Lawn-tennis - Encyclopedia




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LAWN-TENNIS, a game played with racquet and ball on a court traversed by a net, but without enclosing walls. It is a modern adaptation of the ancient game of tennis (q.v.), with which it is identical as regards the scoring of the game and " set." Lawn-tennis is essentially a summer game, played in the open air, either on courts marked with whitewash on close-cut grass like a cricket pitch, or on asphalt, cinders, gravel, wood, earth or other substance which can be so prepared as to afford a firm, level and smooth surface. In winter, however, the game is often played on the floor of gymnasiums, drill sheds or other buildings, when it:is called " covered-court lawn-tennis"; but there is no difference in the game itself corresponding to these varieties of court.

The lawn-tennis court for the single-handed game, one player against one (" singles "), is shown in fig. 1, and that for the four-handed game (" doubles ") in fig. 2. The net stretched across the middle of the court is attached to the tops of two posts which stand 3 ft. outside the court on each side. The height of the net is 3 ft. 6 in. at the posts and 3 ft. at the centre. The court is bisected longitudinally by the halfcourt-line, which, however, is marked only between the two servicelines and at the points of junction with the base-lines. The divisions of the court on each side of the halfcourt-line are called respec tively the right-hand and left-hand courts; and the portion of these divisions between the service-lines and the net are the righthand service-court and left-hand service-court respectively. The balls, which are made of hollow india-rubber, tightly covered with white flannel, are 22 in. in diameter, and from Ig to 2 oz. in weight. The racquets (fig. 3), for which there are no regulation dimensions, are broader and lighter than those used in tennis.

Before play begins, a racquet is spun as in tennis, and the winner of the spin elects either to take first service or to take choice of courts. If he takes choice of courts, he and his partner (if the game be doubles) take their position on the selected side of the net, one stationing himself in the righthand court and the other in the left, which positions are retained throughout the set. If the winner of the spin takes choice of courts, his opponent has first service; and vice versa. The players change sides of the net at the end of the first, third and every subsequent alternate game, and at the end of each set; but they may agree not to change during any set except the last. Service is delivered by each player in turn, who retains it for one game irrespective of the winning or losing of points. In doubles the partner of the server in the first game serves in the third, and the partner of the server in the second game serves in the fourth; the same order being preserved till the end of the set; but each pair of partners decide for themselves before their first turn of service which of the two shall serve first. The server FIG. 3. delivers the service from the rightand left-hand courts alternately, beginning in each of his service games from the right-hand court, even though odds be given or owed; he must stand behind (i.e. farther from the net than) the base-line, and must serve the ball so that it drops in the opponent's service-court diagonally opposite to the court served from, or upon one of the lines enclosing that service-court. If in a serve, otherwise good, the ball touches the net, it is a " let " whether the serve be " taken " or not by striker-out; a " let " does not annul a previous " fault." (For the meaning of " let," " rest," " striker-out " 01 and other technical terms used in the game, see Tennis and Racquets.) The serve is a fault (1) if it be not delivered by the server from the proper court, and from behind the base-line; (2) if the ball drops into the net or out-of-court, or into any part of the court other than the proper service-court. The strikerout cannot, as in racquets, " take," and thereby condone, a fault. When a fault has been served, the server must serve again from the same court, unless it was a fault because served from the wrong court, in which case the server crosses to the proper court before serving again. Two consecutive faults score a point against the side of the server. Lawn-tennis differs from tennis and. racquets in that the service may not be taken on the volley by striker-out. After the serve has been returned the play proceeds until the " rest " (or " rally ") ends by one side or the other failing to make a " good return "; a good return in lawn-tennis meaning a stroke by which the ball, having been hit with the racquet before its second bound, is sent over the net, even if it touches the net, so as to fall within the limits of the court on the opposite side. A point is scored by the player, or side, whose opponent fails to return the serve or to make a good return in the rest. A player also loses a point if the ball when in play touches him or his partner, or their clothes; or if he or his racquet touches the net or any of its supports while the ball is in play; or if he leaps over the net to avoid touching it; or if he volley the ball before it has passed the net.

FIG. I.

FIG. 2.

