Many thanks to David Lowry for this transcription.
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THE WORLD'S CHAMPIONSHIP
Tennis, which must not be for a moment confounded with the kindred but just now far more familiar game of lawn tennis, has not of late received much attention in this country, although the gathering yesterday shows very plainly that it is by no means to be classified with such comparatively ancient amusements as croquet, for instance, or even bowls or quoits. These however, are plebeian pursuits to be followed upon a bit of lawn or the village green. Tennis has always been in the past, and will probably remain in the future, an aristocratic game, one, at all events, requiring the possession of wealth or ample means for its indulgence. It is said that the ill-fated Charles I. played tennis at Hampton Court, and there is an old-fashioned tennis court at Fontainebleau, where the game of the period was played by the princes and courtiers of France. If tennis should become a popular game, it is safe to say it would no longer be tennis; for the clubs would not be able to stand the expense of a large building, with nettings and galleries and black marble floors, along which the white tennis balls-rather larger than racquet balls-could be followed by the eye with that ease and certainty which will permit a severe mental calculation; how the ball when it is served should be treated because owing to the arrangement of the nettings for the play, and the existence of the high boundary walls, the issue presented to the player is vastly more complicated than that has to be attempted in an open lawn tennis court. The difference however, in the game from that point of view in more real than apparent, and tennis must be studied before any good result, even that of juvenile amusement can be secured from playing apparent battledore and shuttlecock across a netting.
The tennis court is in dimensions and form somewhat like a racquet court, of which there are very many still in Ireland. There are, however, some important differences-a wire netting overhead, say about 20 feet, to keep the ball in bounds, auditorium, the "Dedan", on the floor, at the service end from which the spectators can most conveniently view the play. The place is protected by a rope, or rather twine netting, which protects those viewing the game from accident, being strong and close enough to prevent the passage of a ball, while at the same time offering as little obstruction to the view as is at all consistent with safety. The best point of sight is the Dedan. There is further provision for seeing the game on the left-hand side, where there are seats and nets. The side opposite is a solid wall. Tennis is a game worth cultivating from almost every point of view, and if the present match tends in any degree to revive an interest in it, then the promoters, and Sir Edward Cecil Guinness in particular, will have every reason to be satisfied with the result.
There is not much opportunity for the exercise of the descriptive reporter's art in connection with the game. The interest is centred in the progress of the match simply, and that not merely for the negative reason that there is nothing in the surroundings to distract attention from the struggle, but also because the spirit of the play, the heat of the contest, commands a concentration of all the energies in watching it. There is no time to become wearied with it because a couple of hours' play each day is all that is considered possible by the players, or at all events necessary. On the other hand, a lawn tennis meeting fills the whole day, and attracts people by reason of the social side which the gathering presents as much perhaps as by the playing. There is a promenade and a band, with opportunities for gossip and for ladies for studying each other's toilets and one can go away for a while and return again as to a fashionable pleasure resort provided for both young and old. How different in tennis. The arena is walled in, and an effort has even to be made to exclude the bright rays of sunlight which blaze upon the glass roof, and clean in through every chink and slit that will permit their passage. For this purpose of moderating the light in the court at the rere of the palatial town house of Sir Edward Guinness in St. Stephen's green, a number of blinds were drawn inside the glass, and so, with excellent ventilation, made easy by the cool, almost cold, east wind that blew all day long, the Earlsfort terrace Court was bright enough, and cool enough to permit the spectators to mark the progress of the match with unflagging interest. The invitations to witness the match were necessarily very limited, since there is not quite accommodation enough for one hundred and fifty people, and the large number of experts in the game, who came from many places in America, France, and England required that their desire to witness the match should have the first consideration. But it will be admitted that in spite of difficulties which stood in the way, the efforts of Colonel R. H. Atkinson, who took charge of the several arrangements for the contest, were rewarded- as they deserved to be- with almost complete success. To the spectators the hot contest seemed all too brief- only an hour and 20 minutes. The second stage of the contest will be fought out on Wednesday. The players, it is understood, are warm in their praises of the court in which they have fought the preliminary for the world's championships. Amongst noted professionals who witnessed the match were George Lambert, P. Latham and La Blaquon.
