When the U. S. indoor tennis championships started last week in Manhattan, several players looked good enough to win. First to fall was Jean Borotra of France. Declared the four-time winner: "I am getting too old. It looks like ping-pong next for me." George Lott, who limped with a sore toe, and Andre Merlin, French indoor titlist, went out in the quarterfinals. Frank Shields, No. 1 ranking U. S. player, and Sidney Wood, No. 6, were dropped in the semifinals.
Two were left: Gregory Mangin, chunky, quick-footed champion, and Lester Stoefen, willowy 6 ft. 32 in. Californian having his first try at the national indoor competition. Stoefen blazed dazzling serves, made his backhand whine with deadly effect, won nine straight games. Mangin speeded up, caught and passed Stoefen. When he was within one point of winning the second set and tying the match, his serve broke the frame of Stoefen's racquet. But a footfault was called and he had to serve over. From that point on. Stoefen won his way through to become the new indoor champion. Score: 6-1, 8-6, 6-4.
Lester Rollo Stoefen is 22. Born on a lonely Iowa farm, he thrived in Los Angeles, growing 6 in. in his 17th year, in. more in his 18th. He started tennis at 16; later than most good players. After teaching himself on the public courts, he beat John Doeg (1930 champion) in a match in 1930 without the semblance of a backhand. During the past year he has improved rapidly, climbing from 6th to 3rd ranking. Since the retirement of Ellsworth Vines as an amateur, he may easily become a U. S. topnotcher.