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urban
06-27-2009, 03:35 AM
In the wake of some nice findings by Borgforever, Elegos and Izznews about the pre 1920 era I post here some pre 1950 rankings, i found in the book by Paula Stuck von Recnizek, Tennis Faszination, edited in Munich in 1968. They rely on a sampling by Dr. Esser, some German expert, i assume, mostly there are from ca. 1930:

F. G. Low:
Tilden, H.L. Doherty, Brookes, W.M. Johnston, R. Doherty, Wilding, Lacoste, Cochet, Larned, McLoughlin

Arnold Herrschel:
Tilden, H. L. Doherty, Wilding, Cochet, Borotra, Brookes, R. Doherty, Richey, Pim, Roper-Barrett

Lacoste:
Tilden, H.L. Doherty, Cochet, Johnston, Wilding, Borotra, R. Doherty, Brookes, Larned, W. Renshaw

Maurice Blein:
Tilden, H.L. Doherty, Borotra, Cochet, Johnston, Wilding, Borotra, Larned, Vines, W. Renshaw

E.C. Potter:
Tilden, H. L. Doherty, brookes, Cochet, Johnston, Wilding, Lacoste, Whitman, Borotra, Perry.

P. M. Harry in Revue de Tennis:
Tilden, Cochet, H.L. Doherty, Wilding, Johnston, Lacoste, brookes, W. Renshaw, R. Doherty, Sears

Ph. Nutt:
Tilden, H.L. Doherty, Brookes, cochet, Lacoste, R. Doherty, Johnston, Wilding. McLoughlin, S.H. Smith (whoever this is)

Two rankings from ca. 1950:

Edgar Joubert:
Tilden, Cochet, Budge, Kramer, Borotra, Lacoste, Perry, R. Doherty,H. L. Doherty, Brookes, Wilding, Patterson.

Roderich Menzel:
Tilden, Budge, Cochet, R.Doherty, Vines, L. Doherty, Kramer, McLoughlin, Lacoste, Perry, von Cramm, Brookes, Withman, Johnston, Borotra, Crawford, Wilding, Riggs, Larned, Wright, Richards, Patterson, Williams, Anderson, Mahoney.

I will let those rankings speak for themselves. Some short comment: In all the older lists, Laurie Doherty is always ranked second only to Tilden. Only in the younger lists by Joubert and Menzel, Reggie is ranked above him, Why? I don't know.
Edgar Joubert

Borgforever
06-27-2009, 06:08 AM
Wonderful post Urban! Fascinating lists which truly gives food for thought. I will comment a little bit more on this later...

Q&M son
06-28-2009, 04:07 PM
Great post urban, thanks

elegos7
07-06-2009, 06:36 AM
In the wake of some nice findings by Borgforever, Elegos and Izznews about the pre 1920 era I post here some pre 1950 rankings, i found in the book by Paula Stuck von Recnizek, Tennis Faszination, edited in Munich in 1968.

Hi Urban,

Thanks for those lists. I am interested in that book, I have read her "Tennis das Spiel der Volker" published in the 1930s that contained some interesting pre-1914 rankings and German classifications.
Does this newer book contain national or international rankings before 1914?

I add a couple of all-time rankings prior to 1960:

In 1924 in his book ‘Forty years of first class lawn tennis’ George Hillyard (formerly a good British player and a secretary of The All England Lawn Tennis Club) compiled a list of the best players of all time, each of whom at his best would have beaten any player outside this list also at his best.
9 men: Ernest and Willie Renshaw (nothing to choose between them), Joshua Pim (at his best perhaps the greatest), Laurie and Reggie Doherty (Reggie the better in head-to-heads), Norman Brookes, Tony Wilding, Bill Johnston, Bill Tilden.
Closely behind them are: Wilmbledon champions Lawford, Hamilton, W. Baddeley, Mahony, A. Gore, Patterson. The Dohertys had the highest opinion of Whitman, but he has not played in England. Four more men should also have won Wimbledon with a bit of luck: Lewis, Eaves, Smith, Kingscote.
7 ladies: Maud Watson, Lottie Dod, Blanche Bingley (Hillyard), Louisa Martin, Charlotte Cooper (Sterry), Dorothea Douglass (Chambers), May Sutton.

In 1932 in his book ‘Memory's Parade’ Wallis Myers compiled a list of the best players all-time.
1. Tilden and L.Doherty (with Tilden perhaps slightly ahead) 3. R.Doherty 4. Cochet 5. Johnston 6. Brookes 7. Lacoste 8. Wilding 9. Borotra 10. Patterson 11.Gore.

