Vitas Gerulaitis, the flamboyant former professional tennis player, was found dead in a guest cottage on Long Island Sunday afternoon. He was 40.
An autopsy was performed yesterday by Suffolk County's acting chief medical examiner, Stuart L. Dawson, but the preliminary findings were described as inconclusive. Late last night the police in Southampton, L.I., said that Gerulaitis apparently died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
"No grossly identifiable disease or injury, which could have caused death or contributed to death, was present," said a brief statement issued after the initial examination. The statement said results of thorough toxicological studies being conducted in an effort to pinpoint the cause of death should be available later this week.
In the meantime, friends and fans of the high-spirited man with the long, shaggy hair who had thrilled them during a 14-year career that ended in 1985 could only wonder.
"We're still in a state of shock," said Jack Whitaker, the television sports commentator who had been with Mr. Gerulaitis on Saturday at a charity tennis clinic at the Racquet Club of East Hampton, where Mr. Gerulaitis had demonstrated the volley to some 60 corporate sponsors of the Cartier Grand Slam tennis tournament in spite of a bad back that had forced him to withdraw from a senior tournament last week.
When he left the clinic Saturday afternoon, Mr. Whitaker said, Mr. Gerulaitis promised to attend a party at the Whitaker residence in Bridgehampton that night. When he didn't show up, Mr. Whitaker said he had assumed that Mr. Gerulaitis was simply nursing his back.
It was not clear when Mr. Gerulaitis had died or when he had been last seen at the Southhampton estate of his friend Martin Raynes, where his body was discovered by a housekeeper at 3 P.M. Sunday. Mr. Raynes, a real estate investor and a friend of Mr. Gerulaitis's since the 1970's, did not return phone calls yesterday, and neither the police nor the medical examiner's office would elaborate on statements issued during the day.
His only Grand Slam singles title was the Australian Open in 1977, but from then until 1983 Mr. Gerulaitis was never out of the top ten in the international ranking, and his legendary reflexes and foot speed were awesome even in defeat, as was the case most notably in his five-set loss to Bjorn Borg in the 1977 Wimbledon semifinals.
A guitar player with long, curly blond hair, a quick wit and a penchant for the night life, Mr. Gerulaitis was well-known for his conduct off the court. He was treated for substance abuse and he was implicated, though never charged, in a cocaine-dealing conspiracy in 1983.
Born in Brooklyn on July 26, 1954, Mr. Gerulaitis was raised to play tennis by his father, Vitas Gerulaitis Sr., a former Lithuanian and Baltic States champion who spent decades as a tennis teacher in the United States before his death in 1991.
Starting on the clay courts of Highland Park, Brooklyn, Mr. Gerulaitis progressed to parks in Queens, the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, and the Port Washington Tennis Academy on Long Island. He was a ball boy at Forest Hills, for decades the site of the United States Open, and he worked on the ground crew there as a teen-ager. After a year at Columbia University, he joined the professional tour in 1971.
Over the next 14 years, he won 27 tournaments and almost $2.8 million. In addition to his Australian Open title, he reached the finals of the United States Open in 1979, losing to John McEnroe, and the 1980 French Open, where he lost to Bjorn Borg.
His game declined in 1983, but he came back in 1984 at age 30. Then, a year later, he surprised many of his colleagues by retiring.

Tonight was supposed to be the start of the new semester for the English class but unfortunately the school where we have taught for years ended the contract and the coordinator has been looking for an alternative school to house over 25o students...with the Holidays this has proved very hard and to date there is no new location for us so classes have been cancelled until the problem is resolved.....
This is sad for the students but I am in the process of reaching out to them by e mail and if possible will meet with them later this week maybe in a downtown cafe where we can continue with class by just sitting around and talking!!

Yashi Kochi!!!