The Founders

Fessenden S. Blanchard (left) and James K. Cogswell
Fessenden S. Blanchard (left) and James K. Cogswell

As innovators of a new sport, the duo made a balanced team.

Jimmy Cogswell was a trained engineer with a job in sales. “He was fascinated with the question of how to build the court, the technical side of it,” said his daughter, Do Cogswell Deland.

By contrast, Fess Blanchard “was so un-mechanical he couldn’t change a light bulb,” according to his daughter Molly Ware. He was the game’s pied piper, publicist, and chief promoter.

These complementary skills provided a great impetus to the development of the game.

The biggest stroke of luck was that these displaced Bostonians had ended up being neighbors in the first place. Blanchard had moved to New York to pursue a textile career in New York City, but Cogswell had set his sights on using his engineering training in a mining career in Canada. Fortunately, his wife would have none of that and he re-invented himself as a textile salesman. He moved his family to Scarsdale where Blanchard was his back-yard neighbor and was employed in the same industry.

Blanchard and Cogswell were among the first inductees into the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame in 1965

Blanchard promoted the sport in countless articles and letters in the 1930s and ‘40s. He did radio interviews and published the first book about the sport in 1944.

Both Blanchard and Cogswell had a keen sense of fun, according to Do Deland. Molly Ware agreed, “One thing they had in common was their enthusiasm. They were like kids, never blasé. Neither of them minded being thought an idiot.”

 Source: Diana Reische, Fox Meadow Tennis Club – The First Hundred Years, 1983