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Helen Campbell.

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game of a set.



THE ART AND SKILL OF LAWN TENNIS. l6l

Half-court. The players having agreed into which court
the giver of the odds of half-court shall play, the latter loses
a stroke if the ball returned by him drops outside any of the
lines which bound that court.

Still another device is to stretch a cord between the posts,
at a height of seven feet or any other agreed height ; and
the giver of odds shall play every ball over the cord, or lose
a stroke.

If the game is to be umpired, there should be one for each
side of the net, who shall call " Play " at the beginning of a
game, enforce the rules, and be sole judge of fair and unfair
play, each on his respective side of the net.

It has been usual to discountenance every thing like a
wager in the game of lawn tennis ; and it is to be hoped that
it will be a long time before any such practice shall attach
to this pastime, at least in such measure as to mar it.

The former side nets or wings were found an obstruction,
and have accordingly been dispensed with in the game as at
present arranged.

The exercise required to enjoy the game should not and
need not be in any way of an exhausting nature, and affords
a training in graceful and charming movements. If the
ground be dry, this recreation may be continued far into
the winter, and will be found quite pleasurable.



THE ART AND SKILL OF LAWN TENNIS.

BY A MEMBER OF PRINCE'S CLUB, LONDON.

LAWN TENNIS, when it was first introduced, was a mere pas-
time, involving little more skill than battledoor and shuttle-
cock. None of the science exhibited in cricket, croquet, or
billiards, was required. The game has, however, progressed



1 62 LAWN TEtffrtS AND ITS LAWS.

rapidly. Every succeeding tournament at Wimbledon has
witnessed the introduction of some new play, until the
game promises to become more scientific than any of its
predecessors. The previous chapter, taken from " Harper's
Bazar," No. 44, vol. xiii., contains a full description of the
rules and details of the game and a drawing of the court.
Some slight alterations have been made in the service-courts
and in the rules, to which we shall refer ; but in all other
points the description there given holds good. It is now
proposed to supplement our former article by some practi-
cal observations on the science and skill of the game as now
played; the object being twofold, first, to assist begin-
ners to adopt the best form and style ; and, second, to enable
our readers to thoroughly appreciate the beauty of the game
when they participate in it as spectators only.

HOLDING THE RACKET. For ordinary play, the racket
should be held short, in fact, close up to the body. It
should be grasped vigorously ; the muscles of the wrist and
fingers being firm, not limp. Many a miss is made from
this cause. For instance, when taking a volley, or swift
ball, the racket is knocked back in the hand, or partially
turned, the ball expends its force without rebound, and the
force of the stroke is lost, causing the ball to drop into
the net. With a firm grip, much less force need be put
into the blow from the shoulder.

THE SERVE. There are three serves, the high serve,
the overhand serve, and the underhand serve. The high
serve is made at the full stretch of the arm over the head.
Sometimes the ball is thrown up, and struck as it descends.
The difficulty in that case is to throw it up perpendicularly.
Beginners who want to adopt this play should practise toss-
ing the ball up until they can do so with perfect accuracy.
It should fall in a line with the striker's right arm. The



THE ARt AND SKILL OP LAWN TENNIS. 163

overhand serve is made with the racket held above the
wrist. The ball is held in the left hand, about level with
the shoulder, and dropped on to the face of the racket in the
act ot striking. If the ball be struck with the racket
slanted to about thirty degrees, and very hard, it will give
two motions to the ball, a forward movement and a rota-
tory motion, thus :




FIG. 39.



This is called putting cut on the ball, and is a very puzzling
play to a beginner. The ball, on falling, will rise abruptly,
instead of following the normal angle. (See line a a a, Fig.
39, representing a cut service.) The overhand service, if
served with the racket face perpendicular, or nearly so, im-
parts a twist to the ball ; so that as it pitches it will twist
away to the adversary's right hand. (See Fig. 40. Line a a a
represents an overhand serve.) An underhand serve is played
by turning the body of the racket downward. Some players
stoop, and serve as near the ground as they can. If this
stroke be neatly played, it will give a left-hand twist to the
ball. (See Fig. 40, line b b b.)

The server mav stand an v where on the base-line. If he
serves from K (see Fig. 40), he can send an oblique ball with
an outward twist very difficult to return: if from / (see
Fig. 40), the line will be more longitudinal to the court ; but
iwift serves are safer from this point, as less likely to pitch



i6 4



LAWN TENNIS AND ITS LAWS.