In 1948 in his book John Olliff compiled a list of the 20 best-ever men in the 20th century. His list is as follows.
1. Tilden 2. L. Doherty 3. Lacoste 4. Vines 5. Cochet 6. Perry 7. R. Doherty 8. Budge 9. Brookes 10. Riggs 11. Wilding 12. Johnston 13. Borotra 14. von Cramm 15. Kramer 16. Crawford 17. McLouglin 18. Patterson 19. S. Wood
20. Austin.
He listed only 4 ladies: 1. Lenglen 2. Wills 3. Marble 4. Betz

In 1952 Mercer Beasley, one of the most outstanding tennis coaches, picked his top 10 players.
1. Tilden 2. Cochet 3. Lacoste 4. Kramer 5. Perry 6. Johnston 7. Vines 8. Budge 9. Richards 10. Sedgman
1. Wills 2. Marble 3. Lenglen 4. Bjurtedt 5. Jacobs 6. Betz 7. Osborne 8. Hart 9. Round 10. Brough

In 1956 Norman Brookes ranked in his book "Crowded Galleries" the Top10 players he had played against or had seen play for both men and women:
Men: 1. Tilden 2. RF Doherty 3. HL Doherty 4. AF Wilding 5. William Johnston 6. Perry 7. Lacoste 8. Budge 9. Kramer 10. Crawford
Women: 1. Lenglen 2. Wills 3. May Sutton 4. Dorothy Douglass Chambers 5. Marble 6. Round 7. Connolly 8. Brough 9. Hart 10. Wynne Bolton.
He did mention for the mens others such as Sedgman, Patterson, Beals Wright, Hoad, McLouglin, Rosewall and Trabert would be up there in the next ten. In the case of the French muskateers he chose Lacoste as the best of the four but mentioned Cochet and Borotra. He omitted ranking Segura and Gonzales as he had limited knowledge of their games and only saw them infrequently.

hoodjem
07-06-2009, 06:41 AM
Urban,

Is there a way you can cross-reference the lists against the dates they were issued?

I have a notion that some lists seem to favor persons closest to the present of the time the list was created. Just asking.

pc1
07-06-2009, 06:44 AM
Hi Urban,

Thanks for those lists. I am interested in that book, I have read her "Tennis das Spiel der Volker" published in the 1930s that contained some interesting pre-1914 rankings and German classifications.
Does this newer book contain national or international rankings before 1914?

I add a couple of all-time rankings prior to 1960:

In 1924 in his book ‘Forty years of first class lawn tennis’ George Hillyard (formerly a good British player and a secretary of The All England Lawn Tennis Club) compiled a list of the best players of all time, each of whom at his best would have beaten any player outside this list also at his best.
9 men: Ernest and Willie Renshaw (nothing to choose between them), Joshua Pim (at his best perhaps the greatest), Laurie and Reggie Doherty (Reggie the better in head-to-heads), Norman Brookes, Tony Wilding, Bill Johnston, Bill Tilden.
Closely behind them are: Wilmbledon champions Lawford, Hamilton, W. Baddeley, Mahony, A. Gore, Patterson. The Dohertys had the highest opinion of Whitman, but he has not played in England. Four more men should also have won Wimbledon with a bit of luck: Lewis, Eaves, Smith, Kingscote.
7 ladies: Maud Watson, Lottie Dod, Blanche Bingley (Hillyard), Louisa Martin, Charlotte Cooper (Sterry), Dorothea Douglass (Chambers), May Sutton.

In 1932 in his book ‘Memory's Parade’ Wallis Myers compiled a list of the best players all-time.
1. Tilden and L.Doherty (with Tilden perhaps slightly ahead) 3. R.Doherty 4. Cochet 5. Johnston 6. Brookes 7. Lacoste 8. Wilding 9. Borotra 10. Patterson 11.Gore.

In 1948 in his book John Olliff compiled a list of the 20 best-ever men in the 20th century. His list is as follows.
1. Tilden 2. L. Doherty 3. Lacoste 4. Vines 5. Cochet 6. Perry 7. R. Doherty 8. Budge 9. Brookes 10. Riggs 11. Wilding 12. Johnston 13. Borotra 14. von Cramm 15. Kramer 16. Crawford 17. McLouglin 18. Patterson 19. S. Wood
20. Austin.
He listed only 4 ladies: 1. Lenglen 2. Wills 3. Marble 4. Betz

