HUGH LAWRENCE DOHERTY (1875-1919) - GOAT-contender

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Borgforever, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    HUGH LAWRENCE DOHERTY (1875-1919) – GOAT-contender, was born appropiately in Wimbledon three years after his famous older brother. Called “H. L.” or “Little Do” (as opposed to his much taller brother called “Big Do”) by the press – he seemed to be called “Laurie” by his closest friends.

    Laurie Doherty’s achievements are more or less still unmatched even a hundred years after he retired.

    Her can be credited with winning and holding every major tournament of his day, on every surface, on every continent and most of them for several years by far outshining his famous brother.

    NOTE: In this study I've focused mainly on Lawrence's and Reginald's singles careers since their record in doubles is simply unique -- only two recorded losses during their prime 1896-1906 -- I lack the words to express the level of admiration I hold for that record!

    If we look at the incomplete records that we have during his 11 year career 1896-1906:

    Tournament wins: 61 (starting in 81 tournaments) winning 75.30% of all tourneys entered on our record
    Finals/Challenge Round-finals: 11
    Losses on record: 20 (real match-losses – including chivalrous w/o)

    Compare this to his great brother who "only" won 28 tournaments (16 losses including w/o having started in 44 singles championships) winning 63.63% of all tourneys entered on our record.

    Hugh Lawrence Doherty:

    Olympics Gold 1900 (singles and doubles)

    USO 1903 (First GS-major won without set-loss)

    Davis Cup – 4 times in a row: 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906

    Wimbledon – 5 times in a row: 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906 - final 1898

    Queens Indoor – 6 times in a row: 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906

    The South of France Championships, Place Mozart, Nice – 7 times in a row: 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906

    Golden Grand Slam 1903 – holder of every major championship – Davis Cup, Olympics, Wimbledon, USO, Queens Indoor, The South of France Championships plus many other championships and everyone of the majors he won in doubles with his brother this year since they were undefeated and this fact raises his win-loss record for 1903 to about app. 80 – 0!

    H. L. was undefeated in singles and doubles in Davis Cup

    Undefeated streak on all surfaces including every championship on every continent: 3 years and 3 months
    (July 1901- October 1904)

    Retires as undefeated and undefeated holder of every major championship on every available surface in 1906.

    His win-loss record in singles for the year 1903 has been stated as app: 45-0 -- 80-0 including doubles!

    He also won the first major tourney without set-loss - USO 1903 – 130-44 (174) for a 74.71 % game-winning percentage

    19 major championships (arguably of Grand Slam-status of the day -- 24 major championship titles including Davis Cup and the Olympics Gold) although I would contend the Olympics field wasn't the deepest or strongest.

    If you include all 8 Wimby titles in doubles (with R. F. of course), 2 USO-doubles titles and 4 Davis Cup doubles titles, 9 British Covered Court doubles championships at Queen's indoors and some other doubles titles H. L. ends up with an arguable and just unbelievable total of over 40 major titles (!!!) in 10 years during a hotly contested era on several continents.

    These were the Grand Slam-major championships of the era. Wimbledon on fast grass, US Nationals/Newport/USO played on slightly slower grass, Queens was the unofficial world indoor championship played on superfast wood-tiles and the big South of France Championship at the Place Mozart, Nice was arguably the forerunner to today’s French Open, i. e. the greatest red clay championship in France of the era.

    As you see above Laurie Doherty started to win every one of these majors and then kept on winning them reaching his summit in 1903 winning every one in spectacular fashion. He didn’t return to defend his USO-title in 1904 but few doubt that he would’ve failed had he done so had todays comfortable travel been available. During these days traveling was extremely ardous – going by steamer for weeks since the airplanes was just being invented by the Wright-brothers just that same year in 1903.

    The others (Wimby, Nice, Queens) for the following years being the only player in history to retire with so many big titles (having won them all many times in succession) while still being the holder.

    In 1903 he had the “Golden Grand Slam”-title with the Olympic Gold Medal in singles and doubles, Wimbledon, USO, Queens Indoor, SOF Nice, Davis Cup and at least an additional five tournaments having achieved 10 tournament wins. He also was undefeated this year (as he had been in for half of 1901, the whole of 1902 and even deep into the fall of 1904 – having a three year and three month stretch as undefeated).

    What has been the most important factors in determining Laurie Doherty’s achievements in tennis has been the strength of his rivals and the strength of the fields as well as reading a lot of witness accounts and reading up on the records of players who kept playing from his era and still performed well against the greats in the 1920s.

    I will go into a short career era overview/analysis before I go into the real meat and potatoes and add comments from witness, rivals and contemporaries.

    Then follows the post including my new, updated records of both the brothers so you can study the results yourselves that I have a running commentary for.

    I will also explain quite clearly in somewhat in-depth his main rivals – all his great contemporaries in composite quotes from their rivals so you get a dynamic image yourselves of how these players made their impression in matches. It will make the scores come alive.

    This era is not to be underrated.

    Harry Hopman, Sir Norman Brookes and A. Wallis Myers and the referee F. R. Burrow all rated Hugh Lawrence Doherty as a serious GOAT-contender and there’s enough evidence to suggest that had Laurie having a career today he could’ve matched the other greats – with todays smooth traveling, a lot more scientific in the discipline and ten times better technique and equipment.

    The racquet-heads of the early 1900s was slightly bigger than in the 30s to early 1980s and the balls (many Ayres-balls) looked like the ones today but they were weighing about 40 grams average until todays 52 grams was cemented in the 1910s and 1920s.

    The game of tennis was during this time a bit faster, more explosive than the game played from 1910 onwards. A little bit retro development mirroring slighty what happened in our age from early 1980 onwards…
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
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  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Wonderful. I was waiting for this.:)
     
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  3. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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  4. sp00q

    sp00q Rookie

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    Great piece! Can't wait to read the rest of it.
     
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  5. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Great post!

    HL Doherty was indeed the uncontested GOAT up to the mid-20s and still is a GOAT contender today, and thanks to you he will be a little less forgotten.

    Regarding, the 'Queens indoors', I take it you're referring to the 'British Covered Court' tournament, I did not know it took place in Queen's actually.

    As for the clay record, I agree that Laurie dominated the Riviera circuit at least from 1904 to 1906 (in 1902-03), his brother, who did not play in England anymore and stayed in Southern France might have been a bit better.
    At the risk of nitpicking, I would just add that the Nice tournament wasn't really the 'Roland Garros' of that time. From the articles of these years I could read, I had the impression that it was more like a circuit of big events, including Nice, as well as the Riviera championships in Menton, 2 events in Cannes, and also Monte-Carlo.
    Anyway, Laurie had a great record in every one of them.