W MSS.DNB




THE ART AND SKILL OF LAWN TENNIS. 165

out of court. Some players, however, prefer K. In Fig. 40
the footmarks denote the position of players' feet when
serving or taking.

THE TAKE AND THE RETURN. When a ball is served,
the striker-out should stand in the opposite corresponding
court. If the serves are slow, B and G (Fig. 40) are the
places; if swift, .Fand H. It requires great skill to judge
where a ball will pitch, and how it will bound : nothing but
practice will give it. It is a subtle sense of twist and
momentum, which cannot be explained. Watch for an over-
hand or underhand serve, and proceed accordingly. If an
overhand twist, it will be to your right ; an underhand, to
your left. When taking a ball, recollect that the right
moment to do so is when it has pitched, bounded, and, hav-
ing exhausted its momentum, is about to fall, thus :




FIG. 41.

The ball will leave the racket at an angle equal to that of the
incidence ; so that, instead of returning close to the net, you
will lob the ball up in the air. If you take at the point c,
the ball, having lost its momentum, will follow exactly the
line of your stroke, c D.

In order to take the ball well, you should be abreast of it :
it should be between you and the side-line of the court, at a
right angle. Then, with the left foot forward, and the right
foot back, swing the shoulder well round, taking plenty of
time to the stroke. More mistakes are made by being too



166 LAWN TENNIS AND ITS LAWS.

soon than too late. In fact, whenever you can, let your
racket hover (be it only the millionth part of a second) be-
fore you strike. There will then be no force in the stroke,
save that intended for the ball. If you have to run forward
for a ball, recollect to deduct the force of the run from the
force of the stroke : otherwise you will strike out of court.
The blow you give should be as much as possible from the
shoulder ; and you will find, if you try, that you can graduate
the force of a stroke so given with much more delicacy than
that of one from the wrist.

All the strokes played at tennis may be resolved into the
following :

1. The fore overhand.

2. The fore underhand.

3. The high stroke.

4. The back overhand.

5. The back underhand.

6. Forward play, overhand.

7. Forward play, underhand.

8. Back stroke.

I. The Fore Overhand Stroke. Hold the racket short
and firm, as in the overhand serve, and incline the face
slightly, about ten degrees, to the ball, as in Fig. 42. This
will give a slight twist, and tend to keep the ball from
going beyond the base-line, as whatever force is given to the
twist is deducted from the momentum. This is the most
useful way of taking a ball, and the other strokes should
only be adopted when this cannot be employed. When
you see the ball in the air, endeavor to place yourself so
that it shall pass you about eighteen inches off to your right,
and strike it as it passes you. The racket should take the
ball well in the centre of the gut. If it strike the wood, it
will most likely score against you.



THE ART AND SKILL OF LAWN TENNIS.



I6 7



2. The Fore Underhand Stroke is most used for taking
half-volleys, swift serves, or returns. The racket should be
held about one-third down the handle. The longer the
racket is held, the greater the leverage of the force of
the ball ; so that more swing should be given to this stroke.

3. The High Stroke. This stroke is used where the ball
passes over the striker's head. Hold the racket long, and
remember to turn its face partly upward : if not, the angle
of incidence will carry the ball into the net. Many points
are lost in this way.

4. Back Overhand. A difficult but useful stroke, often
requisite in taking a twist. Place the right foot forward,
left foot back, and hold the racket about half handle, as in
Fig. 43-





Fie 41. FORE OVERHANP STROKE.



FIG, 43. BACK OVERHAND STROKE



i68



LAWN TENNIS AND ITS LAWS.



5. Back Underhand Stroke. Posture of feet, right for-
ward, left back. Hold the racket long. In both these
strokes the body should be slightly turned in the act of
striking, so as to throw its whole
weight into the blow. The difficulty
is not so much in making them as
in getting into the right position in
time. For this purpose it is well to
practise numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 ;
getting some one to serve or pitch
the ball to you, so as to play these
strokes over and over again till they
can be played perfectly. By this
means the player is not clumsy when
the stroke has to be played in the
game. As none of these occur fre-
quently in games, they are not learned
by beginners, hence many a lost score.
6, 7. Forward Play, Overhand and
Underhand. These, also, are useful
strokes when a ball twists unexpect-

ed j y to t h e left, SO aS to COHie Straight

*

at the striker. For the overhand, hold
the racket short, and, for the underhand, long, as in Fig. 45.

