Whatever For?

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Note: This story of the building of Prince’s Court first appeared in the Winter 1998 edition of the Alumni Horae, the alumni magazine of St. Paul’s School. I chose not to update any of the information to more accurately reflect the last 22 years. There are several anachronistic references, like “sport of kings” that I would have used at the time but no longer. There are also some errors that I chose not to correct because I believed them at the time. For example, Henry VIII was not playing court tennis when Anne Boleyn was beheaded, but she was betting on court tennis when summoned to the Privy Council to be sentenced.

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There is a man in Texas who is the patron saint of those who undertake “unlikely” tasks. This man wishes to build a trebuchet. In fact, he wishes to build the largest trebuchet in all of history. First, you should know what a trebuchet is, just in case you don’t. A trebuchet is a catapult of the sort used to besiege castles in the Middle Ages. But the Texan trebuchet is more ambitious. When completed — there have been several tries and many years of effort — it will launch a Buick. The Buick will fly farther than any Buick has ever flown before. In fact, the Buick will fly farther than anything has ever flown off the sling arm of a trebuchet. The man has devoted much of his adult life to this. He has a website. He is seriously into it.

Should you ever set off on an unlikely, perhaps even weird endeavor, remember this man. He is important to you. His life’s mission is weirder than yours. He can be pointed to when others make small circles around their ears with their fingers and drift away from you at social gatherings. If you do what I did for the last ten years, people will make those small circles around their ears with their fingers and they will definitely think you are crazy. They will even say it. They will tell your wife. She will agree. She will roll her eyes. You will identify with the trebuchet guy. He will become your hero.

You see I built a court tennis court, one of only about 40 in the world. Court tennis is the forerunner of tennis, as the rest of the world knows it. That upstart game was created in the 1870s by Colonel Wingfield as a gentle recreation to be indulged in by ladies and gentlemen at English house parties. By the time Colonel Wingfield lowered the bar to make an easier game, court tennis had existed for almost 900 years. Henry VIII had played it even as his wife, Anne Boleyn, was being beheaded. The battle of Agincourt had been lost because the archers were wasting time gambling at “real” tennis while their enemies practiced their craft. And, only about a century earlier, the French Revolution had begun with an oath taken in a court. But Colonel Wingfield has prevailed. His game is far more popular — only about 5,000 court tennis players remain in the world today.

Why then does one do this? Why does an ordinary working stiff with a wife, no dog, and three tuition-consuming children spend 10 years raising money, designing the court, finding a site and generally hitting his head against the wall to bring a little-known game to Washington, D.C.?  The easiest answer is because he didn’t know any better when he began. While true, that is probably not the only reason, and I have spent some months trying to figure out the others. It has not been easy.

One reason, of course, is so obvious it is easily forgotten. I had in fact played the game before. On vacations from St. Paul’s, my father frequently took me to Greentree, the home of John Hay Whitney, owner of the New York Herald Tribune and later Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Mr. Whitney had a private court which, I assumed, was pretty normal. Somewhere around V Form year, I figured out that it wasn’t. So, while other 15-year-olds were at little league with their Dads, I was stepping into the middle ages and hitting solid felt tennis balls over a drooping net and into obscure openings in the walls with French names like “grille” and “dedans” My “little league field” was in a very large house decorated with significant French Impressionist paintings, many of which were recently donated to the National Gallery. This, too, turned out to differ from the experiences of other 15-year-olds, but again that was news to me.

As tough a teacher as he was — and believe me he was – the experience of learning from my father must have been a positive one because I went on to play court tennis at Harvard for four years. We regularly thrashed Yale, Princeton, and Penn for the national collegiate championship before crowds numbering in the low single digits. No trophies or pictures survive this athletic dynasty because none were awarded, and none were taken.

This was my exposure to court tennis, and it was enough to make me want to bring the game to my hometown.

The project began in my kitchen. Cocktails might have been involved. Ok, they were. A group of friends, who had also played the game in other cities but lived in Washington, got together to talk about whether it could be brought to the capital of the free world. We thought it would take a couple of years at most. Find a site. Design the court. Hit up the cadre of tennis fanatics in America and elsewhere for contributions. Gather up some members and play ball. We were wrong. It took longer. A lot longer.