    One last thing, that I think is very important: the 'brotherly gallantry' of the Doherty brothers can be easily forgotten if you don't look at the records in details. The fact is that there are only a few occasions hen the brothers played in a big match, usually one of them simply defaulted.
    They seemed to have decided to alternate in this respect, but I always felt that in the very big matches, Laurie had retired more often than Reggie. Examples that spring to mind include the 1901 Irish. Laurie had brilliantly beaten the best players of the world in the All-Comers. His brother was sick that year (he would lose his Wimbledon crown later), and Laurie defaulted. So Reggie 'won' a third consecutive Irish (almost equally prestigious to Wimbledon at the time). Laurie was the true winner of that event. In the 1902 US Championships Laurie again defaulted. Reggie would go on to lose against defending champion Larned. Laurie would beat Larned in that same championship in 1903. One can't help thinking that he could have probably done it a year earlier as well.

    Keep up the good work, Borgforever!!

    Jonathan
     
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  6. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    OVERVIEW OF DOHERTY'S ERA:

    I will here first give a brief run-through of the development of tennis that further elaborated on in the following texts. Just to get a quick orientation for the rest.

    Tennis became extremely popular in the 1850s and 1860s culminating in the "modern" rules being established in the 1870s when many tennis clubs all over the world started to pop up in a tennis epidemic.

    When it comes to expertise the first years didn't have great quality. From let's say 1877-1885, even including William Renshaw, the level was just so-so. During the mid 1880s though the scientific model of practicing and learning the classic strokes of today started full throttle. You need probably to start playing tennis in a young age and develop with focus for 8-10 years before reaching top level skills -- providing you have great talent.

    The style in the beginning was too "home-spun" while real greatness would wait to take stage until the mid 1890s -- during Pim and Baddeley and the crop of players who flourished during this era and around the turn of the century.

    The main negative aspect in "high-level" tennis in 1870s and 1880s was a weak second serve -- this defect was remedied in the early 1890s and at that stage many big tournaments had popped up all over the world -- indoor season during the late fall and winter months, clay season on mainland Europe during the spring (a few indoor tourneys in late spring), then the English grass season followed by the a few red clay tourneys in August (Homburg Cup et al) while the American grass season was traditionally during late July and August. Many similarities with today even back then.

    The tourneys were many and big -- even in the 1890s many of them had men's singles draws of about a hundred players -- only Wimbledon tried to maintain the "exclusive" play-off aura with a 50-70 man draw -- built upon all the rankings that flourished.

    Tennis has always been one of the most complex and mysterious games on our planet. You can win from any position having, in theory, a billion match-points against you.

    Another aspect is the utter lack for logic when it comes to greatness. All through tennis-history we find unbelievable things. USA with 250-300 million people and a lot of public tennis courts even in the 1880s should've had even more No. 1s and elite players than they've had. Sweden with 8-9 million should statistically never have even one No. 1 (they've had 3), Switzerland shouldn't have Federer either and how in the world did Australia with 15 million people produce Laver, Rosewall, Brookes, Patterson, Newcombe, Sedgman, Cash, Lew Hoad and many, many others? Where's India with it's billion population and all their tennis courts and players?

    And then USA produces two of the greatest and most unique players of all time -- almost at the same time -- John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Tennis lacks a lot of logic.

    If John McEnroe was filmed just in close up doing his shots (and no one knew how successful he was/is) a classic tennis expert would probably say: "He won't go far -- check out his nonchalant, sloppy "junk-shots", chippin', dinking..."

    Well, McEnroe during his peak almost unbeatable because he had an innate tennis skill (without much practice) and was a born competitor. Unique traits. Even Connors is hard to understand. A player with such clean ball-striking, totally flat, with almost no safe margin, how can that guy be so successful as a baseline basher?

    Logically that doesn't compute. Jimbo should shank more shots than he did. Why didn't Sampras lose to Ivanisevic when the latter hit so many aces and winners? Why didn't Borg lose to Vitas when Gerulaitis hit so many winners and made so few errors? No one would've believe that Jimbo, with his lack of error margin and his "weak" serve could defeat the great grass king Johnny Mac in Wimby final...

    But he did anyway...

    Special competitive skill is the answer. And innate tennis skill.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
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  7. pc1

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    Borg,

    Wonderful post not only for the overview on the Doherty era but on how you just can't make a snap judgment on players on recent years and in the past.

    I have a number of books on the playing style of the Dohertys but I'd be curious on your description and evaluation of the stroking style and technique of the Dohertys.
     
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  8. Borgforever

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    The "invasions" and dominations by a single, different country have been plentiful -- who can say why a nation suddenly produces a whole slew of great players? But it happens in era after era -- unerringly...

    In the 1880's, 1890s and early 1900s it was Britain who dominated -- with Ireland "invading" in the 1890's with Hamilton, Pim and Mahony. Then some Frenchmen, Americans, Belgians, Germans and Australians joined the fray for real with many other countries having fine players.

    In short, and as soon you will read directly from witnesses of this era (don't take my word or it) taken as a whole 1880 to about 1920 (before Tilden) the two best players on every surface was -- according to the majority of historians, journalists and experts:

    Red Clay: Anthony Wilding (who bageled people like Borg on dirt) and then Laurie Doherty.

    Grass: Laurie Doherty followed by Larned, USA (special mention Pim (Ireland)/Brookes (Australia)/McLoughlin (USA)/Wilding (New Zeeland)

    Indoor: André Gobert, France (McEnroe on indoor wood) followed by Laurie Doherty (who won more titles than André but wasn't as murderous)

    I will dwell deeper on the Dohertys indivual years when we get to the records but as a final overview before we get to the witness accounts of the Dohertys game-style and time in detail -- I will chart the era simply as follows:

    Reginald Frank Doherty was born 1872 and he and his younger brother had a lot of physical problems -- asthma (called respiratory problems) and ulcers (digestive problems) and were very susceptible to infections. This was the era before modern medicine, even antibiotics were decades away and very few effective remedies existed for any malady. This situation was worsened by the fact that the knowledge of medicine was so limited that the wrong diagnosis was more common than a correct one.

    The Dohertys had a tough time to say the least. The built a grass court and started to take tennis lessons and they lived a stones throw from the classic Wimbledon-complex at Worple Road. They practiced with enormous energy and got a better health as a result but Reggie was always never really well.

    They got known as young junior players -- winning many tournaments but went to University (Cambridge) and didn't enter the tennis tour until they graduated in 1895.

    Before them tennis had been characterized as follows:

    1877-1881 Mindless baseline-bashing and low quality when suddenly a great baseliner with enormous consistency and topspin: Herbert Lawford.

    1881-1886 William Renshaw, the father of serve and volley and the grass court game, became the antidote to Lawford's consistency at the back of the court. William attacking relentlessly, serve and volley-style, being a sort of McEnroe/Nastase-guy. Lawford was overwhelmed.

