This history is a work in process. We encourage readers to send suggestions, additions and corrections.
Tennis once reigned supreme among the residents of Nunda. Introduced to America in the 1870s, lawn tennis was fun, fashionable and affordable by the early 1900s.
Readers of the Nunda News were well acquainted with the sport by the time the first court was laid out behind the High School on Mill Street in 1905 for the students and teachers. Soon local residents were adding their own courts, D.S. Robinson (NW corner of Massachusetts and Church Street) being the first in 1908. Bell Memorial Library added a public tennis court behind the library in 1918.
The original courts at the school must have been temporary, for the girls in the co-ed Nunda High Athletic Association applied for a court in April of 1912. By 1915 this court was described as the main attraction of the school grounds and was run by the students. Backstops were added that year and a “tax” of ten cents was levied on all Nunda students by the Association in order to pay for the courts. Students and teachers who actually used the court were required to pay an extra quarter per year. Local players in 1915 could buy racquets at Robinson’s Drug Store for $1 “and up” and tennis balls for 50 cents each.
Unlike many other sports of the day, tennis playing by young women was socially acceptable. In order to help these young female athletes, the Nunda News often offered useful advice in a column called “The Outdoor Girl”. The July 29, 1911 column advised against “clothes which prevent deep breathing prevent both proper playing and keen enjoyment of the game….Corsets which are so long as to impede free leg action are not fit for tennis, for a girl cannot run well without having free leg swing from the hips. Bloomers, a soft unstarched duck or flannel waist and skirt, woolen stockings and tennis shoes which fit tightly form the proper costume”. The same issue included a photograph of a model in a “linen tennis gown…of pale blue linen trimmed in white…” along with a “white chip hat trimmed with plumes” which demonstrated that the tennis costume “ should be neat and attractive as well as comfortable.”
Tennis continued to be popular through the 1920s. In 1921 the Presbyterian Church added a double court to their playground on Church Street, and Helen Foote, widow of local industrialist Chester Foote, added courts on her Massachusetts Street property. The Baptist Church carried out a fundraising drive through 1922 and by 1924 had opened their own tennis courts. Even the Hunt Baptist Church in Portage had courts installed at their parsonage.
When the Foote Athletic Field opened on newly acquired land behind the High School in 1930, tennis courts were built in the southeast corner of the grounds near the creek, not far from their present day location. Floodlights were added to these courts in 1936. The school began a summer recreation program on Foote Field that included tennis instruction. The Nunda News of September 16, 1932 reported that the “older boys and girls of the town were kept interested at tennis and the two courts were in use for the greater share of the day. The tennis season was brought to a climax by the tournament and many exciting matches were played…the four champions, B. Johnson, A. Bodine, W. Paine and Onnolee Cole, all showed a good brand of tennis during sets.”
The first mention of Nunda participating in interscholastic tennis competition is found in the Nunda News of May 1942 when a team coached by Marjorie Fradd and Miss Robinson defeated a Dansville team. There was also a team in 1949 coached by Hugh Creveling. It appears that there was no team in 1950, but the program resumed in 1951 and was quite successful over the next two years with several players going to the Sectionals in 1953. Based upon the Nunda News and school yearbooks, it appears that tennis was played through most of the Sixties and Seventies with several coaches including Mr. Nigg, Miss Wilcox, Dennis Small and Kathy Ritter. Some individual players did quite well, and the 1968 team won the Class A Title. The last team appeared in a Keshequa year book in 1986.
Local residents and gym classes still occasionally use the tennis courts behind the school, as they have for more than a century, but the heyday of tennis in Nunda has passed.
Readers are encouraged to contribute stories to this page. The stories can be of any length and talk about teams, seasons, outstanding individuals, coaches, or anything relating to this sport. You will be credited for the story and listed in the contributors' section found at the end of this page.
History of Tennis Teams at NCS During the 1950's
by Thomas Byrnes
The inspiration for a Nunda Central School Tennis team could have possibly started on a tennis court at the residence of Lloyd Duncan's tennis court located at his residence at 49 South State St.
