Along comes a history of tennis from its beginnings in 1870 when Major Walter Wingfield invented and patented it until 1996 shortly before the author's death. The author believes that the upper class is necessary for a good civilization and good tennis. He deplores the growth of pro tennis and modern stadiums especially Flushing Meadow and believes that the quality of the game has declined form the glory days of the 19th century when the twins Renshaw, Doherty and Battersly won 80% of the Wimbledon singles and doubles titles during the first 30 years. Particular mention should be noted of Arthur Wentworth Gore who entered Wimbledon 35 times and won the singles title 3 times and again in 1908 at the age of 40 and won his last singles match there at 55 years.

The author was a sociology professor at Penn who deployed quantitative analysis and his analysis and predictions of the declining level of the game and the declining sportsmanship has proved completely wrong as have most of his analysis. Yet he should have known better because he was number 1 man on the Penn team in 1937 when Tukdeb was at his height.

The book was fascinating to me as many of the tennis players moved over to squash after their tennis career had waned and I knew many of them, and there are more interesting anecdotes and record in this tennis book than any other. Some examples: shortly after tennis's founding Oxford had 66 grass courts and they were all occupied by students. The Doherty brothers won Wimbledon singles and doubles 10 times in the 1900s and probably are the third and fourth best tennis players ever. The Sears family won the US national championships 12 times and Eleonora Sears, their daughter, won the national doubles 6 times. Tilden won a 6 and under championship at the age of 8 (with future national champions entered into it). The Titanic had two two survivors who played Davis Cup for the US Narsi Williams and Karl Behr who played the one and only squash match on the boat before the water reached the tin.

*Baltzwell considers Tilden the best player ever and there are some beautiful anecdotes of how the French 4 horsemen studied his game in the 1920s and then beat him soundly by hitting the ball on the half volley. They were helped in the Davis cup when Coceh was a referee of the Tilden Lacoste game and refused to call a Lacoste shot out in the win for France. The Dwights and Davis and Fred Taylor (the founder of scientific management were the best American players in the 1900s and ruled the game Perezs of the USLTA for 30 years. They lived across the street from each other on Beacon Hill and always wore bachelors button.) The Newport tennis casino was founded by William Bennet after he was thrown out and fought a duel with his would be bride's brother for drunkenness on the wedding day. (to be continued)





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1 Comment so far

  1. Thomas Gleeson on July 7, 2019 5:49 pm

    Mr. Niederhoffer. I am from Bermuda and had the honor of meeting you at The Raquet & Tennis Club on Park Avenue for tea in the 90s. I worked in Reinsurance. I thought of you recently and that led me to this article. You may be aware that Bermuda introduced lawn tennis to America. This accomplished by a Bermudian named Mary Ewing Outerbridge in 1874 as I read it. This by way of soldiers in the British Army reporting to Major Wingfield who brought the rules and equipment to the Island whilst stationed there.

    I trust all is well with you and wishing you the best.

    Thomas Gleeson


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