    1888-1890 The antidote to William Renshaw comes in the shape of more complex players such as Ireland's Willhoughy Hamilton, a a fast, guileful retrieving baseliner who attacked with greatness too.

    1891-1896 The complexity and strength is established with many contrasting styles (Joshua Pim (McEnroe-style) - Wilfred Baddeley (Borg-Laver-style -- allround and baseline) - Arthur Gore and Sidney Smith (baseliners like Borg and Agassi) - Ernest Lewis/Barlow (serve and volleyers) - and Harold Mahony (allround like Laver and Federer)

    Then came Reggie, or "R. F." or "Big Do" as the newspapers called him. He was an allround player with a foundation as an aggressive baseliner. He became No. 1 in 1897 and more or less kept this top position but he was never that dominating while his game-style certainly was from time to time.

    As Sgt. John mentions -- Laurie gave a lot of tourneys to R. F. on w/o and certainly in 1898 I feel certain Laurie was the real No. 1, beating everyone else with much bigger scores than R. F. plus that he gave w/o to Reggie at Wimby and at many other key stages, virtually gifting away the 1898 No. 1-spot.

    But from 1900-1906 Laurie Doherty just explodes. One wonders what his records would've been had he enjoyed, as Sgt. John suggest, "free reign" -- not only from his obviously cumbersome w/o-responsibility but also from the problematic traveling conditions of the age.

    Laurie reitres because of health reasons after Wimby in 1906 but he appears at a few tourneys in between 1907 to 1910 before he permanently retires.

    When Laurie did make his tiny "comebacks" the attention and buzz were enormous and the papers covered quite extensively these few "happenings". Doherty -- with his limitless success had definitely the mysterious aura of Bear Fortress...
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
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  9. Q&M son

    Q&M son Professional

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    Great thread, great posts.

    Thanks.
     
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  10. Borgforever

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    These quotes are taken from magazines THE FIELD and DAILY TELEGRAPH plus a few other papers. I've seen several of similar articles in shorter and longer versions in different publications but I've chosen the most extensive ones first and foremost. After these I will add Sir Norman Brookes comments on the Dohertys.

    “The Doherty brothers, however, form a brilliant exception to the general stagnation of the last few years up in our modern day (written in early 1903). As their play is so well known on both sides of the Atlantic, I shall only touch on it briefly.

    R. F. Doherty possesses the severer strokes, his service in particular being unrivalled; the delivery is so easy that he hardly seems to put an ounce of work into it; yet the length and pace are superb, and he can place it right out to the side or down the centre line with perfect precision. He only uses top-spin occasionally on his forehand, but it is freely employed backhanded.

    H. L. Doherty brings an amount of sagacity, activity and attention to bear on the game that renders him quite as formidable an antagonist as his brother. His service, as deadly as his older brother’s while not as immediately spectacular, owns a infinite variety in placement, spin and speed. His unmatched overall consistency and strategical acumen is mind-boggling. He uses a lot of top-spin on both flanks on his ground shots and his low, deadly volleys are etched in many a memory. While he can kill with remarkable precision and unpredictability, from any position with practically any kind of shot and has a defense that has been proven so fast and elastic as to have never been broken - his extraordinary power of killing lobs from almost anywhere is a most striking feature of his play.” (Harold Mahony, 1904)

    The Dohertys were the gentlemen of the centre court. They came to it first as Cambridge undergraduates, and throughout their long reign until the end the impression of unsophisticated chivalry, of the best university tradition, was preserved. Their demeanour, on court as well as off, was ever unassuming and free from "side" Just as their skill as players came unconsciously and without strain, so their manners as men were natural and without affectation. Others, more eager and rigorous in training, might deposit their towels, sponges, and stimulants on the umpire's ladder; the Dohertys used nothing more formidable than a pocket-handkerchief, carried in the trousers pocket, and rarely, if ever, took refreshment between the sets.

    Their attitude to the officials of the court was that of quiet compliance. They never disputed an umpire's decision either by word or sign, nor betrayed annoyance if their opponents were less amenable. It was a sheer pleasure to play against them, nor was that pleasure ever qualified by defeat at their hands. On the very few occasions of their own defeat, I never heard either express resentment nor urge an extenuating circumstance, though it was well known that Reggie in his later matches had shed some of his physical ardour.

    Their influence over their fellow-players, while exerted quite unconsciously, was incalculable. It has never been played either before or since with more chivalrous sportsmanship. Nor could their irreproachable demeanour fail to influence the crowd who watched them play and, beyond it, the public outside. As players they were, while champions, in a class apart; as men and sportsmen they were typically of the best class.

    All who knew them intimately will testify to their personal charm. None will fail to regret their early death. I heard of Reggie's death in Cape Town.

    The South Africans honoured him as much as the members of the All England Club. Only two years previously they had seen him win the South African championship without turning a hair and so gracefully that they would fain have kept him in their country for all time.

    What impressed them most, I think, was his ability to attract the ball to his own hand. Others might cover miles of territory, chasing his returns; he would seem to be standing still. I believe it to be a fact that throughout the whole of George Hillyard's long tour, R. F. used the same pair of rubber shoes, while every other member of the team wore out several pairs.

    WHO WAS THE BEST OF HL AND RF?

    Speculation has often been raised as to which was the better of the two brothers. It is one of those questions, like the merits of classic horses, that can never be answered conclusively. Neither was a gladiator; neither sought fame; they rarely played each other a serious match; you could only apply to them a relative test. Since Laurie was longer in the field, and therefore required to combat a game intensified by the specialists from overseas, his record is undoubtedly superior to Reggie's, and I think that, lighter in weight, faster on foot, and nimbler in attack and possibly in mind as well, he was the greater match player of the two. But as a perfect stylist, for ease and elegance of stroke play, for a quiet and natural genius which allowed him to place the ball exactly where it should go, to the maximum embarrassment of his opponent, for sheer instinctive aptitude, Reggie was first.

    Had Nature supplied him with a hardier physique, the few defeats which he sustained might never have occurred. Certainly he was not in a fit condition to defend his championship for the last time in 1901. Indeed, the match between Gore and George Hillyard in a previous round (a match which Hillyard has good cause to remember, for he lost it by a net-cord) was regarded, even at the time, as the gate to the throne. Reggie showed us in the first set how he could have beaten Gore again; then his small reserve of stamina was exhausted and Gore's cannon-ball drives, shot unerringly into the corners, had their reward. Similarly, to leave the centre court for a moment, R. F.'s failure to win the American Singles Championship at Newport in 1902 was due to limitations of vitality. He had to finish off his final against Whitman (adjourned overnight) in the morning and then to tackle Larned, the holder, in the afternoon. On that day the linen collars of the spectators were converted into pulp; the great heat, which Larned seemed to revel in, drained R. F.'s resources. Yet, though he did not meet the giants of today, Reggie was a peerless player."
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
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  11. the_drunken_master

    the_drunken_master Banned

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    magnificent post

    BF, i do love your analysis of players, you really bring a human side to tennis greats.... actually i learned alot about borg the man because of you
     
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  12. Borgforever

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    Before I go on I must add this:

    Not all tourneys of the day had applied the Challenge Round-system. The Challenge Round-system developed out of the theories in boxing of the day. There was the thought that if you won the title, you should have privileges. In boxing then you had to knock out the champ (you could not win on points) and the challengers must fight each other to qualify for the position as contender for the title.

