The World's First Covered Court Tennis Tournament (1885)

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by newmark401, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

    Aug 10, 2009
    From “The Field Lawn Tennis Calendar” (1886)

    Covered Court Championship [1885], Hyde Park Lawn Tennis Club, London, England

    “This novel event in lawn tennis competitions commenced on Monday, April 20 [1885], on the new covered court of the Hyde Park Lawn Tennis Club. Owing to the lease of the ground occupied by the Maida Vale Club expiring at mid-summer, the members have moved into Porchester Square, where they have built themselves a new covered court, which, as far as we know, is the first court that has been built expressly for lawn tennis purposes.

    “Consequently, it may be interesting to our readers if we give a few particulars as to the dimensions, which have been furnished us by the honorary secretary, Mr Henry Prescod Williams. The floor space available for play is 50 feet wide by 106 feet long; a glazed roof covers the whole of the single court, and the height from floor to first girder is 25 feet, which gives ample room for a tossed [lobbed] ball. The floor is of wood, stained dark brown, each board being 3¾ inches wide, tongued, grooved, and side-nailed, laid on joists 1 foot apart, which rest on brick pillars set in concrete. A platform capable of seating comfortably 150 spectators is provided, besides ample accommodation for dressing rooms, club rooms &c.

    “Considering the number of first class players who during the winter months have been continuously practising on the Maida Vale court, we should have expected a much better entry for the Covered Court Championship, and we think that the committee would have done better had they deferred the event until next year. They would then have had ample time to make it better known amongst the players. As it turned out, only nine names were entered, the best known of whom were Herbert Lawford, Donald Stewart, Herbert W. Wilberforce, Herbert Chipp and William C. Taylor.

    “We naturally miss from these the names of Charles W. Grinstead and Edward L. Williams, both of whom, we understand, will be non-combatants this season. The former has gone abroad, and the latter has commenced in the city the more serious business of life. We wish them both every success; they have had their full share of lawn tennis honours, and we hope that they will gain fresh honours in their new careers.

    “The draw, which was carried out on the amended Bagnall-Wild system, was decidedly unlucky, bringing together as it did in the first round Herbert Lawford and Donald Stewart.

    “Monday. A goodly number of visitors were present to witness the only match in the first round, between Lawford and Stewart. The latter has been playing very well in practice at Maida Vale, and it was expected that he would make a good stand against the Irish champion, who has been lately playing rather off his game of last season. Stewart began well by winning a love game; Lawford won the next four, and Stewart the succeeding four, causing the score to be called five games to four in the latter’s favour. Stewart got to 40-30 in the next, but at this critical stage he broke down by serving two double faults, and, though the score was three times brought to deuce, Lawford eventually won, and made it five games all. The next and deciding game (there are no advantage sets in the first three rounds) was won by Lawford, who thus won the set at six games to five.

    “In the second set, although Stewart again commenced by winning the first game, Lawford had it nearly all his own way, winning it at six games to two. The third set was well contested throughout; Lawford won the first two games, in both of which deuce was called twice; Stewart won the third, and then the games fell alternately until the ninth, which Stewart won, and, following this up by winning the next two, won the set at six games to five.

    “After this, Stewart fell off perceptibly, the heat, which was very great under the glass roof, appeared to affect him much more than it did his opponent. Lawford won the first four games in the next set easily, Stewart only making five strokes in all. The latter won the fifth game, and then Lawford, winning the next two, won the set and match by three sets to one.

    “Tuesday. Play commenced at two o'clock, two matches in the second round being set for decision. The first, viz., that between Herbert Chipp and Herbert W. Wilberforce, was looked forward to with much interest, as these players were meeting for the first time. Mr Chipp being decidedly, next to Lawford, the best back-court player of the present day, whereas Wilberforce is well known as an effective volleyer. It was, therefore, a contest of styles, and the back player in this instance proved the better man. Still some allowance must be made for Wilberforce, as it was the first time he had played on the Hyde Park court, and the hop of the ball on the wooden court, which is decidedly different from either that on grass or asphalt, appeared to puzzle him considerably, and, without wishing to detract in the slightest from the merit of Chipp’s victory, we think that on a grass court Wilberforce would reverse the verdict of Tuesday.

