TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS. PLAY AT CHRISTCHURCH.
THE OPENING DAY> SOME INTERESTING GAMES. [Br Tmsobapit.] (From Out Special Reporter.) CHRISTCHUROH, 26th December. The tennis championship meeting began to-day, in perfect weather, on Hagley Park, where twelve courts were in requisition. It was a dull "nOr'-west" day, find the heat was most oppressive. Owing to the prevalence of the clover in the grass various devices were resorted to- by the players to maintain a foothold, .but despite this some nasty falls Were witnessed, and the victims were considerably shaken. Especially does this apply to Miss Travers, of Wellington, who, in her match with Miss Elsie Williams, fell tliree times. At no previous championships held in the colony has such splendid accommodation been made for the spectators. On the champion court raised seats have been erected. These command a fine view of the play. There was a large attendance of the public, over 1500 being present- Ohief interest naturally centred in the play of Wilding, Parker, and Heath, and where these players were engaged lnrge and appreciative crowds watched every stroke. Th« first big event of the day was a double championship between Parker nnd Heath, and Swanston and Fisher. The Wellington pair, however, were quite outclassed, and only at one stage of the match dJfl they manifest anything approaching their form. The American spin service seemed to completely disorganise Swanßton right from the jump, and only now and again did he prove his capacity to play killing shots. Fisher, on the other hand, played a strong thrilling game, and being a left-hander, was less affected with the "Yankee curlers." His overheixl work was moro deadly than that of any of the quartette. Wilding played a safe, hard game from start to finish, his forehand being particularly severe, and his service, with its terrific spin and break, quite a revelation. Heath, the Victorian, was also very safe and sure, his cross court drives and short low volleys usually scoring the ace outright. Taken as a whole, the game was exceedingly interesting to watch, and if the Wellington pair had- any previous experience of the erratic American service a great match might have ensued. Later in the day Fisher proved once again what "a surprise t>acket v lie is in important matches. He was drawn against Heath, wh6 is the present champion of Australia, and in spite of the fact that the Wellington niaif was not in the pink of condition, he worried Heath for two houis and a half^ and scored a popular win by three sets to two, his opponent being run to a stand* still- The play was at times brilliant, Fisher scoring mostly by his volleying at the net, and Healh 'by hil forehand and ground shots. The first set went to Heath (6—2), but in the second the Wellington man improved. When 5 to 4 ana 40 — 30 Fisher essayed a short drop shot which would have given him the match, but it failed, and 6 all was called. Heath ihert missed scoring the thirteenth game by serving a double, and fvom^hat Fisher went ov nnd scored the set (7—B) by a most remarkable shot, which Was apparently beyond reach. In tha third set Fisher set to Work in real earnest, and playing. we'l down the side lines and volleying Well, he placed the set to bis credit by six games to one. Then Heath livened up, and forcing the game and hitting harder, scored the fourth set to his credit, after a hard-fought game, by seven gameß to five. By this time both players were dead tired, and it was then that physique began to tell. Fisher collected all his energy, and with his tremendous reach and agility "pasted" Heath to the tune 6—2,6 — 2, and won the match. The enthusiasm was very great, and tho win fox New Zealand was very popular. >. The next big lnatph waa Wilding against Cox, the 1898 champion. Cox was recovering from an attack of influenza, and was not at his best. He played some brilliant »hots, however, and many of the games which Wilding scored cleverly contested- Wilding's single play is very hard and accurate, his placing is good from his forehitndj but his backhand and overhead work was somewhat uncertain. Cox only scored five games against eighteen, but tho game was full of interest from <rtart to finish, and brilliant) shots Were plentiful. Parker met Quill, of Christchurch, in a champion single, and won easily by 18-garnes to 6. champion's play /was! keenly watched, and there is much spor/iilation as to what will happen when ho and Wilding meet. Tho genera) impression is that Parker will win. He is /" playing with groat accuracy. His backhand is much superior -to Wilding's, his overhead work is moro deadly, and his forehand is very sound. If Wilding pursues the tactics he has adopted up to tho present of rushing the net on short drives ho should most assuredly find Parker his superior. Parker, too, is not baffled by tho American service, having tasted the real thing when in England. Whilst Wilding, whoso forehand is so deadly off higli, bounding balls, will find tho Bhort low service of Parker somewhat difficult to deal with. Wilding may, of course, improve as tho tournament proceeds, but tho general impression is that ho wilJ go under this time. Harold Brown, of Wellington, played Gray, from Auckland, in the first round of tho singles, ami Bcorod a hollow victory, although ho was not playing all well. Parker also accounted tor Ilarmun, tho veteran Canterbury player, by 18 games to 3. It is just 21 years ago ainco Harmatl missed winning the New Zealand chaiUpionnhip by one ntroko, and the votorau plays a good game still. Swanston won by default in the first round of the singles owing to tho illness of Goss, of Canterbury. Fisher ought to boat Quill in tho Australasian singles, and that Wpuld put him in tho final to moot i.xxA Xv4niior of i.\%o J?a.rlcoirWilding lefc. . ' In tho Ladies' SingUs Miis Elsie Wil* Hams and Mitts Tra-vers, both of Wellington, met, thd former playing a brilliant grtino and winning (7— B. 6—3). Tho heal scorned to nffoct Miss Travel's, and this, with tho falls already referred jji^- ft££act^4 Jj*£ team,
Still, on the day, the winner was much superior, and she should put up some good fights before she meets her Waterloo. There were no Ladies' Doubles or Combined Doubles played to-day. In the Handicap Singjes there was much criticism of the handicapping, which made Wilding owe Parker half fifteen, whilst Swanston, Fisher, and Laishley each receive 15— a fairly long start. To-day Fisher defeated Salmond, Ashburton, by 2 sets to 1, Swanston beat P. H. Cox, 2 sets straight. Sloman had no difficulty in winning irom H. Brown, the Thorndon man playing very well. In the second-grade singles Redward, Wellington, got home easily (6 — 2, 6—2). In the third-grade, Dr. Webster, Rowley, Gillon, and Grady all came out on the right side. The weather is still fine, but warm and enervating. The management of the meeting is excellent, and with the Australian and Now Zealand championships and inter-State matches there should yet be witnessed some of the finest tennis ever aeon in the colony. The members of the Tennis Association will be glad io learn that tho total takings for the first day amounted to £8p!