    In short, the Wimbledon tourney was a challenger-tourney, a hornet's nest, were the finest contenders would battle it out for the tough opportunity of facing the champion. It was tougher for the challenger of course and made it easy for the reigning champion on first sight.

    But soon the problems with this system and tennis surfaced. Every reigning champ complained about the toughness of not playing a match during the whole tourney -- just staring at the others.

    It was nerve-wrecking and in tennis being rested is good but if you lack real match-play and the confidence that autmatically comes with that as a bonus it hard to make a good impression on D-day.

    Every champion in the 1890s complained and wanted to play the field to sharpen the skills.

    Laurie offered to play the field in 1903, 1904 and 1905 but was dismissed. This was before seeding and while the spectators wanted to see the best contender against the popular champ, guaranteed -- they didn't want to risk the champ falling too early.

    Tony Wilding also offered to play the field in 1911 and 1914, was turned down. There's a huge consensus that the Challenge Round was responsible for Wilding poor perf against Brookes in 1914. And it wasn't the first time.

    Many thought that Challenge Round was infinitely tougher and more punishing -- walking out there, feeling the pressure, seeing the dead stare of your seasoned, battle-hardened opponent surfing on his form...

    Many tourneys during the day didn't apply Challenge Rounds and everybody played through every year -- such as The South of France Championships...
     
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  13. Borgforever

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    THE DOHERTYS AS A TEAM ON COURT (The Field, article “Study of the Dohertys as a team”)
    None of the Americans in the early 1900s, with the possible exception of Larned, had the ground shots of the modern Americans. That fact should be borne in mind in estimating Tilden's chances against an H. L. of 1921.

    The Dohertys trod the centre-court as doubles champions for eight years; save for two defeats at the hands of the Gloucestershire pair, Sidney Smith and Frank Riseley, they were supreme for a decade. By the perfect symmetry of their combined forces, by the severity of their service returns, their low volleying, R. F.'s punishing service to H. L.'s always deadly service, over-head and volley-play from any part of the court, they formed a great pair; but it must not be supposed they were not in peril of defeat at Wimbledon, even in their championship years. The brothers were required to play a five-set match against Nisbet and Roper Barrett in 1900.

    A year later they were fighting every inch of the court to save their titles against Dwight Davis and Holcombe Ward. This redoubtable American pair the first of the really great pairs to cross the Atlantic gave an enormous fillip to Wimbledon. They had served, smashed, and lobbed their way through to the challenge round 'mid the cheers of a dazzled crowd. But for the incidence of rain, it is possible they would have won the doubles championship. When the match was stopped, both sides had won a set and were games- all in the third. On the morrow the challenge round was played de novo. There was another long and fierce struggle, and the Dohertys just survived it. An even closer double was that in 1905 when the Dohertys met Ward and Wright in the Davis Cup at Wimbledon.

    Wright was a sounder volleyer than Davis; the brothers must be given greater credit for this victory. A false step in the critical fifth set in which the Americans held the lead, and they would have gone down. As it was, Ward hit the net when making a simple smash one of those tragic blunders (of which I witnessed a parallel in Boston nine years later when Parke was playing Brookes) that, occurring when they do, are never forgotten. The following year and this was surely the forerunner of impending disaster the brothers were in some jeopardy against Ward and Little, who, in a four-set match, won twenty-three games to their thirty.

    Of the two occasions when the colours of the Dohertys were lowered on the centre court and by the same pair on each I retain a vivid recollection.

    In neither match was R. F. at his best; the machine, if not out of gear, was faulty. In between their two reverses the brothers had defeated Smith and Riseley on three successive occasions with something to spare.

    In 1906, when the brothers played together for the last time at Wimbledon, the elder Doherty was but a shadow of his former greatness. He was not only lobbing short and allowing Riseley to enjoy what E. G. Meers used to call a "meal at the net" but he was being lobbed over himself by Smith, who on that day tossed to perfection. This frailty on the part of Reggie had its debilitating effect on Laurie's play. Ever the wheel-horse of the team, he worked heroically to stave off disaster, but, with his brother incapacitated, he was asked to pull more than his weight. There was a similar, and even worse, disaster at Nice two years later when, returning as a pair for the last time to open competition, the brothers were beaten by Ritchie and Wilding.

    WIMBLEDON FINAL 1905
    HL Doherty vs Norman Brookes 8-6, 6-2, 6-4

    H. L. was the hero of many centre-court combats. After he first won the championship in 1902 he was never beaten at Wimbledon in a public single. I saw him wage all his matches. I remember vividly each phase of his encounter, so keenly anticipated, with Norman Brookes in 1905. A new-comer to Wimbledon, armed with a sinister service, an inscrutable countenance and a mien suggesting supreme confidence, the Australian had reached the challenge round over the dead bodies of Caridia, Hillyard, Riseley, Gore, and S. H. Smith. Only Smith really threatened (and almost stayed) his onward rush. Fifteen years ago, Brookes mainly employed a "googly" service into which he had been initiated by the wily Dr. Eaves at Melbourne, the "Doctor" returning quietly to England to back his fancy.

    Laurie, of course, had stood out of the All Comers, but his eyes and mind had not been idle. A tense crowd gathered to see this first really great international single at Wimbledon. Doherty won in three sets, though the first was close and threatening. His two visits to America had inured him to the terrors of the break service; he handled Brookes's deliveries with increasing confidence. Safer off the ground than his opponent, he was as well equipped on the volley and far more deadly overhead. He attacked the Australian's backhand corner (the forehand corner of a right-handed player) very adroitly, anticipating the angle of his reply and stowing away anything soft with definite finality.

    When Brookes was "the man in possession of the net" H. L. would lob with beautiful precision into that same corner, forcing the entrenched volleyer to turn his back on the net. Brookes had a sore heel and did not serve perhaps with so much fire as in his previous matches; moreover, he had borne the heat and burden of the All Comers struggle, from which H. L. had been exempt.

    Nevertheless, the better general and more versatile player earned his victory that day. Brookes was a sounder player two years later, when he came again and conquered in a field from which Doherty and Smith had retired; and he was certainly a more subtle challenger still, with better ground strokes, in 1914, his third championship year. I do not think H. L. beat the best Brookes, just as Brookes in 1914 did not beat the best Wilding. But the defeat of the invader in 1905 was a great feather in Laurie's cap almost the last to adorn his handsome head.

