Professional tennis is the most fragmented and chaotic of sports. But perhaps not for long. Come January, the Men's International Professional Tennis Council will try to aim its members in a sensible direction. Good luck, MIPTC, both on the courts and, probably, in them.
The MIPTC is now insisting that during the 35-week, 100-tournament Grand Prix circuit, players must appear in a minimum of three tournaments worth $175,000 and up, as well as in three with prize money of either $50,000 or $75,000. The purpose is to ensure that star players will indeed play after people have bought tickets to watch them do just that.
Every player will have to list, by preference, 10 tournaments from each grouping, and the Council says it will try to accommodate their wishes. During the 35-week Grand Prix circuit, a player may miss three $175,000 events to play in round robins, TV tournaments or whatever, but if he misses a fourth $175,000 event he will be suspended from four straight $175,000-plus Grand Prix events and will be subject to even more severe penalties.
"The players can't have the best of both worlds," says MIPTC Chairman Bob Briner. "They can't say, 'We want to play in the World Series, but we don't want to go on the road in June and July.' "
Each week the NBA press releases include statistics covering nearly every phase of the game—minutes played, shots taken, rebounds grabbed, shots blocked, points scored, personal fouls committed, etc., etc.—but one important statistic is missing. Although technical fouls are considered to be of enough importance to be carried in box scores, they don't make the weekly release.
Harvey Pollack, the publicity director of the Philadelphia ' 76ers, nobly, if unofficially, fills the gap by keeping track of T's. According to Pollack, in each of the last two seasons Kevin Loughery, the coach of the New Jersey Nets, has led the league with 42 technicals. By comparison, the Lakers' Jerry West was a perfect gentleman, being hit with none. Among the players, the 1977-78 leaders by position and total number of technicals are Center Sam Lacey, Kansas City (13); Forward Maurice Lucas, Portland (12); and Guard Eric Money, then of Detroit (15). Al Bianchi of Phoenix led the assistant coaches with nine.
With one-third of this season over, it looks as if Loughery is a lock to break his own record, having already been hit with 23 technicals. Lacey, on the other hand, has only been assessed two T's and his title appears in jeopardy. As of Dec. 15, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Chones and John Gianelli lead the centers with five apiece; George McGinnis is tops among forwards with eight; and Charlie Scott is the worst-behaved guard, having been hit with seven T's.