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THE ART OF LAWN TENNIS (chapte13)

2006-08-28 21:38

    CHAPTER XIII. BRITISH ISLES

    J. C. PARKE There is no name in tennis history of the past decade more famous than that of J. C. Parke. In twelve months, during  and , he defeated Brookes, Wilding, and M'Loughlin——a notable record; and now in , after his wonderful work in the World War, he returns to tennis and scores a decisive victory over W. M. Johnston.

    Parke is essentially a baseline player. His service is soft, flat, but well placed. His ground strokes are hit with an almost flat racquet face and a peculiar short swing. He uses a pronounced snap of the wrist. He slices his straight backhand shot, but pulls his drive 'cross court. It is Parke's famous running drive down the line that is the outstanding feature of his game. Parke was a ten-second hundred-yard man in college, and still retains his remarkable speed of foot. He hits his drive while running at top speed and translates his weight to the ball. It shoots low and fast down the line. It is a marvellous stroke.

    Parke's volleying is steady and well placed but not decisive. His overhead is reliable and accurate, but lacks "punch." The great factor of Parke's game is his uncanny ability to produce his greatest game under the greatest stress. I consider him one of the finest match players in the world. His tactical knowledge and brainy attack are all the more dangerous, because he has phenomenal power of defence and fighting qualities of the highest order. There is no finer sportsman in tennis than Parke. Generous, quiet, and modest, Parke is deservedly a popular figure with the tennis world.

    A. R. F. KINGSCOTE The most recent star to reach the heights of fame in English tennis is Major A. R. F. Kingscote. Kingscote has played good tennis for some years; but it was only in , following his excellent work in the War, that he showed his true worth. He defeated Gobert in sequence sets in the Davis Cup tie at Deauville, and followed by defeating Anderson in Australia and carrying Patterson to a hard match. Since then he has steadily improved and this season found him the leading figure of the British team.

    Kingscote played much of his early tennis with R. N. Williams in Switzerland during  and . The effect of this training is easily seen on his game to-day for, without Williams' dash and extreme brilliancy, their strokes are executed in very much the same style.

    Kingscote's service is a fast slice, well placed and cleverly disguised. It carries a great deal of pace and twist. His ground strokes are hit off the rising bound of the ball, with a flat raquet face or a slight slice. His wonderful speed of foot offsets his lack of height, and he hits either side with equal facility. There are no gaps in Kingscote's game. It is perfectly rounded. His favourite forehand shot is 'cross court, yet he can hit equally well down the line. His backhand is steady, very accurate and deceptive, but rather lacks speed. His volleying is remarkable for his court covering and angles, but is not the decisive win of Williams or Johnston. He is the best volleyer in the British Isles. His overhead is reliable and accurate for so short a man, but at times is prone to lack speed.

    Kingscote is a sound tactician without the strategic brilliance of Parke. He is a fine match player and dogged fighter. Witness his -set battle with me in the Championships, after being match point down in the fourth set, and his -set struggle with Johnston in the Davis Cup. It is a slight lack of decisiveness all round that keeps Kingscote just a shade below the first flight. He is a very fine player, who may easily become a top-notch man. His pleasant, modest manner and generous sportsmanship make him an ideal opponent, and endear him to the gallery.

    H. ROPER BARRETT One of the real tennis tacticians, a man who is to-day a veteran of many a notable encounter, yet still dangerous at all times, is H. Roper Barrett.

    A member of every Davis Cup team since the matches were inaugurated, a doubles player of the highest strategy, Roper Barrett needs no introduction or analysis. His, game is soft. His service looks a joke. In reality it is hard to hit, for Barrett pushes it to the most unexpected places. His ground strokes, soft, short, and low, are ideal doubles shots. He angles off the ball with a short shove in the direction. He can drive hard when pressed, but prefers to use the slow poke.

    His volleying is the acme of finesse. He angles soft to the side-lines, stop volleys the hardest drives successfully. He picks openings with an unerring eye. His overhead lacks "punch," but is steady and reliable.

    Barrett is a clever mixer of shots. He is playing the unexpected shot to the unexpected place. His sense of anticipation is remarkable, and he retrieves the most unusual shots. It is his great tennis tactics that make him noteworthy. His game is round but not wonderful.

    THE LOWES, A. H. AND F. G.

    The famous brothers, called indiscriminately the Lowes, are two of the best baseline players in the British Isles. Both men play almost identical styles, and at a distance are very hard to tell apart.

    Gordon Lowe uses a slice service, while Arthur serves with a reverse spin. Neither man has a dangerous delivery. Both are adequate and hard to win earned points from.

    The ground strokes of the Lowes are very orthodox. Full swing, top spin drives fore- and backhand, straight or 'cross court, are hit with equal facility. The Lowes volley defensively and only come in to the let when pulled in by a short shot. Their overhead work is average.

    Their games are not startling. There is nothing to require much comment. Both men are excellent tennis players of the true English school: fine base- line drivers, but subject to defeat by any aggressive volleyer. It is a lack of aggressiveness that holds both men down, for they are excellent court coverers, fine racquet wielders, but do not rise to real heights. The Lowes could easily defeat any player who was slightly off his game, as they are very steady and make few mistakes. Neither would defeat a first- class player at his best.

    T. M. MAVROGORDATO One of the most consistent winners in English tennis for a span of years is a little man with a big name, who is universally and popularly known as "Mavro."

    "Mavro" added another notable victory in , when he defeated R.

    N. Williams in the last eight in the World Championships. "Mavro" has always been a fine player, but he has never quite scaled the top flight. His game is steadiness personified. He shoves his service in the court at the end of a prodigious swing that ends in a poke. It goes where he wishes it. His ground strokes are fine, in splendid form, very accurate and remarkably fast for so little effort. Mavro is not large enough to hit hard, but owing to his remarkable footwork he covers a very large territory in a remarkably short space of time. His racquet work is a delight to a student of orthodox form. His volleying is accurate, steady, well placed but defensive. He has no speed or punch to his volley. His overhead is steady to the point of being unique. He is so small that it seems as if anyone could lob over his head, but his speed of foot is so great that he invariably gets his racquet on it and puts it back deep.

    Mavro turns, defence into attack by putting the ball back in play so often that his opponent gets tired hitting it and takes unnecessary chances. His accuracy is so great that it makes up for his lack of speed. His judgment is sound but not brilliant. He is a hard-working, conscientious player who deserves, his success.

    There are many other players who are interesting studies. The two Australians, now living in England, and to all intents and purposes Englishmen, Randolph Lycett and F. M. B. Fisher, are distinct and interesting types of players. C. P. Dixon, Stanley Doust, M. J. G. Ritchie, Max Woosnam, the rising young star, P. M. Davson, A. E. Beamish, W. C. Crawley, and scores of other excellent players, will carry the burden of English tennis successfully for some years. Yet new blood must be found to infuse energy into the game. Speed is a necessity in English tennis if the modern game is to reach its greatest height in the British Isles.

    Youth must be seen soon, if the game in the next ten years is to be kept at its present level. Parke, Mavro, Ritchie, Dixon, Barrett, etc., cannot go on for ever, and young players must be developed to take their places. The coming decade is the crucial period of English tennis. I hope and believe it will be successfully passed.

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