    H. L. played another volleyer on the same court a few weeks later Holcombe Ward, in the Davis Cup Challenge Round. The American was an even wider break server than Brookes and a perfect magician at low and stop volleys. While he had the strength to follow in his service, Ward was a very dangerous customer, and since he excelled himself on this occasion, Doherty found himself two sets down. This was a dramatic denouement', the Americans in the crowd held their breath. But Ward could not maintain the attack at such high pressure; he dropped back, first a foot, then a yard, finally behind the service line. Quickly and confidently, H. L. went on to his inevitable triumph, losing only three games in the last three sets.

    Another American volleyer Ralph Little led him two sets to one a year later. A spent force, he was a beaten man in the fourth and fifth sets. Two days afterwards a third American, William A. Larned, though not an inveterate volleyer like the other two, had a lead of two sets to one against the champion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
    #13
  14. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    “R. F. and H. L. chose Cambridge as their alma mater, and it is needless to say that both were immediately given their blues against Oxford, each being President of the club in turn, and neither losing a single match in an inter-' Varsity contest. Indeed, in 1896 Cambridge beat Oxford to the tune of eighteen matches to love. After coining down, their field naturally widened and the brothers began that attack on the principal meetings at home and abroad which has resulted in one long succession of triumphs. R. F. won the "All Comers" at Wimbledon in 1897, and by defeating H. S. Mahony, the holder of the championship, assumed the premier position, and retained it against all claimants for four successive years. In 1901, however, obviously not at his best, he was defeated by A. W. Gore, whose victory, though merited on the day's play, came as a surprise.

    H. L. entered the championship round for the first time in 1898, defeating H. S. Mahony; but the subsequent match with his brother was scarcely regarded as a serious effort on either side, and the latter was practically given a "walk over." The next appearance of the younger in the concluding stage was not made until last year, when, his brother having retired from the contest before competing a round, he met and vanquished Gore by three sets to one.

    If, individually, the brothers have held every important open championship, including that of Ireland, Scotland, and the South of France, as a pair they have only once been beaten in recent years in a championship match, and that was the memorable contest at Wimbledon last year, when S. H. Smith and F. L. Riseley wrested the Doubles Championship from their hands by the odd game after they had held it for five successive years. It is a most remarkable thing, but none the less true, that until that event happened only thrice since 1883 had couples, not brothers, won the Doubles Championship of England.

    In Dublin the Dohertys, as a pair, have now equalled their English record and retained the Irish Championship for five successive seasons; in the Scottish Doubles on the two occasions thev entered the lists, thev carried everything before them; and lastly their brilliant victory last August over Davis and Ward, at Newport, U.S.A., entitled them to be styled the Doubles Champions of America — the first Englishmen who have ever borne the trophy out of the States. In the covered courts the brothers have been equally successful. H. L. is now Covered Court Champion of Europe, as well as of England, while the brothers have held the Doubles Championship on the wood since 1898. In Mixed Doubles both have won countless prizes, and each has attained to the highest possible honour in this department of the game.

    There can be no question that the Dohertys — as a pair — have been for some time superior to any other in Europe or America. It is true they were beaten at Wimbledon last year; but it would be childish to balance one solitary defeat against an overwhelming list of unbroken successes. Whether, individually, either is the finest amateur in both hemispheres, is another matter on which opinions differ, as they do on a comparison of the brothers' respective merits. Lately, there has been a disposition on the part of the elder to allow the younger to step into his shoes; and as all cup holders probably know, once a position of supremacy is lost or relinquished, the Fates do not usually combine to restore its possession. A championship match at Wimbledon must be a great strain both on the nerves and the muscles; I am never really surprised when an "old champion," once deposed, decides to drop out of the lists altogether.

    It is said that the true test of a player's greatness is to find the leading racket-maker evolving a new racket and calling it after his name; and if this is the case the Dohertys have every reason to be proud of their achievements. Slazenger's "Doherty" racket, with its double centre-strings, is now almost universal among match players of the present day, both in this country and abroad. E. G. Meers and A. W. Gore are, by the way, other well-known players who have been honoured in the same way by the same eminent firm.

    When I first went to Queen's the Dohertys were as victorious under cover as on the turf of Wimbledon. Reggie did not aspire to win the singles championship, but H. L. held that title for six successive years, retiring with it in 1906.

    The covered court with its unyielding floor placed Norman Brookes at a disadvantage. The "work" on his service was moderated, but a more important factor the defensive character of his backhand off the floor was visible. On the other hand, the orthodox stroke production of R. F. was vindicated in every department. His perfect service length without break was just as effective as, and less tiring than, any American service; his return of service on both wings was equally good; he could make a winning volley from any position without undue strain.

    In the opinion of a great many players, amongst whom may be mentioned no less an authority than the present champion, Mr. H. L. Doherty, the floor of the Queen's is too fast. Through constant use the stain has worn off in many places and the boards have become quite polished. The consequence is a really hard hit stroke "skids," keeping so low as hardly to allow of a proper return being made from it, even if one is lucky enough to reach the ball at all."
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
    #14
  15. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    THE FRENCH AND EUROPEAN CLAY SEASON AND THE SIZE AND STRENGTH OF THE DRAWS

    Reigning kings and fallen monarchs have played and watched others play at the Beau Site. A list of its patrons would include not only most of those who have been crowned metaphorically at Wimbledon, but some who have been crowned in actuality at Westminster, Moscow, and Stockholm. The mother of the German ex-Crown Princess used to compete in the mixed doubles, so did the Grand-Duke Michael. The Duke of Cambridge once gave away the prizes, expressing regret that officers of the British Army had not benefited more by the physical training of lawn tennis. King Edward frequently came to see the Dohertys as he did at Homburg. King Gustav of Sweden, an avid devotee, has sampled the first court more than once. Mr. Balfour has played, and not without success, in one of its tournaments.

    The ana of the Beau Site would almost make an independent chapter. It would have to embrace some mention of the Beau Site fancy-dress balls, its freak matches, its supper-parties, even its billiard contests. No setting for lawn tennis throughout the world is quite so enchanting as the Beau Site garden; certainly no shrubs or flowers have listened to so much political and social gossip.

    When I first went out the centre of lawn tennis gravity was at the Place Mozart, Nice, the site of the Nice Club (NOTE: It was considered by many as the forerunner to the later French Open – the greatest red clay-court championship in the world – Laurie Doherty won it seven times retiring with it in 1906. While still considered a major clay-court championship in 1910s and 20s it had lost that stature). That institution still flourishes as of 1921 and has lately gained a new distinction by the appointment of M. Charles Lenglen, father of the incomparable Suzanne, as hon. secretary, his daughter practising almost daily on the club courts invariably against men, let me add. But because of its situation in the heart of a city, and consequently of its restricted space, the Nice Club, while retaining its traditions and the South of France championships, has shed some of its prestige both east and west, in the direction of Cannes and Monte Carlo. New and spacious courts for the Nice Club are planned, bringing Nice into line with other Riviera resorts.

