Back in the day, tennis players wore collared white shirts and white shorts. They played with white tennis balls and used wooden tennis racquets (Dunlop Forts and Jack Kramers).
Players played in either Converse or Jack Purcell tennis shoes. If they were lucky they had a pair of Stan Smith leather Adidas for special use in tournaments or key matches. And the women wore tennis dresses.
Players hit one-handed backhands. The best players in the world came from Australia and the United States. There were no sports psychologists or sports nutritionists. Gatorade didn’t exists and players didn’t drink water on side changes for fear of getting cramps. They drank water out of tennis cans between the second and third sets…if the match went to three.
Only Pancho Segura hit with two hands (on both sides). They didn’t wear socks or a hat so they could get a better tan. And black and white photography was the norm.
Players knew the history of the sport and respected its traditions. They were taught that it was just as important to be a good sport as it was to win a match.
Play was not structured as it is today. Junior clinics were limited to special occasions and league play didn’t exist. Juniors improved their games by riding their bikes to the courts and playing with their friends or willing adults until it was time to ride home and eat lunch or dinner.
As tennis and other sports have evolved over the years, they have become structured and commercialized, but they continue to be an important part of our society. Even with the changes, there is nothing better than learning the lessons of life on a tennis court, volleyball court, or softball diamond.
Tennis was more pure…back in the day.