Saturday School: Turf Profile – Wooden courts

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Wooden turf tournaments are now a thing of the past. The last tournament played on wood was held way back in 1979.
For almost 95 years, wood was a competitive turf in both circuits: men as well as women.
Due to the smooth texture of the wood, the ball’s felt would not easily grab hold of the surface, which caused the ball to travel at a relatively quicker pace. Unlike clay, players cannot easily slide across wood, thanks to its high frictional quality. This is why, players had to rely on their movement and sprinting skills so as to chase the ball in time.
The most notable tournaments that were played on wood are:
1) British Covered Court Championships
The British Covered Court Championships was the first known tournament with a wooden turf.
The first time the tournament was played was in 1885 in London. Till 1894 it took place at the Hyde Park, before being shifted to Queen’s Club thereafter.
It merged with the London Covered Court Championships in 1925. 9 years later, the tournament was renamed to The National Covered Court Championships.
The popularity of this tournament multiplied over the years and it seemed that this tournament was there to stay. However, surprisingly, it ran out of sponsors in 1966.
Three years later, to keep itself afloat, it merged with the Wembley Championships. The tournament officially became a part of the Grand Prix Circuit in 1970-71.
A year later, the birth of multiple led to a conflict for the participants. A conflict, where several high ranked players from the World Championship Tennis circuit were banned from entering the tournament the following year.
As a result, the British Covered Court Championships saw their last year in 1971.
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Jean Borotra
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Dorothea Douglass Chambers
Jean Borotra, a member of the FourĀ MusketeersĀ of tennis, won this tournament for a record 11 times. When he won the tournament for the 11th time in 1949, he was 51 years of age.
After the Open Era began, the tournament was held for just 4 years and Rod Laver managed to win it twice. Dorothea Douglass Chambers won the women’s singles seven times. In the open era, Billie Jean King won it twice.
2) Welsh Covered Court Championships
Originally known as Welsh Covered Court Lawn Tennis Championships, this tournament began in Wales in 1893. It saw 51 successful editions.
For women, this tournament was played twice in a year: one in April, one in October.
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George Caridia
George Caridia, an Indian-born British player, participated in the tournament for 20 consecutive years and won it for a record 9 times.
Mabel Parton won a record 5 titles in the women’s singles.
3) French Covered Court Championships
The French Indoors or the French Covered Court Championships is known to be the predecessor of the current Paris Masters.
It started in 1895 and was held in two locations in France – Paris, and Lyon. It was initially held at the Tennis Club de Paris and was moved to Lyon in 1947.
In 1968, the women singles were played both in Paris and Lyon.
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Tennis Club de Paris
Of the 69 editions of the tournament, 12 were won by Jean Borotra in the men’s singles.
The woman who won the most number of titles was Germaine Regnier Golding with seven victories in the competition.
The last edition of the men’s tournament was held in 1969. The last edition of the women’s tournament took place took place Two years later.
4) World Covered Court Championships
Initiated by the International Lawn Tennis Federation, the World Covered Court Championships was a part of the three World Championship tournaments: the World Hard Court Championships and Wimbledon were the other two tournaments.
Due to the latter two tournaments, the WCCC could not garner much attention.
It lasted for a decade(1913-23) and contested 6 editions in five different countries: Sweden, France, Denmark, Switzerland and Spain.
When the Australian and US Open tournaments were granted the status of Grand Slam, the ILTF ceased the tournament in 1924.
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Henri Cochet
Frenchman Henri Cochet won this title twice.
All the six editions of the woman’s singles produced a new winner each year. Four of these winners were British.
5) Scandinavian Indoor Championships
This tournament was held in major Scandinavian capitals like Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki and Stockholm. It was created in order to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Swedish Lawn Tennis Association.
European players dominated the event.
The tournament started in 1936. Till 1969 , the tournament was played on wood and it is the last known wood court tournament that was ever contested.
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Bjorn Borg
Kurt Nielsen won this tournament five times in the men’s singles. In the Open Era, it was won twice by Bjorn Borg and Jan Leschly.
Angela Mortimer won the tournament six times in the women’s category. Unfortunately, the tournament struggled to survive in the Open Era and was disbanded in 1979.
As the hard, grass, clay and carpet courts got famous over the years, wooden turfs slowly got obsolete and all wooden court tournaments are defunct now.
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Hello tennis lovers, I am Balraj Shukla from Ahmedabad, India. My love for the sport is directed not only by viewing the current scenario but by tracing the steps back to the roots of the game we call Tennis. Upon reading my content I hope you further widen your perspective of the game by knowing things out of the box. Twitter and Facebook links mentioned will help you in contacting me for healthy discussions, questions, and analysis.

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