    “In the opening set Chipp won the first game after deuce had been called three times; Wilberforce won the second, and then Chipp placed the third and fourth to his credit, deuce having been called in the latter five times. Wilberforce won the sixth, then Chipp took the next two and the set at games to two. In the second set Chipp led off by winning the first five games, the first, second, third and fifth being love games; in fact, in all these five games Wilberforce scored only one stroke. Wilberforce saved the love set by winning the sixth game. Chipp won the seventh and the set by six games to one.

    “In the third set Wilberforce commenced well by winning three love games, to which Chipp replied by winning the fourth, also a love game. Wilberforce won the fifth, then Chipp won the next three, bringing the score to four games all, but Wilberforce won the ninth, tenth and set at six games to four; this, however, was his only success, and Chipp won the fourth set by six games to two, and the match by three games to one.

    “The match which followed, viz., that between Charles Ross and E. Syers, was of no interest; the latter is a very indifferent player, and was altogether outclassed by his opponent, who won without an effort.

    “Wednesday. The two concluding matches in the second round were put down for decision, but that between William C. Taylor and Charles P. Triscott produced no contest, as Mr Taylor scratched owing to a family bereavement. The second match was a runaway affair. Mr Ernest Meers has no pretentions as a player to enter for such a contest, and the game between him and Lawford must have afforded him as little pleasure as it did the spectators – it was a veritable case of a Nasmyth hammer cracking a nut. Lawford won three sets to love.

    “Friday. The two matches in the fourth round were played off today. The first was between Charles Ross and Charles P. Triscott, which the former won very easily by three sets to love, the first two at six to one, and the third at six to two. The match between Herbert Lawford and Herbert Chipp was splendidly contested throughout. Lawford won the first set by six games to two; Chipp gained the second by six games to three, and third by six games to four, bringing the score to two sets to one in his favour. Lawford then won the fourth set at six games to four, and the fifth at six games to two.

    “Saturday, April 25. Herbert Lawford and Charles Ross were left in to play off the final tie. The latter, who has just returned from the West Indies, was sadly out of condition, and, though he made a good stand in the first set, Lawford eventually won the match rather easily by three sets to love. Ross commenced very well; he won the opening game and brought the score to five games to three in his favour, but at this point he broke down, evidently from want of condition, and Lawford won the next four games and the set at seven games to five.

    “In the second set, though Ross made a plucky effort to avert defeat, his opponent held him easily throughout, and won it by six games to three. The third was a love set to Lawford. We expect, as the season progresses, to see Mr Ross show up in much better form; his returns, especially of the service, are rather weak, and he volleys too much into the middle of the court. The volley, to be effective, should be quick, sharp, and placed across the court, but this requires the player to be in first-rate condition.”

    Covered Court Championship; first prize challenge cup value £25.00 and cup value £10.00, second prize value £5.00.

    First round

    Herbert Lawford d. Donald Stewart 6-5, 6-2, 5-6, 6-1

    The following players each a bye: Herbert Chipp, Ernest Meers, Charles Ross, Charles P. Triscott, William C. Taylor, Herbert W. Wilberforce.

    Herbert Lawford d. Ernest Meers 6-3, 6-3, 6-0
    Herbert Chipp d. Herbert W. Wilberforce 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
    Charles P. Triscott d. William C. Taylor, walkover
    Charles Ross d. E. Syers 6-1, 6-0, 6-2


    Herbert Lawford d. Herbert Chipp 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
    Charles Ross d. Charles P. Triscott 6-1, 6-1, 6-2


    Herbert Lawford d. Charles Ross 7-5, 6-3, 6-0
  2. Wolbo

    Wolbo Rookie

    Oct 8, 2006

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