In the plebian community of my youth tennis was a game for girls. A bloke who had a preference for tennis did well to say little about it, a truth that dare not speak its name among others, such as eating fish and chips with a knife and fork. The municipality did have courts in its parks, but at a cost to hire. Then there was the cost of the kit and clothing.
These were essential if joining a club was in prospect, although in the limited number available the membership was restricted to the right people and there was a pecking order of clubs. You were judged by your friends or contacts and sometimes by their families as well. Other things might matter, notably then religion.
The result was that few made it into the sphere were there were regular facilities and from which competitions could be entered. Also, it was an amateur game although quite how some players managed was always an interesting question. A few became "professionals" in order to make a living from coaching and doing jobs in clubs. Making serious money was never an option.
Around the colleges and universities most of which had their facilities it was never a game in which success might mark you out as someone special. The result of all this was that the Brit's, especially the men came to be outsiders in international competition where dastardly colonials and foreigners did not adhere strictly to the British norms.
In any case many of the clubs had other functions which did not appear in their articles of association. One was a marriage market in those ancient days before social networking or mass boozing events. Sometimes even, marriages were almost arranged. The club captain or secretary might arrange pairings with this in mind, or a clique would dictate who went with who.
One bloke I knew, a club member of one of the superior ones, realised that he was destined to partner X, a well built forceful lady. He resigned from the club sharpish and joined a men only golf club. She had already been round a few doubles partners already, and although well off, the intended was expected to be an accountant with her building contractor father.
This was an interesting gentleman, known to the tax authorities to be on £11 a week, but nevertheless having a Bentley car, a large alleged to be rented house, and many of life's other luxuries. He did well out of council contracts, although critics pointed out that the relevant chairmen of the key committees had larger cars and better holidays than was usual. Often his companies folded leaving substantial unpaid debts but his activities continued.
So whether the bloke was wise or foolish is difficult to say. X went on to marry and divorce five men, which augmented her fortunes to their cost. But despite the ups and downs, or perhaps ups and ups of her life she remained loyal to her tennis club and was eventually appointed to the committee. This was the tennis world as I knew it.
What goes on now has passed from my consciousness or interest. It is now a multi-billion pound international business enmeshed with wider commerce and the media. For a few days each year our State Broadcaster, the BBC, demands that we watch and urges us to our patriotic duty to support those from our islands. The satellite channels urge us on as well, if only to spend long hours watching the commercials that provide their incomes.
It is all a nonsense in the way so much was what is called "sport" is, basically just another racket to part us from increasing amounts of our money. I do not doubt the skills and efforts of those involved or their desire to do well. But I have long lost interest in most of it despite being active in sport one way or another for many years.
Time to look through the DVD's, where's the "Hobson's Choice"?