"Loath to bid farewell, we take our leaves."
Pericles Prince of Tyre
Act 2, Scene 5
The outdoor season ended last week with a nifty burst of clear, warm weather and swirling leaves, but it ended alright. It's over. Good season, wasn't it? Very few rain days, lots of play, lots of events, lots of enthusiasm. Most of us never missed a shot.
We'll bounce back in the Spring, late April, early May. Somewhere in there. And we'll be very anxious to get on the courts, our blessed clay courts.
The newspage will play for the winter, barring some unforeseen event, and the website will stay alive. All the links will remain active. When we have some info on the '08 season, we'll spring to life and post, maybe in mid-April.
We offer our thanks to all our contributors and to our readers, and to our advisers and tech support, Bob and Derek Doyle, over there at skyBuilders.
The club's long-time manager, Bill Crusco, resigned earlier in the season. Bill was the manager and also one of the club's best players. We hope that he will continue playing tennis here and helping out with round robins and other tennis programs. We curse his angle shots, but wish him well.
The Talented Mr. Crusco
Teaching pros have a phrase, “the customer's game.” Playing the customer's game means matching the skill level of the tennis player you are teaching. Doing this is difficult, and it's an extraordinary ability--especially when one teaches a wide range of players. Controlling the pace, spin, and location of the ball so that the customer can hit the feed--and yet, still challenging that customer at an appropriate level--involves a refined mastery not only of tennis but a sensitivity to people, being able to read them and give them exactly what they need. Now take this one step further and imagine what it would take to be able to play the customer's game in a live doubles match.
Billy Crusco has mastered this art. He is perhaps the one player at CTC who can play with anyone, literally anyone, in the club--and enjoy himself doing it. A superb athlete, Billy plays amateur tennis at a high level, as he has proven repeatedly, winning USTA doubles tournaments with his partner Joanne. (They’ve also won in Canada, making them international stars!) That’s impressive, but what may be even more impressive is Billy's ability to play doubles with me, or with just about any group of men and/or women players, smoothly downshifting his game to fit in perfectly with the prevailing competition.
Adapting to your fellow players in this way involves not only physical skill but emotional mastery of oneself. We all have a natural instinct to do our best, to play our hardest, to hit out and show our athletic abilities in their full flower. To play the customer's game, one must govern and restrain this tendency. You think it’s easy? Try doing it sometime at a round robin.
Luckily, Billy is as good with people off the tennis court as on it. He's an unfailingly cheerful, amiable, funny companion. You can count on him for a tennis story about some recent tournament match he and Joanne played, or some news of a fellow club member, or just an incisive observation. He's got a positive, uncomplaining temperament and an impressively limited ego. For a man with such a wide range of abilities, including the capacity to fix or put right nearly any problem in the physical universe (I'm not sure he can repair computers, but wouldn't be too surprised), Billy embodies a consistent and genuine humility. He doesn't have work at modesty, it’s just who he is. The secret may be Mr. Crusco's lack of self-absorption; he puts his attention on others. And on the tennis ball. Perhaps, taken together, those are the secrets of playing the customer’s game.
"From the beginning of our acquaintance, it became obvious that the CTC had lucked out in the CSC’s selection of a manager. During the tennis season, Billy was fully engaged in getting the courts ready for play as soon as possible, and thereafter maintaining them to a very high standard. Moreover, Billy’s familiarity with the relevant City employees repeatedly proved invaluable in addressing the critical drainage issues arising out of the high water table. Billy had both the practical and people skills to get the job done and we have benefited greatly from his tireless efforts and hard-won experience.
My three years’ service on the Board of Governors only confirmed this opinion. Moreover, in his communications with the Governors, he was succinct, precise and clear. We had no doubt that he had the best interests of the club at heart, and we were grateful that he didn’t bother us with the small stuff – he just took care of it.
Playing tennis against him is both annoying and humbling, if invariably entertaining. I had no idea there were so many flaws in my doubles game, but when I played with Billy as my partner, they all seemed to vanish. Many is the time he moderated his play to match the skills of the other side, and many members were introduced to new partners through Billy’s good offices. A paragon of a manager.
We are genuinely sad to see him go and wish Billy well in his new ventures. We hope he will renew our friendship on the courts; if we can’t have the benefit of his labors, we at least want the pleasure of his company."
