For Immediate Release Contact: Schuyler Wickes or Tara Strickland
Friends of Georgian Court Georgian Court University
The Jay Gould Cup Returns to Georgian Court
Lakewood, NJ, Apr. 29, 2009—The United States Court Tennis Association (USCTA) proudly announces that The Jay Gould Cup court tennis tournament will be returning this weekend (May 1–2) to its rightful home at the historic 1899 Georgian Court court tennis court, within the spectacular Casino at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, New Jersey.
Court tennis, also known as real tennis or royal tennis around the world, differs substantially from lawn tennis, the game with which most people are familiar, including names like Agassi and McEnroe. While the purpose of hitting a ball over a net is similar, and some of the scoring is familiar too, that is where the similarities end. The racquets are “heavy,” the balls are “dead,” the court is “confounding” and the rules of play are so complex, that many a world-class lawn tennis player (Pete Sampras included) has been baffled at first sight by this ancient game.
Built in 1899 as part of George Jay Gould’s 156-acre country estate, the court tennis facility at Georgian Court is the second-oldest court tennis court in the United States today. It was home to America’s finest-ever amateur, Jay Gould, who found elite supremacy as U.S. Champion from 1906 through 1926. Georgian Court’s court tennis court is one of less than 10 remaining court tennis courts in the country. Court tennis courts are only found in three other countries—England, Australia, and France.
“Georgian Court’s court tennis facility is the only U.S. court located on a university campus, which provides a wonderful opportunity to reach out to students and share the academic nature and historical aspects of this game that dates back hundreds of years,” says Schuyler Wickes, member of the Friends of Georgian Court, an organization seeking to promote play on the GCU facility.
The Jay Gould Cup was founded in 1982 as the club singles championship for Georgian Court, and early winners include three USCTA presidents (Ed Hughes, Jim Wharton, and Charlie Johnstone). Since 1990, the Jay Gould Cup has been played intermittently around the country and, most recently, was a doubles draw attached to the Jimmy Knott Cup in Boston.
This weekend will see the return of the Jay Gould Cup to its rightful home. Tournament play will be on Friday, May 1, with an open house from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., and play continuing through the evening, and all day on Saturday, May 2, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Finals are scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. With the field of competitors having been drawn from various court tennis clubs from around the region, this will once again bring to the forefront the heritage of the Georgian Court and the legacy of America’s greatest court tennis champion. The event is open to the media and to interested members of the public. No reservations are required.
The History of Court Tennis
The beginnings of court tennis have been traced all the way back to the fertility rites of the Egyptians and Persians, in which the ball was the symbol of fertility. As long ago as 450 B.C., Herodotus referred to tennis. More definitely, the game of today began to take shape many centuries later as a pastime of monks and other ecclesiasts in France.
From being the game of bishops, priests, and monks, court tennis became the pastime of monarchs and the royalty surrounding them and was taken up in the towns in gambling establishments. It became so popular and public gambling was so widespread and for such enormous stakes that in 1369 Charles V (who had built a court in the palace of the Louvre in 1368) restricted the playing of the game in Paris.
During the reign of the Tudors—Henry VII and VIII, Edward VI, Elizabeth I—tennis achieved its greatest vogue in England, with royalty and gentlemen of the court devoted to it. (Showtime’s popular show The Tudors has shown scenes of Henry VIII playing the game.) In France, too, the game flourished in the 1500s and 1600s, and it was the pastime of all classes in both countries, as well as in Germany, Spain, Italy, and other countries of Southern Europe. In 1600, the Venetian ambassador to France wrote that there were 1,800 courts in Paris alone.
Not only was tennis the sport of Wellington and of Napoleon and scores of French and British kings, but it figures as well in the history and literature of Europe.
Court tennis was played in the court at Versailles where, in 1789, the deputies of the Tiers Etat took the famous Serment du Jeu de Paume, or Tennis Court Oath, never to abandon their efforts until they had given a constitution to France.
William Shakespeare mentioned the game in six of his plays. Chaucer, Erasmus, Edmund Spenser, Rabelais, Pepys, Gower, Chapman, Rousseau, Ben Jonson, John Locke, Montaigne, and Galsworthy are among the men of letters who made mention of tennis.
About the Friends of Georgian Court
The Friends of Georgian Court Committee was created to promote play on the court tennis facility located at Georgian Court University. The five members of the committee are all members of the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, a private city club that boasts one of the other remaining court tennis facilities in the United States. Under the guidance of the United States Court Tennis Association, the Friends of Georgian Court seek to revitalize the GCU court through increased usage, teach more people about the game, offer opportunities for intercollegiate and other matches, and overall, elevate the profile of the facility.
About Georgian Court University
Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at 90 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.
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