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Dod's record

still stands

Sir: I take issue with John Roberts when he writes ("Hingis in a class of her own", 27 January) that Martina Hingis, not Lottie Dod, should now be considered the youngest player to have won a Grand Slam event. He tries to deny Lottie Dod her record because it was set at a time when there were fewer players. It was still the tournament of the All England Team club (Wimbledon), and her record can only be broken on the court. Martina Hingis had the chance to break her record on court and she failed. She did not win a Grand Slam Tournament at 15 - and that is final!

It is ludicrous to argue that Martina should be given the record because she won the Wimbledon Junior event at 14. Since when was the Wimbledon Junior tournament a Grand Slam event?

And in any case, modern tennis is not such a demanding game as of old - the tie-break and chairs on court have seen to that. Witness what the heat did to the players in the Australian Open recently. I wonder if any of the players could have done what Rod Laver and Tony Roche did in the Australian Open in 1969 - play 90 games in 45-degree heat with no rest periods.

Incidentally, John Roberts was incorrect when he wrote that the term "Grand Slam" was first applied to tennis in 1938. It was first used in the "New York Post" in 1933, when Jack Crawford came into town to attempt to complete the Grand Slam. He was thwarted by the incomparable Fred Perry.


Limoges, France

29 January

Missing the point

Sir: It was with great surprise that I read the article "Fox-hunting and the mating game - that's the real point" (3 February). This article appeared in the sport section of the Independent and occupied twice the space devoted to the weekend's busy National Hunt schedule. The space allocated would have been understandable had the article referred to the competition at one or more of the weekend's many point-to-point fixtures. Instead the article voiced the correspondent's opinions on fox hunting and attempted to promote a stereotypical image of those who attend point- to-points, with not one mention of a horse or rider who participated in the day's racing.

Mr Martin would seem to have been sent to cover an event of which he had very little understanding or desire to attend. If the Independent wishes to cover point-to-point racing on its sports pages, it would seem appropriate if the journalist assigned had some interest in the sport and was able to give some comment on the day's competition or on background to the sport. I trust that this is only a momentary aberration in your otherwise excellent sport coverage.


Sevenoaks, Kent

3 February

Sir: How disappointing that a serious newspaper should include in its sport pages an article so utterly spiteful and misleading. I refer, of course, to Andy Martin's article on point-to-pointing.

Yes, point-to-point is inextricably linked to fox hunting, but it is also a thriving and widely supported country sport in its own right. Quite why it is so odious for your reporter to find a large number of people (many point-to-point crowds exceed an average First Division football gate) thoroughly enjoying themselves is unclear, other than through prejudice.

No doubt it would be more politically correct and more to Mr Martin's taste if we lurched around in fancy dress, our faces pointed with our racing colours, belching lager fumes and chanting obscenities about the bookies. However, anyone with the slightest acquaintance of Cambridgeshire's open spaces in February takes a more practical approach, even if that can involve a waxed jacket.

Ironically, Mr Martin's attempt to rubbish point-to-pointing by picking on Ken [sic] Williams' debut as a jockey backfired. Kev Williams is a popular, self-made motor car dealer based in Newmarket who shed pounds to ride in and win his only race - and by doing so raising substantial sums for the Macmillan Nurses Appeal.

We love our sport, Mr Martin. Why not stick to a subject you enjoy, even if you cannot summon the objectivity to understand it?


Chairman, East Anglian Point-To-Point Assocation

Eye, Suffolk

4 February

Poor old Stanley

Sir: The Football League's sympathetic treatment of AFC Bournemouth in their present financial difficulties is in sharp contrast to the treatment meted out to Accrington Stanley, who were in a similar predicament almost 35 years ago.

After a hasty decision to resign from the League, a rescue plan was mounted by local businessmen to save the club and a second letter was dispatched asking the League to disregard the initial communication. Stanley asked for the forthcoming home match against Exeter City to take place. The League insisted the resignation stood.



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