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150 Years of Play: Noted (early) Cambridge Real Tennis Players

Posted on December 7, 2015 | in 150, Event | by

Eustace-MilesEustace Hamilton Miles was born in 1868. He went to Heath Mount school (near Whitestone Pond) and Marlborough College followed by Kings College Cambridge in 1887. At Cambridge he began his distinguished career in racquets and real tennis, playing against Oxford. Eustace won an amazing number of English and world titles, including a silver medal at the 1908 Olympics in real tennis.

  • 1898-1903: amateur real tennis champion of England
  • 1898-1903: amateur real tennis champion of the world
  • 1900: the first non-American winner of the real tennis US Championship
  • 1900: amateur racquets champion of America
  • 1900: amateur racquets champion of England
  • 1902: amateur racquets champion of England
  • 1902, 1904, 1905 and 1906: amateur racquets champion of the World (doubles)
  • 1905: amateur real tennis champion of the World
  • 1905-1906: amateur real tennis champion of England
  • 1906: amateur racquets champion of the World (singles)
  • 1908: Olympic Silver Medal. He had coached the winner, Jay Gould II, during his stay in America in 1900-2.
  • 1909, 1910: amateur real tennis champion of England

Eustace was still playing competitively in his 40’s and winning tennis matches against far younger players. In 1910 Miles wrote to the Times,

People seem to imagine that after 30 a man is no good. I am in my 42nd year, and am thoroughly fit, I hope. Men ought to be in their prime – at least for strength and endurance and nerve – at 35.

A few years later he said,

Some sports are best given up at an early age. Football would be the first to go, and that when a man is about 25 years of age, racquets should follow. To cricket and tennis, however, I would by no means place any limit.

Well spotted Gerald! Source and more on Eustace WestHampsteadLife.com…

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3 Responses to “150 Years of Play: Noted (early) Cambridge Real Tennis Players”

  1. Gerald Smith says:

    Eustace is definitely my new best hero now that I have read the official report of the 1908 Olympic final which describes the familiar English trait of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I love the concluding sentence.
    Oh and Webmaster we should insist that all match reports in future are written in this style and contain vocabulary such as “a capital rest”. Gerald

    The final tie was played by Mr. Jay Gould and Mr. E. H. Miles on the afternoon of Saturday, May 23, and was won in an hour and thirty-one minutes by Mr. Gould by 3 sets to 0, 18 games to 13, 106 strokes to 90. The contrast between the attendance of spectators on this occasion and the crowd that went to see the match for the amateur championship was very marked; The latter match was somewhat of a fiasco, and the fear of seeing another display of the kind probably accounted for the absence of many familiar faces. As a matter of fact, the absentees missed seeing what proved to be in some respects an excellent match. Mr. Gould was not at the top of his form. Mr. Miles, on the other hand, though also not at his best, played much better than he did on Saturday, May 16, and with more accuracy and cleverness than he recently displayed against Mr. Pennell and Mr. Noel. He did not win a set, but he ought to have secured the first set, and he never looked like a hopeless loser at any stage of the second and third. He started an aggressive game at once, and he obtained five out of the first seven games. Of these the second, third, and fourth were stoutly contested; but on the whole, at the start, Mr. Gould played with less ease and resource than usual. If he was not nervous he looked anxious, which was not surprising. A bad mistake by his opponent, a decisive volley to the foot of the grille, and one of the few nick services in the match, gave him the eighth game, and he won the ninth easily enough, despite one poor return into the net (4—5). Then came a critical game, the tenth. Mr. Miles won the first stroke, and established chases worse than two and better than two. After a good rest he won the former. Losing the latter, the strokes were 30—15 in his favour. Here he had two good openings for decisive strokes, which would have given him the set ; but he broke down over both, and his opponent eventually carried off the game. The latter then won the eleventh game easily, and thus obtained the first set. In the second set Mr. Gould won the first, third, sixth and eighth games, his opponent being credited with the second, fourth, fifth, and seventh (4 all). In the ninth game, Mr. Gould won the next stroke, after deuce had been called, by a good boasted force, and, after a capital rest, secured the game. In the tenth game Mr. Miles made an excellent stroke into the forehand corner hazard side, and found the grille once; but his opponent won the game, and therewith the second set. In the third set Mr. Miles, despite much poor service, got a lead of three games to one, but his opponent, by varied play, mostly on the floor, obtained the fifth, sixth, and seventh games. Mr. Miles did well in the eighth, which he actually won by a difficult service (4 all). But he could do no more, and Mr. Gould carried off the next two games, the tenth being a long one, and thus won the set and the match—a victory which secured for America the gold medal in the Olympic Games, just as Mr. Noel and Mr. Gore had won a similar trophy for England at racquets and lawn tennis (covered court). There is nothing surprising in Mr. Gould’s complete success in the matches he has played this year at Queen’s Club. The court in its present state, after being repainted, suits his service and stroke in every way. But, apart from such comparatively unimportant considerations, his success has been really due to his consistently playing the winning game— that is, the true floor game, combined with difficult service, which English amateurs have neglected, and in some cases foolishly belittled, for so many years

    • Christie says:

      Thanks, Gerald. But I must say I thought a ‘capital rest’ was a snooze on the train back from London after a particularly good lunch…

  2. Tom says:

    No – ‘a capital rest’ is that big M shaped fellow one uses in snooker to reach the other end of the table isn’t it?

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