We were smart enough to know this was not a money-making proposition, so it had to be financed with contributions. Nowadays, that means tax-deductible contributions. We had to find a school or other charity willing to accept our donation. This had been tried some years earlier when a generous and highly skilled benefactor offered a court to his alma mater, Princeton. It was summarily rejected as elitist before anyone ever even heard of political correctness. Not promising.

But we have lots of private schools in Washington, so I set off to sell the idea to the headmasters. I met them all. They were not impressed. Bishop John Walker, whose responsibilities included a cluster of schools surrounding the National Cathedral, was the only person who was even polite. But that was only because he had taught me at St. Paul’s and felt obligated to hear me out.

The Washington International School, an institution catering to the children of the diplomatic community and the World Bank, was the only school to show any interest. They were so new that they had no alumni old enough to be generous. They saw it as a “development opportunity.” We designed a building to meet their needs and ours, and we were ready to go. Only three years had elapsed since the kitchen meeting. We were ready to begin when their board ran amok. They wanted a $1 million contribution to let us proceed. The project died. For the first time.

Surely there were more schools, perhaps needier ones. I found one: Mt. Vernon College, a struggling women’s college with a declining enrollment whose president had a background in development. She looked upon us as hope for her tiny school. Again, designs were prepared. We even held a competition for architects who spent considerable time and effort to create some innovative plans. Again, we were set to go. But simultaneously, Mt. Vernon borrowed a considerable sum from Georgetown University and pledged its well-situated campus to secure the debt. Less kindly people might suggest that Georgetown was motivated in making the loan by the desire to solve its space problems rather than the preservation of women’s higher education. Georgetown took one look at our idea and shot us out of the water a second time. Three more years had gone by.

These failures took a toll on our long, suffering board whose interest in the idea dwindled as their friends and family made ever more fun of our prospects. Two failures, when success was at hand — and worse had been announced to the public — contributed little to our self-esteem. Some early supporters began to drift away. I learned a lot about the management of volunteer boards, but sadly I learned most of it long after the knowledge would have been any use. There was little board left to manage but, fortunately, a small group of loyalists soldiered on while listening to monthly reports of imminent success followed by abject failure. In retrospect, they were as much a support group as a board of directors. In my life, I will form no greater friendships than with this group of half-a-dozen Americans and two Englishmen who kept the embers of the idea glowing.

I will spare you the trail I pursued of wretched warehouses, industrial parks, historic renovations, and other quixotic ideas. I learned a lot about the geography of our city but accomplished little during this period. Many more failures, most of which I have repressed. It seemed the moment to drive the garlic spike into the idea.

But we got lucky. And, oddly enough, luck was at the hands of a lawyer. He had long been working with us and had, in fact, come up with the ill-fated Mt. Vernon idea. He discovered a provision in the tax law that found its way there after the Olympic debacle of 1976. The Russians had beaten us badly. In the midst of the cold war, that was a big problem. State sports seemed to be the answer but not one with which our country was comfortable. Tax deductible sports were the next best thing, so a line was written in the Internal Revenue Code permitting every sport in which there is international competition to have a foundation, accept deductible contributions, and own an athletic facility. We didn’t need the schools anymore and surprisingly the IRS is not allowed to be concerned about elitism. If you are a sport — we are — if you are international — we are — and if there isn’t another, the foundation is yours for the asking. Well, it is not that simple, but it only took another year.

Now, any place was fine. We no longer needed to bootstrap off an existing charitable organization. An element in our favor was the over population of indoor tennis courts. Colonel Wingfield’s game is too difficult for the mass of American recreational athletes, and former players have abandoned the game in droves. The owners of these empty courts are keen to put them to better use and, after only two more years of negotiating, we had a deal with the largest owner of sports clubs in the area to convert one of their courts — at our expense — to the game of Kings.

Our architect knew we were nuts but since we had paid all his bills, he was kind enough to keep drawing pictures. The construction firm was another matter. The last court built in this country was after the war — the First World War. My father had renovated a court in Newport, R. I., but that contractor knew enough not to do another. I doubt the firm we ended up using would do another either, but that was ok. They built ours in only about six months.

