For anyone wondering why the public prints and airwaves carried no pearls of wisdom last week from Eddie Dibbs, the No. 1 seed in the $125,000 Volvo tennis tournament here, the answer is quite simple. You don't get pearls from a clam.
Dibbs followed the closed-mouth example of such notably petulant professional athletes as Jimmy Connors, Thurman Munson and Ken Stabler in refusing to speak to any wretch carrying a notebook or microphone.
"Would you come into the interview room for a few minutes?" he was asked after his first and second round victories, and his quarterfinal loss to Marty Riessen.
"No way," snarled the pugnacious, 5-foot-7 Dibbs, who last summer went into a snit at the Washington Star International tournament because a reporter from the sponsoring newspaper likened him lightheartedly to "Grumpy," of the Seven Dwarfs.
Grumpy is as Grumpy does, but what brought on Dibbs' latest blue funk?
Evidently he was disturbed by several observations that appeared in this space last Sunday, notably:
That the Volvo tournament would have been more appealing to the man in the street if at least one of the top five players in the world -- Bjorn Borg, Connors, John McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas or Vitas Gerulaitis -- had entered;
That many modern tennis players are spoiled, lacking a sense of responsibility to their sport and unappreciative of the tournaments, sponsors, and paying customers who make their six-figure annual incomes possible; and
That Dibbs, outstanding player though he mat be, is not really a star of $500,000-a-year magnitude, and should be grateful for the tournament system that enabled him to win that much prize money, plus bundles more in endorsements and fringe benefits, in 1978 alone.
Poor Eddie did not like reading this, and so he deicded to do as Connors did last September for most of the U.S. Open. He pouted and refused to talk to the press, any press.
Which just proves that he is more of a prima donna than originally suspected.
The fact of the matter is that Eddie Dibbs is neither as good a tennis player nor as big a star as Jimmy Connors. He is Jimbo's equal only in childishness and bad manners.
And if it is of any consolation to the readers and listeners he cares so little about, "Grumpy" probably wouldn't have had much of interest to say anyway.
Fortunately, there are still nice guys in tennis -- including the four Volvo singles semifinalists: Arthur Ashe and Marty Riessen, both holdovers from a more classy and cooperative generation of players, Roscoe Tanner and Brian Gottfried, contemporaries of Dibbs who are not so tetchy.
They all had plenty of interesting things to say -- about such farflung subjects as:
Hair. "When you're leaning over to receive serve, it's amazing how just one strand in your eyes can distract you," said Tanner, noting how the new curly coiffure both he and Riessen are sporting has helped their tennis. "My hair's about the same length as it was when it was straight, but now it's out of mny face.
"One thing I'm working on this year is concentration. If I was spending just 5 percent of my concentration in the past on getting the hair out of my face, that's five percent more I can give to tennis."
Babies. "I think I'm playing really well right now because I'm happy. You do everthing better when you feel good," said expectant father Gottfried, whose wife Windy is at home in Bonaventure, Fla., awaiting birth of their first child.
The little one is due in about three weeks. Meanwhile wives of Gottfried's colleagues have been taking turns spending time with the motherto-be. Sharon (Mrs. Bob) Lutz was on call last week. Harold and Jan Solomon, at home in Pompano Beach while Harold recovers from a broken foot, did their duty this week. Julie (Mrs. Tom) Gullikson is scheduled for maternity watch next week.
"I'm not ducking the thing. I've got a flight schedule on the table, I'm ready to jump on a plane anytime," says Gottfried. "I'm playing in New Orleans next week, then I have five weeks off. I'm just tickled about the whole thing."
Basketball. "Today's players are just unbelievable. The guys in college now play like the pros did when I was in college," says Riessen, a starting guard for the Northwestern University varsity in 1962-64, when the Big Ten featured such physical All-America hoopster as Dick and Tom Van Arsdale, Archie Clark, Cazzie Russell, Lou Hudson and Walt Bellamy.
Riessen played more tennis than basketball at Northwestern, but got a basketball scholarship so that the tennis coach could get an extra recruit. The tennis coach was Clare Riessen, Marty's dad.
Love sets. "Sometimes players don't like to win a set 6-0, because it puts too much pressure on them. They figure the opponent is embarrassed and will get even," said Ashe, who beat Lutz, 6-4, 0-6, 7-5, in the first round.
"The guy who wins a 6-0 set starts thinking, 'I can't play any better than this. I can't sustain this level of excellence,' so he almost wants to lose a game to get back to normal.
"Besides, momentum in a tennis match doesnht carry over from one set to another. The object is to win the most sets, not games, so when the set is over, the tachometer clicks back to zero."
A familiar figure at the tournament, making service line calls loudly and authoritatively, has been Zeno Pfau, chairman of the Washington Area Tennis Officials Association.
"When a serve is long," wondered United Press International correspondent Marc Jaffe, "I wonder if Mr. Pfau calls 'Pfault.'"