Mrs. Lambert Chambers.

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In 1904 I again won the championship, beating Mrs. Sterry in the
challenge round. This year and 1906 were my most successful years. I was
fortunate enough in both to go through the season without a reverse in
open singles. Classification for 1904 was as follows:

Miss D.K. Douglass Scratch

Mrs. Sterry 1/6
Mrs. Hillyard 1/6
Miss C.M. Wilson 1/6

Miss Thomson 2/6
Miss Morton 2/6

Miss W. Longhurst 3/6
Miss V. Pinckney 3/6
Miss Greene 3/6
Miss Lane 3/6
Mrs. Greville 4/6
Miss Stawell Brown 4/6
Mrs. Winch 4/6
Miss Garfit 5/6
Miss Kendal 5/6
Miss D. Boothby 5/6
Miss M. Coles 5/6
Miss A. Ransome 5/6
Miss E. Longhurst 15
Miss Squire 15
Miss Eastlake Smith 15
Miss Paterson 15
Miss Tootell 15

In 1905 I paid my first visit to the South of France. I was unlucky
enough to sprain my wrist; but in spite of this mishap, the change of
conditions, courts, and surroundings were all so novel that I thoroughly
enjoyed my visit. The courts at the Beau Site, Cannes, are absolutely
perfect, both as regards surface and background; and when one has got
used to the different bound of the ball and the rather trying glare of
the sun, one could not wish for better conditions for good tennis. Many
a famous match has been fought out on these courts; and situated as they
are in the beautiful grounds of the Hotel Beau Site, where most of the
players stay, the environment is ideal. I was only able to play in the
Monte Carlo tournament, after a few days' practice on the Beau Site
courts, for it was just at the start of the Nice tournament that the
accident to my wrist occurred. It was very disappointing to default
after coming so far to take part in these tournaments. Several months
elapsed before I could use my wrist again, and I was not able to play in
any of the tournaments before I defended my title at Wimbledon.


This year Miss May Sutton, the American lady champion, paid her first
visit to England, and carried all before her, winning the championship
of England and many other events, all without the loss of a single
set - truly a wonderful performance. If any one had pluck it was Miss
Sutton. To come to a strange country, practically friendless (Miss
Sutton made many friends over here, but she came over alone), and to
play and defeat one after another of the best players in this country,
was a feat which filled us all with unbounded admiration.


I have played Miss Sutton five times, losing three and winning two of
the matches. Of the three matches I lost, two were at Wimbledon, in the
challenge rounds of 1905 and 1907, and the third at Beckenham in the
challenge round of 1907. My two victories were both gained in 1906, in
the challenge rounds at Liverpool and Wimbledon. Certainly the most
exciting match I have ever played, and the one that gave me the most
pleasure to win, was my match at Wimbledon against Miss Sutton in 1906.
The match itself was not exactly enjoyable - the strain was too great; so
much seemed to depend upon me, both for my own reputation, and that of
my country. When Mr. Palmer, secretary of the All England Club, escorted
us into the centre court and left us, with a word of encouragement in my
ear, I felt helpless and destitute. You cannot realize what it means to
face four thousand people and know that so much depends on your own
exertions and coolness. Miss Sutton, I think, must have felt this
loneliness in a still greater degree, for she was away from her country,
her own people and friends. I have never had such a craving to speak to
some one as I had in this match - just one friendly word to tell me
whether I was playing the right sort of game or not. I confess my
feelings were very strung up.

I remember in the second set, when Miss Sutton led at three games to
love, I said to the umpire as we crossed over, "I wonder, have I gone
off, or is she playing much better?" But, of course, his face was like a
mask; he didn't vouchsafe a word. Not that I expected him to speak, but
I felt I simply must say something to some one. He told me afterwards he
wanted to say, "I don't know; but stick to it whatever happens!"
Concentration on the game in this match was terribly difficult, as the
crowd was so huge and seemed so excited; it was almost impossible to
forget the people and lose yourself in the game. I can quite well
remember a dispute going on in the open stand for quite a long time
during the first set. I think a lady would not put down her sunshade;
there was quite a commotion about it. And then people near would shout
advice to me, or scream out, "It's over! Run!" This happened two or
three times; and although I knew they were trying to help me, which in
itself was cheering and encouraging, it was very distracting and
disconcerting. But after some time I lost it all, and became engrossed
in the game. I think in 1907 Miss Sutton was much steadier and played a
better all-round game, but I do not think she had quite the same
terrific fore-hand drive as in the first two years she was over here.
Her strokes were safer perhaps, but not so formidable and powerful.