Finally, in October 1997 we opened. Representatives from almost every court in the world were on hand. More importantly, my 86-year-old father, then in declining health, was able to be with us. So long as I live, I will never ever forget the look on his face when he first saw the result of ten years’ work.

A court tennis court is the size of a regular tennis court from fence to fence. Smooth dark gray concrete walls more than 20 feet high border it. These are a part of the game, and the ball is frequently hit against them to great advantage. Along three sides of the court are shed-like structures with sloping roofs and irregularly placed openings called galleries. A drooping net topped with thick green felt bisects it. The floor is lined at one, yard intervals to mark “chases” at one end and “hazards” at the other. Though chases and hazards are important concepts to an understanding of the game, they are best left to another day.

My father was looking into this unique court through the first glass wall ever used in the game. It was designed to open the game to a wider audience. The first child to see Disney World could not have been more taken by the sight. Seven months later, to the day, my father was dead, and only then did I understand another of the reasons I had pursued this project. So far as is known (and there are actual published, hardbound books on the subject), we are the first father and son to build court tennis courts in the history of the game. The day after the opening, he and I played a match against one of his favorite professionals and a long-time sparring partner, but that disappointed him a little. We only split sets.

A third reason was revealed the week after my father died. I was playing in the semi-finals of our first club championship, and I was defeated convincingly by a 15-year-old, lawn-tennis phenomenon who had taken up the game only months earlier. He went on to win the tournament, and he will be one of the great champions of the game in years to come. Had we not put this game next to his practice court, he might never have seen it, let alone get hooked by it. In the finals this young man beat another beginner, albeit a tennis professional, who believes he is the finest Hawaiian court tennis player in history. It might be true. In fact, we have succeeded in broadening this game from elite and often all-male confines to a larger arena.

In a broader sense, there was another reason and it, too, is pretty obvious. I like sports. Indeed, I like this game. It is sport for sport’s sake and nothing more. That became clear while watching the semifinals of a professional tournament. The number two player in the world was in a five-set struggle and leading 30-15 in the final game. He called a ball down on himself. The referee (known as a marker) had missed the double bounce. 30 all. Another point was played, and he won it. 40-30. Then, at match point, he got a bad call and said not a word. Deuce. But he was done. A few more points and it was over. He smiled as he shook his opponent’s hand and as he thanked the marker for his efforts. A welcome change from some of what we see on athletic fields today.

Now a year later, there are 50 players in Washington, many of whom are new to the game. We have played matches against Australians and teams from many courts in England. This week we will play against Hampton Court, built 400 years ago by Henry VIII. Visitors to Washington contact us over the Internet to arrange games with us. Friendships have developed that might otherwise never have happened. Our women players aspire to play Sally Jones and Penny Lumley, the world’s best. We have teenage girls who might play someday before sparse crowds for their colleges.

In the end, I could try to think up countless reasons to have done this. Maybe it does not matter. Had I known at the outset how hard it would be, I might never have started. But then I wouldn’t have seen that look on my father’s face. Or had the chance to introduce this game to a 15-year-old who might in time become a champion. Or maybe even someday build a court.

 

59 Responses to “Whatever For?”

Richard Meyer, February 29, 2020 at 6:46 am said:

As the title of Dean Acheson’s memoir put it , “ Present At The Creation”

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:59 am said:

Glad you have been along for the ride all these years.

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James Walton, February 29, 2020 at 6:57 am said:

Wonderful tale…how did the 15 year old turn out?

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:58 am said:

James, I wondered about replying to this question (the answer to which would have been unknowable 22 years ago) but Patrick Jenkins has cleverly solved the problem for me.

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Lee Allen, February 29, 2020 at 3:44 pm said:

As Bradley’s mother, I too am puzzled how to respond to those who wonder how he ‘turned out.’ I have ‘too much information’ but will attempt a brief version. Court tennis and those who play remain significant parts of his life – but, at the moment, 2,1, and 4 month old children compete for his attention.