8. Back Stroke. This is a very difficult stroke, and when
well played commands great applause. Sometimes a ball
twists so suddenly and unexpectedly that the player has no
time to change over for a back-handed stroke. In that case,
pass the racket behind the back, and take the ball, as in
Fig. 46.

Some players, instead of playing the back stroke or back-
handed, change the racket to the left hand. Left-handed
persons can do this with advantage.




FIG. 44- -FORWARD PLAY, OVER-

HAND.



THE ART AND SKILL OF LAWN TENNIS.



169



After each stroke, the player should get back to the cen-
tre of his court, say about two feet behind the service-line,
unless he finds his opponent driving swift returns ; in which
case he should get back to the base-line.

VOLLEYS AND HALF-VOLLEYS. So far we have dealt with
strokes which take the ball on the bound. The volley is
where it is struck before the pitch. In volleying, the racket
should be held short, and the most general stroke is the for-
ward play overhand. A movement of three or four inches
with the racket is enough ; because the ball, coming full on,
possesses its own momentum, which is returned plus the
force of the stroke. The great art in volleying is to cut the
ball down. If you strike upward, it is sure to go out of court.
There are two styles of volley play, volleying at the net





FIG. 45. FORWARD PLAY, UNDERHAND.



FIG. 46. BACK STROKE.



I/O LAWN TENNIS AND ITS LAWS.

and on the service-line. At the net is the easiest and yet the
most hazardous. It is rarely adopted by good players in two-
handed games, because the answer to it is so simple. It is
only to lob the ball up over the player's head ; in which case
it is almost impossible for him to get back to it. If, how-
ever, a cut, serve, or return is played up wind, and seems to
hang and fall very near the net, a smart player may reach it.
while still in the air, from the service-line, and cut it down
into the adversary's court.

The best place to cut such a ball down is either in a place
distant from where the adversary is standing, or exactly at
his feet. No return is so perplexing to play as one thai
comes dead on the player's feet. It can be neither volleyed
nor played, but must be half-volleyed. The half- volley is
playing the ball near the ground when it is just pitching, or
has just bounded. It is not improperly called the stroke ot
despair, and should never be played when any other stroke
is feasible.

Volleying from the service-line is the great art of the
game, combined with placing. It returns the ball so swiftly,
that the adversary has no time to pose himself for the stroke
If it is out of reach of the spot where he happens to stand,
it is all over with him. Most volleys at the service-line,
have to be played forward play, underhand, as the ball i
beginning to drop.

PLACING. This is the strong rdle in tennis. It consists
in playing the ball where the adversary cannot take it, or
tiring him out by keeping him on the run till he misses.
Let us explain this from the non-server point of view. The
first serve is always from the right hand to the opposite-
right-hand court. The striker-out takes it, and returns intG
the left court, close to the net. This gives the adversary a
quick run to take it, and leaves him on the left line of the



THE ART AND SKILL OF LAWN TENNIS. Ijl

court. The non-server will then try and drive the ball to
the base-line, close to the right corner, and so keep his
adversary running backward and forward till he misses.
The more you give him to do with the difficulty of taking
his own balls, the less he will be able to think how to puzzle
you.

FORWARD AND BACK PLAY. We shall have to speak
more of this when dealing with four-handed games ; but for
single-handed games, forward play, though it appears more
brilliant, and wins more applause, is in reality more hazard-
ous. By all ordinary players, games are more generally won
off an opponent's dekults than by clever strokes. Besides,
long rallies are more interesting and better exercise than
scores of one or two strokes on either side. The safest play
is well back, and drive as near your adversary's base-line as
you can without going out of court.

FOUR-HANDED GAMES. On a reference to the plan of the
court given on p. 164, the reader will observe the dotted lines.
These represent the space added to the court for a four-
handed game. The serves, however, must be in the courts
as laid for a single-handed game. The service-line, it may
be observed, has been brought one foot nearer the net than
is sometimes done. This has been done to prevent swift
high serving from carrying every thing before it.

