It cost him five years of grand slam silverware, but Australian great Rod Laver says the decision to turn professional made him twice the player he was as an amateur.When Laver cleaned up all four grand slam titles in 1962 it seemed ludicrous to suggest he could get any better.But the man nicknamed Rocket was in for a shock when he joined the professional ranks a year later — a move that put his grand slam collection on hold until 1968 when tennis entered a new Open era.”When I look back, when I turned pro I was shellshocked,” Laver, who will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking 1967 Wimbledon Pro tournament at the All England Club next week, told Reuters.”I played Ken Rosewall and Lew Hoad and all these guys and I realised that my game was so bad against the pros that I almost had to re-learn so much of the tennis.”I could win in the amateurs and not really have to improve so much. When I turned pro I thought to myself I’m pretty good but I had a shock, I got beaten all the time.”I played Lew Hoad 12 or 13 times when I first turned pro and couldn’t beat him once.”Before 1968, tennis was split between amateurs, who were allowed to play in the grand slams, and professionals – like Rosewall, Pancho Gonzales, Hoad and Laver – who could not.They played instead on a professional circuit that included the World Professional Championships at Wembley.advertisementThe 1967 Wimbledon Pro event, which took place a few weeks after the actual Championships that year, paved the way for the decision to allow professionals to play in the slams.Laver, now 78, returned with a vengeance winning Wimbledon in 1968 before going on to win another calendar slam in 1969 — the only player to achieve the feat twice.”I improved 100 percent as a professional while I was unable to play in the majors,” Laver said.”I know that a lot of amateur officials and players thought that the pros couldn’t be very good because we just played against ourselves all the time… so I told them they shouldn’t believe that.”The pros were tough and fast and you needed a big first serve and good second serve. You had to play more of a percentage game that we see today. As an amateur you didn’t need to do that and you would still win.”We didn’t have to practise much either because we just played matches. I remember playing 28 days in a row in Europe.”While Laver says the brave move of Wimbledon to invite professionals helped transform tennis into the success story it now is, he says it would be wrong to discount the amateur era as any less important.”You can’t forget people like (Bill) Tilden, (Don) Budge and (Fred) Perry because they are the ones that made the game,” he said.
Cultural artisans in the diaspora are being encouraged to make legal deposit of creative works with the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ). The call comes from State Minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Alando Terrelonge, who said that this is important in preserving and promoting Jamaica’s rich culture.Mr. Terrelonge noted that while such deposit by overseas nationals is not a requirement under the law “it is important that our writers and authors who are producing material outside of Jamaica make their contribution as well”.“It is important because it does form a part of that cultural heritage that truly belongs to the people of Jamaica. It says that we continue to make an impact not only at home but also abroad,” he said. He was speaking at the launch of Legal Deposit Month 2018 on Thursday (October 11) at the NLJ, downtown Kingston.Mr. Terrelonge is appealing for locally based artistes to fulfil their legal obligation by submitting copies of their works to the NLJ. Failure to comply is an offence that attracts a fine not exceeding $50,000. “What we really want is for Jamaicans to comply… . We need your material for the benefit of the next generation, so we have a compilation of our culture/history,” he said. “Jamaica’s publishers, producers, self-produced authors, composers, playwrights, film-makers and artistes of all respects should make every effort to make their legal deposits,” he appealed.Chairman of the Board of Management for the NLJ, Joy Douglas, said that the entity is on “an aggressive move to have Jamaicans abroad realise that their work must make it into the national collection of Jamaica”.Ms. Douglas said the relevant ministries, agencies, embassies and high commissions are being encouraged to assist in this regard.The NLJ is partnering with Fontana Pharmacy to organise a series of activities throughout October in observance of Legal Deposit Month.These include a publishers and writers seminar on October 17 at the Medallion Hall Hotel, St. Andrew; and a reading, music and film session, dubbed ‘Lyrical Fuzion’, on October 31 at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) Lecture Theatre, downtown Kingston. These events will be held from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.Legal Deposit Month seeks to raise awareness about the Legal Deposit Act, which was passed in 2002 and came into effect in 2004. The law requires Jamaicans to deposit copies of their works with the NLJ. These deposits become a record of the nation’s published heritage.For more information on activities of Legal Deposit Month, persons can contact the NLJ at: (876) 967-2494 or visit nlj.gov.jm.