Now, back 22 years ago. Once Bradley entered the gates of Hampton Court, to play in the Van Allen Cup, he wanted to be British. Then, one night over dinner, and after his brother was off to college, Bradley announced he could not take the ‘full force’ of parental attention and wanted to go to boarding school in England. I said that was fine with me but had no idea how an American would go about it in the middle of his junior year in high school. He then asked for permission to pursue it himself. In less than 24 hours, the court tennis alliance took charge and arranged for interviews at several glorious English schools. Bradley enthusiastically decided on Harrow. He spent a sublime year playing court/real tennis on the men’s team at Queens, on a local men’s squash team, #1 on the Harrow squash team, #1 on the Harrow lawn tennis team, and became competitive at rackets and Eton Fives.

Fortunately, this tale was quirky enough to suit Harvard where he played squash and slipped away frequently to play court tennis at the Boston Tennis and Racket Club. There is a photo on the wall at Prince’s Court with Bradley wearing his distinctive Harrow hat and shaking Haven’s hand. Whatever For indeed!

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:10 pm said:

Thank you for completing that lovely story Lee.

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Jake McCray, February 29, 2020 at 7:12 am said:

Thanks for sharing, really enjoyed reading this one!

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:56 am said:

Thank you Jake. Glad you are an important part of the court tennis world.

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Guy Cipriano, February 29, 2020 at 7:33 am said:

A great story with a happy ending . Court Tennis is a classic great game , but sadly frozen in time with its governing bodies unwilling to make the slightest changes. The racquet itself is badly in need of update. When the best players in the world shank almost every volley defense of a main wall force , something needs to change.

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:55 am said:

So let me try my hand at your world of engineering. Is the problem that my racket is too small to deal with hard volleys or that my opponent’s racket is too good at hitting the ball. Same rackets.

Should they be bigger as you might suggest or smaller to reduce the ferocity of the shots.

For lesser players and older ones, I would allow — encourage even — larger headed rackets so that people have more fun. I have tried experimental versions and liked them.

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Russell Seitz, February 29, 2020 at 1:19 pm said:

A few years before the Cuban missile crisis, my mother took me along to an alumnae gathering at Georgian Court , where I wandered into the casino where she had played the game twenty years earlier.

The court , alas was out of service, having been stacked to the rafters with nuclear bomb shelter supplies , in which sorry state I understand it remained until its restoration in 1999.

Did your 1997 success figure in catalyzing that happy event?

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:17 pm said:

Those in the game had always known about Georgian Court but an opportunity arose to bring it back to life and it is increasingly becoming part of the American scene.

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Guy Cipriano, February 29, 2020 at 2:48 pm said:

I would suggest that the Racquet heads be made larger, symmetrical, and of a modern composite material . That would promote longer and more interesting rests at every level of the game. And if there is a safety concern then ban straight forcing forward of hazard second gallery. Better play means happier players . Happy players play more. The game will grow , pros will make more money and the clubs will thrive . That’s a perfect outcome.

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:13 pm said:

The easiest things to tinker with to make it more fun for more people are the racket and the ball. If different people play versions appropriate to their mobility, age and skills, I can’t see a reason to object. I doubt the top players need any help though.

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Jim Nesbitt, February 29, 2020 at 7:39 am said:

Thanks Haven- but please tell us what happened to the 15 year old

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:50 am said:

Jim, thanks for asking. I was not sure how to reply but Patrick Jenkins has taken care of that in his comment.

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Patrick Jenkins, February 29, 2020 at 7:59 am said:

Dear Haven

I rather think that the 15-year-old in question is Bradley Allen.

The Hurlingham Pigeons were touring the USA courts in April 1998, their first such tour under the guidance of Anthony Wilson. I was no. 1 string, 55 years old, and Washington was the final court of the tour.

We arrived and were given a court to get used to the feel. At the end of two weeks of fairly consistent tennis, I was in good form and serving fiercely. The walls of the court were not yet fully ‘knibbed in’ (I believe that is the expression), that is to say that they were still pimply, and a service with spin would come off the back wall, any wall, at an exaggerated angle. As a left-hander, I was serving what I call a reverse railroad, which would hit the back wall, and was still rising when it hit the main wall. At that time, the glass wall was the best wall in the court.

