When the clubhouse was built in 1846, a Rackets court counted among the facilities on offer.
As the nineteenth century progressed, London’s smart private members’ clubs began to feature sporting facilities – notably, Rackets courts. MCC introduced a court in 1844 and the original Prince’s Club (Est. 1853) offered two tennis courts and no fewer than seven Rackets courts!
The burgeoning interest in Rackets led LTCC’s founders to conjecture that a court would prove a popular feature. However, Leamington didn’t embrace Rackets with great enthusiasm. By this time, covered courts had come to the fore – alas, Leamington’s court stood out in the open air. The club’s under-marker, Frederick Foulkes, resigned in 1850 – weary of working a Rackets court with no roof. He emigrated to Canada and later became Champion of North America.
By 1858, LTCC’s Rackets court was in a state of disrepair and largely unused. A motion to close was carried in committee, but subsequently overruled at a general meeting. The court was refurbished – and a roof added – at a cost of £750. The committee decision proved to be the right course, however: Rackets never quite caught on at Leamington.
In the early 1920’s, the court was converted into two Squash Rackets courts – then a new and increasingly popular game. In 1939, the court structure was sold to Tomes the printers, the club’s neighbour, for £800. It remains clearly visible from Bedford Street.
LTCC’s Professionals can arrange a game of Rackets at Rugby School.
Rackets is an extremely fast-paced sport – and potentially quite dangerous: the ball is hard and just the right size to enter the eye socket. Play must cease if there is any risk to another player, so ‘Lets’ are commonplace. Matches are observed by a marker, who will call ‘Play!’ after each good stroke.
A good stroke must touch the front wall above a 26.5” high wooden board before touching the floor. The ball may touch the side walls before reaching the front wall. A good stroke may be played on the volley, or after one bounce on the floor.
Games are to 15 points, unless the game is tied at 13- or 14-all, in which case the game can be ‘set’ to 16 or 18 (in the case of 13-all) or 17 (in the case of 14-all). Matches are typically best of 5 games.
Only the server can score: the receiver who wins a rally earns the serve. Return of serve can be extremely difficult; in North America, only one serve is allowed.
Currently there are only two companies in the world producing Rackets bats: Grays of Cambridge (UK) and Harrow Sports (US).