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Lawn Tennis for Ladies by Mrs. Lambert Chambers

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[Illustration: Mrs. Lambert Chambers]





First published in 1910, London



As a rule an author writes a preface to explain or to apologize for a
book. I shall do neither: I have tried to explain my meaning simply and
clearly in the book itself, and I am optimistic enough to think that my
favourite game is too popular to require an apology for increasing its
literature, however unpretentious the attempt may be. Moreover, I am
still too much affected by the "brilliant and feverish glow" of
enthusiasm to dream of offering one.

Two things only I wish to say. First, that I am writing with no academic
pride, but only with a passionate fondness for what I consider a great
sport, and with a keen desire to make others equally devoted. Secondly,
I should like to thank all those who have assisted me with suggestions
and the loan of photographs, especially my "arena colleagues" who have
rallied round me so graphically in the last chapter.






From a photograph by Bowden Brothers.



From photographs by Dexter.



AT WIMBLEDON, 1905, 1907
From a photograph by Bowden Brothers.



From a photograph by Bowden Brothers.


A picture-postcard sent to Mrs. Lambert Chambers by Miss May Sutton
from her home in California.


From a photograph by Bowden Brothers.



From a photograph by G. & R. Lavis, Eastbourne.

From a photograph by G. & R. Lavis, Eastbourne.




I hope and believe there are comparatively few people who will deny that
athletics have done much for the health and mind of the modern girl.
Exercise in some form or other is essential, and although I am quite
ready to admit that games of the strenuous type, such as hockey and lawn
tennis, can be and sometimes are overdone, yet the girl of to-day, who
enters into and enjoys her game with scarcely less zest than her
brother, is, I am convinced, better in health and happier in herself
than the girl of the past generation. What are the objections to games
for girls? It seems to me the chief arguments against them are (1) that
they are injurious to health; (2) that they impair the womanliness of
woman; (3) that they mar her appearance. There may be something to be
said for these contentions, but to my mind the _pros_ materially
outweigh the _cons_.

As to the injury to health, I deny that the case is proved. Indeed,
evidence is rarely forthcoming. A delicate girl would probably become
more delicate if she did not play games in moderation and take exercise.
A friend of mine, an old doctor, told me the other day that in his youth
the great plague of his life was the hysterical female. She would put in
an appearance obtrusively at critical moments, and the anticipation of a
scene always shadowed his arrangements. We rarely see this type now.
Games have driven her away. The woman of the present generation is calm,
collected, and free from emotional outbursts, and I believe that
invigorating outdoor exercise is the chief cause. As to the second
objection, the injury to the womanliness of woman, the answer depends on
what is meant by the essential feature of "womanliness." I am afraid
most people, including most men, say with Hamlet, "Frailty, thy name is
woman." Womanliness to most men implies just frailty. They may perhaps
call it "delicacy," and refer to the "weaker sex," but they mean that
just as a man's glory is his strength, so a woman's glory is her
weakness. They argue that you must impair this "weakness" by strenuous
games. Is this true? Is the essential feature of a woman her weakness,
just as the essential feature of a man is his strength, not merely
physical, but mental and moral strength? I do not think so. Woman is a
second edition of man, if you will; therefore, like most second
editions, an improvement on the first! As Lessing puts it, "Nature
meant to make woman its masterpiece." I well remember reading in a
stirring narrative of the Indian Mutiny how a small party of English men
and women were besieged in their quarters by a body of rebels, and while
the men fought at the windows and doors the women were busy preparing
ammunition, loading guns, bandaging wounds, and zealously cheering their
war-worn defenders. When victory was at length achieved, the men asked
themselves what would have happened but for the women. That, to my mind,
was a picture of true "womanliness." Inferior in neither moral strength
nor brain-power, the true woman is a helpmeet, or man's complement,
giving him just the special form of strength in body and soul that he
needs for the special experience.

If this, then, be "womanliness," can athletic games injure it? Do they
spoil woman's usefulness as a woman? Do they damage her specific
excellence? Do they tend to give her less endurance and nerve at
critical times? I do not think so. Certainly lawn tennis does not. It is
undoubtedly a strenuous game. There is more energy of physical frame,
more brain-tax and will-discipline demanded in one hardly contested
match than would suffice for a whole day's devotion to many other games.
These requirements must help a woman, and in the possession of the
qualities that games bestow athletic girls have a great pull over their
sisters. If you are skilled and well drilled in discipline and
sportsmanship, you are bound to benefit in the strife of the world. You
are the better able to face disappointments and sorrows. For what do
these strenuous games mean? Exercise in the open air, and exercise of a
thorough and engrossing character, carried out with cheerful and
stimulating surroundings, with scientific methods, rational aims, and
absorbing chances. Surely that is the foundation of health culture.

The truth is, games have done for women what the dervish's subtle
prescription did for the sick sultan. You perhaps remember the story.
The sultan, having very bad health from over-feeding, sedentary habits,
and luxurious ease, consulted the clever dervish. The dervish knew that
it would be useless to recommend the sultan simply to take exercise. He
therefore said to him, "Here is a ball, which I have stuffed with
certain rare and costly medicinal herbs, and here is a bat, the handle
of which I have also stuffed with similar herbs. Your highness must take
this bat and with it beat about this ball until you perspire freely. You
must do this every day." His highness acquiesced, and in a short time
the exercise of playing bat and ball with the dervish greatly improved
his health, and by degrees cured him of his ailment. Now, the tennis
ball, to my mind, is stuffed with medicinal herbs which impart vigour
and health to the player. The racket is possessed with a magic handle
that has the power of quickening all the pulses of life in the plenitude
of healthy vigour and wholesome excitement. In a medical book now before
me the subject is put tersely thus: "Health and strength depend on rapid
disorganisation, and rapid disorganisation depends on rapid exertion."
Now, if this is true, what better and more interesting method of rapid
exertion could be devised than a game of lawn tennis? Body and mind
alike are wholly absorbed with the utmost rapidity, and there is no
doubt the sense of refreshment is largely due to the rapid exertion
demanded for the proper playing of the game. The medical book goes on to
say, "During exertion we drink, as it were, oxygen from the air." This
oxygen is the only stimulating drink we can take with lasting advantage
to ourselves for the purpose of invigorating our strength. It is the
wine and spirit of life, an abundance of which Nature has supplied us
with ready-made. If you are low-spirited, drink oxygen. Take active
exercise in the open air and inhale it. When next you see a lawn tennis
player hard at a strenuous game, remember he or she is not necessarily
overstraining or injuring health, but taking long, deep draughts of
oxygen, imbibing the wine and spirit of life and laying up a store of
vigour in readiness for the varied experiences of life.

Of all games lawn tennis is the one most suited to girls. Its claims are
many and potent. It is strenuous and very hard work, but if not overdone
it is not too taxing for the average girl. The exercise depends
naturally upon the nature of the game played and the players engaged,
from the championships to the garden-party patball game. The greater the
knowledge of the game the greater the enjoyment and benefit derived from
it, and there is really no reason why a girl should not excel at the
game and therefore thoroughly appreciate and enjoy it. It is not
physical and brute strength that is wanted so much as scientific
application--finesse, skill, and delicacy of touch, all of which women
are just as capable of exercising as men.

I am well aware that if you compare the lady champion of any year with
any first-class man of the same year you will find a great disparity
between their actual play. That is to say, the first-class man would be
able to give the lady champion thirty or even more in order to have a
close struggle. I have often played Mr. R.F. Doherty at the tremendous
odds of receive half-forty, and have not always been returned the winner
at that! I wonder sometimes why there is this pronounced discrepancy.
Garments may make a little difference, but they do not account for it
all. I think perhaps that man's stronger physique, naturally greater
activity, and severer strokes prevent the girl from playing her own
game. She has to be nearly always on the defensive, and thus plays with
less accuracy and power.

Another claim lawn tennis has for girls is that it is not an expensive
game. It is more or less within the reach of all, rich or poor. It can
be played on one's own lawn or at any of the numerous clubs situated all
over the world, or even nowadays in some of the public parks. The time
required to play a game is not excessive. The implements, rackets,
balls, nets, etc., are neither numerous nor prohibitive in price. The
club subscriptions are moderate, and the actual expenses of pursuing the
game are small as compared with golf.


Then, again, lawn tennis is not difficult to learn, although of course
by this I do not mean that it is an easy game to play well--far from it.
But a rudimentary idea of it suffices to give any one a good deal of
healthy exercise and enjoyment, and provided that one is keen and wishes
to improve, and possesses what is known as a good games' eye, there is
no reason why advance should not be rapid. It is also a pastime in which
women can combine with and compete against men without in any way
spoiling the game; and mixed doubles, to which I refer, are perhaps the
most popular department with the average spectator. I think I am not
wrong in saying that there is no other game at the present time in which
this combination of the sexes does not tend to minimize the enjoyment of
the player and the interest of the spectator. A mixed foursome at golf
is poor sort of fun for the man, unless the ladies are quite
first-class; the game is rather spoilt for him. Mixed hockey is an
abomination; splendid sport absolutely spoiled for both sexes. But a
mixed double at lawn tennis seems like a distinct game, so different is
it to the other forms of lawn tennis and so well adapted to the
combination of both sexes.

Then it is asserted that strenuous games mar the appearance of girls.
This charge was very deliberately brought against hockey for women some
little time ago in an influential London journal, and was rightly and
promptly answered by a spirited article with illustrations of some
well-known lady hockey players--proof positive of the fallacy that
hockey damaged their appearance. I am afraid most of these contortions
are the product of the snapshot camera. It must be remembered that
instantaneous photographs show players of games as they are really never
seen. Girls are doubtless in the ungraceful position represented for a
fraction of a second; but the time is too short for the eye to see,
although the camera, worse luck, catches the view, and what is more,
registers it for ever! Though a girl should always try to be as neat and
look as nice as she possibly can, even when playing a strenuous game, it
is hardly possible or natural to be "just so" every second of a long
struggle. In fact, I think it is more interesting to see a girl not
absolutely immobile. I prefer that she should show some signs of
excitement, that her muscles should be strained and her face set. This
has a very real pleasure of its own, and I do not think it unsightly.
Public speaking and singing may distort the mouth and disturb the facial
muscles to a most ludicrous extent and give the eyes quite an unnatural
appearance; but I have never yet heard it said that a man or woman
should give up either because of its effect upon the appearance. Why,
then, should women abandon athletic exercises, which they enjoy so much,
and which do them so much good, merely because, just for a moment or two
perhaps, their appearance is distorted?



Players, even tournament players, often ask how they can improve. "I
have been at the same stage so long; what can I do to play a better
game?" That is not infrequently the question. Now I think many who are
very anxious to advance go to work in the wrong way. To my mind, the
great point to remember when you are practising is not that the match
must be won, but that all your weak strokes must be improved. We all
know our special failures; if not, some kind friend will soon point them
out to us. Tackle these doggedly in practice. Strokes naturally avoided
in a match should be given as much experience as possible in a knock-up
game. It is the only way. Many players make the cardinal mistake of
playing day after day in the same way; they starve all their weak
strokes and overdo all their best ones; in fact, they play in precisely
the same manner as if the occasion were an important match. If you do
this, you must always preserve those weak strokes; they are not even
given a chance to develop. I once asked a girl whom I noticed
continually running round her back-hand in a practice game, why she did
this. The characteristic answer came back: "I cannot take a back hand. I
should be hopelessly beaten if I didn't run round the ball." But what
does it matter if you are beaten fifty times in a practice game if you
are improving your strokes? That girl's back-hand could never improve;
she made absolutely no distinction between a practice game and a match.
In fact, it was very little of a _practice_ game to her. How can your
game improve, or move forward, if you make no effort to strengthen what
is feeble?

Practise, then, conscientiously, and with infinite patience; never mind
who beats you. Take each weak stroke in turn, and determine to master
it, and I think you will find that you will be amply rewarded for all
your painstaking work by a vast improvement and keener enjoyment in your
game. What greater delight than to feel a stroke you have always dreaded
becoming easier and less embarrassing each time you use it, to know that
you are genuinely advancing instead of making no progress and playing
the same old bad shots time after time? I am sure you will say such a
sense of achievement is worth all the trouble which must be faced and
all the patience which must be exercised.

