What The Deuce: A Tennis Image Miscellany

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Today is the birthday of Rene Lacoste, the man who gave the world the original preppy polo shirt. And since Wimbledon is also currently underway, I thought it the perfect excuse for a tennis-themed image gallery.

Above is a vintage tennis sweater and necktie from Newton Street Vintage; below, another vintage specimen:

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Pete’s looks rather dingy in comparison:

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Rand’s looks much better:

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J. Press York Street, current season:

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On the left is Bobby Riggs (I just watched “When Billie Beat Bobby,” which was kind of fun) in 1947 with girls from Smith College:

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They really did wear those sweaters everywhere, even in Kalamazoo:

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Tennis sweaters presumably died out for style reasons. They look elitist and old fashioned, though are just as functional as a Nike-emblazoned warmup jacket. Trousers and canvas shoes, however, are just too impractical for the modern game. This is from Wimbledon’s website yesterday:

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Same goes for wooden rackets:

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They may not perform like modern ones (my racket is so ugly I finally grew sick of it and am shopping for something less visually offensive), but they sure photograph better:

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This probably isn’t meant to be practical:

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When I went to Cambridge to interview Charlie Davidson, he took me to lunch with Bud Collins, the tennis commentator known for his go-to-hell pants (which Charlie first turned him on to). Here he is in 1964 before they became his trademark:

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As we draw to a close, here’s the birthday boy himself. Lacoste died in 1996 at the age of 92:

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He had one daughter. Some crocodiles can lay up to 95 eggs:

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The end. — c C m

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22 Comments on "What The Deuce: A Tennis Image Miscellany"

  1. Bricktop Polford | July 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

    You say elitist and old fashioned like that’s a bad thing.

  2. You could get punched in the face for wearing one of these.

    One in XXL would be quite Trad.

  3. I am referring to the sweater.

  4. Christian | July 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

    @Bricktop

    Not bad things to me, but for those in Nike warm-up jackets.

  5. Nice post and yes, timely.

  6. I love tennis sweaters and should probably stop buying more, but…..

  7. Roy R. Platt | July 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm |

    Weren’t these things Cricket Sweaters before they were Tennis Sweaters?

    http://www.rochfordsports.co.uk/

  8. The tennis or cricket sweater is on my short list of iconic preppy clothing items considered to be a must have.

  9. I’m amused that no one ever comments on the hidden, ever-present gay imagery in selling the preppy lifestyle. Or maybe the “trad community” just enjoys looking at two guys sharing a bashful look as they both grasp a tennis racquet.

  10. Straight Arrow | July 3, 2013 at 5:29 am |

    @Stinger

    Not just two guys; two pretty guys.

  11. Gornergrat | July 3, 2013 at 6:31 am |

    What’s being censored in the last picture?

  12. James Redhouse | July 3, 2013 at 8:29 am |

    @Bricktop Polford

    Hear! Hear!

    Elitist and old-fashioned are positive adjectives in my book.

  13. Gornergrat

    If you have to ask…………………. 😉

  14. It appears that tennis sweaters & cricket sweaters, at least in the USA, are the same thing. I started wearing what we called “Tennis Sweaters” in 1962, about the time of my first Baracuda jacket[which we called “rain jackets”], with one made in England from Alan Paine. Later got another as a vest from Alan Paine but by then it was made in Hong Kong. Later got several vests from “Kenneth Gordon” when that was a quite nice line. In 2011-2013 got several tennis/cricket vests from Polo RL. that are quite nice & have a deep gorge so that a tie can easily be worn & you can reach your shirt pocket without stretching the neck. Have one long sleeve in wool from Smart Turnout[made in England] that is quite nice. Tried current offerings from Brooks Bros but they were poorly designed with too “high” a gorge. They along with my Polo RL “Fair Isle” vests are fun to wear and I highly recommend them.

  15. In the early 1980’s, as I was approaching 30, I played a great deal of tennis. I got into the best physical condition of my life. Tennis whites were still worn by a lot of players, and I bought a tennis sweater to complement the shorts and shirt. My old racket from high school was pretty shabby, and I happened across a Maxpli McInnroe, in a department store, mislabeled at $ 9.95. The others were marked at $ 60. I’m sorry to say that I took advantage of the store’s error. Shortly after that, I bought a Prince Pro, ($110) one of the first oversize rackets. My game improved dramatically with the utilitarian metal. I still have it.

    One day, I played with a visiting 74 year old gentleman, very distantly related to me. He had worked on the Manhattan Project during WW2, actually met Einstein, and had retired as some kind of executive at Kodak, having a degree in chemistry, and a PHD from Yale. He beat the tar out of me. After wearing me out, he casually commented that he could play all day. We had a nice lunch afterward, which he treated. The nicest tennis outing I ever had. He lived into his 90’s.

    I ‘ve found out those old Maxpli’s are quite collectible. Too bad I gave mine away years ago.

  16. During the heyday as last man on the team at Loomis, I pridefully wore my tennis sweater sporting the iconic label, “Made for J. Press by Alan Paine of Godalming.”

  17. @JWK and Wriggles – Thanks for sharing!

  18. In Australia an England they are still worn when playing cricket at all levels (from High School to Professionals)!

  19. Kimmo Sinivuori | July 11, 2013 at 10:34 am |

    Herringbone tweed jacket and cricket sweater is an unbeatable combination. The tie with the tennis racquets is brilliant.

  20. Vern Trotter | January 5, 2015 at 4:12 pm |

    Eddie Jacobs LTD in Baltimore always claimed he had the crossed rackets logo trade marked and nobody else could use it. I think I bought my first tennis sweater there. I just counted six of them in my closet, five from Harrods, one from J Press, the most recent. All sizes.

    I always wore Jack Purcell shoes except one pair of Tretorns which I ditched because they were women’s shoes, I believed.I had a pair of striped white flannels from Cable Car. I cannot play tennis, 10 years now, because of my bad back. Miss it dearly!

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