Arthur Ashe, captain of the U.S. Davis Cup tennis team for the past five years, announced his resignation Tuesday, less than 24 hours after reports indicated he had been told his contract would not be renewed.
A new captain will be selected next week, said J. Randolph Gregson, president of the U.S. Tennis Assn., said at Scottsdale, Ariz., where the USTA management committee is meeting and considering a consultant's study to streamline the organization.
Stan Smith, like Ashe a U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion, is considered one of the leading candidates for the job. Smith said he already has spoken with Gregson about the job. Other former top players, who have been mentioned as possible candidates to replace Ashe, are Marty Riessen and Brian Gottfried.
In a statement released by the ProServ agency in Washington, Ashe said that he had talked several weeks ago to Gregson and Gordon Jorgensen, USTA vice president and chairman of the Davis Cup committee, and told them that if they felt a change was necessary, he would step down. Ashe called his resignation "in the best interests of me personally and of the team."
Although USTA officials have said Ashe's health--he has had a heart attack and two bypass operations--was a factor in his resignation, Ashe said that it wasn't. "It hasn't interfered in my Davis Cup captaincy," he said.