Of course in match play it is quite different. You avoid your weak
strokes as much as you can; your object then is to win the game. But
after discriminate practice you will find, probably to your surprise,
that there are not so many weak spots after all to remove, that your
game is opening out and steadily advancing. Do not get easily
disheartened if you find improvement slow; for a game that is worth
playing at all is worth playing well, and to play lawn tennis well you
must go through a stiff apprenticeship. You must school yourself to meet
disappointments and failures; you must cultivate a philosophic spirit,
or you will never reach the goal of perfection. I need not say that if
you wish to go forward enthusiasm is essential. Lawn tennis players
never seem to me to be nearly so keen on their game as golfers. So many
of them appear quite satisfied to remain at a fixed stage. They will
certainly not get their handicap reduced unless there is an ardent
desire to become better acquainted with the science of the game. A
struggling golfer is never tired of learning talking about his
pastime--often, I admit, to the annoyance of people who are not so
obsessed. Nevertheless, he is on the right track; and being so
thoroughly absorbed and in earnest, he ought to improve. You will find
him buying every new book that comes out and poring over its pages. He
may play in a few competitions, but his time is more seriously occupied
with practice and improvement. He wisely deprecates the continuous
strain of match play. He prefers to acquire a working knowledge of the
game, to make the various strokes with some degree of accuracy, before
he pits his skill against others.

I think this lack of adequate practice is one of the reasons why there
is such a dearth of rising talent among lawn tennis players. Some of the
competitors one meets at tournaments have been for years at exactly the
same stage. They never pause to take stock of their game. They never
advance or cultivate a new stroke. They go from one tournament to
another, struggling to win by hook or by crook. Assisted by a generous
handicap, they may win a prize, and, apparently, they are satisfied. Let
me say, in regard to tournaments, that when you are taking your strokes
correctly and are really adding to your knowledge of the game, open
competitions are admirable, and are essential if the highest honours are
to be achieved. But tournaments can very easily be overdone, especially
by young players who have not completed what I may call

When you are practising, remember to practise head-work as well as
strokes. Cultivate thinking about the game. Never mind asking an
experienced player for advice. Most people who play the game well are
anxious that every one should improve; they want them to get more
enjoyment out of the game, and they want the general standard of play to
advance. As a rule they never mind giving a helpful hint. Do not
hesitate, therefore, to ask for that help. Discuss the game with your
friends and find out all you can about it. Read all the excellent books
that have been written on the game from time to time. I have often
noticed that beginners will willingly pay their entrance fees for open
events at tournaments, when they know very well that nothing but a
miracle will take them through the first round. Yet the same players
grumble at the expense of purchasing books dealing with the game. The
book would most probably help them a great deal, whereas the one
solitary match does them no good. It is over so quickly, the difference
in the class of play is so great, that the beginner hardly hits the ball
at all.

A good way of practising is to play up against a brick wall. In my own
case I found the method very useful. It helps one to keep the eye on the
ball, to time well, and place with accuracy. Another good way of
practising is not to score, but to get some friend to hit or even throw
the ball where you want it. Systematic stroke-play like this for half an
hour a day, finishing up with a game which brings into play the stroke
you have been developing, is bound to improve your game. I know of one
champion of England who always practised in this way. Any new stroke
that had to be mastered was passed through the mill and assiduously
exercised until perfection came. If no friend were available for the
purpose, the butler had to devote an hour a day to throwing the ball in
the given direction.

To come to the various strokes, I do not mean to enter into these
elaborately. There are now so many good books in the market that deal
exhaustively with this subject, such as "The Complete Lawn-Tennis
Player," by A. Wallis Myers, that I shall not aim at covering old

The first and foremost stroke to be learnt is _The Fore-hand Drive_. A
good fore-hand is one of the chief assets of the game; a good length
must be one of the first things to cultivate. The ball must be sent as
near the base line as possible. Do not at first try to get a severe
shot, but practise getting a good-length slow ball until you are very
accurate at that. You will find that pace and direction will come
afterwards. When making a fore-hand drive stand sideways to the net.
Your left shoulder should face the net, your left foot should be in
front of your right. Wait as long as possible, for the ball. By this I
mean, do not rush in to it; wait for it to come to you. Stand well away
from it, sideways and lengthways. Swing your racket slowly back to about
the level of your shoulder, then bring it slowly forward, and
simultaneously transfer your weight from your right foot to your left.
This transference of weight, let me add, is most important, and can
only be achieved by careful practice. If it is transferred too soon or
too late, the whole power of the stroke is lost.


The ball must be hit firmly and cleanly with the centre of the racket.
Feel as if you were literally sweeping it along--your movement must be
so perfectly timed--to the place you wish it to go, not forgetting to
follow well through with your arm and shoulder in a line with the flight
of the ball. Great muscular strength is not needed to play well. _Timing
your stroke, transferring your weight at the right moment, and following
well through at the finish_--these are the chief secrets of good and
powerful strokes. Do not be content merely to watch the ball, but keep
your eye fixed on it until the last possible moment, following it right
on to the centre of your racket. Until you have tried this you cannot
realize how difficult it is, or how greatly it will improve your stroke;
and it helps to complete concentration, which to my mind is one of the
chief attributes of success.

_The Back-hand Drive_ is taken in the same way as the fore-hand, only
with your position reversed. Here, too, you must not face the net, but
stand sideways. This time your right shoulder must face the net. The
position of your feet for a back-hand stroke is most important; it is
where so many beginners go wrong. Take a step towards the ball with your
right foot in front of your left, and with your weight at the start of
the stroke on the ball of your left foot. Swing your racket well back,
with its head raised above your wrist, and hit the ball firmly with the
centre of your racket. Be transferring your weight all the time from
your left foot to your right, and follow well through in the direction
of the flight of the ball. When playing a back-hand across the court,
from corner to corner, let your arm and shoulder on the follow through
be extended as far as they will go, and your body brought round to face
the net.


_The lob_ is a most important and useful stroke and should be constantly
practised. It is by no means an easy stroke to play really well and
accurately. It is generally a defensive shot, and makes your opponent
move from the net, unless she intends to be beaten by it. I am speaking,
of course, of the singles game. It is a useful stroke for giving you
breathing time if you are made to run about much, or for enabling you to
get back into position if you have been forced out of it. It is nearly
always best to lob to your opponent's back-hand, since the majority of
players are weaker there.

There are three kinds of lobs: (1) _The high lob_, sent well out of
reach of your opponent's racket, but with the disadvantage of taking
some time to reach the ground. Although it moves your opponent out
of her dangerous position right up at the net, there is time for her to
run back and return it. (2) _The low lob_, which only just passes over
your opponent's racket--a much more risky shot than the high lob, but
with the advantage of falling much quicker. If you succeed in getting
the ball out of her reach, it is almost certain to be a winning shot,
because she will not have time to turn and go after what is a very
fast-dropping ball. (3) _The lob-volley_ is one of the prettiest strokes
and a most effective one. It is very difficult to accomplish with
success; there is always great risk of not getting it out of your
opponent's reach and having it killed outright. It is generally played
with an under-hand stroke by hitting the ball before it has reached the
ground, and lifting it well over your opponent's head. It should be a
high lob. The racket must be grasped firmly and held nearly, horizontal
for this stroke. In playing lobs the racket must come well underneath
the ball, which should be struck very truly in the centre of the

_The Half Volley_.--This stroke has great possibilities, and is
efficacious both in attack and defence, although chiefly used for
defence. The ball must be hit immediately after it has bounced; in fact,
within a few inches after its impact with the ground. For attacking it
can easily be seen how useful this stroke can become; the time gained,
as compared to waiting for the ground stroke, is invaluable. But it
wants a perfect eye to play it with any facility; the majority of
players do not watch the ball long enough. Lack of confidence is another
reason why this stroke is not used more on the offensive.

_A short drop shot_ from the back of the court, or, in fact, from any
position in the court (but I think more effectively used from the back
of the court), is a very paying stroke to have at your command. It is
difficult to be accurate with this shot, and it needs much patient
practice. Yet it is one on which trouble may very profitably be
expended, for it often turns the tide at a critical moment.

I remember playing one match where I used this stroke a great deal.
Owing to its success--my opponent never even attempted to reach it--I
won ace after ace. At the end of the match my opponent indignantly
upbraided me. "I cannot admire your length," she protested. Neither did
she think it was "fair to play sneaks," adding, "Anybody could win if
they cared to play like that." In her opinion it wasn't tennis! I'm
afraid I did not take this censure very seriously. As the object of the
game is to put the ball as far out of reach of your opponent as
possible, I could not see what difference there was between making her
run from side to side of the base-line or to the net and back again.
Both methods as regards placing are just as good tennis, and should be
used judiciously in turn. But this sort of argument did not appeal to my
opponent; she still thought any one could win who cared to play that
"unsporting game." Perhaps the incident caused her to think a little,
and it may be she tried the stroke in her next match. If so, I am quite
sure she did not find it so easy to play accurately as she had imagined.

The danger of this stroke is that unless it is just in the right spot,
instead of giving you an advantage it will be a very easy ball for your
opponent to score off. If it is short, it will find the net; if hit too
far, it becomes a bad-length ball and will get the punishment it
deserves. It is difficult to explain how this stroke should be played. I
think it is best to stand very close to the ball and get rather in front
of it, drawing the racket across it from right to left--stroking the
ball, as it were, rather than hitting it. It requires a delicate touch,
and can be very deceptively played. Your opponent is kept in the dark
until the last moment, when the ace has probably been won.

_The Service_.--I should, as a rule, advise an overhead service. At the
same time, an underhand cut service is very useful as a change. Variety
of stroke and tactics should always be encouraged.

For an _overhead service_ stand sideways to the net, with your left foot
just behind the base-line, the left shoulder facing the net, and the
right foot a little to the right of and behind the left. Throw the ball
high up over your right ear, bend your body well back and your right
shoulder down. Raise the racket at the same time as you throw up the
ball, hit it with the centre of your racket, bringing your body forward
with all its weight on to the ball, and transferring your weight from
the right foot to the left at the moment of impact. Bring your racket
right through, and finish a little to the left of your left knee. At
the time you throw the ball into the air the left shoulder must be
facing the net, and as your racket hits the ball and follows through to
your left knee your body should be brought round to face the net.


Do not at first attempt a fast service; keep your ardour down until you
have gained a mastery of the ball and can vary its direction. Place is
always better than pace; this applies, generally speaking, to other
strokes besides the service. Try to cultivate a second service which
bears a likeness to the first. That is to say, if you have served a
fault (and the best players in the world cannot be absolutely sure that
their first delivery will not pitch just over the side-line or
service-line or hit the top of the net), do not be contented with a soft
and guileless second which has no length and which gives your opponent
an excellent chance of making a winning drive. Most players are weaker
on their backhand. Remember that fact and place your ball accordingly.
It is a good plan, when serving from the right-hand court, to aim for
the spot where the centre line bisects the service-line. Length and
direction will both be good, and in nine cases out of ten your opponent
will be required to move to make the return--always a point in your

Remember that variety in service, as in tactics and general play, is
essential. However fast your service may be, if its pace and placing are
stereotyped, a good deal of its efficacy is lost, since your adversary
knows what to expect, where to stand, and the kind of stroke suitable
for return. It is better to possess a variety of slow services, if they
have good length, than to own one fast service which has no particular
merit except speed. And, of course, the faster the ball comes off the
racket the more liable is it to go astray. Another reason why you should
temper zeal with discretion is that a vigorous service will tire you out
like nothing else, and in a long match stamina should be judiciously
preserved. You never know when an extra spurt may not be required to
turn the scale in your favour. I have often noticed the difference in
length and sting between the service of some players at the beginning of
the match and in the third set, and I am sure that one of the reasons
why so many matches are ultimately lost after a promising start is the
decline in the service, in its sustained vigour and in its length.