In 1952 Mercer Beasley, one of the most outstanding tennis coaches, picked his top 10 players.
1. Tilden 2. Cochet 3. Lacoste 4. Kramer 5. Perry 6. Johnston 7. Vines 8. Budge 9. Richards 10. Sedgman
1. Wills 2. Marble 3. Lenglen 4. Bjurtedt 5. Jacobs 6. Betz 7. Osborne 8. Hart 9. Round 10. Brough

In 1956 Norman Brookes ranked in his book "Crowded Galleries" the Top10 players he had played against or had seen play for both men and women:
Men: 1. Tilden 2. RF Doherty 3. HL Doherty 4. AF Wilding 5. William Johnston 6. Perry 7. Lacoste 8. Budge 9. Kramer 10. Crawford
Women: 1. Lenglen 2. Wills 3. May Sutton 4. Dorothy Douglass Chambers 5. Marble 6. Round 7. Connolly 8. Brough 9. Hart 10. Wynne Bolton.
He did mention for the mens others such as Sedgman, Patterson, Beals Wright, Hoad, McLouglin, Rosewall and Trabert would be up there in the next ten. In the case of the French muskateers he chose Lacoste as the best of the four but mentioned Cochet and Borotra. He omitted ranking Segura and Gonzales as he had limited knowledge of their games and only saw them infrequently.

Wonderful post. I'll have to see if these books are still available.

urban
07-06-2009, 07:09 AM
The Recnizek book of 1968, has no precise dates, when these lists originated. The article refers to a Hillyard-list (maybe the one, Elegos mentions), but doesn't cite it. From the players included, on gets a rough dating. One thing is certain, that Laurie had made a lasting impression on the writers, some 25 years or more after his retirement. And another message is, that, 1930 to 1950, Tilden was seen far and away as the greatest player, long after his retirement, and even with titans like Budge, Vines or Kramer emerging. This is reflected in a AP poll of 1950, when Tilden won the best player of half century award, by the biggest margin of all athletes, far more than Ruth or Man 0'War (a horse). Also as late as 1969, Tilden still topped the polls conducted by people like Danzig, Tingay and Hopman. No wonder, that Laver just yesterday mentioned Tilden as a possible goat candidate, whom the actual press has long forgotten.

hoodjem
07-06-2009, 07:22 AM
Yep. We need great players to know their history.

pc1
07-06-2009, 07:51 AM
The Recnizek book of 1968, has no precise dates, when these lists originated. The article refers to a Hillyard-list (maybe the one, Elegos mentions), but doesn't cite it. From the players included, on gets a rough dating. One thing is certain, that Laurie had made a lasting impression on the writers, some 25 years or more after his retirement. And another message is, that, 1930 to 1950, Tilden was seen far and away as the greatest player, long after his retirement, and even with titans like Budge, Vines or Kramer emerging. This is reflected in a AP poll of 1950, when Tilden won the best player of half century award, by the biggest margin of all athletes, far more than Ruth or Man 0'War (a horse). Also as late as 1969, Tilden still topped the polls conducted by people like Danzig, Tingay and Hopman. No wonder, that Laver just yesterday mentioned Tilden as a possible goat candidate, whom the actual press has long forgotten.

Rod is so modest and knowledgeable about tennis history.

I would guess that a lot of the writers and of course players who saw Tilden were still alive and also the memory of his play was still embedded in their minds. He must have been something. His records clearly show him to be overqualifed to be a GOAT.

The great thing about today is that we have video of all the great players today and we have a lot of video of Laver and other greats so we can see have they played. It's unfortunate we don't have much video of players like Laver, Gonzalez or Rosewall at their peaks.

I've noticed on some of the Youtube videos that Krosero has that some commented that they didn't realize Laver hit the ball very hard until they saw him in action.

Yep. We need great players to know their history. Yes we do.

Borgforever
07-06-2009, 08:22 AM
Great post. Fascinating elegos7. These lists give quite a resonance to my research. Here's impressions from other sources I've come across:


In 1924 in his book ‘Forty years of first class lawn tennis’ George Hillyard (formerly a good British player and a secretary of The All England Lawn Tennis Club) compiled a list of the best players of all time, each of whom at his best would have beaten any player outside this list also at his best.
9 men: Ernest and Willie Renshaw (nothing to choose between them), Joshua Pim (at his best perhaps the greatest), Laurie and Reggie Doherty (Reggie the better in head-to-heads), Norman Brookes, Tony Wilding, Bill Johnston, Bill Tilden.
Closely behind them are: Wilmbledon champions Lawford, Hamilton, W. Baddeley, Mahony, A. Gore, Patterson. The Dohertys had the highest opinion of Whitman, but he has not played in England. Four more men should also have won Wimbledon with a bit of luck: Lewis, Eaves, Smith, Kingscote.

