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May is the cruelest month, breeding tennis out of the dead land. But, sadly, not much tennis.
We wandered over to the great plains across the river the other day and saw a few brave souls trying to use the courts. Most of them left fairly soon, but a few were playing sets. Unfortunately they nearly all lost--to the wind. As usual, despite the fact that there was not the slightest breeze in the Yard, the plains collected constant buoyant gusts. We should have brought our kite.
Located in a river funnel, the courts collect all the energy of capricious Boston weather and translate it into wind. For the survival of tennis, some form of windbreak is obviously needed. The clearest solution--trees and bushes--would look most pleasant, but due to the cindery bog soil around the courts, topsoil would have to be brought in. This can be done, but requires work and money. It was tried, on a half-hearted scale, with the bushes around the varsity courts. They are dying as their roots are stretching out beyond their small ditchful of humus. A less natural but simpler suggestion would be to put up walls of canvas on the wire fence walls of the courts. This would be cheaper, even if it would require bracing the walls with a few guy wires or props. It would also eliminate the eye-confusing vistas of one wire fence behind another behind another.
Windbreakers would not cure Harvard tennis, but they would be a step to help a seemingly hopeless disease: there are too few courts; there are no clay courts for everyone's use. The teams, about one one hundred-fiftieth of Harvard, alone can touch a Harvard clay court, and Leverett's one court may give way to house-building; the courts are spaced too awkwardly close to one another; the courts are severely cracked.
After wind, the most important item is probably clay, so that following the building of any windbreaks, Harvard would do well to cover at least one bank of the discouraging tennis lands with a clay surface instead of the present hard top that kills sneakers, tennis balls, bounces, and enthusiasm.
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