By the way, why do many lady players, even those who compete at open
tournaments, stand several feet behind the base-line when serving? Are
they aware that the length of their service is probably just so many
feet short of what it ought to be and that they voluntarily give
themselves an extra journey to recover short returns, even if they reach
them at all? You will never find expert players, who appreciate what I
may call the geometry of the court, penalise themselves in this manner.
Yet the habit, for some reason or other, would appear to be on the

_Low Volleys_.--For these strokes the head of your racket should be
above your wrist, your elbow low down, and your knees slightly bent. You
should, in fact, stoop so that your eye is level with the flight of the
ball. The late Mr. H.S. Mahony used to say that if girls would only bend
down more to the ball they would be able to volley much better. You
should not swing back as far for a volley as for a ground stroke, nor
relax a firm grip of your racket, remembering to follow through to the
place you wish the ball to go. In overhead work it is most important to
remember the oft-repeated maxim: "Keep your eye on the ball." Watch it
up to the moment of striking. Do not always "smash" every overhead ball
when a well-placed volley will win the ace just as well. It is a waste
of much-needed strength, and there is a greater risk of making a
mistake. For a _smash_ the right shoulder should be down and well under
the ball, the head and weight well back, the weight transferred at the
moment of striking from the right to the left leg, the body balanced
with extended left arm, and the body-weight brought right on to the ball
as it is hit. Finish to the left of your left knee as in the service.



When you have acquired a certain knowledge of the game and can play the
various strokes in the correct way, then, as I have said, tournament and
match play is the very best method of improvement. I would emphasize the
need for a certain standard of efficiency, because I am convinced that
at the present time there are too many weak players competing at open
meetings. The style of these players has only to be watched to be
condemned, and their knowledge of the game is hopelessly limited.
Invariably making strokes in a wrong way, tournament play only serves to
consolidate weaknesses and check advance.

But assuming you have practised on sound lines and are fit to take part
in what, after all, should be a test of trained skill, tournaments will
then be a great help to you. You will more often than not play against
better players than yourself--an advantage denied you in practice--and
against all varieties of attack and defence. You have the chance of
watching first-class matches and learning at first hand how the
different strokes should be played. You should be careful, however, to
limit the number of your tournaments, especially when the excitement and
strain are new to you; otherwise you will do much more harm than good. I
am convinced that, generally speaking, players attend too many meetings.
Instead of their play improving, it may deteriorate. They run the
fearful risk of staleness--one of the greatest dangers to a lawn tennis
player--and they become physically worn out. As soon as you find you are
losing interest in the game, when it becomes an effort to go into court,
give the game a rest. It is clear you have overdone it and need a
period of recuperation. One or two tournaments at a time, and then a
rest to practise the new strokes and tactical moves you have learnt and
seen, would, I feel sure, be much more helpful to your game than
tournament touring, week-in and week-out.

Some people advise you to dismiss the coming match entirely from your
mind before going into court. Personally I find this physically
impossible, and I do not commend the suggestion. I think it is much
better to study your opponent's game before pitting your own against it.
Many matches may be lost while you are finding out the right line of
attack. Therefore I advise you to think about the match you are going to
play. Mentally rehearse your mode of campaign. But do not worry over the
possible result. At all costs it must not be allowed to disturb your
sleep the night before--there is nothing puts me off my game so much as
a sleepless night.

As soon as you know who your opponent is, seize every opportunity to
watch her play, get to know her strong and her weak points, and map out
your plan of campaign. Then come the first preliminaries, the toss for
choice of sides or service. In choosing your side you must take into
consideration the position of the sun, the wind, the slope of the court
(if any), and the background. If you have won the toss and do not mind
on which side you start playing, and also have a good service, elect to
begin the service. If you have won the toss and for some good reason do
not wish to serve first, you can make your opponent serve; but remember
that you also give her choice of courts.

One of the great things to remember in match play is this--do not strive
to win outright with every stroke. Especially does this maxim apply to
the return of the service. So many players are inaccurate with this
important stroke simply because their sole ambition is to make it end
the rest. Much better to work for your opening. Try to imagine where
your opponent will be after taking a certain stroke, and then according
to this position determine which is the best stroke to play next. It is
similar to playing chess. You should think a move or sometimes two moves
in advance. Length, variety of stroke, and direction are the chief
factors in success when playing a single. Very often when the place to
send the ball is obvious, even to the spectators, it is just as obvious
to your opponent, and she will probably be making for that place before
you have even hit the ball. Then is the time to return the ball, not
where every one, your opponent included, anticipates, but straight back
to the original place--that is, the spot your opponent is just hurriedly
leaving. She will most probably be beaten by this simple device. Trite
though the hint may appear, always try to send the ball where it will
be least expected.


Again I would urge the importance of keeping your whole attention
absorbed on the game. Complete concentration is absolutely essential.
You _must_ lose yourself in the game--eye, mind, and hand all working
together. If you find that events transpiring outside the court are
attracting your attention, you cannot be watching the ball. Many
players, even when concentrating, take their eye off the ball too soon,
with the result that it is not properly timed and not hit cleanly in the
centre of the racket.

In match play remember that a game is never lost until it is won. Never
give up trying. Matches have been won (you have only to read the
experiences related in the final chapter of this book) after a player
has had a set and five games to love called against her. Therefore,
unless the game is over, it is never too far gone to be pulled out of
the fire. Even if your opponent requires only one more stroke to win
the match, remember how difficult it often is to make that one.


The same applies if you have a good lead. Play hard the whole time;
never for one moment slack off. For if you do it is very hard to get
going again, and you may find yourself caught up and passed at the post
before you have a chance of getting back into your stride. I well
remember being a set up and five games to one against Miss C.M. Wilson
(now Mrs. Luard) one year at Newcastle, when victory for me meant
permanent possession of the challenge cup. This cup was very valuable,
for it had a splendid list of names inscribed upon it; it had been going
for very many years. Miss Wilson seemed so off her game, and I was
winning so comfortably, that I could almost see that cup on my
sideboard! But it was not to be. (At any rate not that year. I was lucky
enough to win the Cup outright in 1908, when it was even more
valuable, as Miss Sutton's name had been added.) Whether I
unconsciously slacked off, thinking the match was mine (which is a fatal
thing to do at any time), or whether Miss Wilson suddenly found her
game, is impossible for me to say, but she eventually won that match and
the cup and championship for the year. She never gave in, but played
most pluckily right up to the end. I remember another match where the
result hung in the balance for some time. I was playing Miss A.N.G.
Greene at Eastbourne in 1907; again the Cup would be my own property if
I won it. I met Miss Greene in the second round. She won the first set,
and was five games to four in the second set, and seven times she only
wanted one point to win that match. I was able to make it five games
all. It was very bad luck for Miss Greene, as the moral effect, after
having had seven chances of winning the match, was so great that it
completely put her off her game, and I won that set and the third quite

Be careful also, when you are behind, and are slowly but surely catching
up your opponent, that when you do draw level _you do not relax your
efforts_. This danger is most insidious, and must be fought against. The
strain and anxiety involved in catching up, and the great relief when
you are games all, provoke a reaction unless you are on your guard. A
rest is taken, often involuntarily. It is fatal, because before you
realize it and can get going again your opponent has run out a winner.
This happened to me at Wimbledon in 1908 against Mrs. Sterry. I was
behind the whole time, and it was a great relief in the second set to
hear the score at last called five games all. But I had hardly taken a
breather when Mrs. Sterry secured the set by seven games to five. The
eleventh game I played almost unconsciously, so relieved was I at
getting on even terms, when I ought to have spared no effort to win
that critical game, even if I had failed. These three matches--and I
could mention many others--show how important it is to play hard right
up to the last stroke of the match, letting nothing put you off, never
losing your temper, taking umpire's bad decisions and all the little
annoyances that may disturb you in a sportsmanlike manner--keeping your
whole attention, in fact, absolutely concentrated on the game.

WIMBLEDON, 1905, 1907]

In a single it is best when serving to stand as near the centre of the
base-line as possible. In this position you have greater command of your
court, and there is not so much scope for your opponent to put the ball
out of your reach. Miss May Sutton, the American lady champion and
ex-champion of England, in her desire to stand as near the centre of the
court as she possibly can, gets so close that umpires find it very
difficult to tell whether she is serving from the right court or the
wrong. In fact, I think I am right in saying she has actually been
pulled up for stepping over the centre line of the base-line. If you
stand as close as she does you are liable to step over the line
unconsciously. Stand as near the centre line as possible, but without
any risk of stepping over it. On the other hand, there are players who
prefer to serve from the other extreme end. Mr. A.W. Gore, the present
champion of England, is one of these, but personally I cannot see any
advantage in this position. It seems to leave so much open court, of
which your adversary will not be slow to make use.

Use the overhead service for choice, but have an underhand service ready
at your command--it may come in very useful for a change. Remember that
a good-length, well-placed service is better than a very fast one, and
much less tiring in a long match. Keep your opponent wondering where the
service will come next; vary it as much as you possibly can, both as to
pace and direction. Be sure to make your opponent move to take it.

I have tried the American service, but I think the strain is too severe
for the average girl, and the advantage gained would be very slight, for
the rest of your game would deteriorate, owing to fatigue. It places so
much tension on all the muscles of the body, and I do not think it would
do a girl's health any good to cultivate it. Of course if she were
abnormally strong and did not feel the effects of the physical effort,
she would be a tower of strength in the land, and her service would be
an invaluable one.

I am not an advocate of persistent volleying in a lady's single. I think
it is too great a tax on the physique. Nor do I think it pays in the
long-run. A volleyer, to my mind, is much easier to play against than a
base-liner, and most of the first-class base-line players agree with me.
The great physical exertion entailed in running continually to the net
will after a time make the ground strokes weaker and weaker; and you
_must_ have good length to be able to come up and volley with any
success. Miss E.W. Thomson (now Mrs. Larcombe), one of our best lady
volleyers, put up a magnificent game in the first set against Miss
Sutton at Wimbledon in the championship singles of 1905. She had
carefully watched Miss Sutton's game and thought out the best way to
play her. Volleying most judiciously, she would force Miss Sutton up to
the net with a short drop stroke, and then, lobbing over her head nearly
on to the base-line, take up a position at the net, winning the ace with
a neat cross volley. These tactics she repeated again and again, and
actually led by five games to two. If she could have lasted she must
have won that match. But she could not keep it up. She became obviously
exhausted, did not get up to the net quickly enough, and her length got
shorter and shorter. Miss Sutton eventually won that set and the next
easily. I do not know what would have happened if Miss Thomson, when
she found she was tiring, had stayed back for a little while and then
resumed her tactics at the net. Perhaps she would have come much nearer
to victory.

A very large majority of non-volleyers in singles have won the ladies'
championship, and I think that fact helps to prove my argument. Miss
Maud Watson, Miss Rice, Mrs. Hillyard, the late Miss Robb, Miss Sutton,
Miss Boothby and myself are base-liners. Miss Dod and Mrs. Sterry are
the only two volleyers. Every girl, however, should learn how to volley.
You may be inveigled up to the net, and you should then know how to play
and place a volley. And you should go up now and then on a good-length

In _Doubles_ of course it is different. I think then a girl should
volley. It will greatly improve her play all round, and will also make
the game so much more attractive. I think it would be an excellent plan
if ladies' doubles were always played like men's doubles, both players
moving together and keeping parallel with one another, going up to the
net together and retiring to the back of the court together. Competitors
would improve their volleying, and the double, instead of being the
dreary, monotonous affair it is now, especially for the base-liner,
would be varied and instructive. I am sure referees would welcome the
change with avidity. The much-dreaded, interminable ladies' double event
would be a thing of the past. If we played the double with the new
formation, perhaps we should succeed in re-establishing the event at
Wimbledon! But it is very difficult to get ladies to volley at a
tournament. They think they have more chance of winning from the back of
the court. Perhaps they have. But they have much less chance of
improving their game and learning a variety of strokes.

