By Robert D. Wrenn

Lawn Tennis 75

THOUGH the tennis enthusiast is loath to admit the fact, it must be conceded that during the last two years lawn tennis has not held its own in this country, or, in fact, abroad. If we look into the reasons for this temporary falling off in popularity of a game which has hitherto been in such favor, we are brought face to face with golf and cycling. It may not be out of place to state here that the American is, above everything, fond of innovations; so no sooner was the game of golf fairly introduced from England, than rackets were stored away to give place to the new fad. Understand, I do not decry golf: it has come to this country to stay, and is deservedly popular; but I do feel, and feel strongly, that once the novelty of the game has worn off, there will be a return to the ranks of tennis by the many who care for a keener form of exercise than the golf course permits. Cycling, too, for the time being has made inroads on tennis, allowing to a part of the public, at least, no leisure for other sport. However, even with such formidable rivals in the field, we are bound to preserve a game which embodies so many good qualities; and surely no one will gainsay that, as a healthful form of exercise which puts in use every muscle of the body without an injurious strain; as a school of training for nerve, judgment, and quick thought; and finally as a sport which generates the keenest spirit of rivalry, tennis has no superior.

(Champion of the United States, 1896.)

Fore hand Volley.

Fore-hand Volley.

While tennis may have lost ground in the public eye, if we follow the development of the game in this country, there is a gratifying advancement to be noted along many lines. It is true we have not reached

The Smash

The Smash the proficiency of our English cousins - that is but natural considering their long schooling in the game; then, too, the English season is longer not only in months, but in the hours of each day, and where we can devote one hour to practice, the average Englishman can devote three. Another advantage to our rivals lies in the fact that they keep up their game to a much greater age than we do. It has always seemed a pity that so many of the best players we have produced have retired from the game at an age when they should be in their prime. Our business requirements are in a measure responsible for this; but it is a fallacy to contend that once in business, there is no possibility of holding top form. What we need is a longer tennis life in this country - if the expression can be used. In England a player is almost always improving until he is thirty, and frequently after that age. Take the case of Dr. Pirn, champion of

England in 1895. It was only at the age of thirty-four that he won his coveted title, after years of defeats.

Notwithstanding the drawbacks just enumerated, we are certainly closing up the gap which has separated us from the best of the English field of players. W. A. Larned's record abroad during the past season is a convincing proof of this. While it is true that he won none of the larger tournaments, his matches were a succession of close rights which brought him twice to the final round, and reflected the greatest credit on his play. We are indebted to the courtesy of the English official ranking committee for including Mr. Larned's name in its classification of players, and thus giving us a line of comparison between the best men in each country. When it is considered that in all England he was ranked sixth, in a class just after the three leaders, there is cause for congratulation. We have here the natural deduction that the general standard of play of our "first ten" is very close to that of the corresponding class in England; for though Mr. Larned's all-around game was probably the best in this country last year, there were four or five others who were nearly even with him, and could, therefore, have made a creditable showing on the other side. And right here a word of patriotic vanity! It seems to me that the American is cut out for a better tennis player than his English rival. It is proverbial that he has more energy and zest, - two important factors in the necessary make-up; and when by longer experience he has acquired a steadiness and coolness at critical times, and lost a little of his desire to win points too quickly, he should make the better player.

Fore handed Service.

Fore-handed Service.

Reverse Over hand Service.

Reverse Over-hand Service.

Now a word on the game itself.

Tennis offers a certain liberty in style of play that is apt to be abused. I point particularly to the "net" and "back-court " games, which have become so distinctly separated of late years. The former name is applied to those players who make the majority of their strokes from a position in the court between the receiving-line and the net; or, in other words, a net player is one who makes it an object to reach the net at every opportunity, in order to "volley" his returns. In the "back-court" game, as the name implies, the returns are made from far back in the court, and of course "off the ground;" i.e., after the ball has bounced once. I speak of abuse with reference to these two distinct styles, because instead of allowing one to aid and abet the other, there is a tendency among our leading players to choose one method, to the partial, or even entire, exclusion of the other. If beginners would bear in mind that a net game is perfected only when it is backed up by accurate back-court work, and vice versa, a much more rapid improvement could be counted on.