Tennis pros in this town set the pace for more than smooth strokes or court tactics. Simply by their choice of clothes they set a standard for simple, ungimmicky tennis garb that doesn't get in the way of their play.
Most opt for no frills, no sweat bands, no trinkets and little color. "Sure I wear sun-glasses and a watch," says Pauline Betz Addie. "I'm a teacher so I have to see my pulils, and I have to know what time it is," says the former world champion and four-time national champion who is director of the tennis program at Sidwell Friends, runs a tennis camp at Holton Arms School and is professional at the Cabin John indoor courts.
Addie found the solution to her tennis clothes problem when a friend made her a dozen short, whit wrap skirts. "I was having trouble getting the right length," she says. "And these have a side opening that gives me lots of freedom." With them she always wears a knitted shirt, often with a strip of color.
Allie Ritzenberg at St. Albans doesn't like wearing a hat or glasses. "I don't like anything bounding around," he says. The exception is a silver tennis ball charm he sometimes wears. It was given to finalists in national championships, says Ritzenberg, who recently added the Israeli Single title to his many others.
He's very outspoken about his disapproval of designer-label, contrived tennis outfits. "Whatever is comfortable, that's what is right for tennis," he says. He wears basic sweatsuit pants early in the morning with a sweater and sheds down to a cotton knit top and shorts as he gets warmer.
His trademark is managing to hold as many as 10 tennis balls at once. He cradles them against a white sweater or shirt as he feeds them to pupils. "The slate gray color from the court comes off on the ball onto my sweater or shirt," he says, "but I can't find an alternative to that."
Edward (Eddie) Davis, Howard University tennis coach and pro at the Hains Point and 16th and Kennedy Streets courts, as well as advance coach for the National Junior Tennis League, rarely wears exclusively white. "I've never gone the traditional route," says the recent winner of singles and doubles in the Takoma Blimpies Open.
Davis picked up his tennis skills working for the District of Columbia's Recreation Department. "Right now I'm worrying about my strokes. The fancy colors can come later," says Davis. But what he usually wears is the typical proformula of knitted white shirts with a stripe of color and short, notched-hem pants.
Ann McClure, U.S.P.T.A. certified pro at the Arlington Y Tennis and Squash Club, is convinced the swing to bright colors is in reverse now because the colors accentuate perspiration. For herself, she wears white 80 percent of the time. In winter months she takes to separates so she can peel off layer starting with a warm-up suit, and in summer she likes tennis dresses. She wears gold pierced earrings and thin gold chains because they don't get in her way.
While many tennis costumes have added pockets to cope with tennis balls for the inceasing number of two-hand backhanders, McClure is more comfortable tucking the extra tennis ball inside the elastic of her tennis panties.
She has always liked tennis clothes. "I guess I started teaching tennis," she says, "because I was feeling guilty about all the money I was spending on tennis clothes." CAPTION: Picture 1, Pauline Betz Addie reaches for what's most comfortable for teaching and playing. It's always a white wrap skirt and cotton knit shirt, sometimes in a pastel color.; Picture 2, Eddie Davis repeats the blue shoulder stripes on his shirt on his white socks, but only by accident, he says. But he never wears all white - "I didn't learn the traditional way and I don't dress traditionally," he says.; Picture 3, Allie Ritzenberg cuddles an armload of tennis balls against his white V-neck sweater and white knit shirt that he wears with basic navy sweat pants for early morning teaching.; Ann McClure in summer, is most at ease in a white knit tennis dress simply because "that's what looks best on me." She's aware that others watch her style of dress so she tends to change styles rather than repeat favorites. Photographs by Rhoda Baer