George Hillyard probably knew what he was talking about. George won the Olympic doubles gold medal playing with Reggie and met both him and Laurie on the court throughout his career. He was more friends with Reggie though, which might make him biased favoring Reggie.

Though there are several things I've found that contradicts this notion that Reggie was superior to "Little Do". Everybody said Laurie, easily was the best tactician and strongest psychologically of the two -- and Reggie was known as a great general as well as for his perfect technique.

Myers' implies this in his evaluation of them in the 1920s.

There's also the evidence that when they met in their famous Wimby-final 1898 it was a pure exxo-vibe around it all, the brothers not caring if the line-judges were there or any ball-boys. Laurie played elegantly but without his usual killer competitiveness and created rallies that were virtual "sitters" for his brother's instantly killing powershots from the baseline and up at the net. But he mysteriously hung in there like he controlled the business entirely -- himself being not far away from victory in the sets.

The final was played over a dark sky. Two times the final was interrupted and the the green, huge cover was drawn over the centrecourt for for about an hour each time -- while play had been going on for several games in a slight hazy drizzle.

A lacklustre affair. Reggie had match-point in the fourth set at 5-4 but mysteriously lost it so the gallery was given a fine five-setter showdown that the papers had been so much anticipating!

And this sounds the most eerie: Every spectator agreed that Reggie couldn't have won the third set no matter how great he played!? Everybody new that Reggie, when in form, which he was more often than not this year and the next (although Reggie suffered from a car-accident right before the 1899 Wimby-final but in a fantastic final came back from hampered movement and 0-2 in sets to outclass a very inspired and young, slugging Agassi-type player in Arthur Gore).

So how great was Laurie playing if the consensus was that he ruled the third set of their 1898 Wimby-final even if his brother showed that play that triple-bageled Count Victor Voss in the big Nice 1899 final?

There's several hints in articles that saying "and Laurie, probably the better of the two" many times from 1902 and on even if everyone still gushes over Reggie's prowess.

Then you have Laurie's own enigmatic words in an interview around 1903 -- at his peak when he toyed with everyone everywhere 98% of the time:

"I grew up playing my brothers R. F. and W. V. They were very good players and I was not as big as they were. So when we were younger I couldn't hit as severe as I can now and certainly not like they could back then. So I was forced to find other ways to defeat them. It was a long walk.

INTERVIEWER: You did?

"Everyone has weaknesses. The one who finds his opponents weakness the fastest and has the resource, agility and skill in his shots to put pressure on these points wins the match."

Another interview with Reggie:

"Interviewer: H. L. has defeated you maybe more than once?

R. F.: "When skill has reached a certain point, the man who can keep returning the ball most steadily will win."

H. L. also blasted their rivals with bigger numbers right at the same time his brother wasn't in poor health and otherwise produced great results. That goes for every year except a couple of at the max three of their eleven seasons together.

The level of Reggie was known to be unstoppable and supreme at its best.

The level of Laurie was unknown. His were never really tested in his prime...

Borgforever
07-06-2009, 08:52 AM
Can you even imagine how it would be if you, like Laurie, grew up practicing with a GOAT-contender like Reggie was, only three years older?

Couldn't have a better training partner could you?

"Here's Rod Laver, he won the Grand Slam last year -- and here's his younger brother, slightly stronger built in body and faster in court-coverage, an even better head on this one than Rod they say -- is that possible? Five years younger, his daily practice partner, Rock Laver. As you see Rock's got a right, playing underarm the size of an American football which he swings effortlessly at will like a bullwhip..."

Borgforever
07-06-2009, 09:45 AM
Closely behind them are: Wilmbledon champions Lawford, Hamilton, W. Baddeley, Mahony, A. Gore, Patterson. The Dohertys had the highest opinion of Whitman, but he has not played in England. Four more men should also have won Wimbledon with a bit of luck: Lewis, Eaves, Smith, Kingscote.

Yes, fine choices. All these guys has fine merits according to sources I've come across.

Especially Whitman, who beat Reggie when he was good but Whitman great, no small feat. Laurie never played him but expressed deep regret he lacked opportunity. Whitman was a master, a supreme defensive specialist who also had a great head, speed and fine volleying skills. He could trick you with a strange underarm-spin serve as well as a reverse twist serve for which he could disguise like a chameleon. And Malcolm Whitman was probably a couple of years past his real peak when he faced R. F. in 1902.

