End of Under hand Twist Service.

End of Under-hand Twist Service.

Fore hand Stroke.

Fore-hand Stroke.

It is but natural that as success attends one line of play, we are tempted to overdo it, forgetting that by too constant use we teach an opponent what to expect, thereby weakening our game.

As the first exponent of the net game in this country, O. S. Campbell made his mark; and it is to his remarkable proficiency in this department that he owes his three successive championships of 1890, 1891, and 1892. Since that time his following has been large; though no one, barring C. B. Neel, has carried his methods to such an extreme. When Neel appeared before the Eastern public for the first time at Newport in 1895, comparatively unknown and certainly underrated, his easy defeat of M. G. Chace - who with R. L. Stevens ranked as the best back-court player in America - was a great surprise. It was volley against ground stroke throughout, - a test, as it were, of the two schools, and for that reason aroused much interest.

End of a Back hand Stroke, off the Ground.

End of a Back-hand Stroke, off the Ground.

Though Chace hardly held to the game he is capable of, the persistent and untiring returns of his opponent, whether from a lob or a side-line drive, were in great measure responsible for his "falling off." To play well at the net, one must think and act simultaneously; there is no time for cool consideration, or even the fraction of a second's grace accorded to the back-court player as the ball rises from the ground. If the chance presents itself, through the weak return of an opponent, the ball must be "killed," or cut to the side line with such nicety that there is no possibility of a return. This latter stroke is effected with a quick wrist movement, requiring not so much strength as delicacy, and only acquired by long practice. Our double champions in 1894, C. Hobart and F. H. Hovey, are past-masters of this art, which makes their game a brilliant one to watch.

Opposed to the class of volleyers, R. L. Stevens stands out prominently at the head of the back-court players. Within the last year he has not kept so rigorously to the base line, but it is only on rare occasions that he approaches the net. By his wonderful accuracy and steadiness he is enabled to meet on equal terms the best net players this country has produced; but his is the exceptional case. M. G. Chace, too, is essentially a back-court player; but he varies his brilliant low drives from the base line with now and then a rally at the net. In the judgment of Dr. Pirn and Mr. Ma-honey, who spent a part of the 1895 season in this country, M. G. Chace's game showed possibilities above anything they had met with. Certain it is, that for good form, endurance, and accuracy he is remarkable.

Second only to him in these characteristics comes G. L. Wrenn, whose game promises much for the future.

In the base-line game, a steady ground stroke fore- and back-handed is indispensable. One must be able to "cross-court" or drive down the line at will. Much of the success of these strokes depends upon the rapidity with which they are executed;

The Cut.

The Cut.

Back hand Volley.

Back-hand Volley.

for it is fatal to allow an opponent at the net to discover the intended direction of the ball. The lob also is an important factor in the make-up of back-play. Until recent years this method of tossing a ball high in the air over an opponent's head was relegated almost entirely to defensive tactics; it was valuable only as an escape from an awkward position, or to gain time for a short breathing-spell, but now it embraces new functions, which have brought it to the front as a strong offensive stroke. As a means of tiring out an opponent, it has been tried in long matches with surprising results; and though this sounds like a negative sort of praise, we may as well admit that the value of a stroke is determined by its effectiveness, and give the lob credit for what it accomplishes. I recall at least three important matches during the last tennis season which were practically won by systematic lobbing.

Back hand Half Volley.

Back-hand Half Volley.

There are two distinct kinds of lobs which will bear careful study. In using the first, the ball is tossed just high enough to be fairly out of reach of an opponent who has taken his position very close to the net. The stroke is made with the idea of allowing him no time to rush back and return the ball as it bounces. The second lob is tossed high in the air, - the higher the better, - so that its descent will make a nearly vertical line. To "smash" such a ball, even should it fall close to the net, is not easy; while if it is placed near the base line, there is likelihood that it will be returned out of court.

Where we show at a disadvantage with English players is in the back-hand stroke. It is no uncommon sight, even in the National Championship, to see a man, if not actually running around the ball, at least so favoring his back hand that a part of his court is left unprotected. The mere fact of shirking a stroke is proof of weakness, which will be taken advantage of at once by a clever opponent.

A simple practice, which I have found invaluable in improving weak ground strokes, is to spend some half-hour a day in batting balls against an even wall on which a line has been marked three feet from the ground. If the work is done carefully, with the idea of detecting faults, I can guarantee good results.

Half Volley Backward.

Half Volley Backward.

In the separate analyses which I have made of the net and back-court games, I hope that my main point will not be missed, - that it is a combination of these two styles, and not the perfection of one singly, which is necessary to the success of a player. Let it be remembered that a good all-around game will win where brilliancy in one department fails.