Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

June 5, 2008

In tennis, individuals face each other as equals


The other incident happened a few years later, when the tennis court was the spot for breaking ground for Gunter Hall. The honored gentleman had died, but five of his grandchildren attended the ceremonies and took their turn wielding yellow-ribboned shovels.

Consensus of the audience was that, had they been allowed to continue, construction of the building could have begun a week later. They were stopped, however; the disturbed ground was tamped back into place, and students played tennis on that court for at least six months afterward.

Expansion of the campus in the next few years provided plenty of space for tennis courts, but the powers that mattered in Baltimore refused to make tennis a budget item. They apparently didn't notice that the request for money for landscaping and fencing suddenly increased - and that was the way the next courts, down the hill from Compton Gym, came into being.

Those, too, are gone now, their space occupied by the Performing Arts Center, but until they were superseded by the present facilities behind the Cordts Complex, they saw a good bit of activity, involving students, faculty, staff and townspeople.

Bill and I batted balls with our children there. An impressive town quartet - Cheney, Sager, Workman and Schlosstein - entertained us with stinging serves and spectacular saves. But we had to quit as darkness fell: Those courts were not lighted.

In spite of the instruction I got at college, my tennis never looked like what I watch on TV. I served to put the ball in play; my objective was to hit the ball to the other side of the net, without any plan for handling the return. I had neither power nor skill - but I had fun!

Thinking back, I have a feeling that one of the major turning points of my life happened on a tennis court. I had met Bill when he was an assistant instructor (read that as "gofer'') in the course I was taking at the University of Pennsylvania, and during the summer break he had a temporary job in the bank where I worked. We saw each other from time to time, and one day he suggested that we play tennis after work.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
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