Lloyd's son Richard played a lot of tennis there with John Hoagland and Ogden Graves both of the class of 1950. Often Ivan Orloff (class of 51) who lived three doors up the street would join them.
Miss Laura Dodson joined the faculty in the second semester of 1951 as the girls physical education teacher. She had tennis experience in forming a tennis team at NCS. The yearbook for 1952 shows the 1951 tennis squad of the following players: Richard Duncan, Scott and Frank McCullough, Bob Slingerland, Tom Byrnes and John Tucker. Ivan Orloff rounded out the squad. When the season ended we had won eight matches, lost one and inadvertently forfeited one.
The 1952 tennis team compiled a four win and four loss record. Leading the team were Tom Byrnes and Bob Slingerland, who each won six and lost two and represented Livingston County in Section V doubles elimination at Rochester. John Byrnes and Ronny Carrier formed a good double team. Jerry Thomas, Rodney Carpenter and Dick Smeallie rounded out the team.
The 1953 tennis team had an undefeated season winning all ten matches and were Livingston County Champs. Bob Slingerland and Tom Byrnes were the big guns winning all of their singles matches. Rodney Carpenter played 3rd singles while doubles combinations consisted of John Byrnes and Peter Hoagland and also Russ Bonadonna and Ron Carrier. Tom Evans was first substitute. Tom Byrnes and Bob Slingerland represented Livingston County in doubles in the sectionals at Rochester. They won both the quarter and semi-finals easily in straight sets. In the finals they met the 6 foot 6 Kressling twin brothers from Newark. Tom & Bob lost the match two sets to one to end their bid for a sectional crown. (The photograph of this team is found in the 2017 calendar.)
Our mode of transportation to away matches was by car. If a player had a valid license he would drive. If not, it was a parent. The second car was Coach Dodson's Plymouth convertible. If the weather was good, down would go the top and it would be a race to pile in. Seatbelts were unheard of in those days.
After graduation Bob Slingerland went on to win the junior division of the Rochester City Championship played at the Tennis Club of Rochester.
In 1954 Miss Dodson had left and was replaced by Miss Shirley DeLaney as the girls physical education teacher. She took over the coaching job of the tennis team. The tennis squad consisted of Rodney Carpenter, John Byrnes, Russ Bonadonna, Bill Somers, Pete Hoagland, Ron Carrier and Bob Long. No record was available as to how successful the team was.
The 1955 Tennis squad was coached by Shirley who was married to Jim Doyle of Nunda between school years. The yearbook photo of the team shows Bill Somers, Bob Long, Robbie Sanford, Pete Hoagland, Roger Pierce, Edmond Gormel and Jack Marshall. Again, no record appeared as to the outcome of their matches.
The 1956 Tennis Squad was coached by Mr. Vienna. The team consisted of just four players: Edmond Gormel, Roger Pierce, Dick Meade and Sherman Sanford. No record was available as to what schools the matches were with or to the outcome.
After some research it appears the era of tennis teams in the 1950's ended at NCS at the end of 1956.
Please send in photographs related to this sport. Digital copies are fine, please contact the Historical Society to arrange for scanning. We also encourage donations of photographs. You will be listed in the contributors.
Be sure to see the tennis photographs in the 2017 Calendar!
This is probably the oldest tennis photo in the Nunda Historical Society's collection. The label states "Ruth Foote- Tennis Court back of Bell Memorial Library. 1913."
Ruth was the daugher of Frank and Harriet Foote. and was born in October 1898. Ruth Foote MacCargo died in California in November 1987.
The label date may be too early. According to the Nunda News, the tennis court was established at the library in 1918. (See Below)
Copies of clippings, artifacts, and other items related to this sport can be contributed and will appear in this section.
|In the first column of this 1918 clipping provides the date for Bell Memorial's tennis court. We could not find any earlier reference to the library's tennis court.
|This photo and description in the September 14, 1972 issue of the Nunda News was probably submitted by Town Historian Marjorie Frost. Although we believe the date to be incorrect (see above), the photograph documents the location of the tennis court at the library.