When the professionals saw this, they withdrew my intended opponent, one Bradley Allen, who had only been playing the game for six months, and instead put the assistant professional to play me instead.

We were 4 games all in the first set when all the lights went out, caused by an electrical storm outside. The lights in the lawn tennis hall came back on fairly swiftly, but it took 20 minutes for the lights in the tennis court to come back on, and by then I was cold and totally out of it, and the match did not last much longer.

I recall Bradley’s mother saying how delighted she was that Bradley had found a game of good manners, so different from the lawn tennis circuit. She had had a bucketful of ill humour on that circuit, as Bradley was in the top 10 nationally at his age group, and his older brother was in the top 5 nationally at his age group, so she had endured much in bringing up her boys.

I see that Bradley is not playing much now, and more doubles than singles, but still plays off a very good handicap, around 18.

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:48 am said:

Patrick,

I was wondering how to handle the questions about what happened to the 15-yer old. You have solved the problem for me.

The walls were not “knibbed in” because we could not afford the hours of laborious and expensive smoothing that would have been required. Older courts, especially those that were designed by Mr. Bickley and used his magic process, were and are of far higher quality. Actually the real Bickley secret is money. If you can pay for it the walls will be smooth. In today’s world that probably means coatings. We will probably get our chance on Prince’s Court II.

Worse than the walls was the floor. For a variety of reasons it was too rough. The summer after we opened, we had to redo it.

Glad you were one of the first to have played.

That was not the only time the lights went out!

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Carter Lord, February 29, 2020 at 8:01 am said:

Wow!!! This is a GREAT story!!!! It enraptured me. The more i think about it, the more profoundly interesting I realize this piece is.

First of all, as usual, it is extremely well written. You are a very good writer. Unusual. I read a lot and I know a lot about writing. I can tell you for a fact that you are an extremely good writer. All of your pieces are extremely well written. That’s one of the things that makes them fun to read

Number two this is about as bizarre a subject as I have read about in the last five years in any publication that I can think of. I never heard of court tennis. But I am ready to play after reading this.

Thirdly one of the things that is consistent in your writing is your unabashed interest in subjects that are not popular, not PC, are WAY out of the mainstream and are presented with a wonderful honesty, good humor, and no ego protecting justifications of any kind whatsoever.

This is majorly refreshing in this world today where everything is presented with some kind of unspoken agenda, trying to win you over to some kind of thinking or other. Not to mention wallowing around so freely in the totally “privileged” world of prep schools and Ivy league elitism that is such a turnoff to almost EVERYONE- including myself, even though I attended these places .

Your ability to write about this stuff and make it so interesting and pure and honest and open with no apologies is very strong.

You are doing something unusual and worthwhile, Haven. I will be sending this great piece around to a LOT of people You are living in a very rare world. Way to go in sharing it with everyone.

Keep it up. I salute you

Carter Lord

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:37 am said:

Thank you Carter. I am really touched. Thank you also for the email you sent to your friends about the story.

Come to Washington and make your court tennis debut. It would be a great pleasure and you’d be good at it.

Your observations are making me think more about my “niche.”

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Garrard Glenn, February 29, 2020 at 8:58 am said:

I wonder if a court tennis court has ever been built or played outdoors. Probably not. Plus, I gather there are walls involved, just as in squash. But I also remember the grass tennis courts at Piping Rock, which provided the most glorious outdoors sport experience I have ever had, but for my single round at the Old Course in St. Andrews.

An outdoor grass court tennis court. Only one man will ever build such a thing, and that man is Elon Musk, and he will build it on Mars.

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 9:06 am said:

There is an outdoor court at Falkland Palace in Scotland. Thanks to the often-rainy weather, that might be the worst place on earth for it to be. In a more suitable climate an outdoor court would be terrific but I am not sure about a grass floor. Please use whatever influence you have to get Elon Musk interested in our game.

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Russell Seitz, February 29, 2020 at 1:49 pm said:

Take care Haven: after what Larry Ellison did to the America’s Cup, Musk and Boston Dynamics might scheme to dominate the sport with a lithium battery powered Paumbot.

