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Brilliant exhibitions of lawn tennis were given by England's leading Davis Cup and Wightman Cup players when they visited the Basford Club, Stoke-on-Trent, yesterday under the auspices of the Staffordshire Lawn Tennis Association.

The visit was arranged in furtherance of the Association's efforts to improve the standard of the game in the county, and both from this aspect and from a financial viewpoint-hospitals in Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton and Stafford will benefit considerably from the proceeds-the event was a great success.

There was a large attendance of enthusiasts from all parts of the county, and, the four games played by Fred Perry, H. W. Austin, G. P. Hughes, C. M. Jones (Kent's No. 1), Miss Kathleen Stammers and Miss Nancy Lyle were of such a high standard, and contained such an extensive repertoire of strokes that no junior player could fail to learn from them.

Superb stroke execution and court craft made the exhibition one long to be remembered, and the continual bursts of applause was testimony to the keenness with which the audience watched the matches.


The exhibition was given a great start by a single between F. J. Perry and H. W. Austin. The game opened with Perry rather erratic, and Austin took the first two games, mainly due to perfect placing of his drives down both sides of the court, but in the third game there were flashes of the real Perry. He came up to the net time after time to put the ball away with smashes which travelled at lightning speed.

Perry levelled at 2-all, clinching the game by catching Austin on the wrong foot and he took the lead for the first time during the match at 3-2. Austin's beautiful tennis kept him well in the game, and he led again at 4-3, following a series of returns from the backhand which were models of accuracy. The game fluctuated, with the lead changing hands, and maintaining interest at a high pitch, and the two men were level again at 7-all, and then again at 8-all. Perry took the last two games after a display of agility in which he retrieved the ball from what appeared to be impossible angles, and won the set and match at 10-8.

The other single match brought Miss K. Stammers and Miss Lyle into opposition, and two periods of devastating tennis by Miss Stammers enabled her to take the set at 6-4.

Miss Lyle was consistent, and led by winning the first two games, but then Miss Stammers found something of her true form passing her opponent at the net, and scoring with forehand drives which found the far corners of the court. Miss Lyle was still ahead at 4-2, and then came a brilliant spell by Miss Stammers, whose driving by this time had reached perfection, and two thrilling smashes sent her into the lead for the first time during the match at 5-4.

This was the beginning of her second spell of brilliancy, and the match ended at the tenth game, although Miss Lyle, retaining the steady consistency she had displayed throughout, was hitting the ball hard and with consistency.


There was some brilliant play by Hughes in the men's doubles in which he was partnered by Jones against Perry and Austin, and England's No. 1 doubles player showed that he held that position on merit, quite irrespective of any necessity to conserve the strength of either Perry or Austin for singles in the Davis Cup matches.

Perry and Austin won by 6-4, 6-4, but Hughes was clearly the outstanding player. This is without any disrespect to Jones, who indicated that he is a player with a future, although yet much below the standard of his colleagues. He made some clever shots, both at the net and from the base-line, but he was not so deadly in putting away easy shots and it was chiefly Hughes' efforts which kept the game alive.

Hughes was fully as strong as Perry overhead, and at the net played with great confidence, making many unanswerable passing shots down the lines. He was masterly in his planning and often scored winners by hard driven low volleys to the feet of Austin and Perry. He showed remarkable agility and speed in his court craft and his stroke production showed that naturalness of touch that is only possible by the born tennis player.


All three internationals showed superb ease in "picking up" from the deep corners, while all made clever use of the drop-shot which, made with their speed of stroke, was often a winner.

Perry, as always in a doubles game, was in his element at the net where he smashed with tremendous power, but Austin's play was equally effective and his perfect placing enabled him to score points with the minimum of effort, his backhand returns being kept under admirable control.

It was largely Perry's power at the net which enabled him and Austin to take a lead of three games in the first set, but then Hughes found his best form, and with some wonderful forehand drives pulled up to 3-2.

Perry and Austin won the sixth game on Austin's service, but Hughes, keeping Perry from the net with some brilliant lobbing, again played a leading part in pulling up to 4-4, bringing each of these games to a finish by driving powerfully between his rivals.

In the second set, Jones showed a big improvement, greater success with his serving giving him confidence. It was curious that on Jones' service he and Hughes won three games, whereas each each game in which Hughes served went to Perry and Austin. In this set too, Hughes showed what a fine doubles player he is, and Perry and Austin could not relax too much. Hughes and Jones were level at three all, and after being led at 5-3, Jones held his service, only for Perry to make certain in the next game.


The men's doubles was keener than the mixed doubles, in which Hughes and Miss Lyle beat Perry and Miss Stammers by 6-4, 6-2. Miss Stammers was never at her best in this match. She made some wonderful shots at times, some of her best backhand cross drives being in her best style, but she was erratic, and rarely had her best forehand drive under full control, many of her returns being over hit.

Miss Lyle was much the sounder player in this match, timing the ball well and volleying with precision. Perry also lacked his customary concentration, making more mistakes than usual at the net, but Hughes continued to play a joyful game, covering a tremendous amount of court and exhibiting a brilliant range of retrieving shots.

In the first set, Hughes and his partner went away to a lead of 4-2, but Perry then had a short burst in which he played irresistible tennis to level the match. In this period, Miss Stammers also had one of her bright periods with some perfectly placed lob shots and low volleys, but Hughes responded to win the set without further loss.

In the second set Hughes and Miss Lyle were never troubled. They won four games off the reel, both showing fine accuracy, and after Perry and Miss Stammers had fought back to 4-2, both playing immaculate tennis for a short time, Hughes' passing shots at the net brought the match to a quick end.

Evening Sentinel, 12 May 1936
Courtesy of The Sentinel News & Media

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