Originally created 07/27/06

Collection of memorabilia inspires Tenniseum



The tennis rackets lining the walls of The Club at Raes Creek might appear to be decorations for a tennis club, but they represent more.

"They represent different eras of tennis," said Richard Cutler, the club owner whose collection of tennis memorabilia is the basis for the Augusta Tenniseum, a tennis museum.

More than 500 rackets from the 1870s through the 1980s line the building's walls.

The modern form of tennis was invented in 1874 but similar sports have been around for hundreds of years, Mr. Cutler said.

Some of Mr. Cutler's earliest tennis memorabilia includes a circa 1750 leather ball stuffed with feathers.

Other items in his collection are related to prominent players and about 30 display cases are filled with items from well-known tennis figures. A few players have cases devoted entirely to them.

Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg all have spaces of their own on the first floor of the museum.

In the Connors case, there is the yellow racket he used in 1991 to make it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open.

The signed Nike shoes that John McEnroe wore in 2002 at Wimbledon are in Mr. McEnroe's case.

Signed rackets belonging to early-American female tennis players such as Louise Brough, Maureen Connolly and Alice Marble are next to a case containing items from early-American male tennis stars including Bud Collins and Bill Tilden.

Legends cases are devoted to athletes such as Billie Jean King, Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Bobby Riggs and Vitas Gerulaitis.

Mr. Cutler said he purchases memorabilia through a charity that auctions items and has received many autographs simply by asking at the tennis tournaments and other events he attends.

Mr. Cutler's first piece of memorabilia was a signed 1988 Olympic photo of Mr. Agassi.

He said that his tennis museum, which is free and open to the public, is his way of sharing his passion for the sport with others.

"I need a nice place to show it off," he said.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.


IF YOU GO


WHAT: Augusta Tenniseum at The Club at Raes Creek


WHEN: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday


WHERE: 3206 W. Wimbledon Drive


COST: Free


TELEPHONE: (706) 738-4122