A four-man delegation from the International Tennis Federation has ended a 10-day tour with an unsuccessful bid to get the three national tennis bodies in South Africa which are structured along racial lines, to form one multiracial tennis organization.
The formation of one integrated organization was considered a necessity to solve South Africa's Tennis problems, said Phillipe Chatrier, who headed the delegation.
The failure of the three groups to unite is expected to increase pressure on the all-white tennis body, the South African Tennis Union, to withdraw from the ITF and from the North American Zone finals of the Davis Cup to be played in Nashville, Tenn., in March.
The South African Tennis Union and the two other groups, the nonracial but predominantly Indian and colored Southern Africa Lawn Tennis Union and the mainly black South African National Lawn Tennis Union, have agreed to meet again soon to discuss a merger.
The Indian and black groups had demanded that before any multiracial body could be set up, the all-white body must disaffiliate itself from the ITF and the ITF must declare a moratorium on South African participation in international matches, either abroad or inside South Africa.
Blen Franklin, head of the all-white group, said his tennis union could not accept the moratorium because it was "impractical and legally unenforceable." Franklin said he thought that if the ITF imposed a moratorium on South Africa's professional tennis players, it would be "slapped with an injunction" by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).
The white union proposed instead that the three bodies form a committee to write a constitution for a new multiracial group, which would apply to ITF for affiliation. But the two non-white bodies said their two conditions for forming this multiracial body were not negotiable.
The ITF delegation was in South Africa to get "a reasonable picture" of what progress had been made in integrating South African sports activities. The four ITF representatives traveled to three cities, met with Sports Minister Piet Koornhof and met leaders in cricket, soccer and rugby, in addition to tennis.
The report of their findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the 103 ITF members at Stockholm in July. South Africa's continued membership is expected to be attacked there.
The United States Tennis Association has told ITF it can no longer support South Africa's membership and would vote against its continued presence at the July meeting.
Both the USTA and some members of the ITF delegation have suggested it would be to South Africa's advantage to withdraw from the federation rather than be expelled. Readmittance to the world body after suspension requires a two-thirds vote, but reapplication after a voluntary withdrawal does not.
Meanwhile, Franklin said he would have to "seriously think about" South Africa's continued participation in upcoming Davis Cup contests. Withdrawal by the South African Tennis Union would depend on "how many countries refuse to play," Franklin said.