Miss V. Pinckney started a great work in 1908, organizing a ladies'
volleying league, in which all ladies who entered a ladies' doubles
event at any tournament were obliged to volley. A most successful
experiment took place at the Beckenham tournament. Miss Pinckney and I
played together at the Reading tournament, and although we were both
base-liners, we determined to go to the net. We found at the end of the
event (which we won, owing fifteen) that we had both much improved our
volleying. Of course we made endless mistakes and were frequently in the
wrong place, but it was experience so badly required. Unfortunately Miss
Pinckney, the pioneer, did not play much last season, and I think the
ladies have rather gone back to their old ways. It seems a thousand

In _Mixed Doubles_ a girl has a very important part to play.
Practically speaking, she has to work for all the openings for her
partner, who comes in and kills. And very often if in watching a mixed
double you are inclined to think the man is doing little work, or that
he is playing badly, it is because his partner is getting him no
"plums." She is playing a poor length, or not keeping the ball out of
the reach of the opposing man. It is a good plan to keep your head well
down, and of course your eye glued on the ball, until the very last
moment, so that it makes it difficult for the opposing man at the net to
tell in which direction you are going to hit the ball. The late Miss
Robb, who was a magnificent mixed doubles player, used to play in this
way. Men have told me it was impossible to anticipate her returns.
Keeping your head down will also help you from getting flurried or put
off, however "jumpy" the opposing man is, or however much he is running
across. You can always have a mental vision of him to tell you where he
is without looking at him.

To play a mixed double you must be able to lob. It is really the most
necessary stroke to cultivate. A very good return of the opposing lady's
service, when both men are at the net, is a lob back to the server. It
is much safer than lobbing over the man's head--if at all short your
ball will be instantly killed--and it also gives your partner at the net
plenty of time to anticipate any kind of return. It will be difficult
for the server to return a good-length lob out of your partner's reach.
The opposing man at the net will not be able to do anything with this
lob--it is quite out of his reach--and it would be useless for him to
run across as he might do for a cross drive. It is usually best, I
think, for a lady to serve down the centre of the court in a mixed
double. It shuts up the angles of the court more, and there is less risk
of her partner being passed down his side line.

Do not enter for too many events in a tournament. You may get thoroughly
worn out and not able to do yourself justice in any, and you would
probably have to play when you were very tired--bad for your game, and
worse still for your partner's chance in a double. Remember that before
playing an important match it is very injudicious to watch another game.
It is likely to put your eye out. If possible, do not travel by train
just before playing, or carry anything heavy, such as your tennis bag,
for this will make your hand shaky and unsteady.

To sum up, there are five golden rules which I have found very helpful
to me when playing an important match. I give them to you in the hope
that they may prove equally valuable. Always remember that constant
practice of these rules will make their pursuit natural in a match.


You have so often been told this, I know, and perhaps the familiar ring
about the advice may evoke contempt. Yet unless this rule is implicitly
obeyed you cannot expect much success at lawn tennis. Taking your eye
off the ball is the secret of every mis-hit and mis-timed stroke. You
must not be content merely to look at the ball, but follow it right on
to your racket; watch it up to the actual moment of striking. The court
and the position of your opponent must be mentally engraved at the same
time. How frequently attentive observation will reveal a player lifting
his or her eye from the ball a fraction too soon! Always be on your
guard against this inclination. It is at first done almost
unconsciously, but it soon becomes a habit.


This is a most important rule. As I have remarked before, complete
concentration is absolutely necessary to success. If you are worried
about anything, business or home affairs, it is bound to affect your
game. Think of absolutely nothing but the game you are at the moment
playing. Your whole personality must be absorbed. To play the game well
demands the use not only of limb and muscle, but heart, eye, and brain.
The first rule will help the second, because your attention must be more
or less fixed on the game if you are carefully watching the ball the
whole time.


This rule some players will find much more difficult than others. You
hear of a person having the right temperament for games, of being
naturally imperturbable. It is a priceless quality, for to my mind it is
half the battle if nothing can disturb your equanimity. To be calm and
placid at critical moments, never to get excited or flurried, or in any
way put out, whatever little worries may turn up--and sometimes these
worries seem endless and try one to the uttermost limit--that is one of
the keys to fame on court. I think if a good games' temperament is not
natural to you, it can to a great extent be cultivated. But it requires
much practice and an abundance of will-power and self-control. It is a
very important quality to possess, because to lose your temper, or to be
upset over any trifle, not only puts you off your game, but helps your
opponent to take a new lease of life and encourages her to play up
harder than ever. She naturally thinks that if you are so upset at
something or other your game is bound to deteriorate, and she will have
a much better chance of winning the match.


By this I mean do not get easily downhearted and discouraged. Fight
pluckily to the end, however things are going against you. Courage and
pluck are wanted above all things to carry you successfully through your
matches. Never say die, however hopeless the score may sound against
you. If you are very done up, try not to make it too obvious. Your
opponent may be just as played out as you are. Seeing your signals of
distress, she will buoy herself up and continue the struggle with
renewed hope and vigour.


This maxim is rather difficult to explain. What I mean is, you should
vary your manner of play and re-adapt it in order to counteract your
opponent. Upset her usual game by your tactics. It is always a great
mistake to keep up a method of attack or defence if it is proving
unavailing. If necessary, keep your own method of play continually on
the change. A change of tactics has often meant a change of fortune in
the game. Never let your opponent know what you are going to do next; do
what she would least expect. Always try to make a stroke. Give her
plenty of the strokes you know she doesn't like. I have often felt
myself improving an opponent's weak stroke by pegging away at it. It
gives her plenty of excellent practice, of course, and when you find she
is beginning not to mind it so much, give it a rest. When you go back to
it you will probably find it successful again. Use your brain, and
always know what you are trying to do. Play with an object of attack and
defence. Do not merely return the ball aimlessly; let each stroke have
its little work to do to complete the whole victory. This is difficult,
I know, but it is so much more fascinating, and is, I am sure, the way
the game was meant to be played. There is much science that can be
brought into lawn tennis, always something new to learn. And that is the
reason why we never tire of playing it.



A good lawn tennis racket is indispensable; indeed, to use a weapon of
inferior make is to court failure from the start. You cannot be too
particular to have a really well-made racket. Fortunately there are now
so many good makers that it is a player's own fault if she is not
suitably equipped. It may be a little more expensive to buy a really
first-class racket; but the few extra shillings are well worth while if
you mean to take up the game seriously, and to get out of it all the
enjoyment you can. Personally I always play with a "Slazenger" racket,
preferring their make to any other; but there are many other good

The weight of your racket should vary according to your strength of
wrist, and should depend on whether you volley or play entirely from the
back of the court. I am inclined to think there is a tendency on the
part of lady players to use too light a racket. I have often seen them
with a 12-1/2-oz. or 13-oz. These are too light, and may be condemned.
If you use a racket that is too light, it means that the maker has not
been able to string it as tightly as it ought to be strung--the frame
would not stand the tension. I do not think a racket should be lighter
than 13-1/2 oz., which is the normal weight for ladies. Myself, I prefer
and always play with a 14-oz., and hold that unless there is a weakness
of the wrist, or some personal reason why the player should knock off
the extra half-ounce, this weight is the best for ladies to use. I like
my racket slightly weighted in the head, but I think most players
prefer one evenly balanced. The latter may be recommended to a beginner.

The handle should be about five inches in circumference--at least, that
is what I use and recommend for a natural and easy grip. Of course the
circumference must vary a little according to the size of the player's
hand or length of her fingers, but I counsel all ladies to fight shy of
the handle that is abnormally large. I am quite sure it is a mistake; it
tends to tire and stiffen the hand. Endeavour to standardize your
requirements. Find out by careful trial what weight, what size of
handle, and what stringing suits your game best; and then you will find,
when you use a new racket for the first time, that the tool is familiar
and has a friendly influence over your strokes. What more embarrassing
experience than to play a match with a racket you cannot recognize?

You should always take a wet-weather racket with you when you go to
tournaments; it is, like a pair of steel-pointed shoes, a necessary item
in your tennis bag. In England, with such variable weather, it is
necessary to play in the rain, or at any rate on a wet ground, and with
sodden balls; and the very best gut in the world cannot stand rough
usage. It is a good plan, too, to take to tournaments at least two
rackets as much alike as possible. If anything goes wrong with one, you
will have a good substitute, one that is not strange to you.

Always take great care of your rackets. They are very susceptible both
to damp and excessive dry heat, and should always be kept in a press
when not in use. A warped frame is fatal. If you do not use a tennis
bag, your racket should be protected in a waterproof case. It is a good
plan, after use in the wet, to rub the surface of the strings with a
little beeswax or varnish. Most makers keep a special preservative in

And now for a few remarks on dress. There has been a great improvement
during the last few years in the costumes worn by those who take part in
tournaments held all over the country. First-class players know from
experience how to dress to be most comfortable and least hampered by
their clothing. But the less experienced are wont to appear in a
"garden-party" trailing skirt, trimmed hat and dressy blouse--a most
unbusiness-like costume for the game. It is essential to remember that
you want, above everything else, free use of all your limbs; physical
action must not be impeded in any way by your clothing. An overhead ball
which may require your arm to be extended as far as it will go, a low
volley at the net where you must bend down, a run across the court or up
to the net--all these strokes you must be able to perform with freedom
and facility.


I advise a plain gored skirt--not pleated; I think these most
unsuitable on court--about four or five inches from the ground. It
should just clear your ankles and have plenty of fullness round the hem.
Always be careful that the hem is quite level all round; nothing is more
untidy than a skirt that dips down at the back or sides--dropping at the
back is a little trick a cotton skirt cultivates when it comes home from
the laundry. A plain shirt without "frills or furbelows"--if any
trimming at all, tucks are the neatest--a collar, tie, and waistband, go
to make an outfit as comfortable and suitable as you could possibly

The material that this plain shirt and skirt is made of does not so much
matter, and must be according to the taste of the wearer. Serge,
flannel, and cotton are the most popular, and the last predominates.
White is undoubtedly the best colour to wear. It washes well and does
not fade, and looks very much neater on the court than a coloured
material. I prefer white shoes and stockings, for I think it looks nicer
to be in one uniform colour. But this is a matter of taste. Some people
urge that white shoes make your feet appear much bigger than black or
brown. I do not agree. If you are wearing a white skirt, the black or
brown shoe must show up more distinctly against it than a shoe of the
same colour.

I have also heard it decided that when girls are compelled to play in
the rain or on dreadfully muddy courts, as unfortunately they often are,
it is better for them to don a dark skirt of thicker material. This
seems to me a great mistake. A white skirt will wash well, and it does
not matter how dirty it gets; so long as you do not have it trailing in
the mud it cannot come to much harm. It looks as neat as anything can
look that is surrounded by rain and mud. A dark stuff skirt, on the
other hand, which many players use in wet weather, does not wash, and
is absolutely ruined after a soaking. Moreover, it is twice as heavy to
drag about the court.

If you do not happen to have steel-pointed shoes with you, and are
called upon to play in the wet, it is a good plan to wear a pair of
men's thick shooting stockings or socks over your tennis shoes. It is
wonderful what a firm grip they give without in any way impeding your

I find, after having tried nearly every sort of shoe for tennis, that
the simple white gymnasium shoe suits me best. Most players use a proper
tennis shoe or boot with a thick sole. I have tried these, but find they
make me much slower in court and are not as comfortable as the "gym"
shoe. Some people say the thicker sole is less tiring to the feet, but I
find I am much less foot-weary after a match when playing in the thin
shoe--there is less weight to carry about. Of course thin soles soon
wear through, but then they have the advantage of being very cheap. I
pay half a crown a pair for mine, and one can have several pairs in use
and can always replace them without any great expense.

I think it is best, if you can, to play without any hat at all. There is
not the bother of keeping it on, and it is much cooler. Nor is it easy
to find a suitable hat for lawn tennis. A girl's hair is generally a
good safeguard against sunstroke. A long warm coat is a very necessary
article of wearing apparel, especially for girls who are playing in
tournaments. It should be put on immediately after a strenuous match,
however hot the day. There is the great danger when overheated of
contracting a chill. The coat should be of a thick warm
material--blanket is very popular and serviceable--and it should reach
to the end of your skirt, if not beyond.