One of the great charms of playing in various tournaments is the means
it affords of visiting all the different towns and countries. It may
involve considerable travelling and expense, but the touring abroad is
both an education and a delight. Monte Carlo, Nice, Cannes, Homburg,
Baden-Baden and Dinard, all bring the pleasantest reminiscences. Many of
us have travelled about together, which is the jolliest way of doing
the tournaments. I remember one most enjoyable trip, when Miss Lowther
motored the Hillyards and myself through Germany - an ideal way of
"doing" tournaments! The place at which a meeting is held, its
surroundings, also the facilities it offers for amusement in the evening
after your day's tennis is over, add to the enjoyment and make a
material difference. It will always be one of my chief delights, in
thinking of my tennis career, to remember the hospitality and many
courtesies I have everywhere received, and the many friends I have made,
who I trust will remain friends long after my tennis is a thing of the

It is extraordinary how na√ѓve the general public sometimes are. People
will watch first-class tennis, sitting for hours together perhaps in
great discomfort, and yet display a lamentable want of knowledge about
the game. In fact, to many its object is a mystery! This seems hardly
possible, but it is quite true. I once overheard a lady who was
watching a match in the centre court at Wimbledon remark, "There, that's
the very first time that man has hit the net with the ball, and he has
had hundreds of tries!" I thought the man mentioned must be playing
pretty good tennis! One really wonders why these onlookers spend so much
time round a court, or where the pleasure can come in for them.

At a garden party not so very long ago where tennis was on the
programme, the visitors, arriving on the court, found one solitary ball,
tied round with a long piece of string, the other end being attached to
the net. To a natural inquiry the hostess replied, "Oh, they lost so
many balls in the shrubbery last year, I really couldn't afford it, and
thought of this plan. It has been most successful. This ball has lasted
for ages!" Another lady at Eastbourne, whom I had noticed because she
never left her seat, bringing her lunch with her so as not to lose a
moment's play, asked me at the end of the week, while watching a double,
whether the partners were side by side or opposite, as in bridge!

One of the most rooted mistakes in the public mind is that the
first-class player is a professional. Many times people have said to me,
"You must be making quite a nice bit of pocket-money from your tennis."
"Making?" I say. "Spending, you mean!" - which always makes them stare in
amazement. This fallacy annoys me very much, and is, I find, very
common. Let me take the opportunity here of pointing out that there are
no professional lawn tennis players excepting a few coaches at Queen's
Club, London, and at some of the clubs abroad; these men, of course,
cannot compete in open tournaments.



_The following contributions, in response to a request for some account
of their most noteworthy encounter on court, have been kindly furnished
for this volume by leading lady players._


(_Champion_, 1886, 1889, 1894, 1897, 1899, 1900)

One of the most exciting matches I remember was the final for the
Championship at Wimbledon, played on the centre court on July 6, 1889,
between Miss Rice and me. I started very nervously, as Miss Rice had
given me rather a fright in the Irish Championship the month before,
when she appeared in Dublin as a "dark horse." On that occasion I had
only scraped through 7/5, 7/5. I began the match at Wimbledon by
serving a double fault, and lost several games by doing the same thing
in the first set. My length was awful, and Miss Rice was playing well
from the start. She had a very fine fore-hand drive, but, like myself, a
bad back-hand. She led at 3 games to 1, and took the first set at 6/4.
In the second set I regained my confidence a little, winning three love
games out of the first four; but Miss Rice won the next four games in
succession, the score being called 5/3 and 40/15 against me. At this
point, in my despair, I said to Mr. Chipp, who was umpiring the match,
"What _can_ I do?" His grim answer was, "Play better, I should think." I
then fully realized that I had not been playing my best game, and that
to win I must hit harder. This I did, with the result that my length
improved and I snatched this game from the fire - although Miss Rice was
three times within a stroke of the match - and I eventually won the set
at 8/6.

