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fantastic JUNE 1959 Volume 8 Number 6

Beauty, said if the poet, is in
the eye of the beholder
and
he never even knew about

CEDRIC

By WINSTON MARKS

WHEN I retired from pro tennis I followed the horses for several years, but now I follow Cedric Dearborn. It's more fun and much more profitable.

Money was on my mind the afternoon I first laid eyes on Cedric. The horses cost me plenty the past season, and I had drifted down to the Bahamas where I heard I might pick up a few nickels with a series of exhibition tennis matches. My old Davis Cup steam was about gone, but a tennis bum like me will trade on his name as long as he can lift a racket and fool the local highschool boys with a reverse twist service.

Well, the rumor was an empty one. My name was not exactly magic when I dropped it at the local tennis clubs. Anyhow, there was no one around at the time worthy of a match.

So this particular afternoon I was sitting on the patio of a little resort, nestled in the palms, listening to the surf and watching a couple of dubs bat balls at each other on the hard court. I was awaiting the return of the resort manager to apply for a job as tennis pro for the winter, and I was even willing to do a little square-dance calling on the side, if necessary, to get my board and rum.

Because of just such "dry spells" in my erratic fortunes, 1 have always remained a bachelor. Even approaching forty, the ladies still find my lanky, Gary Cooperish frame, crew haircut and horse-face attractive. I can always rob the recreation director of his job at these winter resorts if I stick around a week.

It was a stroke of luck for me that Cedric Dearborn chose this afternoon to make one of his rare mistakes. He was playing singles with a fat man in trunks and sandals. This fellow lumbered around the cement court like a gouty walrus, but he hit the ball hard and placed it well. He should have beaten Dearborn easily.

So I got interested when Cedric kept yelling the score which was piling up in his own favor. He was a neatly built little fellow, around fifty years old judging from his carefully combed gray hair. He came about up to my armpits, and he played an amateurish game of lob and chop with remarkable enthusiasm for his age.

As I watched I could see why he was winning. He had fat boy rattled. Cedric chattered pleasantly and incessantly. Such a practice is not normally good court manners. It can throw a fairly good opponent off his game.

When the set ended 6-3 in Cedric's favor, fat boy gave up, and I found Cedric standing before me in his brilliant shorts and white T-shirt, introducing himself and challenging me.

"Sun's pretty hot out there," I apologized.

"Good for you," he insisted. "You have a gorgeous tan. Won't hurt you a bit."

"No, really," I lied, "my racket hasn't arrived yet."

"You can use George's. Hey George!" He trotted after his recent rival and came back with fat boy's racket.

"See here, Mr. Dearborn," I said, "I'm really not in the mood!"

Cedric took a step backward into the sunlight and wiped the perspiration from his forehead. The glitter of a rather large stone setting in his ring made me blink. He looked at me and said, "Come on, now, let's play some tennis."

I found myself being led to the court, and a moment later he chirped, "Service!" and lashed at the ball. It floated over the net after a while, and I dinked it back. The game was on.

A few minutes later I was still wondering what I was doing out here with this gabby little runt, when he announced the end of the first game. He had won it!

I won my serve, but he forced me into a deuce game first. Then he won his service again. With one eye on the driveway watching for the manager, I slopped around the court, chasing his short chops that dropped just over the net like lead footballs, or else spun up into the glaring sun making me squint and stretch. Soon it was 5-2, his favor.

This was ridiculous. We had only one spectator, a small-bodied girl...

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