I do not think it is wise to wear bracelets when playing unless they
are plain and tight to the wrist. Although you might not think it,
ornaments, however small, can and do get in your way. I remember one
match that was entirely lost because of the presence of a gold curb
bracelet with a small dangling chain attached. Putting up her hand to
adjust a hairpin, the owner did not know that the chain had caught on to
her fringe-net, and, bringing her hand down quickly, the fringe-net and
most of the hairpins were dragged from her hair. The result was that the
player, who might easily have left the court and fixed up her hair again
firmly, adjusted it as best she could, her hair blowing about in all
directions. In between every stroke she had to clutch wildly at stray
portions that blew across her face and into her eyes. This diversion
naturally upset her game, and I think that was the last time she wore a
bracelet in court.

_Training for match play_ is rather a difficult subject for me to write
about, for I have never gone in for proper "training." The great secret
is to keep perennially fit. Remember that an important match is a great
strain, a challenging test of stamina. To come through the ordeal
successfully you must be in a good condition of health. If you are not,
you ought not to be playing. Personally I know what it means to play an
important match when feeling really ill. Honestly it is not worth it. It
is no enjoyment to yourself, and it is no pleasure to your opponent to
beat you when she knows you are unfit. Besides, it is very injurious to
your own health. On the other hand, if you are in good condition, and
leading a healthy outdoor life, a well-contested match cannot harm you;
it is most beneficial in every way. Therefore I think the best training
for an important match is to be always in "training"; not to have to
alter your habits before a match is the secret. To change your diet and
mode of living suddenly, as some players do, is more calculated to
upset you than to make you fitter for the ordeal. Common sense must of
course be used. For instance, you should not eat a heavy meal just
before playing. I generally prefer bread-and-cheese, a milk pudding of
some sort, and perhaps a little fruit for lunch if I have a match, in
the afternoon. I find this diet very satisfying and sustaining, and of
course much lighter than meat. Bananas or apples go very well with the
cheese. As I like this sort of lunch at any time, I do not have to
change my diet materially before a match. After the day's play is over,
I make absolutely no difference, eating for dinner in the evening
whatever is going. Lunch is the chief meal over which care should be
exercised, for important matches generally begin about two o'clock. A
heavy meal would make me slow and sleepy. I know of one well-known
player who never has any breakfast at all. She may play hard matches all
the morning, and when the luncheon interval arrives she has only
bread-and-cheese and fruit. Of course this is a very exceptional case,
and I should not care to try it myself. I find a good breakfast a
necessity before a long and hard day at a tournament. But the
no-breakfast regime certainly suits the player in question. She is
always "fit," and has great stamina, coming through exhausting matches
without showing the slightest sign of distress. I need not add that
sleep is one of the chief factors for making you feel buoyant and well;
if you have not had your right measure of sleep the night before an
important contest, you are greatly handicapped. Remember, too, how
necessary it is to sleep in a well-ventilated room with the windows

As to _Courts_, there are so many surfaces now used for the game, such
as grass, wood, asphalt, cement, gravel, and sand, that it is possible
to play the game all the year round, under cover or out in the open. I
think, however, most players will agree with me that a good grass court
is the ideal surface for lawn tennis. The sensation of playing a
genuinely hard match with evenly balanced players on a _good_ grass
court, under ideal weather conditions, has only to be experienced to be
appreciated. It is then you realize what great enjoyment this game gives
to any one who loves it. Alas! the really good grass court and ideal
weather are very hard to get in England. I suppose there was scarcely a
day in 1909 that could be described as perfect for lawn tennis; and our
good grass courts are few and far between.

The climate we cannot control, but I often wonder why there should be
such a dearth of true grass courts at open meetings. Of course
maintenance involves a certain amount of expense, but surely many clubs
are quite well enough off to command at least one or two really good
courts. Can it be ignorance, or is it a want of necessary energy and
constant attention? Lawn tennis seems to suffer in this respect more
than most games. There are hundreds of splendid golf greens and cricket
pitches all over the country, but for some inexplicable reason a good
grass lawn tennis court is, as Mr. G.W. Hillyard has remarked, "almost
as rare a sight as a dead donkey." Happily we get this rare spectacle at
Wimbledon under Mr. Hillyard's able care and management.


What a difference a general improvement in surface would mean! I am
convinced that if courts were better the standard of play would advance
more rapidly. It is marvellous what beneficial effect a good court has
on play. I have seen an average player, who had always played on bad
courts, with cramped surroundings and poor background, put up a really
good game the very first time he played on a first-class court--I refer
to a well-known private court at Thorpe Satchville, perhaps the best in
the country. That player surprised himself and every one else present.
He performed about half-thirty better than his usual game. The moral is
that if other players had the opportunity of playing regularly on a true
and fast court they must essentially improve. On bad courts you can
never be sure what the ball will do; it is a toss-up whether you get a
false bound or not. A player once told me that he thought it a good
thing to have these bad courts at your house or club to practise upon.
When you went to tournaments, he argued, you would not mind what you
found there, as the conditions could not be worse, and might be better,
and you would always be in the happy frame of mind of not expecting too
much and never being disappointed. Your game would not be put off by
depressing conditions--you were so used to them! But that is poor logic.
After all, we play the game for pleasure, and there can be no enjoyment
in playing on wretched courts. Many unfortunate players, if they wish to
play the game at all, are forced to play on what Mr. Mahony used to
call "cabbage patches"--("Sorry, partner, it hopped on a cabbage," was
his favourite expression after missing a ball in a double); but I cannot
understand any one voluntarily choosing such a surface.

A wood floor has such an absolutely true bound that it must provide very
good practice, and one winter's play on the indoor courts at Queen's
Club is to my mind a quicker way of improving your game than two or
three seasons on grass courts which are not of the best. These covered
wood courts are very scarce, and it is a thousand pities there are so
few of them. Would that this winter game were in the reach of everybody!
On the other hand, you can overdo the game by playing continuously; and
if you have been playing all through the summer with scarcely a break,
it is a good plan to rest during the winter months, taking up some other
game to keep your eye in and your condition fit.

Since true grass courts are so scarce in this country, I sometimes wish
we could dispense with turf altogether, and have at our tournaments the
same surface which finds favour abroad, at places like Cannes, Homburg,
and Dinard. The bound of the ball on these courts is absolutely uniform,
the surface being hard sand. One great advantage they possess--we should
welcome it over here--is that when it rains play is quite out of the
question. Wading about in the mud and playing in a steady downpour,
often our lot in England, is unknown on the Continent. And foreign
courts also dry quickly after rain, and often play better for their



I wish an "Order of Play" could be used more at English tournaments.
That is to say, I wish matches could be arranged to take place at a
certain hour, following the plan adopted at Wimbledon and at all the
meetings on the Continent. Such an arrangement would greatly add to the
comfort and enjoyment of competitors, and would, I imagine, be a great
boon to the referee. Spectators, I know, would welcome it. I think a
time-table might prove unworkable where handicap events are concerned,
but in the case of open events I feel sure it could be introduced with
great advantage to all concerned. I have so often sat hour after hour at
a London tournament (having only entered for the open events), perhaps
playing one match, perhaps not playing at all. If I had been told
overnight that I should not be wanted, or exactly at what hour my match
would take place, it would have been so much more satisfactory and saved
so much wasted time. This waiting about takes away half the pleasure of
playing in London meetings. Even if there are good matches going on you
do not care to watch them incessantly; there may be a chance of your
playing off a tie, and it would tend to put your eye out. On one
occasion, having a long way to go to a tournament in which I was only
entered for the open mixed doubles, I telephoned to know whether I
should be wanted or not. "Well," replied the referee, "if I call you and
you are not on the ground, I shall scratch you. In your own interest you
had better come over." For my partner's sake, as well as my own, I was
bound to go. As I expected, I sat the whole afternoon and evening doing
absolutely nothing. When I begged to be allowed to play, as I had come
some distance for this one match, the referee examined his programme and
said, "Oh, it is quite impossible to-day. They have not played the round
in front of you yet!"


This sort of thing implies gross mismanagement, besides resulting in
unnecessary wear and tear for the competitors. If there was an order of
play arranged for each day, all the bother would be obviated. I believe
that business men who cannot get away in the early afternoon have their
matches timed and arranged for them. Why are not all competitors treated

While I am on this subject of "waiting about," let me say that I think
ladies do not take nearly enough care of themselves after playing. They
ought to wrap up well if they have not time to change before their next
match. Men are much more careful. They put on their coats immediately
they leave the court, and change their clothes as soon as they can. But
you will see girls chatting after a match, and even having tea, without
deigning to put on an extra wrap. It is courting disaster. The colds and
more dangerous ailments that arise from this little want of care
naturally afford people a line of attack when they object to girls
engaging in violent exercise.

You cannot be too careful after strenuous play. I am well aware that
ladies are catered for very badly at most of the tournaments in regard
to changing-room accommodation. Some places we have had to put up with
are disgraceful. I think most lady players will agree with me when I say
that Wimbledon and Queen's Club are about the only two grounds where you
can change with any degree of comfort. This is not right, and I am sure
if men had to experience the changing-room accommodation afforded for
our use there would not be many of them competing at tournaments. I
think the two clubs I have mentioned are the only two where we even get
a bathroom! Some tournaments provide a draughty tent for our use.
Moreover, there is generally only one dressing-room, and feminine
spectators often crowd round the one looking-glass, staring at the
players as if they were animals on show! It is sometimes even impossible
to sit down to rest after a hard and tiring contest.

I appeal to secretaries of tournaments for some reform. A number of lady
players have asked me to use this opportunity to point out some of our
most pressing grievances. I hope these remarks, which are none too
strong, may bear fruit. Visitors who come over from other countries are
always loud in their complaints, and I am not surprised. I believe the
Beckenham authorities are doing all they can to impart a little more
comfort to the ladies' changing and resting-room, and they have greatly
improved their accommodation. It is time other meetings followed their
example. At the seaside meetings it does not so much matter. Most of the
players stay near the ground and can go to their own rooms and be back
in time to play again, if necessary; but in London tournaments, where
there is often a long drive or train journey before one reaches home, it
is most important that there should be a good changing-room.


There is another improvement which I feel sure would be greatly welcomed
by competitors, and that is a separate tea-tent for their use. Often a
player has only a few minutes to get her tea, and, with the general
public engaged in the same amiable pursuit, she is not able to be served
and has to go away tealess. If there were a competitors' tea-tent, a
player could obtain her tea in comfort when she wanted it.

Always bear in mind that a referee at a tournament has a most "worrying
time of it." Players can and should help to make his task lighter.
There are many ways in which they can assist to make the tournament as
successful as possible. One is by being punctual and ready dressed to
play when wanted, and another is by umpiring when they are disengaged
and have not an important match just coming on. "Taking the chair" may
help them not to dispute an umpire's decision when they are in court
themselves. They will realize how difficult umpiring is, and that bad as
umpires often are they are doing their best. To dispute a decision or to
argue with the umpire never helps matters; it usually makes him nervous.
A bad decision must be taken as a fortune of war, and borne in a
sportsmanlike manner. But you must never allow the crowd to influence
the umpire. It is a hopeless expedient, for many people who watch
matches are ignorant of the rules of the game.

Sometimes--I suppose it is Hobson's choice--an umpire is chosen from the
"gate." If he knows little or nothing of his duties the result is
disastrous. Should there be difficulty in getting an umpire who knows
something of his work, I think the match should take care of itself. I
have experienced umpires who do not even know how to score!

And now a word or two about _Clubs._ It is very difficult to manage a
lawn tennis club successfully; much tact is required. I think it is
almost impossible to prevent a club being "cliquey," and I should always
advise a player who wishes to improve her game to join one which is more
concerned with its tennis than its social side. Some clubs still use the
game for a garden-party, where long trailing skirts, sunshades, and
basket chairs predominate. Perhaps a game or two is played in the cool
of the evening. That sort of club should be avoided if you are a keen
and enthusiastic player.

