1984 (430)

It’s never easy to win that tournament. Nineteen eighty-four was no exception. Early rounds are played in six different sites, all over metropolitan Kansas City. I elected to stay with our #4 player, a true Indian gentleman, Jagadish Gowda. Our number 3 player was accompanied by no less than our college president, Dr. James Hemby. Linne was 6’5”, 200 lbs., long hair, and looked like Alice Cooper.
We knew things were tight. No one could lose early if we were to have a chance. So, when Jag got down 6-1, 5-1 (30-15). I was ready for one of those “sinking moments” in coaching. Add to that, Jim Hemby rode up in quite a panic for a college president. Thomas, he says, had pulled hamstring up near his butt. And having won the first set, is losing fast. The trainer in charge says he can play only if we put a football styled hip-girdle on him before the impending third set.
With limited time and big city traffic to fight, I was perplexed. But I got “paid the big bucks” to make smart moves.
Actually it was pure luck. Luck that Virginia Hassenflu walked up at that very moment. Mrs. Hassenflu was one of the honorary coaches, and her husband, Art was a fine businessman and tennis fan. No nicer couple. However, Mrs. Hassenflu forgive me, Virginia, had an “ass you could throw a sheet over and show home movies”. If there was one person who’d know girdle details, I’d found her. Virginia, “girdle angel”, said she knew just the thing. We agreed to meet at Thomas’ site, the Kansas City Country Club, at that time Tom Watson’s home club.
I left a “buried” Jagadish on the run. I beat Virginia by minutes, enough to find Thomas and the trainer, the second set just having been lost by our injured Swede.
I told the trainer and Thomas of our plan as Mrs. Hassenflu waddled toward us, paper bag in hand. I grabbed the bag and Thomas and headed to the dressing room.
Thomas dropped his trousers and stood on a bench. But then he said, “I’m not going to wear that thing.”
The women’s girdle I’d unfolded was pink, garter attachments dangling, and had three pink orchids on it. By God you are too, Thomas as I yanked it over his shoes. I had to tape him too, and did it so fast I’m not sure what we “bound”.
If God cares, we were blessed. Thomas won the third set and the match. It took a while for things to “loosen up”, plus he had to push up the garter belts into his shorts periodically, but it was helluva coaching move.
As Dr. Hemby and I giggled, we took Thomas for the proverbial McDonald’s burger. We were near Gowda’s courts and I slid in the parking lot to pick him up. Lo and behold there he was playing match #2. Later I called him “Houdini” for getting out of that trap. Gowda said he found out his opponent couldn’t hit an overhead. Lob City! Gowda is still mystical.

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