Menace to Tennis
There are ten clay tennis courts at Harvard. With a ratio of one thousand students, the need for constructing more good courts is acute. For its estimated tennis-playing population of 7,000, the University's run-down facilities are perhaps the most inadequate part of its athletic plant. In an academic community that boasts athletics for all, Harvard should feel more responsibility for one of its most widely-played sports.
The few adequate courts that do exist are inaccessible from March to June to all but the thirty members of the varsity and freshmen teams. Others--be they House players or just poor amateurs--must go to the 25 green-painted asphalt courts, deceptively attractive from a distance. But such surfaces spell death to sneakers ($6.95 a pair) and balls ($2.15 a can) within two hours, and cause high, unorthodox bounces. The fact that the lines have faded with the years is made more annoying by the balls' friendly, blending shade of green. Since both ball and line are invisible, "take two" or "do it over" are frequent Harvard's substitutes for "good shot."
If the tennisplayer dislikes these wind-blasted plains he can find 14 more cement lawns at the Business School, one (closed) at Leverett House, and five remote clay courts at Radcliffe. Or he can join a country club. But if he decides to stay here to play, he may have to wait as long as an hour for one of Harvard's prize hard courts, especially on a sunny weekend.
Clearly, these facilities are inadequate, especially when compared to other colleges: Haverford, with 450 students, has more clay courts then the University, where, at a conservative estimate, two-thirds of the students play tennis. H.A.A. figures show that all the courts together saw only 9,301 man-hours of play during the last academic year, while one-fourth as many students played 9,564 man-hours in summer school. Better summer weather and more leisure time do not explain this discrepancy; the relatively small number of courts obviously limits the amount of play by College students.
Quality, however, should not be overlooked in meeting the quantitative need. The College could either convert one tier of the concrete flats to clay or composition, or better build a dozen clay courts in the ample meadow beyond the present two rows. Setting upwind-breaks of bushes or canvas around the fences is another necessary step. At present, the courts are whipped by high winds coming off the river basin, even on relatively calm days.
To resurface one tier would cost roughly $12,000. Because Soldier's Field is not completely dry, a contractor's rough estimate for new courts, complete with drainage and fences, is high--between $4,500 for clay and $6,000 for asbestos-composition, which needs no rolling. This is less money than the amount alumni are trying to raise for the restoration of Memorial Hall.