So, You Think You Know Tennis?
Henry Quinlan, 83 years old, who has 76 years of playing tennis and still plays, has authored a book about tennis So, You Think You Know Tennis?
Armed with only his passion for the game and his laptop computer, Henry set out on what would soon become an incredible journey of discovery – and wrote what would eventually be known as “So, You Think You Know Tennis” In his book, Henry explored every aspect of this great sport from early origins all the way through to today’s professional players. He points out some little known facts and features about all aspects of the game, including equipment, balls, rackets, Grand Slam tournaments; men and women players from the top professionals to the amateurs and weekend players….and much more!
About the Author
I love tennis. I first picked up a racket in 1947 at Dean Playground in Brookline, Massachusetts. Now, 76 years later, I am still playing and still loving the game. It has given me great friends, special relationships with my grandchildren, and wonderful memories playing tennis on courts both in the U.S. and in different countries. The health benefits, both mental and physical, are self-evident to me.
I have been a winner and a loser—though winning is better. No matter the score, I am good. I am playing the game I love.
I played little between the ages of 16 and 41. Then I started to play with my old high school friend Dan Shea, who was also the high school tennis coach. The night after my first match with him I landed in the hospital with severe cramps—because I was using long-neglected muscles. For the next 20 years, I played with Dan. Then another friend, Dick Elia, joined us, and we played at least once a week. To this day I continue to play.
I have had many interesting and memorable experiences playing tennis, starting in my youthful days.
The Longwood Cricket Club is in Brookline, Massachusetts. Once a year young players from the public playgrounds of Brookline were invited to visit and play with the club’s young players. On my first trip to Longwood at age 10, what I remember most was seeing tennis balls everywhere on all the courts. I had never seen so many tennis balls all in one place. I was coming from a place where a new ball was a rare event. Having three new balls at the same time was unheard of. I remember thinking, Wow, I never saw so many tennis balls in my life—and none are bald.
I still remember my first match. I was in my usual long brown pants with brown sneakers and my opponent, a member, appeared in an all-white ensemble of shirt, shorts and tennis shoes. I won the match but the whole time I was thinking how can I take some of these balls home? I skipped the next round and instead a friend and I loaded up as many balls as we could carry and left the club with big smiles. Years later when I played, as a guest, on the beautiful grass courts, my first thought of entering the club was the remembrance of my first visit.
I lived in Moscow in the early nineties and played a lot of tennis, primarily with Yevgeny Zimin, one of the greatest hockey players in the history of the USSR. He had three Olympic Gold Medals and four World Hockey Championships. Wherever we played in Moscow there was always a small crowd present to watch ...him.
Henry Quinlan and Yevgeny Zimin
One day a businessperson invited me to play at a court in his office building in downtown Moscow. When I got there, I was surprised to see a full-size court that had only four feet between the baselines and a wall. The sidelines of the court had a wall on one side and windows on the other, both only two feet away. I soon discovered “home court advantage” really meant something.
After Moscow I lived in Brooklyn and played tennis at the courts in Prospect Park. There were ten clay courts. In the winter they were covered with a tent. There were a lot of particularly good players, among them a stereotypical, aggressive New Yorker. He loved to challenge calls on my base line—while he was standing behind his own baseline. I enjoyed the competition.
My favorite court is in Brooklyn. It is a lone court below Brooklyn Heights. From one side of the court there is a clear view of lower Manhattan. It is a spectacular sight.
After Brooklyn, when I lived nearby in Wareham, I played for many years in Mattapoisett and Marion, Massachusetts. There I enjoyed making good friends who were also skillful players. At that time, I was playing two to three times a week year-round. Good matches with good friends…the best.
Lou Roy, Bill Short, Wayne Miller, Henry Quinlan
One of the highlights for me was playing with the group at the Newport Casino, home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I remember being shocked at the size of the men’s locker room—only the size of a big double closet. I wondered how that worked during a tournament. My son, Tom’s company won a contract to paint the casino buildings and he inserted into the contract two tickets for me to attend Pete’s Sampras’ induction into the Hall of Fame.
While living in Wareham, I introduced my six grandchildren to the game. They all know how to play now and two played in high school. One granddaughter was lured away by her success in soccer, while her sister played tennis for four years and was captain in her senior year. Many hours well spent.
Kelly Quinlan, Emily Murphy, Caroline Murphy, and Ryan Quinlan
I spent three months in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. A club there granted me free access to their courts. I joined with other members who were seniors like me, and we played mixed doubles. During one match I was partnered with an attractive lady from Paris, an exceptionally good player who had a vacation home in Aix. During one changeover she said to me, “I need five minutes,” and I responded, “Why?” She quickly replied, “I need to fix my make-up.” A true Parisian lady.
Tennis group in Aix en Provance, France
For the past two years I have been living in Merrimack, New Hampshire. I have been playing at the Longfellow New Hampshire Tennis and Swim Club in Nashua. As it has been doing all my life, tennis has led me to find new friends, and I continue to play a lot of tennis year-round. Every Saturday my friends and I play two and a half hours of competitive tennis. We play with both men and women.
The game of tennis has given me so much. I am a proud advocate for the game. I hope this book deepens your knowledge of the sport as well as giving you a greater appreciation and love for the game.
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