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Jesmond Dene Real Tennis Club is one of
only 26 Real Tennis courts in the UK and 45 in the world. Built in 1894, the
court is situated on Matthew Bank between Jesmond and South Gosforth and is only
a few miles from the centre of Newcastle. The sport has grown over the last 15
years with 4 new courts built in England and an expanding membership. Jesmond
has more members today that at any point in its history and new potential
members are always welcome.
Our beautiful court is a rare historical and sporting asset to the north east region and we are pleased to show people round and give them a chance to try the "original" tennis. Every year many local schools and historical societies' take a tour or can play here . The court fees are modest and we encourage juniors.
Real Tennis is one of the few sports where handicaps are
used extensively and players of all abilities can participate equally with each
other. In fact, in handicap tournaments it is the better players (or lower
handicaps) who are under the most pressure.
If you would like to come and try the game you will be
made very welcome. Club racquets are available for beginners and introductory
lessons will be arranged.
Our members include players of all abilities, both sexes
and all ages from the young and fast to the older and less sprightly. New
members will have games and opponents organised for them so they will quickly
meet other members.
Who should try Real Tennis
- Retired squash players find the game less strenuous, but
equally satisfying and enjoy the tactical nature of matches.
- Cricketers and golfers should play in the winter to keep
their eye in.
- Anyone with a desire to play a game competitively or for
- Students - Newcastle, Northumbria & Durham
Universities play regularly.
- Children as young as 9 can play, although for some the
racket is too heavy. Around 10-12 years-old would be the best age to start
playing.Every summer we hold junior coaching weeks during the summer
HINTS TO YOUNG TENNIS PLAYERS.
(Kindly contributed by Mr. Horace Noble, winner of the Christmas Handicap at Jesmond,1921.)
The first necessity for the beginner at Tennis is to acquire the correct stroke, as this is the foundation of all successful play. It will perhaps be simpler to describe some of the most typical strokes, so that the novice may know what lies before him.
The first is the blacker, when you give the ball a resounding blow on the block of the racquet, the triangular piece of wood at the top of the handle. For the ordinary return from the floor it is in constant use, and is no doubt a development of the handler, a stroke resorted to by less skilful exponents, who use the handle instead of the block of the racquet for sending the ball back. The blacker, when employed by experts, imparts a puzzling twist to the ball, and as it seldom sends it far over the net, your opponent is obliged to run violently into the centre of the court to meet it. This will in time tire him out, and is almost sure to make him annoyed. The stroke is not of much use for winning short chases, but comes in most conveniently for anything worse than the door.
A more familiar stroke is the framer, when the frame and not the block of the racquet is used. No stroke is more constantly seen in the Jesmond court than this. When in form I myself, if a personal reference may be pardoned, have made as many as twelve or fifteen framers consecutively, some of which have gone over the net and some have not. It is no unusual thing, when a high-class four is in progress, to see a long rally, or rest, as it is generally termed, composed entirely of framers, for it is really wonderful what you can do with the frame if you try. Nothing can be prettier than to see an easy ball crashed on to the penthouse with the frame, just when everybody but yourself is expecting you to kill it under the grille. Your partner may, perhaps, be a little disappointed at the result, but you can explain to him later that at any rate the stroke is an improvement on the blacker, as it shews that you are gradually getting nearer to the strings of your racquet, and in course of time may reasonably expect to hit one with the face.
We now pass to a more complicated tennis stroke, the penthouse bouncer. This is almost invariably introduced when you are forcing for the dedans to win a short chase. Some players, when they force, prefer to strike the ball, either direct or off the side wall, into the dedans net, but one cannot help thinking the Jesmond method more delicate. Suppose yourself to have crossed over to attack chase a yard, and that you receive a fairly easy service. You move forward on your left leg, and, timing the stroke accurately, come forward with a full body swing. If your aim is correct, the ball will land about half way up the end penthouse and soar up into the roof. Your opponents will assume a satisfied air, as if to say that that had lost it at any rate, and will prepare to serve again. But wait a bit. The ball has continued to soar, and, having by some happy chance escaped the ties and beams of the roof, is now coming down again. The satisfied expression of your adversaries is changing gradually to a sickly look of anxiety. They find that they have mistaken the exactness of your calculations. Your stroke falls better than two inches and, acquiring a back spin imparted by the penthouse, clings affectionately to the end wall. Frenzied scoops and scuffles follow, but they are of no avail. The ace is yours as well as the applause of the dedans. You must not forget that the penthouse bouncer can also be used for grille shots or even for making very short chases : indeed in whatever part of the court it comes off it almost always aggravates the enemy which is, after all, half the battle.
Our next consideration will be that fashionable stroke, usually known as the gluefoot. This stroke is named after Colonel Gluefoot, who was one of its chief exponents, and who did it better and more thoroughly than any player of his day. One fears that the younger generation are unfamiliar with the reputation of this famous amateur, as few of them can have, seen him at his best. His footwork was simply astonishing; no other epithet can describe it. The only possible criticism of his play was that it might have been more effective if he had found himself, when he was finished with his footwork, within ten feet of where the ball was bouncing. It was, we believe, suggested at one time that he should be allowed to use a racquet as long as a salmon rod, to give him a better chance of reaching the ball. But some formality prevented the adoption of this implement. I have been told that the Colonel in his younger days on one memorable occasion pursued a ball vigorously, and, crossing his feet, fell heavily into the winning gallery, a mishap which rendered him more circumspect for the future. He will be best remembered as having reached the semi-final in the Cork Leg Handicap in the old court at Prince's, which was demolished about 1875. Though he had not, we understand, even one cork leg, his style gave the impression that he had two, so he was allowed to enter. At Jesmond his methods have found many conscientious imitators: indeed he may fairly be said to have founded a school of players.
The author would have liked to add a few words about the service at Tennis, an interesting branch of the game. Of many varieties the best-known, perhaps, are the upper-cut, the under-cut, the Roast Beef of Old England, the giraffe, the hippopotamus, the perpetual pass, or neck-twister, the American railroad, the Jesmond motor lorry, and so on.
But space will not allow further notes of this most entertaining of pastimes. Tennis has been well called the Game of Kings, which means that if you are or have been at King's you are likely to be good at it.
[The Jesmond Journal 1922]