For him who would excel in lawn-tennis a strong fast service is hardly less necessary than a heavily " cut " service to the tennis player and the racquet player. High overhand service, by which alone any great pace can be obtained, was first perfected by the brothers Renshaw between 1880 and 1890, and is now universal even among players far below the first rank. The service in vogue among the best players in America, and from this circumstance known as the " American service," has less pace than the English but is " cut " in such a way that it swerves in the air and " drags " off the ground, the advantage being that it gives the server more time to " run in " after his serve, so as to volley his opponent's return from a position within a yard or two of the net. Both in singles and doubles the best players often make it their aim to get up comparatively near the net as soon as possible, whether they are serving or receiving the serve, the object being to volley the ball whenever possible before it begins to fall. The server's partner, in doubles, stands about a yard and a half from the net, and rather nearer the side-line than the half-court-line; the receiver of the service, not being allowed to volley the serve, must take his stand according to the nature of the service, which, if very fast, will require him to stand outside the base-line; the receiver's partner usually stands between the net and the service-line. All four players, if the rest lasts beyond a stroke or two, are generally found nearer to the net than the service-lines; and the game, assuming the players to be of the championship class, consists chiefly of rapid low volleying, varied by attempts on one side or the other to place the ball out of the opponents' reach by " lobbing " it over their heads into the back part of the court. Good " lobbing " demands great skill, to avoid on the one hand sending the ball out of court beyond the base-line, and on the other allowing it to drop short enough for the adversary to kill it with a " smashing " volley. Of " lobbing " it has been laid down by the brothers Doherty that " the higher it is the better, so long as the length is good "; and as regards returning lobs the same authorities say, " you must get them if you can before they drop, for it is usually fatal to let them drop when playing against a good pair." The reason for this is that if the lob be allowed to drop before being returned, so much time is given to the striker of it to gain position that he is almost certain to be able to kill the return, unless the lob be returned by an equally good and very high lob, dropping within a foot or so of the base-line in the opposite court, a stroke that requires the utmost accuracy of strength to accomplish safely. The game in the hands of first-class players consists largely in manoeuvring for favourable position in the court while driving the opponent into a less favourable position on his side of the net; the player who gains the advantage of position in this way being generally able to finish the rest by a smashing volley impossible to return. Ability to play this " smash " stroke is essential to strong lawntennis. " To be good overhead," say the Dohertys, " is the sign of a first-class player, even if a few have managed to get on without it." The smash stroke is played very much in the same way as the overhand service, except that it is not from a defined position of known distance from the net; and therefore when making it the player must realize almost instinctively what his precise position is in relation to the net and the side-lines, for it is of the last importance that he should not take his eye off the ball " even for the hundredth part of a second." By drawing the racquet across the ball at the moment of impact spin may be imparted to it as in tennis, or as " side " is imparted to a billiard ball, and the direction of this spin 27 feet----. ------ - aK and the consequent behaviour of the ball of ter the stroke may be greatly varied by a skilful player. Perhaps the most generally useful form of spin, though by no means the only one commonly used, is that known as " top " or " lift," a vertical rotatory motion of the ball in the same direction as its flight, which is imparted to it by an upward draw of the racquet at the moment of making the stroke, and the effect of which is to make it drop more suddenly than it would ordinarily do, and in an unexpected curve. A drive made with plenty of " top " can be hit much harder than would otherwise be possible without sending the ball out of court, and it is therefore extensively employed by the best players. While the volleying game is almost universally the practice of first-class players - A. W. Gore, M. G. Ritchie and S. H. Smith being a'_most alone among those of championship rank in modern days to use the volley comparatively little - its difficulty places it beyond the reach of the less skilful. In lawn-tennis as played at the ordinary country house or local club the real " smash " of a Renshaw or a Doherty is seldom to be seen, and the high lob is almost equally rare. Players of moderate calibre are content to take the ball on the bound and to return it with some pace along the side-lines or across the court, with the aim of placing it as artfully as possible beyond the reach of the adversary; and if now and again they venture to imitate a stroke employed with killing effect at Wimbledon, they think themselves fortunate if they occasionally succeed in making it without disaster to themselves.