After play, Sir Edward and Lady Guinness entertained a large party at luncheon. Amongst those present we noticed the following:-
[List of approximately fifty names omitted from transcription]
It is now some five years since Thomas Pettitt, the present holder of the championship, wrested the title from George Lambert, and a short resume of his doings may be of interest. The match with Lambart was played at Hampton Court on May 11, 1885, and after the English crack had won five of the first six sets, Pettitt, having become accustomed to the court and the peculiarities of his opponent's play, won the next six sets off the reel, and the match by 7 to 5. Pettitt after defeating Lambert, played a number of matches, winning all of them, and amongst those who went down before him was Saunders, his present opponent, to whom be conceded half 15. Subsequently Saunders visited America, and this time receiving 15 and a bisque, turned the tables on Pettitt. Both have improved considerably since then, and several attempts were made to bring them together on level terms. In July last endeavours were made to induce Saunders to visit America, but he refused to cross the water or to play with American tennis balls; so at length, after much manoeuvring a match was arranged between the Englishman and Pettitt, to be played in the court of Sir Edward Guinness, at Dublin- a neutral rendez-vous within which neither player had ever set foot- with French balls and for £500 a side, on May 26, 28, and 30. Pettitt was thirty years of age in December last, and as Saunders he has had a brilliant record. he is two years younger than his rival, and is a typical English athlete in every respect. He has from babyhood
been connected with the Prince's Club, and aristocratic patrons of that famous court think Saunders almost invincible. The articles were daily signed, the only change in those originally forwarded by Pettitt being that the date was changed from June 2 to May 26, &c. The champion arrived in England in the third week of April, and on the 26th of that month he met Sir Edward Grey , the then amateur champion, who was the receipt of 15. Pettitt who is noted for the strength of his play won by three sets to two- 3 to 6, 6 to 5, 4 to 6, 6 to 2, 6 to 5- and on May 10th, at the Queen's Club Court, Pettitt gave P. Latham 15 for a bisque and beat him by three sets to one. Visiting Cambridge he tried conclusions with Haradine, conceding 15 and a bisque, and won a good match by three sets to two, while on May 20th he suffered defeat at the hands of Le Bisquon (George Leaueur), the French Champion, to whom he was endeavouring to present the huge odds of 30 for a bisque. Neither Pettitt nor Saunders made the slightest demur when Hon. A. Lyttleton was named referee, and the M.C.C. then allowed their marker, "Jimmy" Fennell to attend to mark the match, which is the best of 13 sets. Four sets, the best of eleven games to be played on each day, unless the score be six sets all, when a final set shall at once be played. Pettitt signed the articles in presence of Mr. James Dwight, who is so well and popularly known in lawn tennis circles, both in America and the United Kingdom. As will be seen lower down, yesterday's play was in favour of Saunders, who won three of the four sets played, the state of the game being, by remarkable coincidence, exactly similar to what it was on the conclusion of the first day's match between Pettitt and Lambert in 1885, the latter then holding the field. Yesterday both men seemed a bit nonplussed by the extreme smoothness of the court, and prevented a large number of returns being made, and also militated against long rallies. indeed, as a matter of fact, there were only two good rallies during the day, but doubtless when the players become more accustomed to the court, matters will undergo a change, and Pettitt,, it may be remarked, is of opinion that the court is the best ever seen. Very many of the strokes were decided by the service or first strokes, and on account of the dedans being smaller than in most other courts in height, there was more wall to play on under the galleries. Thus the conditions were somewhat in favour of the Englishman, whose service is his string point, while it is in the rallies that Pettitt is seen to most advantage. The last named opened the ball by securing the first game of the opening set, but then his opponent secured the second and third, and the score was called 2 to 1 in his favour. A run of five off the reel then gave Pettitt the set by 6 to 2. The Yankee again led off by scoring the initial game of the second set, but Saunders playing with considerable skill, reeled off game after game till the total was five to one in his favour. He now looked like capturing the set very easily, but Pettitt was not yet done with, and a sequence of three to his credit left the score "5 to 4, Saunders wins." However, the Englishman then notched the game necessary to give him the set, and the score was one set all. In the third set they scored alternately game and game until the score was two all, when Saunders ran out the set by securing four games in succession. The opening game of the forth set was won by Pettitt, but this was destined to be his last success, as Saunders showing fine form, then won six games off the reel, and took the set by 6 to 1. This concluded play for the day, the duration of the game being one hour and twenty minutes. The score now stands:-