Haven Pell

What Haven Pell thinks about real tennis

I have played court tennis for more than half a century. There were gaps along the way, but my father began teaching me the game in the late 1950s.

As a moderately successful — though never world-class — athlete, I have enjoyed  the game and especially the other participants whom I have met throughout the world. I am one of these small number who has played in every court (45 or so) on earth. 

There are countless opportunities to be disappointed with sport as we see it today. Cyclists cheat. FIFA appears to be corrupt.  The Olympics might not be better. Professional leagues are too money driven and, only occasionally, does a Roger Federer appear on the scene to provide hope.

Against that backdrop exists court tennis (or real tennis as it is called in England or jeu de paume in France) where fairness and sportsmanship are valued more highly than victories.

Though their parents might not agree, most young people will not become professional athletes. Sports for them will be more about fitness, character building and learning about themselves than it will be about lucrative professional contracts. In many respects, court tennis  will provide  young people with a better opportunity to find their true selves than other sports.

Travel costs throughout the world are declining sharply. Not so long ago, only the very rich could consider traveling to another country or continent. Now, virtually anyone can. The 7000 or so players in Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States have formed lifelong relationships with each other that would be enhanced by having a court in Holland and bringing a fifth country into our community.

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