Before 1890 the method of handicapping at lawn-tennis was the same as in tennis so far as it wa"s applicable to a game played in an open court. In 1890 bisques were abolished, and in 1894 an elaborate system was introduced by which fractional parts of " fifteen " could be conceded by way of handicap, in accordance with tables inserted in the laws of the game. The system is a development of the tennis handicapping by which a finer graduation of odds may be given. " One-sixth of fifteen " is one stroke given in every six games of a set; and similarly two-sixths, three-sixths, four-sixths and fivesixths of fifteen, are respectively two, three, four and five strokes given in every six games of a set; the particular game in the set in which the stroke in each case must be given being specified in the tables.

History

Lawn-tennis cannot be said to have existed prior to the year 1874. It is, indeed, true that outdoor games based on tennis were from time to time improvised by lovers of that game who found themselves out of reach of a tennis-court. Lord Arthur Hervey, sometime bishop of Bath and Wells, had thus devised a game which he and his friends played on the lawn of his rectory in Suffolk; and even so early as the end of the 18th century " field tennis " was mentioned by the Sporting Magazine as a game that rivalled the popularity of cricket. But, however much or little this game may have resembled lawn-tennis, it had long ceased to exist; and even to be remembered, when in 1874 Major Wingfield took out a patent for a game called Sphairistike, which the specification described as " a new and improved portable court for playing the ancient game of tennis." The court for this game was wider at the baselines than at the net, giving the whole court the shape of an hour-glass; one side of the net only was divided into servicecourts, service being always delivered from a fixed mark in the centre of the opposite court; and from the net-posts side-nets were fixed which tapered down to the ground at about the middle of the side-lines, thus enclosing nearly half the courts on each side of the net. The possibilities of Sphairistike were quickly perceived; and under the new name of lawn-tennis its popularity grew so quickly that in 1875 a meeting of those interested in the game was held at Lord's cricket-ground,'where a committee of the Marylebone Club (M.C.C.) was appointed to draw up a code of rules. The hour-glass shape of the court was retained by this code (issued in May 1875), and the scoring of the game followed in the main the racquets instead of the tennis model. It was at the suggestion of M. Heathcote, the amateur tennis champion, that balls covered with white flannel were substituted for the uncovered balls used at first. In 1875, through the influence of Henry Jones (" Cavendish "), lawn-tennis was included in the programme of the All England Croquet Club, which in 1877 became the All England Croquet and LawnTennis Club, on whose ground at Wimbledon the All England championships have been annually played since that date. In the same year, in anticipation of the first championship meeting, the club appointed a committee consisting of Henry Jones, Julian Marshall and C. G. Heathcote to revise the M.C.C. code of rules; the result of their labours being the introduction of the tennis in place of the racquets scoring, the substitution of a rectangular for the " hour-glass " court, and the enactment of the modern rule as regards the " fault." The height of the net, which under the M.C.C. rules had been 4 ft. in the centre, was reduced to 3 ft. 3 in.; and regulations as to the size and weight of the ball were also made. Some controversy had already taken place in the columns of the Field as to whether volleying the ball, at all events within a certain distance of the net, should not be prohibited. Spencer Gore, the first to win the championship in 1877, used the volley with great skill and judgment, and in principle anticipated the tactics afterwards brought to perfection by the Renshaws, which aimed at forcing the adversary back to the base-line and killing his return with a volley from a position near the net. P. F. Hadow, champion in 1878, showed how the volley might be defeated by skilful use of the lob; but the question of placing some check on the volley continued to be agitated among lovers of the game. The rapidly growing popularity of lawn-tennis was proved in 1879 by the inauguration at Oxford of the four-handed championship, and at Dublin of the Irish championship, and by the fact that there were forty-five competitors for the All England single championship at Wimbledon, won by J. T. Hartley, a player who chiefly relied on the accuracy of his return without frequent resort to the volley. It was in the autumn of the same year, in a tournament at Cheltenham, that. W. Renshaw made his first successful appearance in public. The year 1880 saw the foundation of the Northern Lawn-Tennis Association, whose tournaments have long been regarded as inferior in importance only to the championship meetings at Wimbledon and Dublin, and a revision of the rules which substantially made them what they have ever since remained. This year is also memorable for the first championship doubles won by the twin brothers William and Ernest Renshaw, a success which the former followed up by winning the Irish championship, beating among others H. F. Lawford for the first time.

