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THE ART OF LAWN TENNIS (chapter15)

2006-08-28 21:44

    CHAPTER XV. SPAIN AND THE CONTINENT

    Spain

    A new factor entered the arena of world tennis in  in the appearance of a Spanish Davis Cup team. Among their number is a star who bids fair to become one of the greatest players the world has ever seen. A scintillating personality, brilliant versatile game, and fighting temperament placed this young unknown in the first rank in one year of competition.

    MANUEL ALONZO

    Seldom have I seen such wonderful natural abilities as are found in this young Spaniard. Here is a player par excellence if he develops as he gives promise. Alonzo is young, about , slight, attractive in personality and court manners, quick to the point of almost miraculous court covering. He is a great attraction at any tournament.

    His service is a fairly fast American twist. It is not remarkable but is at least more severe than the average continental delivery.

    Alonzo has a terrific forehand drive that is the closest rival to W. M. Johnston's of any shot I have seen. He is reliable on this stroke, either straight or cross-court from the deep court but if drawn in to mid-court is apt to miss it. His backhand is a flat drive, accurate and low but rather slow and in the main defensive.

    His volleying is at once a joy and a disappointment. Such marvellous angles and stop volleys off difficult drives! Yet immediately on top of a dazzling display Alonzo will throw away the easiest sort of a high volley by a pitiable fluke.

    His overhead is at once severe, deadly and reliable. He smashes with speed and direction. It is not only in his varied stroke equipment that Alonzo is great but in his marvellous footwork. Such speed of foot and lightning turning I have never before seen on a tennis court. He is a quicker man than Norman E. Brookes and higher praise I cannot give. I look to see Alonzo, who today loses matches through lack of resource, become by virtue of experience and tournament play the greatest player on the continent.

    His brother, J. M. Alonzo, although nowhere in Manuel's class, is a fine all court player as are Count de Gomar and Flaquer, the remaining members of the Cup team. If Alonzo and his teammates are an indication of the type of players Spain is developing a new and powerful factor in the tennis world is entering the field to stay.

    Some Other Champions

    There are some individual players of interest from the countries where tennis as a game has not reached a place worthy of national analysation but who deserve mention among the great players of the world.

    First among them comes Nicholas Mishu of Rumania.

    N. MISHU What can I say of Mishu? As a tennis player he defies analysis. His game is a freak. He adores to do the unusual and his game abounds in freak shots that Mishu executes with remarkable skill. He has many and varied services, underhand cuts, fore and backhand, a "push" off his nose, and even one serve where he turns his back on the court and serves the ball back over his head.

    His drives are cramped in swing and hit with excessive top spin. His footwork is a defiance of all rules. His volleying game looks like an accident, yet Mishu produces results. In  he beat A. H. Gobert in the World's Hard Court Championship at St. Cloud. Mishu is a winner. I don't know how he does it but he does. He is above all a unique personality. Cheery, individual, at times eccentric, Mishu is a popular figure in tournaments abroad. He plays with a verve and abandon that appeals to the European galleries while his droll humour and good nature make him a delightful opponent.

    J. WASHER Belgium is represented by J. Washer, my opponent in the final round of the Hard Court Championship of the World in . Washer is a fine orthodox tennis player. His service is a well placed twist delivery of medium pace. He has a terrific forehand drive that gains in effectiveness owing to the fact he is a left-hander. Like so many players with a pronounced strength, he covers up an equally pronounced weakness by using the strength. Washer has a very feeble backhand for so fine a player. He pokes his backhand when he is unable to run around it.

    His overhead is strong, speedy and reliable. His volleying lacks punch and steadiness. He has had little tournament experience and shows promise of great improvement if given the opportunity.

    E. TEGNER Denmark is represented by a player of promise and skill in the person of E. Tegner. This young star defeated W. H. Laurentz at St. Cloud in the Hard Court Championship of the World in  when the latter was holder of the title.

    Tegner is a baseline player of fine style. His strokes are long free drives of fine pace and depth. His service is hardly adequate for first flight tennis, yet while his ground game cannot make up for the lack of aggression in his net attack. Tegner is not of championship quality at the moment but his youth allows him plenty of time to acquire that tournament experience needed to fill in the gaps in his game. He is a cool, clever court general and should develop rapidly within the next few years.

    H. L. DE MORPURGO The Italian champion, H. L. de Morpurgo, is a product of his own country and England where he attended college. He is a big, rangy man of great strength. He uses a terrific service of great speed but little control on his first ball and an exaggerated American twist on the second of such extreme contortion that even his great frame wears down under it.

    His ground game is of flat drives that lack sufficient pace and accuracy to allow him to reap the full benefit of his really excellent net attack. His volleying is very good owing to his great reach. His overhead, like his service, is hard but erratic. Unfortunately he is slow on his feet and thus loses much of the advantage of his large reach. He seems to lack confidence in his game but that should come with more experience.

    A. ZERLENDI Tennis in Greece. No! not in ancient times but in modern, for that little country has a remarkable little baseline star, by name A. Zerlendi. This man is a baseliner of the most pronounced type. He gets everything he can put his racquet to. He reminds me irresistibly of Mavrogordato, seemingly reaching nothing yet they all come back. I cannot adequately analyse his game because his first principle is to put back the ball no matter how, and this he carries into excellent effect. Zerlendi is a match winner first and a stylist second.

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