    I read in the last annual report of the Lawn Tennis Association that 130 open tournaments were held under its aegis in 1920, and that the average field at each of these meetings was 120 competitors. Eastbourne catered for 1298 matches last September, little more than a year after Peace was officially signed at the end of the world's greatest war. In 1883 at Eastbourne there were only 114 matches on the tournament programme ; there were 384 in 1893, 571 in 1903 (during the era of the Doherty domination), and 1249 in I9I3 -- other popular tournaments can show a relative development. If we remember that, in many cases, the war disintegrated the machinery and dispersed the executive (many organisers sacrificing their lives in the great adventure), the recovery of the tournament immediately after the war is remarkable; the fact that new records have been established is even more noteworthy.

    Nor must we judge alone by open tournaments. These, after all, only exhibit the cream of competitive skill, though enthusiasts have been known in the past to enter at Wimbledon and elsewhere for the sole purpose of securing a seat in the competitors' stand. Behind the array of tournament players is a much larger army of club and private court players, and behind these again an increasing number of citizens who use the courts in public parks and open spaces. The great expansion in all directions, as manufacturers of lawn tennis goods will testify, is of comparatively recent growth. The flowing tide, while always perceptible, after the Dohertys had arrested a decline, took a violent sweep forward when the American serve and volleyers came over in sequence early in the new century, and when these were followed by the Australasians, the French, the Germans, and other Continental envoys, a new scope and vitality were given to the game.

    Cannes has eight or nine open tournaments in 1921 to the two or three at Nice, while the Monte Carlo meeting at the end of February, always a cosmopolitan gathering with an attractive prize-list, now ranks as the piece de resistance of the season.

    In the late nineties, the Dohertys began to take pride of place on the Riviera, and for a decade they were nearly as invincible on its red, sun-dowered courts as elsewhere. At Monte Carlo they were ever a powerful magnet, with a following nearly as great as the modern Lenglen, and as popular and as unassuming off the court as on it. From 1897 to 1906 without a break one or other of the brothers won the Monte Carlo singles. Sometimes they both reached the final and played a fraternal match or half a match to please the gallery; they never would fight out, either here or in England, a blood battle between themselves. Was it surprising? They played solely for the love of the game; personal rivalry was unknown to them.

    But they did not always win their laurels easily, nor were they immune from defeat...

    The joint entry of the Dohertys and Smith and Riseley made the Monte Carlo meeting of 1903 especially memorable. At the same meeting the units of these pairs met in last rounds of the singles event. Smith's footwork, never so fluent as H. L.'s, was impeded on the sand surface; he could not run around his backhand as he could on grass. Playing chiefly from the back of the court, Laurie beat Smith 6-2, 6-2. Then he scratched to his brother, the holder, in the semi-final, and R. F. met Riseley, who had defeated Ritchie with something in hand.

    A great match followed. Riseley, reconciling his game to the red clay-court conditions, never his best, played in a manner that excited the enthusiasm of the crowd. In the third game of the first set, however, he had the misfortune to slip and cut his knee in an incident which delayed his challenge. R. F. Doherty was a set up and 5-3 when Riseley fought with great skill and courage. He squared the set, and level pegging was registered until "fourteen-all" when Reggie forfeited his service and his opponent went out at 16-14.

    Then Riseley retired, with both fairly well spent…

    1903 THE SOUTH OF FRANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS, Place Mozart, Nice, France
    Laurie Doherty vs Sidney Smith 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3

    A little later in the same season S. H. Smith, now more acclimatised, met H. L. in the final of the South of France championship at Nice. A terrific five-set match resulted, Smith winning the first two sets, the holder the next three. Laurie carried out his usual plan when engaging Smith; he ran "a hundred miles" from corner to corner, chasing the bombarding drives of his antagonist and waiting patiently for the chance to come up with a winner or mount a successful net-attack on something softer from Smith's backhand. It was a scheme of tactics the Americans who met Smith at Wimbledon could never assimilate, and doubtless did not possess the ground strokes to exploit.

    After he resigned the championship of Monte Carlo in 1906, H. L. was twice defeated in singles at there -- once in 1907 by his countryman, Josiah Ritchie, and again in 1909, after two years or comparable retirement from his racquet in-between, by F. B. Alexander, the American international. I witnessed both these memorable matches, and, while giving every credit to both victors, I do not think it can be said honestly that the hitherto undefeated ex-champion was at his best or brightest. First-class lawn tennis is an exacting taskmaster; no man can return to it and regain his touch and temper without assiduous practice. After-war results in 1919 proved that beyond question.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
    #15
  16. Borgforever

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    THE AMERICAN SEASON IN THE EARLY 1900s

    Of the tournaments, first in importance comes the Championship at Newport in August, where the entry list contains usually between fifty and sixty names. The courts are of turf, and the Championship Court, on which the most important matches are played, is one of the best in America or England, although not so fast as the centre court at Wimbledon. This, indeed, is the great difference between English and American courts.

    In the former, the ground is very hard and the turf cut very close. The bounce is very “true”, more like what one gets on one of our slow clay courts. The American courts, on the other hand, are not so fast, the ground is somewhat softer, and, owing to the heat of the sun, the grass cannot be kept so closely cut without ruining the turf. The courts of the Crescent Athletic Club (where the last International matches were held) are probably nearer the English standard than any we have, with the possible exception of those at St. George's, Hoboken.

    Next in importance to Newport comes the Longwood tournament, towards the end of July. As this event takes place only a few weeks before Newport, and as nearly every "First Ten" man enters, it forms- a good basis for speculation as to the probable winner of the Championship. Forty or fifty, I should say, is the average entry in Singles here.

    At the conclusion of the match it is the custom of the defeated man to walk up to the net and shake his opponent by the hand, at the same time congratulating him upon his good play.

    Unfortunately sometimes such congratulations are hardly sincere; when, for instance, the loser, tired but smiling, warmly shakes his victor's hand, saying, "Well played, old man, you certainly deserve it," he may be at the same time saying to himself, "If that beastly umpire hadn't made that wretched decision, you never would have won, you conceited dog."

    WILLIAM LARNED
    With regard to our leading men players, we have two distinct types — Lamed, who is brilliant, and Whitman, who is steady.

    Larned, the present Champion, is probably the truest type of the American style. His game is graceful and finished, his strokes are fast and clean-cut, his brilliancy and dash unsurpassed. He is equally good at backhand and forehand; both are made with a free and easy swing, apparently with little effort, the ball being hit at the top of the bound, with the racket held at almost right-angles with the body. In making his stroke, his racket passes over the ball, thus giving it a downward spin. He serves a fairly swift well-placed ball with little or no cut, and usually follows his service to the net. In volleying he is among the fastest and the most brilliant, and, owing to his agility, is a difficult man to pass. His overhead work is very accurate. He is skillful at concealing the direction of his smash until the last second, when a slight turn of the wrist sends the ball to the desired spot.