The Renshaws had already developed the volleying game at the net, and had shown what could be done with the " smash " stroke (which became known by their name as the " Renshaw smash "), but their service had not as yet become very severe. In 1881 the distinctive features of their style were more marked, and the brothers first established firmly the supremacy which they maintained almost without interruption for the next eight years. In the doubles they discarded the older tactics of one partner standing back and the other near the net; the two Renshaws stood about the same level, just inside the serviceline, and from there volleyed with relentless severity and with an accuracy never before equalled, and seldom if ever since; while their service also acquired an immense increase of pace. Their chief rival, and the leading exponent of the non-volleying game for several years, was H. F. Lawford. After a year or two it became evident that neither the volleying tactics of Renshaw nor the strong back play of Lawford would be adopted to the exclusion of the other, and both players began to combine the two styles. Thus the permanent features of lawn-tennis may be said to have been firmly established by about the year 1885; and the players who have since then come to the front have for the most part followed the principles laid down by the Renshaws and Lawford. One of the greatest performances at lawn-tennis was in the championship competition in 1886 when W. Renshaw beat Lawford a love set in 92 minutes. The longest rest in firstclass lawn-tennis occurred in a match between Lawford and E. Lubbock in 1880, when eighty-one strokes were played. Among players in the first class who were contemporaries of the Renshaws, mention should be made of E. de S. Browne, a powerful imitator of the Renshaw style; C. W. Grinstead, R. T. Richardson, V. Goold (who played under the nom de plume " St Leger "), J. T. Hartley, E. W. Lewis, E L. Williams, H. Grove and W. J. Hamilton; while among the most prominent lady players of the period were Miss M. Langrishe, Miss Bradley, Miss Maud Watson, Miss L. Dod, Miss Martin and Miss Bingley (afterwards Mrs Hillyard). In 1888 the Lawn-Tennis Association was established; and the All England Mixed Doubles Championship (four-handed matches for ladies and gentlemen in partnership) was added to the existing annual competitions. Since 1881 lawn-tennis matches between Oxford and Cambridge universities have been played annually; and almost every county in England, besides Scotland, Wales and districts such as " Midland Counties," " South of England," &c., have their own championship meetings. Tournaments are also played in winter at Nice, Monte Carlo and other Mediterranean resorts where most of the competitors are English visitors.

1877

Year. Gentlemen's Singles.

S. W. Gore

1894 J. Pim

1878

P. F. Hadow

1895 W. Baddeley

1879

J. T. Hartley

1896 H. S. Mahony

1880

J. T. Hartley

1897 R. F. Doherty

1881

W. Renshaw

1898 R. F. Doherty

1882

W. Renshaw

1899 R. F. Doherty

1883

W. Renshaw

1900 R. F. Doherty

1884

W. Renshaw

1901 A. W. Gore

1885

W. Renshaw

1902 H. L. Doherty

1886

W. Renshaw

1903 H. L. Doherty

1887

H. F. Lawford

1904 H. L. Doherty

1888

E. Renshaw

1905 H. L. Doherty

1889

W. Renshaw

1906 H. L. Doherty

1890

W. J. Hamilton

1907 N. E. Brookes

1891

W. Baddeley

1908 A. W. Gore

1892

W. Baddeley

1909 A. W. Gore

1893

J. Pim

1910 A. F. Wilding

Year.

Gentlemen's

Doubles.

