Someone should take Tom Boswell aside and say, "Look, Tom, the 19th century is over." I refer to his complaint ("Image Over Substance") that Andre Agassi is not a "gentleman" and, therefore, not to be taken seriously as the fourth-ranked tennis player in the world.

Agassi's chief offense, if I understand Boswell correctly, is that he does not wear traditional whites and definitely does not favor close-cropped hair. In other words, his having the wrong fashion designer and wrong barber places him on a lower moral plane than his opponent in the U.S. Open final, Pete Sampras, who is to be seen in conventional whites and a medium-trim hair style.

It seems Boswell hasn't looked very carefully at Agassi's court demeanor, which, except for one unfortunate outburst, has been exemplary. For example, in his semifinal against Boris Becker, Agassi was a model of deportment, while it was Becker (another of Boswell's favorite "gentlemen") who whined, complained, and threw temper tantrums throughout the match.

Boswell's obsession with gentlemanliness seems to have blinded him to the fact that Agassi took his humiliating thrashing from Sampras without complaint, even saying after the match: "The better player won out there today."

Burling Lowrey


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