TENNIS FOR GIRLS
WHY IT SHOULD BE PLAYED. HINTS BY EX-LADY CHAMPION. "The victory in Paris of Mile Lenglen—the winning' of the Hard Court World's Championship by a 15-year-old girl—should lead to a complete change in the ideas oi most people with regard to lawn tennis for girls," writes Ethel W. Larcom in the ' Manchester Guardian.' "The theory is held, fairly generally, that athletics, or at any rate games of the most strenuous kind, are bad for girls, and that only the strongest amo..gjt them should attempt such things. But surely the fact that a girl of such tender years can compete on level terms with women of greater age and experience entirely disproves this theory. Of course, no one wishes girls to become mannish or to lose their feminine qualities to any degree, and this is usually tho point of attack for the general condemnation of all strenuous games. They are supposed to lead to niigracefulness, over-develop-ment, hard muscles, and so on. But lawn tennis, played in good style, tends to nothing contrary to the ideal of feminine beauty. Indeed, it is conducive to more grace, to firmness of flesh and muscle without hardness or over-develop-ment, and to the perfect health and condition of the body without strain of any kind. Naturally "all this helps to keep the brain also In good working order.
—The Least Strain on tho Implement.— '• I lay .stress on correct style for the following reasons : —lt is obvious to anyone that doing anything in the easiest way involves the least possible strain on what I may call tho implements used. Thus, in adopting good style and easy methods for lawn tennis one is asking for the least possible effort from all part* of the body—heart and lungs, limbs and muscles—leaving oneself free to make the greatest possible use of tho brain instead oi tiring it with the body's useless exertion. Another important advantage gained by these methods is the possibility of playing well, although possessing no physical qualifications. To give myself as an. instance. I havo bad eyesight, no great muscular strength, and no flcetness of foot whatever. As a child I was not at all strong, but lawn tennis, instead of acting on this weakness in any disagreeable way, has helped me in no 6inall degree to the good health I now enjoy. One tremendous advantage, however, I did possess—that of being correctly taught. MJlo Lenglen has the same advantage, I and in this undoubtedly lies the secret of her victory in Paris. On the one hand, ( her comparative weakness in size, strength, reach, and speed; on the other, the singlo fact that she has been and still is taught in correct style, and with a complete knowledgo of" the game and its finer points, i he moral is obvious. All girls should strive for good teaching, and, failing personal instruction, which is not always easy to obtain, should try to find out ?or themselves how to make all strokes in the right way. They must not be content to play anyhow. —How to Hold the Racket.— " Perhaps I can help a little by repeating here what I consider the simplest grip for the forehand stroke. Hold the racket straight out with its face perpendicular; grasp it so that tho ' V' between the thumb and first finger comes on the left or front edge of the straight piece down the side of the handle. Close the fingers round the handle naturally, slanting, slightly upwards, and the little finger will be half or three-quarters of an inch above the leather at the end. With this grip it is possible—and easy—to serve overhead or underhand, and to take any forehand stroke with tho ball at any height, whether volleyed or off the ground. For the backhand the crip must be changed. The hand should be turned to the left until the whole of the back of it is showing flat on that straight sidepiece where tho 'V was before. The thumb should bo placed straight up tho front of the racket, as it aivoa addM.
power and control. The correct position of the body is sideways to the not, facing the right-hand side-lino for a forehand stroke, and tho left for a backhand. When running towards the ball it is important to remember that a forehand stroke should be taken with the left foot most forward, and a backhand with the right foot most forward. The taking of strokes 'off the wrong foot' is a more common form of error than many imagine. A correct swing is impossible if" the body and the feet are not in the right position. —Difficulties of the Volley.— " This is the reason that girls as a rule find it difficult to volley. Play at the net is so quick that one has not time to assume correct positions, hence the swing roust be done away with. Of course, the whole art of volleying cannot be dismissed in a few words, Dut, briefly speaking, it is almost entirely wrist work. The racket is gripped more tightly, and held firm and stiff at the correct angle and in the right place for the stroke required. This does not apply, however, to ' smashes,' as for overhead strokes one has usually time for correct position and its accompanying swing. Technicalities are not always interesting, and 1 fear this article is too full of them, but I shall be only too glad if it helps any girl either to learn or to play more easily. Lawn tennis is worth playing for so'many reasons—for its own sake as a game, lor the sake of health as a'body-builder, for education as a character-builder. It develops unselfishness, good temper, coolness under difficult circumstances, honor, and all the many little acts of straightness included in the term 'good sportsmanship.'"
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TENNIS FOR GIRLS, Evening Star, Issue 15678, 17 December 1914