No corrections yet
THE LADY CHAMPION.
AN APPRECIATION, AND SOME COM-
(BY DR. I* 0. S. P0IDEVTJÍ.)
It Is one of the features .of the many-sided activities'ot lawn tennis that tbey aro pecu- liarly fitted for their adoption by ladies. Of all outdoor games, perhaps, lawn tennis is the one most suited to ladies: of its popular-
ity amongst women abundant evidence Is, forthcoming in many directions. As
regards the actual standard of profi- j doney reached by the ladies, it is In many respects surprisingly good, though, of course,] it falls a good deal short of the best meni standard. It is easy enough to understand this disparity In actual skill, but it is not so easy to gauge it accurately.
, For three years, 1903, 390«, and 1907, the little Californian lady was the greatest rival of Mrs. Lambert-Chambers (then Miss D. K. Doug- lass). During that period they met five times, Miss Douglass winning two and losing three of those matches. These were contests which aroused the very greatest national interest. Miss Sutton, quite a girl, though already the American lady champion, paid her first visit to England In 1505, the year of Norman Brookes's descent upon Wimbledon. Having beaten practically all the best lady players In England without the loss of a set In early tournaments, she won her way to the chal- lenge round of the championship at Wimble- don, where she met and defeated the holder of the championship. Miss Douglass, who had won it in 1003 and 1904. For some time pre- viously Miss Douglass had suffered from a sprained wrist, which interfered greatly with her practice preparation, but this was not allowed to detract from the merit of the lit- tle Californian lady's performances. Next year she carno over again to England, and the tables were turned In the challenge round, Miss Douglass winning a remarkably excit- ing match, and regaining her championship, amidst tremendous popular enthusiasm. She also beat Miss Sutton subsequently in an- other tournament In 190G, but not to be denied, the American lady champion went back to California, practised hard, and thoroughly, and returned once more to England and the championship. There can be no doubt that during those three years these two ladles reached a distinctly higher standard than any of their contemporaries. Miss Sutton did not visit England again and Miss Douglass did not compete again till' last season, when, as Mrs. Lambert-Chambers she showed.all her old superiority over English contemporaries, easily regaining the cham- pionship without the loss of a set. Indeed, she went through the whole season of 1910 with- out ever appearing In danger of losing a set, winning besides the championship, muny of the other chief championships of the year. Many good Judges considered that she played better in 1910 than she bad ever done before, and yet she is not regarded as the best ex-
ponent that English lawn tennis has pro-
That is an honour which has hitherto been placed to the skill of Miss Lottie Dod, who won the championship five times in all,
the last occasion being In 1S93. Mrs. Hillyard|
has won the championship on no fewer than six occasions. Her first victory was In 1886, as Miss Bingley, and her last so recently as 1900. Sho is still a competitor every year. Mrs. Sterry has also won the championship on five occasions, In 1895 for the first time, and so recently as 1908, the last occasion; in 1907, apart from Miss Douglass, she was the only lady to take a set from Miss Sutton. Since 18S5 only three other ladies besides those men- tioned have won tho championship at Wim- bledon, which shows the excluslveness of the honour. Miss Rice won it In 1890, Miss Robb in 1902, and Miss Dora Boothby in 1909. So far Mrs. Lambert-Chambers has only won It four times, but her undoubted supremacy over most of the other holders is well established.