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:14 pm said:

That is a really good point. Thank you. We have no interest in that.

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 9:27 am said:

Some people prefer not to comment in public. Fair enough.

I have often published comments for them and here is an example

“Great story, Haven…Ioved the view of Greentree as a ’NOORMAL’ way to grow up and the vision of your father as he watched like a kid through the looking-glass! I had no idea of the complications and time you spent on this and I loved the solution of the tax-deductibility of international sports arenas. That was genius!
What an achievement! utterly charming story. (I just googled ’Texan Catapult’ but didn’t find one that could hurl a car!)”

As you can see from the comments, the 15-year old has drawn more interest than the trebuchet, but this YouTube video might change that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaZRhoxtHKY

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Richard Moroscak, February 29, 2020 at 10:19 am said:

Never read this before. What an incredible journey and story !!!

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:27 pm said:

Read some of the comments about Georgian Court as well. Again, for those who might not know, Rich is a leader of that effort

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Richard Seymour Mead, February 29, 2020 at 10:36 am said:

There is another court open to the elements in Ireland. Lambay I think.

Great to read your story again Haven.
I enjoyed being part of the Leamington Tennis Court team at the opening of the Washington Court and hope the court manages to remain part of the Real Tennis community . I heard a rumour….

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:26 pm said:

Good point re Lambey. I stand corrected.

Prince’s Court has three more years in its present location and is well on the way to finding a new home.

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Temple Grassi, February 29, 2020 at 11:31 am said:

It’’s been an interesting 22 years ( plus) , but Prince’s Court is still alive and kicking!

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:25 pm said:

For those who are less familiar with the game, Temple Grassi is one of the founders of Prince’s Court and one of America’s greatest enthusiasts about the game. The Ambassador makes many good things happen.

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Terry Vogt, February 29, 2020 at 12:40 pm said:

Another great read from the writer Formerly Known as Liberty Pell! Thanks, Haven. Would it have been you who took me and several other members of our now totally politically incorrect Unrecognized Single Sex Organization into an athletic club perhaps in the Back Bay of Boston to play both racquets (doubles squash on an immense court with a slate wall) AND court tennis? Must have been. Landmark day of my undergraduate experience.

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:22 pm said:

I certainly played there a bunch. Harvard had a team and, though we were not all that good, we were better than the others. Taking new people to the T&R was a fine opportunity to consume un-permitted beverages as well.

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Chip Oat, February 29, 2020 at 12:52 pm said:

Well played! Has another court been built since? Chicago maybe?

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:20 pm said:

Chicago was restored after an unfortunate tenure as a tennis court (the other kind). That happened after Prince’s Court was built. There is also a project to build a court in Charleston.

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Harry Pillsbury, February 29, 2020 at 1:41 pm said:

I remember going to a party at the court. I wasn’t aware of the amount of work you put into building this. Bradley Allen was a classmate of my son . Great Story!
Best, Harry

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:14 pm said:

Thank you Harry. Glad you have seen it.

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Bob Smith, February 29, 2020 at 5:43 pm said:

Nice to revisit those early days. It was a good group you put together. I will send your article to Surtees. Best to you. Bob

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:08 pm said:

Thank you Bob. Glad you were a part of it.

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Arthur Drane Jr, February 29, 2020 at 5:49 pm said:

Incredible story Haven. I have been fortunate enough to have played at Prince’s Court on many occasions. I am very grateful to everyone who made this court a reality. Prince’s Court has made the game available to people who, in the normal course of their life , would not have been introduced to the great game. I myself entered the Court Tennis world in an non traditional fashion. The game has changed my life for the better. The founders of Prince’s Court have brought new interest and energy to the game. The seeds you have sown continue to grow the game. Thank you! AD

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Haven Pell, February 29, 2020 at 8:08 pm said:

Thank you Arthur. You have been a frequent visitor and a wonderful supporter of our court and of the game.

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Tim Hague, March 01, 2020 at 9:43 am said:

Haven,

Great story!