1879

L. R. Erskine

and

H. F. Lawford

1880

W. Renshaw

E. Renshaw

1881

W. Renshaw

E. Renshaw

1882

J. T. Hartley

R. T. Richardson

1883

C. W. Grinstead

C. E. Welldon

1884

W. Renshaw

E. Renshaw

1885

W. Renshaw

E. Renshaw

1886

W. Renshaw

E. Renshaw

1887

P. B. Lyon

H. W. W. Wilberforce

1888

W. Renshaw

E. Renshaw

1889

W. Renshaw

E. Renshaw

1890

J. Pim

F. O. Stoker

1891

W. Baddeley

H. Baddeley

1892

H. S. Barlow

E. W. Lewis

1893

J. Pim

F. O. Stoker

1894

W. Baddeley

H. Baddeley

1895

W. Baddeley

H. Baddeley

1896

W. Baddeley

H. Baddeley

1897

R. F. Doherty

H. L. Doherty

1898

R. F. Doherty

H. L. Doherty

1899

R. F. Doherty

H. L. Doherty

1900

R. F. Doherty

H. L. Doherty

1901

R. F. Doherty

H. L. Doherty

1902

S. H. Smith

F. L. Riseley

1903

R. F. Doherty

H. L. Doherty

1904

R. F. Doherty

H. L. Doherty

1905

R. F. Doherty

H. L. Doherty

1906

S. H. Smith

F. L. Riseley

1907

N. E. Brookes

A. F. Wilding

1 908

M. J. G. Ritchie

A. F. Wilding

1909

A. W. Gore

H. Roper Barrett

1910

M. J. G. Ritchie

A. F. Wilding

Year.

Ladies' Singles.

Year. Ladies' Singles.

1884

Miss M. Watson

1898 Miss C. Cooper

1885

Miss M. Watson

1 899 Mrs Hillyard

1886

Miss Bingley

1900 Mrs Hillyard

1887

Miss Dod

1901 Mrs Sterry (Miss C.

1888

Miss Dod

Cooper)

1889

Mrs Hillyard

1902 Miss M. E. Robb

(Miss Bingley)

1903 Miss D. K. Douglass

1890

Miss Rice

1904 Miss D. K. Douglass

1891

Miss Dod

1905 Miss M. Sutton

1892

Miss Dod

1906 Miss D. K. Douglass

1893

Miss Dod

1907 Miss M. Sutton

1894

Mrs Hillyard

1908 Mrs Sterry

1895

Miss C. Cooper

1909 Miss D. Boothby

1896

Miss C. Cooper

1910 Mrs Lambert Chambers

1897

Mrs Hillyard

(Miss Douglass)

1888

Year. Ladies' and Gentlemen's Doubles.

E. Renshaw

and Mrs Hillyard

1889

J. C. Kay

„ Miss Dod

1890

J. Baldwin

„ Miss K. Hill

1891

J. C. Kay

„ Miss Jackson

1892

A. Dod

„ Miss Dod

1893

W. Baddeley

Mrs Hillyard

1894

H. S. Mahony

„ Miss C. Cooper

Year. Ladies' and Gentlemen's Doubles.

18 95 H. S. Mahony

and Miss C. Cooper

1896 H. S. Mahony „

Miss C. Cooper

18 97 H. S. Mahony „

Miss C. Cooper

1898 H. S. Mahony „

Miss C. Cooper

18 99 C. H. L. Cazelet „

Miss Robb

1900 H. L. Doherty „

Miss C. Cooper

1901 S. H. Smith „

Miss Martin

1902 S. H. Smith „

Miss Martin

1903 F. L. Riseley „

Miss D. K. Douglass

H. Smith „

Miss E. W. Thompson

1905 S. H. Smith „

Miss E. W. Thompson

1906 F. L. Riseley „

Miss D. K. Douglass

1907 N. E. Brookes „

Mrs Hillyard

1908 A. F. Wilding „

Mrs Lambert Chambers (Miss

D. K. Douglass)

1909 H. Roper Barrett „

Miss Morton

1910 S. N. Doust „

Mrs Lambert Chambers

The results of the All England championships have been as follows: In the United States lawn-tennis was played at Nahant, near Boston, within a year of its invention in England, Dr James Dwight and the brothers F. R. and R. D. Sears being mainly instrumental in making it known to their countrymen. In 1881 at a meeting in New York of representatives of thirtythree clubs the United States National Lawn-Tennis Association was formed; and the adoption of the English rules put an end to the absence of uniformity in the size of the ball and height of the net which had hindered the progress of the game. The association decided to hold matches for championship of the United States at Newport, Rhode Island; and, by a curious coincidence, in the same year in which W. Renshaw first won the English championship, R. D. Sears won the first American championship by playing a volleying game at the net which entirely disconcerted his opponents, and he successfully defended his title for the next six years, winning the doubles throughout the same period in partnership with Dwight. In 1887, Sears being unable to play through ill-health, the championship went to H. W. Slocum. Other prominent players of the period were the brothers C. M. and J. S. Clark, who in 1883 came to England and were decisively beaten at Wimbledon by the two Renshaws. To a later generation belong the strongest single players, M. D. Whitman, Holcombe Ward, W. A. Lamed and Karl Behr. Holcombe Ward and Dwight Davis, who have the credit of introducing the peculiar ” American twist service,” were an exceedingly strong pair in doubles; but after winning the American doubles championship for three years in succession, they were defeated in 1902 by the English brothers R. F. and H. L. Doherty. The championship singles in 1904 and 1905 was won by H. Ward and B. C. Wright, the latter being one of the finest players America has produced; and these two in partnership won the doubles for three years in succession, until they were displaced by F. B. Alexander and H. H. Hackett, who in their turn held the doubles championship for a like period. In 1909 two young Californians, Long and McLoughlin, unexpectedly came to the front, and, although beaten in the final round for the championship doubles, they represented the United States in the contest for the Davis cup (see below) in Australia in that year; McLoughlin having acquired a service of extraordinary power and a smashing stroke with a reverse spin which was sufficient by itself to place him in the highest rank of lawn-tennis players.

