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Original Issue


'Always a professional'

When New York's West Side Tennis Club moved from Manhattan to Forest Hills in 1913 it brought in a lean, lithe Englishman, George Charles Agutter, to be its new head professional. He gave pointers to such promising young visitors to Forest Hills as Molla Mallory ("her backhand was backward") and Helen Wills ("she swung her racket as if it were a frying pan"), but mainly he worked with club members; and then members' sons and members' grandsons. He warned them against such easy maxims as "shake hands with the racket," asking his pupils to watch "how many ways people shake hands." And if they became discouraged he'd stress his conviction that "anybody can play correctly if they'll think about their game."

This month, still lean and lithe, George Agutter, 73, announced he was retiring. "I've always been a professional," said Agutter, whose tennis began as a ball boy at London's Queen's Club in 1896. "Now it's time I started living for myself." Moving to Falmouth, Mass., he plans to keep playing tennis and hopes to teach the game to the local high school youngsters—his first amateur assignment.