The last set was well fought out, for, although I began well and led at
3/1, Miss Rice won the next three games in succession and reached 40/30
in the following game. This was her last effort, as I ran out at 6/4,
winning the Championship for the second time. I think it was one of the
closest matches I ever played, and I see by _Pastime_ that I only won 18
games to her 16, and 110 strokes to her 100, and I felt I was most lucky
to win at all.

[Signature: Blanche Hillyard]


(_Champion_, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1901, 1908)

Of course it goes without saying that my most memorable and exciting
matches will all be those in which I have excelled or been the most
distinguished person at the immediate moment! Let me just say that I am
not going to give details of any match, as that is beyond my power and,
I assume, of little interest to the reader.

Winning my first championship of the Ealing Lawn Tennis Club at the age
of 14 was a very important moment in my life. How well I remember,
bedecked by my proud mother in my best clothes, running off to the Club
on the Saturday afternoon to play in the final without a vestige of
nerve (would that I had none now!), and winning - that was the first
really important match of my life.

Another great game will always be imprinted on my memory, and that was
in 1894, the first year that the late Mr. H.S. Mahony and I won the All
England Mixed Championship. We beat Mrs. Hillyard and Mr. W. Baddeley in
the final. The excitement of the onlookers was intense, and never shall
I forget the overpowering sensation I felt as we walked, after our win,
past the Aigburth Cricket Ground Stand, packed to its limit. How the
people clapped and cheered us! It was tremendous.

[Illustration: MRS. HILLYARD]

[Illustration: MRS. STERRY]

[Illustration: MISS V.M. PINCKNEY]

[Illustration: MISS D. BOOTHBY]

Another memory - the year 1895. Certainly I must be honest and say it
wasn't exactly a good championship win, for Miss Dodd, Mrs. Hillyard,
and Miss Martin were all standing out. Any of these could have beaten
me. Nevertheless it was a delightful feeling to win the blue ribbon of
England, especially as my opponent in the final, Miss Jackson, had led
5-love in both sets! By some good fortune I was able to win seven games
off the reel in each case.

One more match - in 1907. I had heard a great deal about Miss May Sutton
(who made her first appearance in England in 1905) beating everybody
without the loss of a set. I had also heard she was a giant of strength,
and that the harder one hit the more she liked it. The first time I met
her was at Liverpool in 1907 - I did not play the previous season. I was
determined to introduce unfamiliar tactics, giving her short balls in
order to entice her up to the net. The result was that many of her
terrific drives went out, and I think this was primarily the reason why
I was the first lady in England to take a set from her. I recollect her
telling me, after the match was over, that my game was very different to
any other she had ever played, and that she was not anxious to meet me
again - remarks I took as a great compliment.

There are scores of games just the reverse of pleasant which are
imprinted on my memory, but I am not going to revive them at my own
expense, hoping they have been forgotten and forgiven to my account, by
any unfortunate partners I have ever let down.

[Signature: Chattie R. Sterry.]


_(Doubles Champion,_ 1899; _Mixed Doubles Champion of Ireland, 1898,
1901, 1902)_

A match that remains in my memory perhaps more than any other was the
final of the Irish Championship Singles at Dublin in 1902, when Miss
Martin and I met and had a long struggle for supremacy. At one time it
really seemed as if I must win this match, as I led at 5 games to 1 and
was within a stroke of the match. But I could not make that one point.
Once when I had the advantage and only wanted an ace to win the match,
one of my returns ran along the top of the net, and then, unfortunately
for me, dropped my side. Miss Martin stuck to her guns persistently and
eventually pulled the match out of the fire, winning the next six games
straight off and thus becoming Irish Champion for 1902. It was very
disappointing to lose after being so near victory. The score in Mis
Martin's favour was 6/8, 6/4, 7/5.