In four-handed games a great deal depends on the skill
with which partners supplement one another's play. It is
best for the non-serving partner to " stand up" nearer the
net in the other half of the court, but not too near, say,
about the service-line. In the right-hand half he should
stand near the half-court line, and, in the left-hand, near
the left line, so as to play a four-handed game as much as
possible. He should not try to volley every ball. In fact,
whenever a ball comes neatly over, pitching near the service-
line, he should leave it to his partner in the rear.



1/2 LAWN TENNIS AND ITS LAWS.

When the partners are strikers-out, the position will
depend more on the nature of the serves. Swift serves
bring swift returns, and tend to keep all parties busy near
the base-line. Slow serves provoke lobs and slow returns,
and bring the players nearer together. It is better for one
player to be forward and the other back, as then they do not
interfere with one another. In such a case it is better for
the back player to cry out to his partner when he sees he
can best take a ball, as, "I've got it," or "Leave." The
back player should always support his partner, and be ready
to take a ball missed by him, especially in twisting balls.
Partners in tennis, as in business, are one in the eye of the
law. If one touches the ball, the other cannot take it. If
either strikes at a ball which falls out of court, it counts
against the side.

The two players should divide the play between them
somewhat in this fashion : the one standing up should
endeavor to puzzle the adversaries, while the back player
should give his attention chiefly to returning the balls.
Two inferior players, accustomed to play together, will often
beat superior opponents by the unity of their action.
(Memorandum. The forward player should leave every
stroke his partner can play, and should only strike when he
sees he can do so effectually, or when the ball would not
reach his partner.)

There are one or two questions constantly arising in
tennis which it may be as well to answer here.

1. If a ball touches the net in passing over, and falls in
the right side, does it count ? Answer. Yes, except in a
serve. In that case, it is a " let," and is not reckoned as
a fault.

2. In a four-handed game, if one partner strikes at a ball
and misses it, can his partner afterward take it ? Yes, if
not touched. If touched, it is a dead ball.



THE ART AND SKILL OF LAWN TENNIS. 173

j. May a player volley a ball before it has passed the net ?
He must not touch the net : if he does so, it counts
against him. Otherwise he may strike where he likes.

4. If a ball falls out of court at which the player has
struck, but not touched, how does it count ? It counts in
favor of the player who has missed it.

ELEGANCE OF PLAY. Natural grace is not to be acquired.
It is born in the individual, and cannot be learned. Still,
grace may be cultivated. For a lady, the element of clothes
comes in, and the less free motion of the limbs limited by
the skirts. In traversing the court, try to do so with a swift,
gliding step, rather than a run. Be careful about the posi-
tion of the feet, and before striking throw the weight of the
body on the back foot, and in striking transfer it to the for-
ward foot. This will throw the weight of the body into the
stroke. The left hand may be placed open on the hip. Do
not whirl or wave the racket in play. The safest strokes
are those which are made from the shoulder or wrist. It is
no use attempting to play in a dress tied tightly back.

SLIPS AND FALLS. The way to avoid these is always to
wear proper shoes. To play tennis on a nice lawn in heels
is an act of sacrilege for which the player deserves any thing
he gets.

WINTER TENNIS. The game may be played all through
the winter under cover. The armories of New York and
Brooklyn and other cities afford excellent courts. A hard,
polished floor does not give the same opportunity for twists
and serves as turf, and less force should be put into the
strokes.

WIND. In open-air play the court should be laid out
with the wind up and down. As the players change courts
every set, it is fair to both. In playing down wind, play
softly, and up wind play hard. Cuts are more easy down
wind.



LAWN TENNIS AND ITS LAWS.

SEASIDE TENNIS. Many players at the seaside have a
difficulty in finding ground. They should know that a good
hard sand forms the very best ground. At Dinan, in Brit-
tany, much frequented by Americans, as many as fifteen
nets may be seen pitched on the sand in an afternoon.



ARCHERY AND OTHER GAMES. 17$



CHAPTER II.

ARCHERY AND OTHER GAMES.

So much of the pleasure of archery comes from competi-
tion, as well as from its social side, that it is never likely to
be a solitary amusement. The first instinct, as with lawn
tennis, is to form a club ; and, as all clubs require certain
rules, I give at the end of this chapter a list which has been
tested by long use, and which covers the ground as thor-
oughly as rules can. The club may have half a dozen mem-
bers, or five times as many ; but rules should be printed, and
strictly adhered to, in order that no cause for dispute or ill
feeling arise. A printed law by which all have agreed to
abide is much more dispassionate than personal judgment ;
and even where the umpire is an older person, he or she
will prefer to have their authority backed by formal law.

