Glorious Aiken. Last weekend I played in the Nordy Knox, the old Aiken Handicap court tennis tournament.

It is the oldest handicap doubles tournament in the U.S. and attracts players from England and Australia. The beauty of it is that you get to spend a long weekend at perhaps the world’s most unique playable court: it has spawned two world champions, is the home of world #3 Cam Riviere, is most isolated court in the world and has perhaps the most newspaper-clipping adorned bathroom wall I’ve seen at a tennis club.


Moreover, the village of Aiken has a few amenities that no one else can offer.

My partner, Mit Carothers, invited me to what his polo team practice, so I spent a lovely afternoon at Powderhouse Field watching a half-dozen chukkers. I played a round at Palmetto, the grand old golf course of the south (started in 1892 by Tommy Hitchcock, partially designed by Alistar MacKenzie and the nineteenth club to join the USGA). I heard many ribald tales from Masters week—Augusta National is twenty-odd minutes to the south and the Aiken Handicap used to be on Masters weekend until the Masters became such a huge deal in the 1970s. I visited the local historical society, which is housed in one of the many nineteenth century mansions that northerners built when they created a winter colony in Aiken over a century ago.

And I played croquet at Green Boundary Club with Wayne Davies. Wayne might just be one of the great athletes of our time: he was world champion in court tennis for seven years; he was a fine racquets player, winning the U.S. professional title; he got to forty in the world in squash while working as a court tennis pro in Bordeaux in the early 1980s; and now he’s consistently coming in the top ten in the U.S. croquet nationals (fifth in 2007, ninth last year). Down in Aiken for a few week’s break from his job at the Westmoor Club on Nantucket, Wayne took some of us out for an hour’s clinic. I was losing badly in a game of singles to Andrew Gould of Melbourne when time was called. 

One thought on “Aiken”

  1. Is Camden Riviere going to have shoulder surgery? He told me that he needed rotator cuff surgery. If so, he’ll be out of action not less than 9 months.

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