[Signature: Ruth Durlacher]


_(Champion of London, 1907, 1908)_

In recalling the most remarkable lawn tennis match that I have ever
played, I do not think I can do better than give the Open Mixed Double
semi-final that took place on the final day of the Kent Championship
Meeting at Beckenham on June 1, 1908. Mr. Roper Barrett and I met Mr.
Prebble and Miss Boothby, and the story of the match is one of startling
lapses and recoveries. In the first set Mr. Prebble and Miss Boothby
profited by the combination born of frequent association in Mixed
Doubles. Miss Boothby was very good from the back of the court and Mr.
Prebble seemed to make mincemeat of my returns. It was their set by 6/4.
In the second set Mr. Roper Barrett was quite wonderful, and killed
every ball that he could possibly reach. The result was that the set was
easily ours by 6/1. Our opponents, however, had something in reserve,
and, I playing badly, they ran away to 5/0 in the third set. All seemed
over. My partner and I made a great effort and got one game, and we
congratulated ourselves on saving a love set. Then the excitement began,
and we added game after game to our side. I am sure the crowd beame
intensely interested, and quite worked themselves up as we drew to 5
all. Mr. Barrett at this time was simply invincible, and I managed
somehow to keep the balls out of Mr. Prebble's reach and play everything
to Miss Boothby, upon whom devolved the responsibility. My partner
volleyed at all kinds of remarkable angles, and, as _The Sportsman_ in
describing the match, remarked, "sat on the net and was in complete
command." We took seven games consecutively and won the set at 7/5, and
with it a memorable match.

[Signature: Violet M. Pinckney]


(_Champion_, 1909)

Without doubt my most exciting match was the final last year at
Wimbledon. In every player's heart there must be a faint hope that one
day she may win the All England Championship. At least it has always
been in mine.

From Christmas and all through the spring my family and friends had
dinned into my ears that now was my chance, and if I did not win this
year I never would. Only when I was leading one set up and 2-love in the
second did all these things flash across my mind. I suddenly got
nervous. Oh, the misery of it! I served double fault after double fault
(I learnt afterwards that I gave away sixteen points in this way), and
my friends told me that it was a relief to them when my service went
over the net at all, however slowly. My opponent, Miss Morton, caught
up, won the set 6/4, and led me 4/2 in the final set. All this time I
had been fighting hard to regain confidence. At last my nerve came
back - I was determined to win, and, only after a very great effort, just
succeeded in capturing the Championship with the narrow margin of 8/6 in
the final set.

It was not until I had finished and had come off the court that I
realized how very excited I had been, and how relieved I was when it was
all over. Only those who have had experience can know how exhausting it
is to concentrate one's whole thoughts and efforts, without cessation,
for an hour or more. Fortunately you do not feel the strain until
afterwards, when it does not matter, and then you can look back with
very great pleasure and satisfaction on a hard-won fight.

[Signature: Dora P. Boothby.]


(_Doubles Champion_, 1903, 1904; _Mixed Doubles Champion_, 1904, 1905)

My "most memorable match" was in the All England Mixed Doubles
Championship at Liverpool in 1904. Mr. S.H. Smith and I were playing
Miss Wilson and Mr. A.W. Gore, and we had a great struggle for victory.
I do not remember the exact score, but at one time our opponents were
within an ace of the match. Miss Wilson served to me in the left
court - a good service out on the side line. I played a straight
back-hand shot down the line, passing Mr. Gore's forehand - rather a
desperate stroke, as if it failed to pass him it meant certain death
from one of his straight-arm volleys. Perhaps he was not guarding his
line so well as usual, under the impression that I would not have the
courage to try to pass him at such a critical moment - anyway, we won the
point; and eventually the match and the championship, beating the
holders, Miss D.K. Douglass and Mr. F.L. Riseley, in a most exciting
match - almost as "memorable" to me, because I hit Mr. Riseley three
times with smashes. I remember that side-line stroke and those three
"hits" with great joy!

[Signature: Ethel W. Larcombe.]