    Probably his weakest stroke is his lobbing, which he has but recently acquired to any degree of skill; he has improved greatly at this stroke, however, and now uses a short, deceptive lob as well as a high, deep one when forced out of position. With all these good qualities, together with his good sportsmanship, he makes an excellent champion and a most difficult man to beat. But, like most brilliant players, American and English, he is erratic; and although he has overcome this fault somewhat, still one can never be absolutely certain, until the match is over, just how well he will play. Although one of the nerviest of players, he is afflicted by conditions and one day may be invincible, and the next may be beaten, by a second-class player. He is something like the small individual of whom the poet says. "And when she was good she was very, very good, but when she was kid she was horrid: Fortunately, however, Larned s erratic days are becoming less frequent - Larned first came into prominence in the year 1892. And from that year until 1901, when he first won the Championship, was "the favourite" at Newport (excepting the Spanish War year, when he did not enter the Championship).

    Newport, however, alwavs seemed his Waterloo,"for, after playing through a season almoslt without a defeat, he would invariably lose in The Champtonship and sometimes after he had secured an apparently winning lead over opponent. In 1895, 1896 and 1897, he was rated second; in 1899 and afterwards; and by a large following was regarded the crowned champion" during all these years he never won.

    Finally in 1901 after overcoming to a great extent his old fault – unsteadiness - he won the Championship in a good example of what perseverance will do.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
    #16
  17. Borgforever

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    SOME THOUGHTS ON THE DOHERTYS AND TILDEN

    It may be claimed for the Dohertys that no American (Tilden included) has reproduced, even with less grace, the best strokes of these brothers. The back-hand drive of R. F. down the line and H. L/s faultlessly placed smash from any part of the court were, and still remain, incomparable.

    Two Americans before Tilden had reached the last stage at Wimbledon; both had failed, and against the same player, because their ground strokes were not equal to the strain of a long and exacting match. Their successor in 1920 was not as finished in some departments as these two certainly he was not so deadly overhead as McLoughlin but he was armed at points where they were not; the whole was greater than the part. I wish Tilden could have been put to the same test as Beals Wright and McLoughlin could have opposed Wilding in the challenge round. The Wilding of 1910 he would have beaten;

    I am not at all sure about the Wilding of 1913.

    It is true McLoughlin beat Wilding, as he beat Brookes, in 1914; and I agree with Larned that Tilden's greater variety of stroke and infinite resources as revealed in 1920 would have proved too much for McLoughlin, even in his gala year. But the Wilding of 1914 in America was not the best Wilding, and I am inclined to think that, given maximum zeal and training, the latter would have applied the same methods of attack to the present champion as Johnston, and applied them a little more effectively.

    When it comes to the issue of foot faults in America and their predominantly aggressive, net-charging style as evidenced for decades, a subject discussed by H. L. in the past, has now been correctly regulated so as not to give an unfair advantage to the serve and volley player. The foot-fault judge, although he may be relieved in a long match, officiates at both base-lines alternately in the 1920s American championships. He confines himself entirely to adjudicating the service. His attention is diverted by no other duty. When I was in New York, William A. Larned, seven times singles champion of America, was the foot-fault judge in the Davis Cup doubles. As every one of the four players (Brookes, Wilding, McLoughlin, and Bundy) followed in his service with maximum speed to the net, the office was most onerous. Larned discharged it with complete satisfaction to all concerned. When he foot-faulted, as he found it necessary to do on rare occasions (happily, none of them vital), he signalled to the umpire with his hand and the man in the chair called the foot-fault. The latter is, of course, on the look out for this signal; if he were not, the false start would inflict an undue strain. I was struck with the smooth and efficient working of this plan. Its efficiency depends, of course, on the capacity of the man on the line; above all, he must have the confidence of all the players.

    After it was won in 1903 England defended the Davis Cup for three years without the loss of a match(!).

    I witnessed all these matches…

    Of those in 1905 and 1906 the abiding impression remains that America was distinctly unlucky not to win one of the ten. Indeed, the 1905 challenge round will probably be remembered, despite its five-love victory for the Home team, as one of the closest, as it was certainly one of the best, in the history of the Cup.

    For America to lose two five-set singles against H. L. Doherty and to come within a few strokes of vanquishing the Doherty brothers on their own court, demonstrates the formidable character of the attack. It was not an attack so young in limb nor so versatile in stroke as that launched by the Americans of 1920, but the opposing skill was of a higher calibre and the close character of the contest was unquestionably a tribute to Ward, Wright, and Larned…

    The 1906 matches will always be associated with the retirement of the Dohertys from international lawn tennis. The brothers left the Davis Cup arena at Wimbledon with an unbeaten record, a feat only equalled among Englishmen by S. H. Smith. While H. L. retained his skill to the end Ward never looked like taking him Into five sets again there was less "devil " about his game. In his second singles, R. D. Little, never one of the greatest Americans though always a punitive volleyer, took two sets from him a sign of dallying rather than decay. Little used a forehand drive-volley on the run with great effect, but his ground work was uncertain, and once he fell back the end was certain.

    On the other hand, R. F. was obviously not equal to the strain of a big "five-setter." He was pressed into the doubles reluctantly, and the brothers managed to stave off successfully a determined assault by Ward and Little, who won twenty-three games to their opponents' twenty-nine; but in the rapid volleying exchanges and in overhead play R. F.'s slower mobility was a relative weakness, and few of his intimates were altogether surprised when, a fortnight later, Smith and Riseley beat the Dohertys for the second time in the challenge round of the doubles championship. Strewn The brothers' influence on the game will never be forgotten.

    In the Davis Cup annals their name will ever be associated with the first capture of the trophy from America and its staunch defence for three years in England. But even more permanent than their play was the example of their sportsmanship. The Dohertys founded a tradition in international courtesy; the moral side of the Davis Cup gained immeasurably by their early participation in the contest.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
    #17
  18. Borgforever

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    An eye-witness from the 1880s:

    “The courts of the A.E.L.T.C. and their surroundings in what I may term the Renshaw epoch were very much what they are now, except that they were supplemented by the two excellent covered courts — a separate institution from the All-England Club which failed to outlive the period when the game was under a cloud by reason of the temporary supremacy of newer and less exacting forms of amusement. But in those early days Society shed the light of its countenance upon "Tennis" and if you hadn't "seen Renshaw" you were socially out of the running.

