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Tennis Enshrined

May 2024
1min read

Last June two members of our staff attended a pleasant luncheon given in New York by James Van Alen, best known for his creation of the suddendeath scoring system of tennis and now president of the National Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame. In the year of tennis’ hundredth anniversary in the United States [see “Sphairistiké, Anyone?” A MERICAN H ERITAGE , June, 1971] it is most appropriate that the Hall of Fame should be housed in the handsome old Newport Casino, built by James Gordon Bennett in 1880, where the first United States Lawn Tennis Association championship tournament was held in August of 1881. Although the Hall of Fame has been there since its founding in 1954, the board of directors sees a growing need for extensive restoration and expansion of the Casino and so is offering limited membership in the nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. The luncheon, given to present the campaign to the press, was brightened by several tennis luminaries besides Mr. Van Alen, who was United States amateur court-tennis champion in 1933 and 1940.

In 1952 Mr. Van Alen helped rescue the Casino from being replaced by a shopping center. He hopes to open the Casino to visitors on a year-round basis, as opposed to the current Mayto-October season. Thirteen grass courts will be available to visiting members, and tennis clinics and lectures are planned. At present the four museum rooms include displays of antique rackets and costumes, trophies, photographs, prints and paintings of tennis stars, and a tennis library. Plans for expansion call for more exhibition rooms, a Davis Cup room, and a gift shop.

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