The committee of a club should be a small one, consisting of members
who are devoted to the best interests of the game. Their aim should be
to keep in touch with all the latest developments, and above all to keep
up to date, advancing with the times. A committee sometimes embraces old
supporters of the club who have been members for years and years. They
have old-fashioned ideas, are very conservative, and do not like
innovations of any sort, even if changes are obviously necessary for the
benefit of the game. A committee should see that their club has a good
match-card, for inter-club contests are excellent practice for the
members, and there is nothing like fostering a spirit of friendly
rivalry. Care should be taken to choose players who make a good pair and
combine well together. A committee should do all in its power to improve
the standard of play, and that can only be accomplished by having
well-tended courts and good balls. Many clubs are not equipped with
side-posts for the single game. That is a great mistake, because a
player will practise without them in her club, and then when she enters
for a tournament will have to use them. It is bound to put her off her
game. Such details make all the difference between good and bad
management of a club.

[Illustration: "MY SISTERS AND MYSELF" _A picture postcard sent to Mrs.
Lambert-Chambers by Miss May Sutton from her home in California_.]

It is an excellent plan for members of the committee to drop in at some
of the tournaments and see how things are done there. Developments may
have occurred of which they know nothing, and they could pick up many a
wrinkle by a tour of inspection. Before one secretary of a fairly large
tournament went to Wimbledon he had never seen a canvas background.



I have been asked to write what I can remember of my earliest tennis
days. This is rather difficult, as it is now thirteen years since I
entered for my first tournament in 1896. It is never easy or pleasant to
write one's own biography, but I have been assured that readers will be
interested to hear something of my career in court.

I have said that 1896 was the first year I entered for a tournament,
which is quite true; but I always reckon that my tournament experience
did not really start until the year 1898, because in the two previous
years I only entered for one tournament (The Gipsy), and only in the
handicap at that, and I came out first round. In 1898 I played in three
tournaments, and in more events at each one.

My earliest recollections of a racket and tennis ball go back to when I
was quite small. My greatest amusement was to play up against a brick
wall, with numerous dolls and animals of all kinds as spectators--really
as big a gate as we get now at some tournaments! Each toy in turn was
chosen as my opponent. Needless to say, I always won these matches. My
adversaries took very little interest in the proceedings. This was some
years before I even played in a court, and I think it was a very good
way of starting the game.

I then played in a court we had at home, which was not very good;
gooseberry bushes prevented our running outside the court at all. I next
joined a club at Ealing Common, and at the age of eleven won my first
prize, the Handicap Singles at our club tournament. Of course I was
receiving enormous points, and I remember to this day how bored the best
lady players in the club were when they had to play me. My game then,
from all accounts, involved a sequence of very high lobs. I am now quite
envious of the accuracy of my lobbing in those days. I had absolutely no
pace, but was active and very steady, and desperately serious and keen
about the game. At this time also I used to play at college, preferring
tennis to cricket, which was the exception. Cricket was the great game.
Tennis was pushed into the background, and very little interest was
taken in it, even when the matches were played to decide the winner of
the racket presented each year to the best player in the school by some
kind parent. I won this racket one year, but could never use it, as it
was heavily weighted with an enormous silver shield on which was a
lengthy inscription. Of course the balance of the racket was absolutely

There was not much chance of improving at school, because nobody took
the trouble to have the court or net of the right dimensions. The rules
of the game were not even known. Every ball that touched the line was
given out. I remember a very heated argument I had with a mistress who
was umpiring a match for me, the result of which was that I had lines to
write for impertinence!

In 1899 I joined the Ealing Lawn Tennis Club, and won the singles
championship cup three years in succession, thus keeping it for my own
property. At one time Mrs. Hillyard and Mrs. Sterry had both been
members of this same club. Curiously enough, Mrs. Hillyard, Mrs. Sterry,
Miss Sutton, and myself have all lived, at different periods of our
lives, very close together--Mrs. Hillyard at Greenford, Mrs. Sterry and
myself at Ealing, and Miss Sutton at Acton. I think about this time I
very much improved my game by constantly playing singles against the
best men in the club, and also doubles with three men. This was
undoubtedly excellent practice for me.


In 1898 I won my first prizes in open tournaments, the handicap singles
at Chiswick Park and Queen's Club. At Chiswick I received 15.4, and met
Miss C. Cooper in the semi-final. I remember quite well my "stage
fright" when I went into court against this famous player, even at the
tremendous odds of owe 15.3 and give 15.4. I lost the first set easily,
and the game was then postponed until the next day owing to failing
light. After that first set, a friend said to me, "If you could only
forget it's Miss Cooper, I am certain you could win." The next day I
tried to follow out this advice, and eventually won the match with the
score of 3/6, 6/1, 6/4. At Queen's I met Miss C. Cooper again. She was
owing 40 and I was receiving 2/6. I again managed to win, this time in
two sets, 6/2, 6/3. At Eastbourne the same year, my third tournament, I
was in the second-class handicap owing 15, and survived a few rounds.
Miss C.M. Wilson was also in the second class at 4/6, but we did not
meet. Miss A.M. Morton, Miss A.N.G. Greene, Miss Garfit, Miss Robb, Mrs.
Hillyard, Miss Dyas, Miss Austin, and Miss C. Cooper were in the first
class. The classification for that year (1898) was:

Miss C. Cooper Scratch

Miss Austin 1/6
Miss Dyas 1/6
Mrs. Hillyard 1/6
Miss Martin 1/6
Miss Steedman 2/6
Mrs. Pickering 3/6
Miss Robb 3/6

Miss Garfit 4/6
Mrs. Kirby 4/6
Miss Legh 4/6

The first player of any repute that I beat in Open Singles was Miss E.R.
Morgan, whom I defeated in 1899 at Chiswick Park. I was beaten in the
next round by Miss B. Tulloch after a severe tussle. I again won the
Handicap Singles at Queen's. I was on the scratch mark, the farthest
back I had yet been. Miss Austin was back-marker at owe 30.3.

The classification for 1899 was:

Mrs. Hillyard Scratch
Miss Martin Scratch
Miss C. Cooper 1/6
Miss Austin 1/6
Mrs. Durlacher 2/6
Mrs. Pickering 3/6
Miss M.E. Robb 4/6
Miss Steedman 5/6

Miss Bromfield 15
Mrs. Kirby 15
Miss Tulloch 15

In 1900 Miss Marion Jones, then American lady champion, came over to
England. I played one of the most exhausting matches against her that I
have ever experienced. It was at Queen's Club in the Handicap Singles. I
was owing 3/6 and Miss Jones receiving 3/6. There was a good deal of
discussion at the time about this match, and in spite of the tremendous
heat (we do not get such summers now) we were persuaded to go into
court. In truth it was a gruelling day. I remember men walked about the
streets fanning themselves. We played for hours in a blazing sun, and I
eventually won, the score being 8/10, 6/2, 7/5. After the match Miss
Jones was taken to the dressing-room in a fainting condition, and when I
reached home I had an attack of sunstroke, and had my head packed in
ice. The umpire was also seriously ill for some time. It was only the
international element in the game and the controversy about the relative
points that made us fight it out to the bitter end.

We both thoroughly agreed with the notice of this match which appeared
in _Lawn Tennis_ the following week:

"The ladies had their example of untiring effort and splendid patience
in the second round of the Handicap Singles, when Miss Marion Jones, the
American champion (receive 3/6) met Miss D.K. Douglass (owe 3/6). The
tie was played off under exceptionally trying circumstances. A fiercely
hot sun was pouring its rays on the court, and there was scarcely a
breath of air, yet for 2-1/2 hours, without hats, did these ladies
strive for mastery. The first set fell to Miss Jones after 18 games had
been played. The second was secured by Miss Douglass with comparative
ease, neither the odds nor the previous exertions appearing to affect
her. The third set brought out a remarkable display of patience,
determination, and cool judgment, for when it stood out at 5 games to 1
in Miss Jones's favour, Miss Douglass won the next 6 games right off,
each game being fought out with great resolution. It may be doubted
whether either for tennis' sake or 'kudos' such a contest under such
conditions is wise. I was not surprised to hear it mentioned that not
only had both competitors severely felt the strain, but that even the
umpire had suffered."

This year (1900) it is interesting to note that the champion of to-day,
Miss D. Boothby, won the Handicap Singles at Beckenham, receiving 15.4.
This year, too, saw my first appearance at Wimbledon. I was not in the
lists very long, meeting Miss L. Martin first round. I do not think the
game lasted long, and I have only a very faint recollection of it; but
I remember thinking Miss Martin's strokes were the finest I had ever
seen. At Eastbourne a couple of months later I was lucky enough to meet
Miss C. Cooper on a very off day and run her close in the open singles.
The match caused quite a sensation. We started rather late, in the tea
interval, and nobody took the least interest in what was considered a
forgone conclusion. However, when it got abroad that Misss Cooper had
actually lost the first set, people came hurrying round the court in
great consternation lest Miss Cooper, whom they all knew so well,
should go down to a play who was quite unknown; I had been in the second
class only the year before. Miss Cooper eventually secured the match,
3/6, 9/7, 9/7. I met Mrs. Sterry on many subsequent occasions before I
could get anything like so close to her. I really used to get quite
weary of being beaten by her. When the Handicap Singles came out the day
after this match I was put to owe 15 in the first class, which pleased
me immensely. Miss Robb, Mrs. Greville, and Miss C. Cooper were owe 15.3
and Mrs. Hillyard owe 30. I was in the classification for the first time
at the end of this year.

Mrs. Hillyard Scratch
Miss C. Cooper 1/6

Miss Martin 2/6
Mrs. Greville 2/6

Mrs. Pickering 3/6
Miss Robb 4/6
Miss Bromfield 5/6
Mrs. Evered 5/6
Miss C. Hill 5/6
Miss Longhurst 5/6
Mrs. Winch 5/6
Miss Lane 15
Miss A.M. Morton 15
Miss Tulloch 15
Miss D.K. Douglass 15

In 1901 I won my first Challenge Cup in an open tournament, beating
Mrs. Greville in the challenge round at Beckenham. Mrs. Greville's
defeat came as a great surprise to every one. It was her third year for
the cup, and this may have accounted for her being much below her usual
form. I had certainly improved a great deal, even in that one week, for
I had had a hard match every day, meeting Miss Tulloch, Miss Morton, and
Countess Schulenberg (with whom I had a tremendous three-set match) in
the preceding rounds. Mrs. Greville, on the other hand, had been
standing out--the custom at Beckenham, one that I personally always find
a great disadvantage. I was easily beaten this year at Wimbledon by Mrs.
Sterry. Classification for 1901:

Mrs. Sterry Scratch

Mrs. Hillyard 1/6
Miss Martin 1/6
Miss D.K. Douglass 2/6
Mrs. Durlacher 3/6
Mrs. Greville 3/6
Mrs. Pickering 3/6
Miss Robb 3/6
Miss Lowther 4/6
Miss A.M. Morton 4/6
Miss Thomson 5/6
Mrs. Winch 5/6
Mrs. Evered 15
Miss Lane 15
Miss Longhurst 15
Miss Tulloch 15

At Wimbledon, in 1902, I had two very strenuous matches, which improved
my game immensely. The first, against Mrs. Durlacher, I just won. The
second, against the late Miss Robb, I just lost, after one of the
closest matches I have ever played. Miss Robb won the championship this
year. It was a great fight; and though of course it is hard to judge, I
always feel I played in that game as well as I have ever played. The
score in Miss Robb's favour was 6/4, 2/5, 9/7. Thus we both won
seventeen games. This year I paid my first visit to Newcastle, a
tournament which I always look forward to and enjoy as much as any
meeting. The management is all one can desire, the people so keen and
hospitable. I had a good hard fight with Mrs. Sterry, losing 7/5, 7/5,
and winning with her the Ladies' Doubles cups. At Brighton I was again
beaten by Mrs. Sterry, although managing this time to get a set. At
Eastbourne the following week I won my first match against Mrs. Sterry
in Open Singles, the score being 5/7, 6/2, 6/3. I was simply delighted,
after so many reverses, to win a match against this player. I had been
beaten so often by her, and sometimes felt as though I never should be
rewarded by a victory to my credit. The classification of players for
1902 was as follows:

Miss Robb Scratch
Mrs. Sterry Scratch

Miss D.K. Douglass 1/6
Miss L. Martin 1/6
Miss Longhurst 1/6

Mrs. Hillyard 2/6
Miss H. Lane 2/6
Miss A.M. Morton 3/6
Miss Greville 3/6
Miss Steedman 3/6
Mrs. Durlacher 3/6
Miss C.M. Wilson 3/6
Miss Lowther 3/6
Miss Bromfield 3/6
Miss Thomson 4/6
Mrs. Pickering 4/6

In 1903 I paid my first visit to the Northern tournament, held at
Manchester that year. I won the All England Mixed Doubles Championship
with Mr. F.L. Riseley, and was beaten in the challenge round of the
Ladies' Singles by Miss L. Martin after a very hard struggle: 4/6, 7/5,
6/4. It seemed a great pity that Miss Martin was not able to play at
Wimbledon that year. It was a lean year, and for me a lucky one, for
with so many of the best players not competing for the championship
(Mrs. Hillyard, Mrs. Sterry, Miss Robb, and Miss Martin were all
absentees) I was given a chance of winning the coveted title. I met Miss
E.W. Thomson in the final, who had beaten Miss Morton and Miss Wilson in
the preceding rounds. I had had a good fight against Miss Lowther before
reaching the final. Although I was expected to beat Miss Thomson, and
actually did win the match, I scarcely deserved my triumph. Miss Thomson
played by far the better tennis, and it was really very hard luck on her
that she did not succeed. At one time she was a set up and four games to
one, and I was forced to play on the defensive nearly the whole time.
Miss Thomson played beautifully, placing with great accuracy down the
lines and across the court. Indeed, her placing was so good that I
always seemed to be yards away from her return, when I had thought there
was plenty of time to get to the ball. It has always been a marvel to me
how I won that match; but I think it was chiefly condition--Miss Thomson
was never a very good stayer.

