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The 2010 US Open will feel the outer effects of Hurricane Earl on Friday, but it won’t be the first time the tournament was affected by a hurricane named Earl so to speak.

Back in 1951, as documented in my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com) Earl Cochell created such a stir at the U.S. Championships that Allison Danzig of the New York Times described the events as “scenes almost unparalleled at Forest Hills,” the site of the U.S. Championships (the modern day US Open) at the time.

Cochell was a top 10 U.S. ranked player and standout player from the University of Southern California who was the runner-up to Tony Trabert at the 1951 NCAA Championships. Cochell was playing in a round of 16 match at the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills against Gardnar Mulloy and after splitting the first two sets, Mulloy jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third set. Sensing that he was going to lose the third set, Cochell started to throw the set in order to save energy for the fourth and potential fifth set. In his book “As It Was,” Mulloy wrote, “It appeared then that Earl was throwing the set for being so far behind and saving his energy for the fourth set, a tactic players often employ. Usually when one dumps a set they take chances and run the opponent as much as possible without extending themselves. This Earl did not do.”

With Mulloy serving at 4-1, Cochell did not even attempt to make a return of serve allowing aces to fly passed him without any effort. The crowd began to boo. Serving at 1-5, Cochell hit serves underhand and did not move to make a play on Mulloy’s return of serve. As the crowd continued to heckle, berate and boo Cochell, the California began screaming back to the vocal fans. The chair umpire implored Cochell to “Play Tennis” Mulloy explained in his book and “With his admonishment, Earl ran over, climbed the umpire stand, attempted to grab the microphone, and in essence said angrily, “You bawl me out and it goes over the mike, which is unfair as my voice cannot be heard beyond the first row. And furthermore, I can play tennis any way I want to.””

Serving a 0-40, Cochell placed another first serve in and again did not make a play on Mulloy’s return of serve. Game and third set to Mulloy 6-1. As was customary at the time, players took a 10-minute break between the third and fourth sets and Cochell left the court amid a barrage of catcalls. Wrote Mulloy, “Upon leaving the court for the locker room under the stadium, Earl turned to face the jeering crowd, stopped, and holding his racket handle up, gestured it at them like a road rage middle finger. The crowd loved it, and the boos of course intensified.”

After being threatened with disqualification by officials of the United States Tennis Association, Cochell returned to the court after the break and lost the fourth set 6-2 to lose the match without further incident outside of continued boos.

Following the tournament, the USTA ended up suspending Cochell for life from tournament play and never competed again!



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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

One Response to “There Was Another Hurricane Earl at the US Open”

  1. Peter M. Arel July 31, 2012

    THE WTA NEEDS TO BE FORCED TO ACT AGAINST “CHEATING” BY FEMALE TENNIS PLAYERS;A FAN-LED BOYCOTT OF WOMEN’S TENNIS WOULD SHOW THAT FANS WON’T WATCH WOMEN’S TENNIS AS LONG AS THIS SORT OF “GAMESMANSHIP” IS ALLOWED TO GO UNCHECKED AND UNPUNISHED! THE FANS WHO ARE BOTHERED BY THE SCREAMING CAN DO THIS EITHER BY KEEPING THEIR TV SETS TUNED TO OTHER PROGRAMMING AND/OR WALKING OUT ON THE “SCREAMERS” WHEN THEY BEGIN SCREAMING DURING THEIR MATCHES!