A new shop in Los Angeles has become a gathering place for tennis "insiders"

April 06, 1964

A new shop called The Tennis Set in Los Angeles is the In place to go for the latest in equipment, clothing and tennis conversation. Its customers include professional tennis players and amateurs from the movie colony. Housed in a small, elegant Hollywood Norman structure—a Sunset Strip landmark since the early 1940's, when it was built by the late movie-set couturier, Gilbert Adrian—the shop displays in its large window French antiques that are not for sale along with up-to-the-minute court accessories that are. The interior is like a stage set, the walls painted white and bright blue. It has artificial trees and a patch of vivid bogus grass. An enormous blue, felt-covered table stands on the grass. Customers sit around the table for coffee and tennis talk.

The owner of The Tennis Set is Florence Allen, who was a professional tennis player at 18, and before that was ranked sixth in California among amateurs. When she isn't minding the store with the help of two assistants, Flo Allen teaches on private courts in Beverly Hills.

"We play tennis at night as well as during the day all year round," says Flo Allen, "so sweaters are a must." A new favorite with both men and women is a white Swiss cotton-velour pullover with V neck and narrow red-and-blue trim at the neckline sleeves and waistline ($18) Another woman's sweater looks like heavy silk knit but is really wash-and-wear acetate A short-sleeved, crew-neck version is $15; with a red-and-blue-banded V neck and long sleeves it is $20.

Shorts are no longer the California uniform. "During the day most of the girls play in very short tennis dresses," says Miss Allen. "And. except in tournament play, they wear more color here than they do in the East." The soft, feminine fabrics found all over the sportswear market this spring are seen in two of The Tennis Set's prettiest dresses. A dotted Swiss dress with scalloped Peter Pan collar and hemline costs $25. An embroidered cotton eyelet dress in pastel blue, pink or yellow costs $30. There are blue, pink and yellow tennis shoes to match for $6.

For play in cool weather, Miss Allen's women customers prefer white slacks in flannel or sharkskin,. paired with a white handmade cable-stitch sweater ($25) or a pastel mohair one with crocheted edging. The mohair cardigan costs $23, and a pullover version is $20. Also available are women's slacks that look like wool flannel but are made of a washable cot-ton-and-Dacron mixture. They have welt seams and an adjustable waistband and cost $12.50. Wool flannel slacks are also available for $23.

Taking its cue from the off-white ecru of expensive wool flannel worn by many tournament players, The Tennis Set has collected an assortment of tennis wear in this shade. Ecru is also used in a new three-piece wash-and-wear flannel group consisting of short shorts ($11) that are worn under a short pleated skirt ($17) with a sleeveless, collarless over-blouse ($12). A cardigan is made of cotton and linen. Its V neck has a hand-crocheted edge. It costs $23 for women, $25 for men. A tennis shirt for men is made of ecru cotton lisle and costs $9. And a cashmere sweater for men, its V neck banded in red and blue, sells for $36.

Pleatless tennis shorts for men made of cotton or stretch nylon and cotton cost $11. Short short styles for the lean and young, with three-inch inseams and Continental side pockets, go for $9.

For clubhouse and sideline wear, Flo Allen has tennis blazers with natural shoulders, lapped seams and hooked center vents. They come in navy, white, red, black and camel and cost $40 for men, $26 for women. Made-to-order white flannel slacks for men take about one week to make and cost $35.

Among the best-selling items in the shop is a narrow (12½-inch by 48-inch) terry-cloth tennis towel with embroidered blue-and-red crossed rackets. It sells for $4, and can be monogrammed for 50¢ a letter.

A good-looking cinch belt to wear with tennis shorts or slacks, introduced at S. J. Feron's in New York last summer, is now available at The Tennis Set for $4. It is made of multicolored-striped grosgrain ribbon, one inch wide. An imported French tote bag is made to carry tennis rackets, balls, shoes, towels and other tennis gear. Made of navy blue canvas with a waterproof lining, it measures 17 inches long, 12 inches high and 7 inches deep. It is $6.

Next to taking all your tennis sitting down, the last word in nonathletic involvement with this otherwise strenuous sport is a distinctly antifitness device called The Tennis Ball Caddy. It is a lightweight plastic pail with a hole in the bottom that is attached to the end of a waist-high collapsible pole. It is capable of shagging as many as 42 balls at a time on a practice court with no stoop involved for the shagger. It is yours for $20.

For out-of-town tennis shoppers a catalog is available. Write The Tennis Set at 8600 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.