The 1985 U.S. Davis Cup team might look and act very differently from the squad that represented the United States in the 1984 final in Sweden.
Conflicts between team captain Arthur Ashe and superstars John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, and growing unrest about the behavior of the two likely will lead to new conduct guidelines and might result in Connors' departure from the team.
During the final-round 4-1 defeat by Sweden in December, McEnroe and Connors were criticized heavily for their behavior during singles losses the first day; Connors was fined $2,500. Among those complaining was Harry A. Merlo, chairman of Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, sponsor of the Davis Cup team.
In a two-page letter to Davis Cup Chairman Gordon Jorgensen, Merlo wrote that the U.S. team "fails badly when it comes to living up to minimum behavior standards on the court, during awards ceremonies and at other offical Davis Cup events . . . Abusive language, gestures, abuse of racquets, balls and courtside accessories -- all such irresponsible and immature behavior should not be tolerated."
Connors, who has played Davis Cup sporadically over the years, almost certainly won't play in the United States' opening-round match in Japan in March and might not play at all during the year.
Tonight, Connors refused comment on whether he will play Davis Cup this year, but expressed displeasure at Merlo's letter. "I resent finding out about this from a carbon copy letter," he said. "McEnroe and I are big boys. If someone had something to say they could say it to our face."