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Both Tennis and Croquet Are Welcomed at the All England Club

By: Abigail Weintraub

At the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, tennis players are dispersing. The lawn will be trimmed two millimeters shorter and the croquet hoops will be brought out; the transformation process is soon to commence. Although tennis seems to be the predominant sport, the club’s background suggests otherwise.

When the club was founded in 1868, croquet was the only sport present—until 1877. Tennis was introduced to the club, and it surged as time went on. This continued until it almost completely eclipsed the art of croquet. In fact, the club's name changed from the All England Croquet Club to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. In the end, croquet survived the struggle.

“If you go to a croquet club, people are passionate about croquet, and if you go to a tennis club, people are passionate about tennis,” said Jonathan Smith. “We happen to have both. We’re keen on croquet, but we’re passionate about tennis.” Having a flourishing croquet community is sufficient, but a club that honors both tennis and croquet is something special.

Residents want to turn the club into a better environment for croquet players. “We want to redo the lawns at some point and do them absolutely with the right grass… You can’t cut rye to three mil because it dies,” said club manager Ross Matheson. When Wimbledon expands, the club is hoping that they can keep the croquet courts year-round instead of cycling between croquet and tennis.

As of now, however, the rotation will carry on. On July 18th, after a long season of tennis, the club will be officially free to return to croquet. It is clear that many members of the club are as devoted to croquet as they are devoted to tennis. People consider it an enjoyable and relaxing pastime; it’s “a great game for anyone who’s a bit knackered,” according to Smith.

For croquet, there isn’t a Wimbledon-level equivalent—simply travel teams and competitions between clubs. Nevertheless, the sport is mostly a form of competitive fun, and a fantastic one, at that.

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