I remember having lunch with you and Temple at The University Club in the early ‘90’s to see about putting a court on the roof, meeting again to review the plans for Mt. Vernon (2 international squash courts, court tennis and a bar; perfect!), and then in 2001, finally joining Prince’s Court, a budgetary trade-off for quitting cigarettes, and then enjoying 10 +/- years of regular play.

It’s a special game, and I’ve been fortunate to play on most of the US courts as well as Bristol and Hampton Court in the UK. Your article may be a sign that it’s time to get back on court!

Congratulations and thanks to you and Temple for introducing me to and carrying on the spirit of Real Tennis in DC, Charleston and beyond!

Cheers! Tim

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Haven Pell, March 01, 2020 at 10:24 am said:

“Your article may be a sign that it’s time to get back on court!”

“May be?” What do you mean “may be?”

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Temple Grassi, March 01, 2020 at 10:35 am said:

Tim
I need a 4th Tuesday at 9am
Temple

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Simon Talbot-Willams, March 01, 2020 at 12:43 pm said:

So pleased to read the story Haven. I was able to visit with Patrick’s Hurlingham Pigeons back in the 90s but as it’s time for the next great US tour perhaps we should make Princes Court our final destination before your final three years are out!

Also so uplifting to read about the toil required to build the court. At Hurlingham we have been planning a court since 1868. Progress has been made during that time and previous committees have made great strides. Let’s hope I’m not too optimistic in believing that we are closer to the end of the process than the beginning!

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Haven Pell, March 01, 2020 at 6:36 pm said:

Simon, I used to make reference to Hurlingham beginning its process in ’68 and us beginning ours in ’84. Then I would throw in a few details before mentioning ’68 for them meant 1868. We are well along the path to Prince’s Court II and should have it completed before our three years are up.

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Chip Oat, March 01, 2020 at 5:21 pm said:

Haven, Do you have a copy of Herb Wind’s piece about Pierre Etchebaster in The New Yorker from the early 1970’s? If not, I’ll try to find mine which he signed. Chip

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Haven Pell, March 01, 2020 at 6:31 pm said:

Thanks Chip, I have read it but I don’t have a copy

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Michael Riley, March 01, 2020 at 5:34 pm said:

Great article Haven, glad I stumbled upon it. I will be sure to come check out the Court when in town for the US Masters squash in April. Been thinking about doing this for 22 years!

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Haven Pell, March 01, 2020 at 6:29 pm said:

Please let me know when you come and I will do my best to be there.

No reason to stumble upon these stories when you can subscribe! Here is the link to do so. https://pundificator.com/latest-insights/

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Penny Lumley, March 02, 2020 at 5:35 am said:

What a fabulous story Haven. I remember with great affection playing in the World Championships which were held in Washington in 2001 and where Charlotte won her first WC title. The glass wall is incredible and sitting watching in those beautiful leather armchairs is unforgettable.

Chuffed to get a mention too!

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Haven Pell, March 02, 2020 at 9:04 am said:

Thank you Penny and thank you for subscribing. I have committed to a monthly story about the game. There will be two more general stories in April and May then I will go through the world’s courts in pretty much the order I played them. If Covid-19 cooperates, I’d like to play Wellington and the new Bordeaux to complete the full set (again). I hope you will join in to share your many experiences too.

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Andrew Adamson, March 02, 2020 at 6:47 pm said:

Great story Haven! You have described the essence of this game we love. Like many I have travelled to all corners of the world to play and have encountered nothing but acceptance, camaraderie, and support.

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Haven Pell, March 02, 2020 at 7:05 pm said:

This real tennis series will continue on a monthly basis through the courts I have played in the order that I played them. I still need to add Wellington and the new Bordeaux to have the complete set (again).

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Mick Domagala, March 02, 2020 at 10:03 pm said:

I had heard bits and pieces of the story about the road to build Prince’s Court, but of course not in this detail, nor the part about your father. Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

Mick

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Tony Villa, March 05, 2020 at 11:33 am said:

Haven // so enjoyed reading your story & all of the replies that followed. I’m looking forward to the next editions. All best wishes

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Haven Pell, March 05, 2020 at 4:03 pm said:

Thank you Tony, there will be a monthly series on court tennis and twice a week on everything else. Glad you liked it

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