Smith of course, S. H. Smith, Sidney H. Smith -- "Smith of Stroud" -- "The Slog" -- the world's most accurate and hardest/fastest forehand ever. The original inside-out forehand. Participated in three All Comer's finals at Wimby around the turn of the century back then and was considered only bested by R. F. back then for several years around his peak at 27 to 33 years of age. Extremely fast, won sprint races, won the first Badminton championships of England. He was an extremely snobbish player who rarely traveled only competing on British soil, preferably grass courts. And the heave clouds of chalk-smoke his loopy Lendl/Nadal/Federer-forehand produced on his opponents side of the court made everyone recognize as close to the best in the world.


In 1932 in his book ‘Memory's Parade’ Wallis Myers compiled a list of the best players all-time.
1. Tilden and L.Doherty (with Tilden perhaps slightly ahead) 3. R.Doherty 4. Cochet 5. Johnston 6. Brookes 7. Lacoste 8. Wilding 9. Borotra 10. Patterson 11.Gore.

Yes, fascinating. Myers' doesn't make any judgments on Tilden over H. L. or the other way around. He says that Tilden might've taken Laurie but hesitates. That is important. This was also 1932. Tilden's brilliance fresh in the eyes. Still hesitation. Myers died suddenly in 1939 never revising this list. And R. F. even as number three considering the other names on the list. With Brookes and Wilding there as well he is implying that the 1895 to 1914 era was stronger and more filled with greatness -- including the growth of the game in the meantime and with the increase in the pool of players.


In 1948 in his book John Olliff compiled a list of the 20 best-ever men in the 20th century. His list is as follows.
1. Tilden 2. L. Doherty 3. Lacoste 4. Vines 5. Cochet 6. Perry 7. R. Doherty 8. Budge 9. Brookes 10. Riggs 11. Wilding 12. Johnston 13. Borotra 14. von Cramm 15. Kramer 16. Crawford 17. McLouglin 18. Patterson 19. S. Wood
20. Austin.

Even in 1948, four decades after H. L. put his racquet and prime away, with no videos reminding people of aspects of his quality, just hazier recollections growing fainter as they are relentlessly rough-checked by the ever flowing new waves of eye-popping, inventive talent and new developments. Proof of stunning shelf-life. I mean Tilden was playing when he wrote this. No one had ever seen H. L.'s greatness for 42 years basically...


In 1956 Norman Brookes ranked in his book "Crowded Galleries" the Top10 players he had played against or had seen play for both men and women:
Men: 1. Tilden 2. RF Doherty 3. HL Doherty 4. AF Wilding 5. William Johnston 6. Perry 7. Lacoste 8. Budge 9. Kramer 10. Crawford
Women: 1. Lenglen 2. Wills 3. May Sutton 4. Dorothy Douglass Chambers 5. Marble 6. Round 7. Connolly 8. Brough 9. Hart 10. Wynne Bolton.
He did mention for the mens others such as Sedgman, Patterson, Beals Wright, Hoad, McLouglin, Rosewall and Trabert would be up there in the next ten. In the case of the French muskateers he chose Lacoste as the best of the four but mentioned Cochet and Borotra. He omitted ranking Segura and Gonzales as he had limited knowledge of their games and only saw them infrequently.

Fascinating. Even here he had them near at the top. Brookes, must be said, only saw 1905 Laurie and a few times in doubles after that I guess after 1906 and 1910. So everything that they did before 1905 he had never seen. Laurie wasn't what he was in 1905 even compared to 1904. If 1903 is 100%, the sources imply 1904 90% and 1905 80% and 1906 75-80% and then from 1907-1910 only flashes of his former brilliance, a ghost of himself...

pc1
07-07-2009, 08:04 AM
Can you even imagine how it would be if you, like Laurie, grew up practicing with a GOAT-contender like Reggie was, only three years older?

Couldn't have a better training partner could you?

"Here's Rod Laver, he won the Grand Slam last year -- and here's his younger brother, slightly stronger built in body and faster in court-coverage, an even better head on this one than Rod they say -- is that possible? Five years younger, his daily practice partner, Rock Laver. As you see Rock's got a right, playing underarm the size of an American football which he swings effortlessly at will like a bullwhip..."

There is actually a family in the game of chess with three great players. They are the World Famous Polgar sisters. All great world class players, Judit (probably the best of the three) only competes in Men's events and Susan was the Women's World Champion and Sofia is a tremendous player also.

hoodjem
07-07-2009, 08:14 AM
Sounds like I need to add a Doherty to my GOAT-list.

(More research and study is needed.)