Winners of United States Championships. Gentlemen's Singles. R. D. Wrenn R. D. Wrenn M. D. Whitman M. D. Whitman M. D. Whitman W. A. Lamed W. A. Lamed H. L. Doherty H. Ward B. C. Wright W. J. Clothier W. A. Lamed W. A. Lamed W. A. Lamed W. A. Lamed 6 Gentlemen's Singles.

Gentlemen's Singles. R. D. Sears R. D. Sears R. D. Sears R. D. Sears R. D. Sears R. D. Sears R. D. Sears H. W. Slocum H. W. Slocum O. S. Campbell O. S. Campbell O. S. Campbell R. D. Wrenn R. D. Wrenn F. H. Hovey Year. 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 Year. 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1900 Miss Myrtle McAteer 1901 Miss Elizabeth H. Moore 1902 Miss Marion Jones 1903 Miss Elizabeth H. Moore 1904 Miss May Sutton 1905 Miss Elizabeth H. Moore 1906 Miss Helen H. Homans 1907 Miss Evelyn Sears 1908 Mrs Barger Wallach 1909 Miss Hazel Hotchkiss 1910 Miss Hazel Hotchkiss Gentlemen's Doubles. and Miss J. P. Atkinson Miss J. P. Atkinson Miss J. P. Atkinson Miss Laura Henson Miss Carrie Neely Miss Edith Rastall Miss M. Hunnewell Miss Marion Jones Miss E. H. Moore Miss Chapman Miss E. H. Moore Mrs Clarence Hobart Miss Coffin Miss Sayres Miss E. Rotch Miss H. Hotchkiss Miss H. Hotchkiss In 1900 an international challenge cup was presented by the American D. F. Davis, to be competed for in the country of the holders. In the summer of that year a British team, consisting of A. W. Gore, E. D. Black and H. R. Barrett, challenged for the cup but were defeated by the Americans, Whitman, Larned, Davis and Ward. In 1902 a more representative British team, the two Dohertys and Pim, were again defeated by the same representatives of the " United States; but in the following year the Dohertys brought the Davis cup to England by beating Larned and the brothers Wrenn at Longwood. In 1904 the cup was played for at Wimbledon, when representatives of Belgium, Austria and France entered, but failed to defeat the Dohertys and F. L. Riseley, who represented Great Britain. In 1905 the entries included France, Austria, Australasia, Belgium and the United States; in 1906 the same countries, except Belgium, competed; but in both years the British players withstood the attack. In 1907, however, when the contest was confined to England, the United States and Australasia, the latter was successful in winning the cup, which was then for the first time taken to the colonies, where it was retained in the following year when the Australians N. E. Brookes and A. F.Wilding defeated the representatives of the United States, who had previously beaten the English challengers in America. In 1909 England was not represented in the competition, and the Australians again retained the cup, beating the Americans McLoughlin and Long both in singles and doubles.

See " The Badminton Library," Tennis: Lawn-Tennis: Racquets: Fives, new and revised edition (1903); R. F. and H. L. Doherty, On Lawn-Tennis (1903); E. H. Miles, Lessons in Lawn-Tennis (1899); E. de Nanteuil, La Paume et le lawn-tennis (1898); J. Dwight, " Form in Lawn-Tennis," in Scribner's Magazine, vol. vi. A. Wallis Myers, The Complete Lawn-Tennis Player (1908). (R. J. M.)


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