And now as to some of the first principles of archery,
though only short hints and directions can be written here ;
the names of trustworthy books on the subject being given
on p. 412, the most interesting as well as practical of all
being Maurice Thompson's "The Witchery of Archery/'
which condenses in attractive form all the information
needed by the most ardent and persistent archer.

To begin with, being able to handle a bow at all presup-
poses a certain amount of health and strength, which this
exercise soon increases, as a reasonable weight for a lady's
bow is from twenty to thirty pounds. Bows made from a
single piece of wood, and called self-bows, are best of all, as



176 ARCHERY AND OTHER GAMES.

they are less likely to break, or be affected by moisture or ill
usage. "The grain fibres of the wood should be parallel
with the bow longitudinally ; for, if the grain is cut across in
the making, the weapon is liable to snap or shiver under the
first strain." A lady's bow should be about five feet and six
inches long. The strength of a bow is measured in pounds,
and is found by drawing it with a spring scale, and noting
the number of pounds indicated when the string is twenty-
six inches from the inside of the bow, which is about the
"draw" of the twenty-eight inch arrow. The notch in the
horn of the shorter limb of the bow is called the lower nock,
and that in the horn of the longer limb the upper nock.
The English manuals call the rounded side of the bow the
belly, and the flat side the back; but we say simply the inner
side and the outer side. The bow must always be bent,^dtf
side out. A cheap one is a poor investment, and it is best
to buy one as carefully made as means will admit. The
slenderer it can be at the handle, the better will be its shoot-
ing qualities ; for, if it is thick, the arrow is sure to incline to
the left, and miss the mark on that side. It should be bent
evenly, so as to form, when strung, or braced, a part of a
circle, a little flattened at the handle, the string standing out
about six inches from the inside of a five-foot bow.

If made in this country, the most valuable woods are in
the order named, mulberry, sassafras, southern cedar,
black locust, black walnut, and slippery-elm ; but thus far
the foreign bows, made from lemon-wood, lancewood, yew,
and snake-wood, are far the best. Robin Hood preferred
yew, and his word is to be trusted in matters of archery if
nowhere else.

The bow must always be kept dry. " The better it is, the
more easily it is injured by dampness." Boiled linseed-oil
with a little beeswax in it, in the proportion of two ounces



ARCHERY AND OTHER GAMES. 177

of yellow wax to one pint of oil, should be used for rubbing
it. A soft, thick woollen rag is best ; and it should always
be rubbed after using it, and before putting it away. Keep
it in a green baize bag in a dry room, but never near a fire.

THE BOWSTRING. This is made of hemp or flax, the
former being considered best ; and the material is waxed
and slack-twisted without doubling. The maker forms a
loop in one end ; and "both extremities are trebled in size,
forming a three-cord for about ten inches, gradually taper-
ing." A string with a heavy loop is best, as it will be found
easier to slip up the bow in stringing it.

Usually the bow is properly strung when bought ; but, if it
is necessary to do it yourself, fasten as follows :

Slip the loop over the upper end of the bow, and make it
fast about two inches and a half below the nock. Stretch
the string taut, and "pass the loose end around in the nock
of the lower horn till it crosses itself in front of the bow ;
then pass the end thus brought across clear round under the
main part of the string, and back round itself twice, forming
a sort of slip-knot without really tying it at all. Cut off
whatever end may then hang loose, and wrap the stump to
keep it from fraying." The middle part of the string must
be wrapped for some six inches with waxed sewing-silk to
keep the arrow and fingers from wearing it out, and the
whole cord should sometimes be waxed. To keep the upper
loop from slipping down when the bow is not braced, many
archers draw a bit of green ribbon through a small hole in
the upper arm, and down through the loop, tying it in a bow ;
and the bow may then be carried in any position of the
manual used for parading. Silk or flax makes the best
home-made strings, shoemaker's thread twisted answering
nicely. When a good string begins to fray, wrap it with


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Online LibraryHelen CampbellThe American girl's home book of work and play → online text (page 11 of 28)