Ashe at the U.S. Open in 1975 Photo courtesy Valentine Richmond History Center, Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection
The U.S. Open returns this month, marking the 45th anniversary of Arthur Ashe's historic 1968 win, but this is also the anniversary of another big victory for Ashe. Fifteen days prior, on Aug. 25, 1968, the Richmond native captured the U.S. amateur singles title. He remains the only player to win both.
His opponent in the finals was Bob Lutz, a teammate on the United States' 1968 Davis Cup squad. After winning the third set 10-8, Lutz was up two sets to one in the best-of-five match. During a break before the fourth set, Lutz went into the locker room to take a shower and change while Ashe stayed out on the court. "That seemed to work for him," says Lutz, who lost the fourth set 6-0 and went on to lose the match. "He was just in the zone."
Lutz was a U.S. Open champion himself in 1968, winning the men's doubles title with longtime partner Stan Smith. (Lutz and Ashe later played doubles together as pros for a year while Smith was in the Army.)
All three players had traveled to Richmond for a first-round Davis Cup tie at Byrd Park in May 1968, where Lutz won his only Davis Cup singles match. "I was 1-0," he says.
Today, Lutz is part owner of the San Clemente Tennis and Fitness Club in California, where he still gives lessons. Lutz, who attended Ashe's 1993 funeral in Richmond, remembers 1968 as a great year for tennis, with many fond memories of Ashe and his other Davis Cup teammates. "Davis Cup back then, it was a little bit more [involved] than it is now. … So you end up building a great rapport with the guys you're with."