Personally, I have not seen anyone whose play suggested equality with her, excepting Miss May'Sutton. Our own standard out here does not seem to mo to approach the Eng- lish lady champion's best. It would be Idle to expect that It would, for our ladles have no sort of advantages at all for the develop- ment of their skill such as the English ladies enjoy. To make comparative analysis, there- fore, would be distinctly unfair to our players. To lay one's finger on this or that depart- ment of the game, and say that is where the difference Iles, Is not by any means easy. The outstanding feature of Mrs. Lambert-Cham- bers' game, for instance, is not a wonderful service, great volleying capacity, marvellous activity, or tremendous driving power. Cer- tainly she serves overhead, but there are many lady players in England with mu h swifter services, and services carrying a great
deal more guile. There are numerous play- j ers who can volley infinitely better than she. I Scores are more active on the court, and many who make swifter drives. Wherein then Iles the excellence of her game? It is to be found largely In the extreme accuracy of her
play. It is not so much that she does any-1
thing that other players cannot, or do not do, j
but that she makes no mistake about what she can do, and the consistency of her game
Is remark-bale. She never appears to miss any ( opportunity that comes along or those which ( she makes for herself; she never misses an.easy one, and seldom fails to win outright any stroke which she ought to win-the cer- tain mark of the highest-class players. More
games are lost through the missing of easy j
strokes than in any other way. Mrs. Chambers has only a moderately strong service for a lady, but its chief virtue lies In the accuracy with which she places it according to the de- mands of the occasion. She has thought It all out most carefully. Generally speaking, she believes in serving from a position as
near the centre of the base line as sho can j get. So too did Miss Sutton. Neither had any backhand or forehand weakness to cloak up. so from that view-point It was immaterial from what point their service was delivered. By placing her service well into the outside corners in a single, Mrs. Chambers often
works a slight strategical advantage Into it,
whereas in a mixed- she rather believes in keeping to the middle line with the service In order to shut up the angles of tho court more, and, by diminishing the risk of her partner being passed down his side line, to allow him to encroach more into the centre of the court for interceptions. She volleys as little as possible In a single, though, should the occa- sion demand it, sho volleys with no less skill than she displays in the rest of her game. She is essentially, therefore, a base-line player. Her forehand drive is a model stroke, so beautifully timed and carried through, and made with a reserve of power and accuracy of length and direction to make most men envious. She makes her passing strokes up both lines with beautiful accuracy, and her cross-court strokes with more delicacy of touch, though no less accurately. In a single she prefers h r opponent to como to the net to volley, and It is one of her strategical moves to draw her opponent Into that posi- tion by means of short half-court "drops" or acutely-angled cross-court slows.
, Miss Sutton only volleyed on selected occasions. As compared with her rival she had a more difficult service to take; It was made with a species of "reverse American," and besides squirm- ing in to the striker somewhat it had a nastv tendency to keep low. In this respect MisJ Sutton certainly held a slight advantage over Mrs. Chambers; her forehand drive was much i fiercer, too, though not quite so well under , control, whilst on tho backhand Mrs. Cham- bers was certainly the more reliable. Miss Sutton, however, was far more active anil energetic than tho English lady champion; It was Impossible to avoid tho impression o¿ the national characteristic, "hustle," In her game. Occasionally she put a heavy cut on her strokes, but on the whole there was nothing to choose between the skill of th< two ladies, though in the matter of style and grace of execution Mrs. Chambers must bo given the verdict. Miss Boothby, the lady champion of 1909. is a base-linen with over heart service, sound ground strokes, and a notable power of recovery of difficult strokes Sho Is without the extreme accuracy and I delicacy of touch of Mrs. Chambers, though I she too plays the short dropping cross-court i shot very well. Mrs. Sterry, winner In 1903
|and on four previous occasions, is one of the l best of the English lady volleyers. She plays
her ground strokes with a very heavy cut and consequently Is seen to most advantage on a damp dead court where tho partícula! spin on the ball keeps It from rising more than nn appreciable amount off the ground Mrs. Hillyard, the most frequent winner of the championship. Is also a base-line player. The number of her other successes, too, is legion, but though she still competes regu- larly in the championship It is with muc-i less energy, skill, and staying power than In the day of her triumphs. She makes an extremely clever partner, however, In a mked. Last year at Wimbledon she was I beaton in the third round of the championshi,) by Mrs. M'Nair, one of tho neatest and most offcctlvo lady volleyoTs in England. Against the lady champion, however. In the semi-final Mrs. M'Nair cou'd only score one game In the t*,\o sets-an experience that befell many ? others during last season. It has been
rumoured that Mrs. Lambert Chambers may bo seen on South aVfrlcan courts late this year What an attraction and 'nn object lesson If she could be Induced to take in Aus
1 tralla on her itinerary, _ ._