(_Covered Court Champion_, 1907)

I find it a matter of some difficulty to decide which is the most
memorable of the more important matches in which I have played. Four or
five as I recall them seem, each in turn, to have left a lasting
impression on my memory for one reason or another. Yet none of them
appear more worthy of note than the others. The match which I think I
shall remember long after many others are forgotten took place last year
(1909) in the comparatively small and little-known tournament at Romsey.
For the first time for some years I had missed winter practice on the
covered courts at Queen's Club and in the South of France, and when I
started again late in June, on moderate club courts and against none too
keen opponents, I found myself looking forward with apprehension to my
first effort in public. In the semi-final of the Ladies' Open Singles
at Romsey I met Miss Sugden, whose well-merited reputation as a lawn
tennis player is more or less a local one, chiefly for the reason that
she has not competed in any of the first-class tournaments. It was a
close afternoon, and the court being heavy we both felt the heat very
much as the game progressed. I never really looked like winning the
first set; my opponent led 4/1, and though I managed to equalize she
easily ran out at 6/4. It was in the second set that the real struggle
took place. In spite of all my efforts, Miss Sugden won game after game,
until the game stood at 5/1 against me and 30 all; but by good luck I
snatched that game and the two following. At 5/4 and my service we had
deuce quite ten or twelve times, but in the end I managed to win and
took the set at 7/5. After that I felt better, and with renewed
confidence and steadier nerves I won the final set at, I think, 6/3.

There was nothing particularly remarkable in the match, but somehow I
felt that confidence in myself for the future depended in a great
measure on my success in this event, and, in spite of having a very
sporting opponent, I never felt more relieved in my life than when the
last stroke was played.

[Signature: Gladys S. Lamplough.]


(_Runner up for the Championship_, 1909)

[Illustration: Mrs. Larcombe]

[Illustration: Mrs. Lamplough]

[Illustration: Miss A.M. Morton]

[Illustration: Miss A.N.G. Greene]

I feel I owe an apology to Mrs. Luard for writing about a match in which
I happened to beat her, as she is, and was then, a player altogether a
class above me. No doubt it became "memorable," as I certainly never
expected to win at the outset, and still less so when I was undergoing
one of those ghastly "creep-ups" in the final set. It happened in 1904
at Wimbledon, on the centre court, in the semi-final of the
Championship. Miss Wilson (as she then was) started well and won the
first set 6/3, the second went to me at 6/4, and the third set seemed as
if it would go to either of us in turn. Everything went well for me till
I actually got to 5/1 and it was 15/40 on her service; then I lost two
points quite easily - those winning shots are so hard to make! And at
deuce we had a tremendous rally, which ended in a good side-line shot by
my opponent that I couldn't get to and didn't even try. The linesman
called "out," which I contradicted, and general confusion took place,
the spectators joining in the fray - and it all arose through the ball
being given "out" in the middle of the long rally when a train was
passing, and we neither of us heard it. I never knew the explanation
till after the match and was quite convinced I had "sneaked" the point,
and somehow I went all to pieces, and everything went as badly as it
had gone well before, till Miss Wilson crept up to 6/5. Then I made an
expiring effort just in time. I dare say she was tired, for I won that
game fairly easily. We had a great fight for the thirteenth, which I
fortunately won, and finished the match with a love game. And no one was
more surprised than I.

[Signature: A.M. Morton.]


_(East of England Champion_, 1903, 1905)

It is difficult to decide on the most memorable match one has ever
played. Each in turn seems at the time to be the most important. One
which I found very exciting at the time was against Mrs. Luard in the
final for the Cup at Felixstowe. I won the first set 6/3, and led 5/1
and 40/30 in the next, when Mrs. Luard sent me a short easy ball - a
certain "kill" at any other time. I sent it out. Four times after that I
was within a point of the match, but could not quite pull it off, and
Mrs. Luard, playing up brilliantly, not only won that set, but led 5/2
in the third. Then I made a final effort, and though it was always
touch-and-go I managed to make it 6/5. In the next game Mrs. Luard was
40-love, but after a great struggle I got it, and so won the match,
though it was anybody's game to the end.

[Signature: A.N.G. Greene.]



All England Club
Athletics for girls
Austin, Miss


Back-hand drive
Baddeley, Mr. W.
Barrett, Mr. Roper
Beau Site, Hotel


Championship, the
Chipp, Mr. H.
Chiswick Park
"Complete Lawn Tennis Player, The"
Cooper, Miss C. (see also Sterry, Mrs.)

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Online LibraryMrs. Lambert ChambersLawn Tennis for Ladies → online text (page 5 of 6)