[Illustration: SOME OF THE FRUITS OF VICTORY. _In the centre is the All
England Championship, won by Mrs. Lambert Chambers in 1903, 1904, 1906_]

By the way, Miss Thomson and I were introduced to each other at the
Gipsy Tournament--my first tournament. I had no partner for the Ladies'
Doubles Handicap, and the secretary put us together on the programme.
Little did I dream then that we should one day fight out the final of
the Championship on the centre court at Wimbledon, or as a pair twice
win the All England Doubles Championship. Classification for 1903:

Miss D.K. Douglass Scratch
Miss L. Martin Scratch
Miss E.W. Thomson 1/6
Miss Lowther 1/6
Miss C M. Wilson 2/6
Miss Greene 3/6
Miss Morton 3/6
Miss Longhurst 3/6
Miss Bromfield 4/6
Miss H. Lane 4/6
Mrs. Greville 4/6
Miss Kendal 5/6
Mrs. Houselander 5/6
Miss Stawell-Brown 5/6

In 1904 I again won the championship, beating Mrs. Sterry in the
challenge round. This year and 1906 were my most successful years. I was
fortunate enough in both to go through the season without a reverse in
open singles. Classification for 1904 was as follows:

Miss D.K. Douglass Scratch

Mrs. Sterry 1/6
Mrs. Hillyard 1/6
Miss C.M. Wilson 1/6

Miss Thomson 2/6
Miss Morton 2/6

Miss W. Longhurst 3/6
Miss V. Pinckney 3/6
Miss Greene 3/6
Miss Lane 3/6
Mrs. Greville 4/6
Miss Stawell Brown 4/6
Mrs. Winch 4/6
Miss Garfit 5/6
Miss Kendal 5/6
Miss D. Boothby 5/6
Miss M. Coles 5/6
Miss A. Ransome 5/6
Miss E. Longhurst 15
Miss Squire 15
Miss Eastlake Smith 15
Miss Paterson 15
Miss Tootell 15

In 1905 I paid my first visit to the South of France. I was unlucky
enough to sprain my wrist; but in spite of this mishap, the change of
conditions, courts, and surroundings were all so novel that I thoroughly
enjoyed my visit. The courts at the Beau Site, Cannes, are absolutely
perfect, both as regards surface and background; and when one has got
used to the different bound of the ball and the rather trying glare of
the sun, one could not wish for better conditions for good tennis. Many
a famous match has been fought out on these courts; and situated as they
are in the beautiful grounds of the Hotel Beau Site, where most of the
players stay, the environment is ideal. I was only able to play in the
Monte Carlo tournament, after a few days' practice on the Beau Site
courts, for it was just at the start of the Nice tournament that the
accident to my wrist occurred. It was very disappointing to default
after coming so far to take part in these tournaments. Several months
elapsed before I could use my wrist again, and I was not able to play in
any of the tournaments before I defended my title at Wimbledon.


This year Miss May Sutton, the American lady champion, paid her first
visit to England, and carried all before her, winning the championship
of England and many other events, all without the loss of a single
set--truly a wonderful performance. If any one had pluck it was Miss
Sutton. To come to a strange country, practically friendless (Miss
Sutton made many friends over here, but she came over alone), and to
play and defeat one after another of the best players in this country,
was a feat which filled us all with unbounded admiration.


I have played Miss Sutton five times, losing three and winning two of
the matches. Of the three matches I lost, two were at Wimbledon, in the
challenge rounds of 1905 and 1907, and the third at Beckenham in the
challenge round of 1907. My two victories were both gained in 1906, in
the challenge rounds at Liverpool and Wimbledon. Certainly the most
exciting match I have ever played, and the one that gave me the most
pleasure to win, was my match at Wimbledon against Miss Sutton in 1906.
The match itself was not exactly enjoyable--the strain was too great; so
much seemed to depend upon me, both for my own reputation, and that of
my country. When Mr. Palmer, secretary of the All England Club, escorted
us into the centre court and left us, with a word of encouragement in my
ear, I felt helpless and destitute. You cannot realize what it means to
face four thousand people and know that so much depends on your own
exertions and coolness. Miss Sutton, I think, must have felt this
loneliness in a still greater degree, for she was away from her country,
her own people and friends. I have never had such a craving to speak to
some one as I had in this match--just one friendly word to tell me
whether I was playing the right sort of game or not. I confess my
feelings were very strung up.

I remember in the second set, when Miss Sutton led at three games to
love, I said to the umpire as we crossed over, "I wonder, have I gone
off, or is she playing much better?" But, of course, his face was like a
mask; he didn't vouchsafe a word. Not that I expected him to speak, but
I felt I simply must say something to some one. He told me afterwards he
wanted to say, "I don't know; but stick to it whatever happens!"
Concentration on the game in this match was terribly difficult, as the
crowd was so huge and seemed so excited; it was almost impossible to
forget the people and lose yourself in the game. I can quite well
remember a dispute going on in the open stand for quite a long time
during the first set. I think a lady would not put down her sunshade;
there was quite a commotion about it. And then people near would shout
advice to me, or scream out, "It's over! Run!" This happened two or
three times; and although I knew they were trying to help me, which in
itself was cheering and encouraging, it was very distracting and
disconcerting. But after some time I lost it all, and became engrossed
in the game. I think in 1907 Miss Sutton was much steadier and played a
better all-round game, but I do not think she had quite the same
terrific fore-hand drive as in the first two years she was over here.
Her strokes were safer perhaps, but not so formidable and powerful.


One of the great charms of playing in various tournaments is the means
it affords of visiting all the different towns and countries. It may
involve considerable travelling and expense, but the touring abroad is
both an education and a delight. Monte Carlo, Nice, Cannes, Homburg,
Baden-Baden and Dinard, all bring the pleasantest reminiscences. Many of
us have travelled about together, which is the jolliest way of doing
the tournaments. I remember one most enjoyable trip, when Miss Lowther
motored the Hillyards and myself through Germany--an ideal way of
"doing" tournaments! The place at which a meeting is held, its
surroundings, also the facilities it offers for amusement in the evening
after your day's tennis is over, add to the enjoyment and make a
material difference. It will always be one of my chief delights, in
thinking of my tennis career, to remember the hospitality and many
courtesies I have everywhere received, and the many friends I have made,
who I trust will remain friends long after my tennis is a thing of the

It is extraordinary how naive the general public sometimes are. People
will watch first-class tennis, sitting for hours together perhaps in
great discomfort, and yet display a lamentable want of knowledge about
the game. In fact, to many its object is a mystery! This seems hardly
possible, but it is quite true. I once overheard a lady who was
watching a match in the centre court at Wimbledon remark, "There, that's
the very first time that man has hit the net with the ball, and he has
had hundreds of tries!" I thought the man mentioned must be playing
pretty good tennis! One really wonders why these onlookers spend so much
time round a court, or where the pleasure can come in for them.

At a garden party not so very long ago where tennis was on the
programme, the visitors, arriving on the court, found one solitary ball,
tied round with a long piece of string, the other end being attached to
the net. To a natural inquiry the hostess replied, "Oh, they lost so
many balls in the shrubbery last year, I really couldn't afford it, and
thought of this plan. It has been most successful. This ball has lasted
for ages!" Another lady at Eastbourne, whom I had noticed because she
never left her seat, bringing her lunch with her so as not to lose a
moment's play, asked me at the end of the week, while watching a double,
whether the partners were side by side or opposite, as in bridge!

One of the most rooted mistakes in the public mind is that the
first-class player is a professional. Many times people have said to me,
"You must be making quite a nice bit of pocket-money from your tennis."
"Making?" I say. "Spending, you mean!"--which always makes them stare in
amazement. This fallacy annoys me very much, and is, I find, very
common. Let me take the opportunity here of pointing out that there are
no professional lawn tennis players excepting a few coaches at Queen's
Club, London, and at some of the clubs abroad; these men, of course,
cannot compete in open tournaments.



_The following contributions, in response to a request for some account
of their most noteworthy encounter on court, have been kindly furnished
for this volume by leading lady players._


(_Champion_, 1886, 1889, 1894, 1897, 1899, 1900)

One of the most exciting matches I remember was the final for the
Championship at Wimbledon, played on the centre court on July 6, 1889,
between Miss Rice and me. I started very nervously, as Miss Rice had
given me rather a fright in the Irish Championship the month before,
when she appeared in Dublin as a "dark horse." On that occasion I had
only scraped through 7/5, 7/5. I began the match at Wimbledon by
serving a double fault, and lost several games by doing the same thing
in the first set. My length was awful, and Miss Rice was playing well
from the start. She had a very fine fore-hand drive, but, like myself, a
bad back-hand. She led at 3 games to 1, and took the first set at 6/4.
In the second set I regained my confidence a little, winning three love
games out of the first four; but Miss Rice won the next four games in
succession, the score being called 5/3 and 40/15 against me. At this
point, in my despair, I said to Mr. Chipp, who was umpiring the match,
"What _can_ I do?" His grim answer was, "Play better, I should think." I
then fully realized that I had not been playing my best game, and that
to win I must hit harder. This I did, with the result that my length
improved and I snatched this game from the fire--although Miss Rice was
three times within a stroke of the match--and I eventually won the set
at 8/6.

The last set was well fought out, for, although I began well and led at
3/1, Miss Rice won the next three games in succession and reached 40/30
in the following game. This was her last effort, as I ran out at 6/4,
winning the Championship for the second time. I think it was one of the
closest matches I ever played, and I see by _Pastime_ that I only won 18
games to her 16, and 110 strokes to her 100, and I felt I was most lucky
to win at all.

[Signature: Blanche Hillyard]


(_Champion_, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1901, 1908)

Of course it goes without saying that my most memorable and exciting
matches will all be those in which I have excelled or been the most
distinguished person at the immediate moment! Let me just say that I am
not going to give details of any match, as that is beyond my power and,
I assume, of little interest to the reader.

Winning my first championship of the Ealing Lawn Tennis Club at the age
of 14 was a very important moment in my life. How well I remember,
bedecked by my proud mother in my best clothes, running off to the Club
on the Saturday afternoon to play in the final without a vestige of
nerve (would that I had none now!), and winning--that was the first
really important match of my life.

Another great game will always be imprinted on my memory, and that was
in 1894, the first year that the late Mr. H.S. Mahony and I won the All
England Mixed Championship. We beat Mrs. Hillyard and Mr. W. Baddeley in
the final. The excitement of the onlookers was intense, and never shall
I forget the overpowering sensation I felt as we walked, after our win,
past the Aigburth Cricket Ground Stand, packed to its limit. How the
people clapped and cheered us! It was tremendous.

