SAIGON — The victorious U.S. Davis Cup tennis team took the spotlight away from politics and the war for a few hours here.

Five of America's top tennis stars, headed by U.S. open champion Arthur Ashe, and three tenacious and surprisingly talented Vietnamese court men treated a standing-room-only crowd of 1,400 to three exhibition matches at the Cercle Sportif,

In the feature windup, Ashe, generally rated the world's top amateur, and Charlie Pasarell, one of his chief rivals, played to a two-set tie with teammates Bob Lutz and Stan Smith, 4-6, 6-3.

Earlier, Davis Cup captain Donald Dell and Smith teamed to overpower perennial Vietnamese champion Vo Van Thanh and Vo Van Bay, 8-6, 6-0, and Lutz outgunned Luu Hoang Due, Vietnam's No. 1 amateur, 7-5, 6-3.

In both contests the Vietnamese did themselves proud. Thanh and Bay broke Smith's serve once, only to lose two of their own in the 11th and 13th games: After that it was less than a rout, even though the locals failed to win a game. Duc matched Lutz — five-set loser to Ashe in the 1968 U.S. Amateur finals — stroke for stroke through seven games.

Then the hefty American's power began to tell. Due broke Lute's` service in the seventh game and promptly lost his own in the eighth. From there it was all Lutz:.

"They look pretty good," Pasarell observed, watching the first doubles match. "That guy. there (Duc, warming up) looks like an old pro."

What did the American netmen think of Saigon turning out for tennis. in the midst of war?

"Well, I'm not surprised," Ashe said. "I'd heard about it from friends. I'm not surprised at it being this way. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if a rocket dropped in here either."

Later, playing under lights so dim that the referee had to rely on the crowd to call at least one close line shot, Ashe unveiled some rockets of his own. After losing the first set to Lutz and Smith, he and Pasarell loosed a cannonade of serves and enough delicacy around the net to keep their abbreviated series square. So far each team has won once. The doubles duel was to continue this week in Hong Kong.

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