Oh, yeah.
Q. Frank, I know you do.
FRANK PARKER: Yes.
PAULENE BETZ: I am trying to play -- get back to playing golf now. I thoroughly enjoy
tennis again because my golf is so bad.
Q. You are not old enough to play golf.
FRANK PARKER: I had a triple bypass in the summertime.
Q. In your famous opening match, very much publicized with Gussie, you not only beat
her, but you outdid her in her costume. Did you wear leopard shorts?
FRANK PARKER: Leather; wasn't it?
PAULENE BETZ: I was determined that I wasn't going to be outdressed, so I put away all
that white stuff and I had all of these fake fur shorts made up. Actually for the opening
at Madison Square Garden I had silver lamay (Phonetic) shorts and a shocking pink sweater
and Time Magazine then had a little article called "Switch" and Gussie appeared
FRANK PARKER: Must have had expensive dry cleaning bills.
PAULENE BETZ: Deductible.
Q. So it is from you that Andre Agassi got some of his ideas it looks like?
PAULENE BETZ: Right.
Q. Frank, did you wear dark glasses when you won in 1944 and 1945?
FRANK PARKER: Yes, I wish I hadn't because the doctor prescribed dark glasses. I am
nearsighted, and I wear contacts when I play tennis now. I don't wear them just -- I can
read a telephone directory close up, but it is far away that I can't did --
Q. He prescribed dark glasses?
FRANK PARKER: Yes, Mr. Even indoors it made it much more darker. I tried to explain it
to him. He said, no, you wear the dark glasses.
Q. So you were in the dark most most of your career?
FRANK PARKER: Just think how many matches I would have won if I had lightened my
Q. Going back to when you first played in the Juniors at Culver Military Academy
(phonetic) just out of Chicago I came down there --
FRANK PARKER: I remember.
Q. -- to do a story. And were you -- as I recall the age break at that point was 15?
FRANK PARKER: 15 for boys.
Q. You were younger than that?
FRANK PARKER: I won it when I was 15, the boys, and then I graduated into the juniors
which is under 18 and I won that. Then I had two more years to play in the juniors, but I
went into the men's division. I didn't go back to Culver for the last two years.
Q. So you won it at 15 as the boys?
FRANK PARKER: And 16 as a junior and two years -- then after that I was ranked No. 8 in
the top 10 and continued for 17 straight years in the top 10.
Q. Thank you very much for coming; appreciate your time?
FRANK PARKER: Thank you very much. Enjoy.
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