Originally Posted by El Diablo
^^ the suggestion that "50 years ago there were very few public courts in the USA" is absurd. I started playing as a small kid 50 years ago and courts at high schools, middle schools and public parks were not only abundant but easier to access than years later because the tennis boom of the 70s had not yet begun. What WAS available to the affluent though was quality instruction, which could not yet be found easily in public settings.
I agree. Of course I grew up in SoCal, where every high and elementary school had courts as did plenty of parks. In fact as a kid I didn't know of any private clubs (I am sure now, looking back, that they existed, and even if they did, they were absolutely not required to play the game).
The basketball analogy is inaccurate in the sense that anyone with a hoop, a driveway to a garage and a ball can play BBall for a few bucks, but then again a Target racquet and a can of balls is not expensive either, if you have access to courts, which in the US 35 years ago was pretty easy.