Sport | 1970 | Sound | B/W + Colour
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A history of the development of all racket sports including Squash, tennis and badminton.
Film starts with rackets hitting balls in direction of camera. First a squash racquet, badminton, table tennis and then lawn tennis racket. Still of drawing of two medieval males playing a form of hand ball. Close up of animated hands patting the ball to each other. Another drawing of four medieval men playing handball, two each side of a wall. More animated shots of ball passing between hands depicting the game in 12th century France. Gloves are introduced to the hands then string is stretched over the gloved hands. Ball moves between hands much quicker. Next glove is mounted on a stick and is shown hitting the ball. The glove flies off the stick. Succession of drawings showing the evolution of the racket ( racquet )until the final four are positioned in the frame. A tennis, badminton, squash and table tennis racquet.
"Patterns of Play". The tennis racket is brought in as a close up with the tennis ball over the strings first, being the oldest racket sport. We see a picture of an early enclosed singles match from the Tudor Age. Then a similar drawing for a doubles match, followed by a French doubles match using a net. The French and Spanish being credited with the evolution of the game known as Royal or Real tennis. Picture of enclosed singles match with high netted court. Indoor drawing of 15th Century Real Tennis from France. Picture of enclosed singles match from England at Hampton Court, then another from Windsor Castle. Sketch from the 1860's of Major Harry Genn's marked out lawn at Leamington Spa and his version of Lawn Racquets, moving tennis outdoors from its indoor enclosures. Picture of bust of Major Walter Clapton Wingfield 1833-1912, who was attributed the accolade of founding outdoor lawn tennis. His version of the game first being played depicted by a drawing from Lansdowne House in London in 1869. Five years later he applies for a patent for his court design, which is depicted by a diagram showing dimensions then superimposed by an actual drawing of a game in progress. Initially he called the game " Sphairstike " and a programme card is shown of the game to be played at Nantclwyd in December 1873. The Greek word for ball game, we see a cameo drawing of Wingfield dressed in waistcoat and cap from the front of the same programme card. A larger picture of the same drawing shows Wingfield holding a racket. The name was soon abandoned and replaced by the name Lawn tennis. Animated picture of a hand bouncing rubber ball. Shot of drawing of mixed doubles match from the Victorian Age. Next is the badminton racket and a shuttlecock. Its roots lie in the 14th century game of battledoor and shuttlecock and we se a drawing of two children from this period keeping the "cock" in the air with the battledoor chanting their predicted lifespan. Drawing of mounted Army Officer in the 1860's with a palace in the background. Followed by a picture of a male doubles match played by army officers called "Poona". All the necessary equipment was then exported to Britain by the officers and the previous drawing is reproduced in a British setting. The Duke of Beaufort invited players to demonstrate this game at the Duke's residence at Badminton. From that day in 1870, the game became known as badminton and we see a drawing of a mixed doubles match from that period.
Next up is the squash racket. Originating from the game of rackets, we see men playing in a debtors' prison. Another sketch from the 1820's of boys at Harrow School playing in the school courtyard. As this led to a number of broken windows, they replaced the hard ball with one of rubber and one is depicted with a hand pushing down on its spongy characteristics. The squashy property of the ball gave rise to the name "Squash Rackets". Finally the table tennis bat and ball. We see a drawing of its origins with undergraduates knocking a champagne cork over a row of books with an empty cigar box in 1897. In less than a quarter of a century the game had evolved to a properly marked table and net and the use of rackets. We see Edwardian ladies in cumbersome dress of the period engaged in a singles match in a hotel or drawing room. Followed by a mixed singles match with a man in evening dress. Another picture from a small drawing room. We then see a box advertising "Parlour Tennis", the popular society game for the table. Return to a shot of the four rackets from each sport, then modern day action in turn from each game. Photo of early tennis men's doubles match, followed by male spectators watching through holes in the perimeter fence. Return to picture of match and many of the spectators with raised umbrellas. Then a number of female players individually shown in a varied range of dress for the game. Cumbersome white dresses down to their ankles and even boots with heels. Photo of female spectators standing on chairs in their dresses with bustles, craning to view a match in progress. Still shot of female tennis players seated posed for the camera, then a larger mixed player posed photo. Cover of a book entitled "Lawn Tennis" by R.F. & H.L. Doherty, then photo of the two brothers in tennis whites. Succession of still shots of women's feet and ankles as they play tennis. Then still of seven-times Wimbledon female champion Mrs Lambert-Chambers, followed by the French player Suzanne Lenglen, sporting her lightweight knee length tennis dress. Film of Lenglen in action playing mixed doubles in the 1920's, then from the same period, the American men's champion, Big Bill Tilden is shown in photograph. Film action of Borota, Cochet and Fred Perry before returning to action of Tilden. Shots of Rod Laver, Arthur Ashe, then Jimmy Connors. Back to Lenglen, followed by Maureen Connolly and Billie Jean King. Film of Tilden serving, clocked at 151 m.p.h., interspersed with shots of Ashe and Connors. Shot of commemorative envelope issued for the centenary of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, 1877-1977. Close up of sketch of first championship and Mr Spencer Gore victorious. Switch between this sketch and action of Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase at Wimbledon. Cut to artist and his pencil sketching male tennis players. From early pin men sketches to final action drawings, we see the artist, Andrew Restall, at his desk, commissioned by the Post Office to draw a set of commemorative stamps.
Shot of table tennis match interspersed by the artist sketching, then final drawing for the stamp depicting table tennis. Action from badminton match with artist sketching a shuttlecock, then play blurred for motion effect. Next a squash match interspersed with the artist sketching and including a dotted line depicting the trajectory of the ball. The finished drawing is then shown. The artist then turns off his desk lamp and the screen is filled with quarters, each containing the different racket sport in action. The Action stops and the scenes are replaced by the four commemorative stamps with a large Post Office logo.
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