The Wimbledon men's champion is a West German, Boris Becker. The fellow he beat, native South African Kevin Curren, has Texas roots only slightly less firm than the Wimbledon women's winner, Fort Worth-based Martina Navratilova.

The French Open was won by a Swede, Mats Wilander, over Czech Ivan Lendl. Yet another of Bjorn Borg's tennis pups, Michael Pernfors, won the NCAA singles the last two years and also led Georgia to the team title last season. (Wonder how many in Stockholm were yelling: "How 'bout them Dawgs?")

The highest flier in track and field and the best amateur basketball player in the world are Soviets, pole vaulter Sergei Bubka and 7-foot Arvidas Sabonis.

The Masters golf tournament was won by another West German, Bernhard Langer; a Taiwanese, T.C. Chen, led the U.S. Open for three-plus rounds, and foreign players finished two-three-four behind Andy North.

The only pitcher in either major baseball league to win 15 games so far this year, Joaquin Andujar, was born in the Dominican Republic.

In basketball, the most pivotal player to join the NBA in years, Patrick Ewing, is a native of Jamaica. And the most intriguing new figure is from Sudan, Manute Bol.

A colleague, Time magazine's Tom Callahan, mentioned some prominent "Texas" pro athletes: Curren and Navratilova, Nigerian Akeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets, and West Germans Detlef Schrempf and Uwe Blab, drafted in the first round by the Dallas Mavericks.

Callahan joked that the Cowboys might start roaming the world for someone to lift them back to NFL dominance. In truth, they once did -- and Austrian Toni Fritsch was quite productive as a kicker for several years.

So what's going on? Is the United States in an athletic slump?


Is the rest of the globe determined to give us a serious run for pro money and amateur prestige?

Seems so.

Just a lob away, in the D.C. National Bank Tennis Classic at the Rock Creek Tennis Stadium, the accent is on accents. Which is neat.

On the Stadium Court Wednesday afternoon, a Spaniard (Diego Perez) was upsetting an Australian (Paul McNamee); on two side courts at the same time, an Austrian (Thomas Muster) was surprising a Paraguan (Victor Pecci) and two Yugloslavs (Slobodan Zivojinovic and Bruno Oresar) were going at each other.

The featured matches yesterday afternoon included a Peruvian, two Argentines, a Yugoslav, a South African and, oh, yes, a guy from just north of the Equator, Mark Dickson of Tampa, Fla.

"The best players in several countries are being pulled out and sponsored by their federations," said Nick Bollettieri, whose junior tennis academy in Florida has been both praised and criticized by tennis thinkers. "Some of them (he mentioned Becker and a couple Swedes) have given up their education.

"My good friend Arthur Ashe has gotten on the academy for turning players pro too soon. But those who did have done well as pros.

"And in the last two years, of 77 graduates, 74 have gotten either partial or total scholarships to college."

"The public parks is where it's at, as far as I'm concerned," Jimmy Connors said. "That's where the most talent is. The country club atmosphere is too easy.

"Besides, there's a lot of young American talent that either still is in college or has not yet made the transition (to professional)."

Connors also emphasized that a couple of fair U.S. strokers, himself and John McEnroe, are not yet ready to be trampled too often by such as Becker and the sweet-swinging Swedish children.

"I wouldn't push my boy at a young age," added Connors, glancing at his traveling partner, son Brett, 5. "I'd hold him back, give him experience in age groups and then in college. If he was good all along the way, and still wanted it, I'd let him go on from there."


Enough Americans get born under the proper sign -- the dollar sign -- that this recent run of foreign good fortune seems likely not to last too long.

And if the rest of the world continues to prosper, by whatever widely accepted means, so what? The idea always has been excellence, hasn't it?

The possibility of someone from the Far East winning made the U.S. Open golf tournament thrilling. Then Chen proved as capable as any obscure U.S. pro of failing to cope with Open pressure.

So, rather than being upset about folks raised on soil other than our own doing exceptionally well lately, I'm applauding. The more who strive, the better for sport.

Excuse me while I try to root Greg Norman home in that other tournament Americans all but had a patent on until last year -- the British Open.