• W.J.C. Surtees


    For a game that was born in prison, racquets is ironically played by an elite few today—if not for any other reason than the scarcity of courts on which to play. All eight courts in the U.S. are at private clubs (e.g. New York's Racquet & Tennis Club on Park Ave).  Racquets began as an 18th century pastime in London's King's Bench and Fleet debtors prison. Its popularity spread beyond prison walls to alleys behind pubs, schools and then the States.  It is played in a 30 x 60 foot enclosed court, with a ceiling at least 30 feet high and bears some resemblance to squash.

    No other American dominated racquets like W.J.C Surtees. He reigned as World Racquets Champ from 1972-73 and 1975-1981 (after which the Brits gladly took back the reigns).  And Surtees did it in style—Fred Perry shorts, cable-knit tennis sweater and canvas sneakers.  A man never looked better wearing his championships on his chest.

    Jun 24, 2011 | Permalink (13) Total Comments

    Ishi left a comment on 1/13/2015 at 3:10 PM:

    Color was just coming to teinns during my competitive days.A complete snot, I only wore WHITE.  It stood out.  Loved winning in WHITE.Played with a Davis Classic II.  In the garage & untouched since those days.  Kept 2 of the dresses, one an eyelet cotton cloth from Bahamas and another just like Chris Evert wore.Ha, thanks for the memories.  Decades since I’ve thought of them.Garden & Be Well,  XO Tara

    Datherine left a comment on 1/12/2015 at 9:42 PM:

    What’s it take to become a sublime exuponder of prose like yourself?

    Richard Meyer left a comment on 2/11/2012 at 3:41 PM:

    Mr. Surtees is still dressed in an elegant manner.

    Sara left a comment on 1/19/2012 at 1:17 PM:

    Mr Surtees
    I love the photo of you. You were such a dashing young man and athlete.

    ERIII left a comment on 6/29/2011 at 12:00 AM:

    nice post, great pic.

    Willie Surtees left a comment on 6/28/2011 at 11:27 AM:

    Thanks for the kind comments…...actually I am English and came to America after coming down from Oxford in 1970.The photo was taken in 1971 at the Racquet&Tennis; Club in New York. The top emblem on my sweater represents a “blue” for rackets and the one underneath for real tennis,(called court tennis in the US, a game originating in France in the 1600’s spawning lawn tennis in the 1860’s). I got a third “blue” for lawn tennis ; the triple “blue” is quite rare especially in one’s first year ; I missed my squash “blue” by one place !

    P.S. left a comment on 6/28/2011 at 8:52 AM:

    Andrew B. Is correct - The Oxford University Racquets Club Sweater -

    JABL left a comment on 6/28/2011 at 8:51 AM:

    I grew up playing both tennis and squash (not raquets) as well as a strange english sport called Fives which started life at Eton school.
    I’m currently covering Wimbledon style on my blog but will definitely write about Fives very soon.

    MBB left a comment on 6/26/2011 at 10:21 PM:

    This is too funny. Mr. Surtees (Willy to those who have the pleasure of knowing him) is a friend of my family, I’m sure he’ll love to see this, I’m going to pass it on.

    Andrew B. left a comment on 6/26/2011 at 3:36 PM:

    His sweater looks an awful lot like it says “O.U.R.C.” in which case it would be Oxford University Racquets Club.

    You still see a lot of those sweaters around Oxford, mostly for colleges, although the occasional blue as well.

    ETS left a comment on 6/26/2011 at 2:04 PM:

    I also belong to a club in Boston where racquets is still played regularly.  Dress code is not as enforced but you will still see the traditional white on white throughout the club.

    Karena left a comment on 6/26/2011 at 11:52 AM:

    I love a man who sticks to tradition!

    Art by Karena

    I have a New, very fashionable Giveaway on my site! Come and see!

    Yankee-Whisky-Papa left a comment on 6/25/2011 at 3:48 AM:

    At our club in Boston (as with other clubs) dresscode is still strict and enforced. White sweaters, purple bruises, and red welts are all common.