"Billy is such an athlete. He was not much of a tennis player when he started at the club, but he became an excellent one. He is also such a gentleman. He would play with anyone, and always give them a "customers game." Even me. I saw him laugh a lot on the courts, but I have never seen him growl. He is someone to emulate."
"Billy was the superhero of the CTC. He went above and beyond his duties as manager and still managed to be the coolest guy I know. Billy finds the good in people, and has this effortless way of bringing it out, no matter the person's age. Thanks for everything Billy! Don’t worry, there are many re-matches to come! I’ll see you on the court!"
"I'd like to say how great it has been to know Billy and I hope I do not lose touch with him.
He always has a smile for everyone and has shown me shots on the court which I thought where geometric impossibilities. He is the true master of the "vector" and the CTC atmosphere will be much diminished by his absence. Thanks for all the good times Bill!"
- Ken Turnbull
"You get Mad Dog; I'll save the babies."
-Chow Yun Fat to Tony Leung in "Hard Boiled"
"Oh, we had a quite a romp here, Bill, didn't we? We had some soft seasons and some brutal seasons. We had floods and blizzards and hurricanes. We coped. We worked together with hand signals a lot of times, and then after a while, we didn't even need the hand signals. We had cables snapping, trees falling, pumps shorting, machines dying, machines sinking. We had wild events and boring events, potlucks, rentals, round robins, meetings, dances, concerts, seances. Howling mobs. The Rat Pack. Kids, oldsters. Injuries. (Remember the woman with the heart attack? You gave her some ice and I gave her some lemonade.)
And amidst cheers and hugs and handshakes, we had some, er, difficult people to deal with, didn't we? Some of Olympic calibre.
And the guys we worked with? Your guys, my guys, Phil's guys: Tom (yarghhh), David, Phil, Doug, Jimmie, Gary, Elvis, Joe L, Billy D, Clayton, Scotty, Charlie, Hawk, Junior, Ricky G, the Armenian limo driver, the Quiet Quaker, the LURP from Putnam. The women, Alex, Dorothy, Barbara. Great, dead-on, hard-working crews, other crews that disappeared at lunchtime, never to return. Many crews.
We had stunts, experiments, disasters. (I remember you on the Kawasaki, sadly drifting away on an iceberg. Doug and I ran for the plywood.)
We could fill the Grand Canyon with the snow we moved, with the clay, with our stories, our adventures. (Remember the clay chute?)
You played tennis the same way you worked: cleverly. Angles, surprises, ingenuity. (We lost to Manny and Lenny?)
Yup, we had quite a romp.
You can always visit, Bill. Bring your racket.
Bring your tools."
Alert: If you park your car on Mt. Auburn St. in the evening or, even worse, overnight, you risk having your windshield smashed and your car looted. A CTC member, playing in the last round robin, was a recent victim. And we notice, of a morning, some shattered windshields. The street there is between parks. (No one can hear your windshield shatter, and, at night, there are few passers-by.)
The club book should be in your hands always. Much of the information in the book is updated and available on the website.
Some useful links:
Here's a link to the espn site, with pro ranking.
And a club member (let's call him Sol) suggested a link to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. The site is rich.
We still have the tournament draws (from 2001 to 2004) available on-line (including all of the results), thanks to the Java Kid. We are re-locating the links, however.
"On the court, tennis players exchange not only ground strokes but lots of information. It's a richly interactive sport, both verbally and non-verbally. If players communicate clearly, simply, and consistently, the game will proceed more quickly, and with less fuss and misunderstanding. Here are a few guidelines that can make the game more fun, friendly, and fair for all...."
We've had some requests to run Craig Lambert's piece, sampled above, on Tennis Communication. (We'd better leave this link up on the newspage permanently.)
Yearbook link will take you to the last newspage from 2006. From there you can see the whole of the Persistent Archive of last year's news.
Website Note: The time and temperature icon below is a link to a Boston weather site.
Website Note II: The honey-comb icon is also a link. It takes the clicker to an archive of all the past news pages so that said clicker can read the news pages for the whole year (2006). The less-than link (<) next to the honeycomb icon will take clickers to the previous issue of this year's newspage. (Skywriter is for Initiates.)