T is for Tennis Hall of Fame

When we were in Newport, RI five years ago, we found ourselves at a sandwich shop. I happened to walk around the corner, and there was the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. I swore that next time we were in town we’d go, and in April, the Wife and I did.

From the Wikipedia: “While the modern game of tennis originated in late 19th century England, most historians believe that the games ancient origin is from 12th century France, but the ball was then struck with the palm of the hand. It was not until the 16th century that rackets came into use, and the game began to be called “tennis”, from the Old French term Tenez, which can be translated as ‘hold!’, ‘receive!’ or ‘take!'” One can play “real” tennis at the Hall, though we did not.

There were plenty of artifacts: old racquets of players, videos, newspaper articles (e.g., about the scandalous apparel of women players in the 1920s that showed the knee!), info about the infamous “battle of the sexes” between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs (Hall of Famers both), histories of the Grand Slam and other significant tournaments, and lots of trophies.

But the key is the display of all the players and contributors. Each of them are represented on a kiosk that allows you to see video of the players, a quote, and their major accomplishment; you can see the info here. Interesting that I recognize some old timers’ names such as Bill Tilden and Helen Wills Moody. Then there were the Aussies I remember growing up, such as Rod Laver, Toy Emerson, Tony Roche and Fred Stolle, onto the players from the Open Era, which began in 1968, “when the Grand Slam tournaments agreed to allow professional players to compete with amateurs…This has allowed tennis players the opportunity to make a good living playing tennis.”

There was a video of the Hall speech by Andre Agassi, a 2011 inductee. A great player early on, he seemed to waste his talent and sank to a ranking of #141, but found his focus again and became a #1 player. This year’s inductees include Jennifer Capriati and Guga Kuerten, who will join the ranks on July 14, 2012.

At least a couple players who are in the Hall I got to see play personally: Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, doubles specialists, who played singles and doubles, I believe, at the OTB Open tournament in Schenectady, NY in the early 1990s.

One person in the Hall who I was totally unfamiliar with was Dr. Robert Johnson, indicted in 2009 as a contributor. “Without the guidance of Dr. Johnson, however, [Althea] Gibson, [Arthur] Ashe, and countless others might not have succeeded so mightily. Dr. Johnson trained, coached, and mentored African Americans from his home in Lynchburg, Virginia for more than two decades.” Dr. Johnson died in 1971.

I’ve been to several Halls of Fame: baseball (Cooperstown, NY), basketball (Springfield, MA), the surprisingly interesting horse racing (Saratoga Springs, NY), the disappointing and now defunct soccer (Oneonta, NY). The International Tennis HoF is a good one.

ABC Wednesday – Round 10

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28 thoughts on “T is for Tennis Hall of Fame

  1. Tennis is a very popular sport here in my country too! Unfortunately I don’t play at all.
    Thanks for your kind comment. It is encouraging, especially now my laptop is out of order and I have to work on my iPad, which has a lot of possibilities, but I don’t know how to put photos on my blogentries. Fortunately I have all my ABC entries scheduled till October.

  2. I need to find someone to play tennis with. I haven’t played for years now. And thanks for the reminder. I have to add the Tennis HoF to my list of places I need to visit.

  3. Pardon for the previous comment I posted (daughter was trying to bloghop a while ago lol).

    I love the combination of colors on that establishment!

  4. I used to love playing tennis with my late husband – I could even beat him 1 set our of 3!!! And those were the days of wooden rackets!

    Leslie
    abcw team

  5. My husband was a tennis player before his bypasses and other heart related issues. He love it with a passion. I did however see him throw his racket a couple of times…Not the best example for a Preacher Man. But it was certainly passionate! HaHa.

  6. Roger, looks like a very interesting museum. My granddaughters 11 and 8 are starting tennis lessons this summer. Thanks for the tour.
    Ann

  7. Your THOUGHTS about the tennis museum TRANSPORTED me to a TIME when i attempted to learn the sport, but had to concede defeat due to my poor eye-hand coordination. I have a close friend, however, who would really, really love to see that museum.

  8. I recognize some of those names as well, Roger, but my greatest memory is of watching my father playing tennis. He tended goal too (hockey) but tennis was his favourite sport before being plagued with osteo as the result of a wound at Cambrai at the end of World War 1.

  9. In Jan we have the Auckland cup ND ATTRACT QUITE GOOD PLAYERS. (SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS, borrowing my husband’s new laptop and getting used to it.)

  10. How interesting I didn’t know that the word “Tennis” comes from tenez, which comes from the verb “tenir” (to hold) Tenez is actually like an order “hold !”

  11. Sounds an interesting place, I especially like the idea of of kiosks which brings the past to life. I’ve always wanted a go at Real Tennis, it looks so wacky, and enjoyable.

  12. Roger, you were fortunate to play some good tennis players! I love tennis… on the TV. Couldn’t play it, though I tried. Your references to early female pros reminded me of the delightful Tracy/Hepburn movie, “Pat and Mike,” where Kate is a multi-talented athlete and Spence is her Damon Runyonesque manager; “There ain’t much meat on her, but what there is is CHERCE!” Also some great golfers, including Babe Dedrickson… Thanks, Rog! Peace and no ‘faults,’ Amy
    http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/05/31/the-troubadour-abc-weds-thurs-think-tank/

  13. The first time I tried tennis, the ball flew above the building next to the court so high, and it ended up thumping on a BMW on the adjacent lot. ‘Was waiting for Andre Agassi to be mentioned; glad he was.

  14. I watched some videos of Real Tennis, it looks hard! Two guys playing in something billed as the Australian Championships could barely get the ball back and forth more than once. Two thoughts, isn’t the game a little hard on the spectators sitting in the “galleries?” And exactly how old is this version of tennis, and back in the day who built these elaborate indoor courts? (Neither the Tennis Hall of Fame or Wikipedia dates the game or explains or why it appeared, except to say it’s old.)

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