[Illustration: MRS. HILLYARD]

[Illustration: MRS. STERRY]

[Illustration: MISS V.M. PINCKNEY]

[Illustration: MISS D. BOOTHBY]

Another memory--the year 1895. Certainly I must be honest and say it
wasn't exactly a good championship win, for Miss Dodd, Mrs. Hillyard,
and Miss Martin were all standing out. Any of these could have beaten
me. Nevertheless it was a delightful feeling to win the blue ribbon of
England, especially as my opponent in the final, Miss Jackson, had led
5-love in both sets! By some good fortune I was able to win seven games
off the reel in each case.

One more match--in 1907. I had heard a great deal about Miss May Sutton
(who made her first appearance in England in 1905) beating everybody
without the loss of a set. I had also heard she was a giant of strength,
and that the harder one hit the more she liked it. The first time I met
her was at Liverpool in 1907--I did not play the previous season. I was
determined to introduce unfamiliar tactics, giving her short balls in
order to entice her up to the net. The result was that many of her
terrific drives went out, and I think this was primarily the reason why
I was the first lady in England to take a set from her. I recollect her
telling me, after the match was over, that my game was very different to
any other she had ever played, and that she was not anxious to meet me
again--remarks I took as a great compliment.

There are scores of games just the reverse of pleasant which are
imprinted on my memory, but I am not going to revive them at my own
expense, hoping they have been forgotten and forgiven to my account, by
any unfortunate partners I have ever let down.

[Signature: Chattie R. Sterry.]


_(Doubles Champion,_ 1899; _Mixed Doubles Champion of Ireland, 1898,
1901, 1902)_

A match that remains in my memory perhaps more than any other was the
final of the Irish Championship Singles at Dublin in 1902, when Miss
Martin and I met and had a long struggle for supremacy. At one time it
really seemed as if I must win this match, as I led at 5 games to 1 and
was within a stroke of the match. But I could not make that one point.
Once when I had the advantage and only wanted an ace to win the match,
one of my returns ran along the top of the net, and then, unfortunately
for me, dropped my side. Miss Martin stuck to her guns persistently and
eventually pulled the match out of the fire, winning the next six games
straight off and thus becoming Irish Champion for 1902. It was very
disappointing to lose after being so near victory. The score in Mis
Martin's favour was 6/8, 6/4, 7/5.

[Signature: Ruth Durlacher]


_(Champion of London, 1907, 1908)_

In recalling the most remarkable lawn tennis match that I have ever
played, I do not think I can do better than give the Open Mixed Double
semi-final that took place on the final day of the Kent Championship
Meeting at Beckenham on June 1, 1908. Mr. Roper Barrett and I met Mr.
Prebble and Miss Boothby, and the story of the match is one of startling
lapses and recoveries. In the first set Mr. Prebble and Miss Boothby
profited by the combination born of frequent association in Mixed
Doubles. Miss Boothby was very good from the back of the court and Mr.
Prebble seemed to make mincemeat of my returns. It was their set by 6/4.
In the second set Mr. Roper Barrett was quite wonderful, and killed
every ball that he could possibly reach. The result was that the set was
easily ours by 6/1. Our opponents, however, had something in reserve,
and, I playing badly, they ran away to 5/0 in the third set. All seemed
over. My partner and I made a great effort and got one game, and we
congratulated ourselves on saving a love set. Then the excitement began,
and we added game after game to our side. I am sure the crowd beame
intensely interested, and quite worked themselves up as we drew to 5
all. Mr. Barrett at this time was simply invincible, and I managed
somehow to keep the balls out of Mr. Prebble's reach and play everything
to Miss Boothby, upon whom devolved the responsibility. My partner
volleyed at all kinds of remarkable angles, and, as _The Sportsman_ in
describing the match, remarked, "sat on the net and was in complete
command." We took seven games consecutively and won the set at 7/5, and
with it a memorable match.

[Signature: Violet M. Pinckney]


(_Champion_, 1909)

Without doubt my most exciting match was the final last year at
Wimbledon. In every player's heart there must be a faint hope that one
day she may win the All England Championship. At least it has always
been in mine.

From Christmas and all through the spring my family and friends had
dinned into my ears that now was my chance, and if I did not win this
year I never would. Only when I was leading one set up and 2-love in the
second did all these things flash across my mind. I suddenly got
nervous. Oh, the misery of it! I served double fault after double fault
(I learnt afterwards that I gave away sixteen points in this way), and
my friends told me that it was a relief to them when my service went
over the net at all, however slowly. My opponent, Miss Morton, caught
up, won the set 6/4, and led me 4/2 in the final set. All this time I
had been fighting hard to regain confidence. At last my nerve came
back--I was determined to win, and, only after a very great effort, just
succeeded in capturing the Championship with the narrow margin of 8/6 in
the final set.

It was not until I had finished and had come off the court that I
realized how very excited I had been, and how relieved I was when it was
all over. Only those who have had experience can know how exhausting it
is to concentrate one's whole thoughts and efforts, without cessation,
for an hour or more. Fortunately you do not feel the strain until
afterwards, when it does not matter, and then you can look back with
very great pleasure and satisfaction on a hard-won fight.

[Signature: Dora P. Boothby.]


(_Doubles Champion_, 1903, 1904; _Mixed Doubles Champion_, 1904, 1905)

My "most memorable match" was in the All England Mixed Doubles
Championship at Liverpool in 1904. Mr. S.H. Smith and I were playing
Miss Wilson and Mr. A.W. Gore, and we had a great struggle for victory.
I do not remember the exact score, but at one time our opponents were
within an ace of the match. Miss Wilson served to me in the left
court--a good service out on the side line. I played a straight
back-hand shot down the line, passing Mr. Gore's forehand--rather a
desperate stroke, as if it failed to pass him it meant certain death
from one of his straight-arm volleys. Perhaps he was not guarding his
line so well as usual, under the impression that I would not have the
courage to try to pass him at such a critical moment--anyway, we won the
point; and eventually the match and the championship, beating the
holders, Miss D.K. Douglass and Mr. F.L. Riseley, in a most exciting
match--almost as "memorable" to me, because I hit Mr. Riseley three
times with smashes. I remember that side-line stroke and those three
"hits" with great joy!

[Signature: Ethel W. Larcombe.]


(_Covered Court Champion_, 1907)

I find it a matter of some difficulty to decide which is the most
memorable of the more important matches in which I have played. Four or
five as I recall them seem, each in turn, to have left a lasting
impression on my memory for one reason or another. Yet none of them
appear more worthy of note than the others. The match which I think I
shall remember long after many others are forgotten took place last year
(1909) in the comparatively small and little-known tournament at Romsey.
For the first time for some years I had missed winter practice on the
covered courts at Queen's Club and in the South of France, and when I
started again late in June, on moderate club courts and against none too
keen opponents, I found myself looking forward with apprehension to my
first effort in public. In the semi-final of the Ladies' Open Singles
at Romsey I met Miss Sugden, whose well-merited reputation as a lawn
tennis player is more or less a local one, chiefly for the reason that
she has not competed in any of the first-class tournaments. It was a
close afternoon, and the court being heavy we both felt the heat very
much as the game progressed. I never really looked like winning the
first set; my opponent led 4/1, and though I managed to equalize she
easily ran out at 6/4. It was in the second set that the real struggle
took place. In spite of all my efforts, Miss Sugden won game after game,
until the game stood at 5/1 against me and 30 all; but by good luck I
snatched that game and the two following. At 5/4 and my service we had
deuce quite ten or twelve times, but in the end I managed to win and
took the set at 7/5. After that I felt better, and with renewed
confidence and steadier nerves I won the final set at, I think, 6/3.

There was nothing particularly remarkable in the match, but somehow I
felt that confidence in myself for the future depended in a great
measure on my success in this event, and, in spite of having a very
sporting opponent, I never felt more relieved in my life than when the
last stroke was played.

[Signature: Gladys S. Lamplough.]


(_Runner up for the Championship_, 1909)

[Illustration: Mrs. Larcombe]

[Illustration: Mrs. Lamplough]

[Illustration: Miss A.M. Morton]

[Illustration: Miss A.N.G. Greene]

I feel I owe an apology to Mrs. Luard for writing about a match in which
I happened to beat her, as she is, and was then, a player altogether a
class above me. No doubt it became "memorable," as I certainly never
expected to win at the outset, and still less so when I was undergoing
one of those ghastly "creep-ups" in the final set. It happened in 1904
at Wimbledon, on the centre court, in the semi-final of the
Championship. Miss Wilson (as she then was) started well and won the
first set 6/3, the second went to me at 6/4, and the third set seemed as
if it would go to either of us in turn. Everything went well for me till
I actually got to 5/1 and it was 15/40 on her service; then I lost two
points quite easily--those winning shots are so hard to make! And at
deuce we had a tremendous rally, which ended in a good side-line shot by
my opponent that I couldn't get to and didn't even try. The linesman
called "out," which I contradicted, and general confusion took place,
the spectators joining in the fray--and it all arose through the ball
being given "out" in the middle of the long rally when a train was
passing, and we neither of us heard it. I never knew the explanation
till after the match and was quite convinced I had "sneaked" the point,
and somehow I went all to pieces, and everything went as badly as it
had gone well before, till Miss Wilson crept up to 6/5. Then I made an
expiring effort just in time. I dare say she was tired, for I won that
game fairly easily. We had a great fight for the thirteenth, which I
fortunately won, and finished the match with a love game. And no one was
more surprised than I.

[Signature: A.M. Morton.]


_(East of England Champion_, 1903, 1905)

It is difficult to decide on the most memorable match one has ever
played. Each in turn seems at the time to be the most important. One
which I found very exciting at the time was against Mrs. Luard in the
final for the Cup at Felixstowe. I won the first set 6/3, and led 5/1
and 40/30 in the next, when Mrs. Luard sent me a short easy ball--a
certain "kill" at any other time. I sent it out. Four times after that I
was within a point of the match, but could not quite pull it off, and
Mrs. Luard, playing up brilliantly, not only won that set, but led 5/2
in the third. Then I made a final effort, and though it was always
touch-and-go I managed to make it 6/5. In the next game Mrs. Luard was
40-love, but after a great struggle I got it, and so won the match,
though it was anybody's game to the end.

[Signature: A.N.G. Greene.]



All England Club
Athletics for girls
Austin, Miss


Back-hand drive
Baddeley, Mr. W.
Barrett, Mr. Roper
Beau Site, Hotel


Championship, the
Chipp, Mr. H.
Chiswick Park
"Complete Lawn Tennis Player, The"
Cooper, Miss C. (see also Sterry, Mrs.)


Dod, Miss
Doherty, Mr. R.F.
Douglass, Miss D.K.
Durlacher, Mrs.
Dyas, Miss


Ealing L.T.C.
Ealing Common L.T.C.


Fore-hand drive
France, South of


Garfit, Miss
Gipsy Tournament
Gore, Mr. A.W.
Greene, Miss A.N.G.
Greville, Mrs.


Health, effect on
Mr. G.W.


Jackson, Miss
Jones, Miss M.


Lamplough, Mrs.
Larcombe, Mrs.
See Thomson, Miss
_Lawn Tennis_
Lawn tennis and golf
cost of
Low volleys
Lowther, Miss
Luard, Mrs.
(see also Wilson, Miss C.M.)


Mahony, Mr. H.S.
Martin, Miss L.
Match play
Mixed doubles
Monte Carlo
Morgan, Miss E.R.
Morton, Miss
Myers, A. Wallis




Palmer, Mr.
Pinckney, Miss V.
Practice, how to
Prebble, Mr. A.D.


Queen's Club


Rice, Miss
Riseley, Mr. F.L.
Robb, Miss


Schulenberg, Countess
Smith, Mr. S.H.
_Sportsman, The_
Sterry, Mrs.
Sugden, Miss
Sutton, Miss


Thomson, Miss E.W.
Thorpe Satchville
Tournaments, abuse of
Tournaments, management of
value of
Tulloch, Miss B.






Watson, Miss M.
Wilson, Miss C.M.

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