    People flocked to Wimbledon from all parts and stood three and four deep round the centre court on final days; enthusiasts turned up shortly after noon with sandwiches and flasks, secured the best seats, and lunched and chatted patiently until the fray began; and the South Western Railway ran special trains to and from Wimbledon. Late comers who could obtain chairs stood on them, to the great indignation of those who couldn't, and there is a story that a spectator of diminutive height paid
    half-a-sovereign for a few bricks wherewith he made a sort of pedestal, sufficient to ensure the requisite addition to his stature.

    And it was fine "Tennis" in those days, too. I would give something to see again one of those historic battles between Willie Renshaw and Lawford in 1884, 1885 and 1886. It is said nowadays that the art of taking the ball on the top of the bound is a modern development; so it may be, speaking of players generally, but William Renshaw knew all about it, nevertheless, and knew when not to do it, too — a knowledge which some modern exponents of the art have yet to acquire. Another feature of his play was the extraordinary pace at which he went. He wanted no pauses between the rests, and did his best, by the alacrity of his movements, to attain his object. An opponent who resorted to Fabian tactics would be curtly (though quite politely) requested to "Come on!" He resigned the Championship in 1887 (owing, if I remember right, to a tennis elbow) and although he won it once more (in 1889) I do not think he ever played quite so well as during his six years of unbroken supremacy — 1881 to 1886.

    In the early days the Renshaws were as hard to distinguish one from the other as in later years were the other twin pairs — the Baddeleys and the Allens. A lady once greeted Ernest Renshaw with the embarrassing question, "Is it you, or your brother?" To which Ernest, with great presence of mind, replied, equally enigmatically, "It's me!" The style of their play, too, was much the same, Ernest being at first the more brilliant, more dashing, and less reliable of the two. And this went on during the whole of the period of Willie's supremacy. But in the year 1887, when Willie resigned, Ernest's single game underwent a complete change, and soon reached that pitch of marvellous accuracy (combined with a fair amount of severity) which won him the Championship in the following year, when Willie, playing again, went down before W. J. Hamilton on a wet court.

    In that year Ernest was undoubtedly the best player of the day, and I am inclined to think that he was in the following year also, although his twin brother actually beat him in the championship round. But after that he began to deteriorate.

    Hamilton was the hero of 1890, and in 1891 occurred that phenomenal match, of which I was one of the gaping witnesses, in which Wilfred Baddeley beat Ernest Renshaw in what were virtually three love sets, and in about the shortest time on record.

    As a pair the Renshaws were as invincible in their day as were the Baddeleys in 1894, 1895 and 1896, and the Dohertys after them. They possessed in a marked degree that unanimity of thought and action which is the secret of the success of the other famous pairs of brothers abovementioned, and played a perfect combined game, their return of the service being particularly good. On the other hand, when playing with other partners (I am speaking solely of men's doubles) I never regarded either of them as exceptionally formidable. It was almost a case of "united we stand; divided we fall."’
     
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  19. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    HERBERT F. LAWFORD (1851-1920)
    H. F. Lawford is generally credited with being the originator of severe baseline play, and was certainly at that time the leader in this department of the game. His forehand drive was by far his best stroke, the ball being struck with a horizontal racket and near the top of the bound, and an upward movement at the moment of striking imparting considerable top spin to the ball, causing it to drop very rapidly after crossing the net.

    The advantages of this method were that the ball could be struck much higher and harder without going out of court when a full-length stroke was played, and the "duck" on the ball made it possible to play a much faster short cross when playing a volleyer.

    This stroke has been so largely employed, and is so essentially a lawn tennis shot, that a further description of it may not be out of place. Nearly all the critics refer to this stroke as "of low trajectory" and as passing only inches over the net. I presume flat trajectory is what is meant. As a matter of fact, the trajectory is anything but flat. A rifle bullet is described as having a flat trajectory when the bullet drops but little. A projectile continuing indefinitely in a straight line would have an absolutely flat trajectory. But the "drop stroke" as it is called in America, has a very curved trajectory indeed, and to keep good length must be struck feet over the net, it being easily seen that the greater the "drop" the greater must be the elevation, supposing the velocity and length to remain constant.

    This stroke has been at once the blessing and curse of lawn tennis players. Used by a Pim or a Larned it is a graceful and effective stroke, the ideal drive; although many of the best players have never employed it. But how many promising players have come to grief over it. Vainly endeavouring to get an unreasonable amount of top spin on the ball, all accuracy is thrown to the winds, all other strokes neglected, and a good player spoiled. At the same time a reasonable employment of this stroke
    is most effective, and great credit is due to Lawford for evolving it.

    The rest of his game calls for little comment; his backhand was powerful and had top on it also, but he struck with a vertical racket, the elbow up in the air — an absolutely incorrect position, necessitating a lot of time in preparing for the stroke and debarring the striker from playing the ball above his shoulder. I think he would have been in trouble with a modern kicking service placed to his backhand, and a good volleyer at the net.

    His service delivered overhand was only a push, without any twist or kick; he could follow up a good drive to the net and kill the return if weak, but did not deal well with a low dropping stroke or a good length lob.

    WILLIAM RENSHAW (1861-1904)
    William Renshaw has been called the father of lawn tennis and he certainly deserves the title, being also the strongest and most brilliant player of his day. His game was absolutely different from that of his great rival Lawford; he used no top on his stroke, rather a slight undercut which caused the ball to skid on the ground, leaving it with a very low, fast hop. This was not done with a view to cutting the ball heavily, as at Tennis, but was rather incidental to his style of play. His main object seemed to be to hit the ball as soon as possible after it left the ground, giving his opponent little or no time to reach, much less to play the return. There has probably never been such a bustling player; his returns were a series of surprises; I am pretty sure his game would have held its own anywhere. To anticipate where the ball would next be placed was an impossibility.

    Instead of getting back to play a return off the ground, he would often dart in and volley a good-length stroke almost from the back of the court, just as the striker was about to follow it up to the net, leaving the would-be volleyer helpless. No player who has not had personal experience of this stroke can imagine what it was like. How he had time to make up his mind to adopt this rapid change of position has always been a mystery to me, and only those who have tried to perform this manoeuvre themselves can appreciate the quickness required for its execution.

    Against Lawford, who was rather slow about the court, this style of play was most effective.

    Renshaw's service was properly delivered, which was by no means usual in those days; but in common with all players of that date, he never seemed to place it down the centre line. His first delivery was very fast, with a lot of kick and twist to the right in the righthand court, but the second would be considered weak according to modern standards.

    His backhand stroke down the line was superb, and has served as a model to many. Delivered with startling suddenness and with considerable cut, it would skid and die away upon the ground before there was time to realise what had happened. As he could cross it with equal ease and the same action, it was not surprising that his opponent could often do nothing but look at it.

    It can easily be imagined that such play was most fascinating to the crowd, more especially as it was executed with a graceful ease and rapidity of movement that was quite unique. He threw an amount of fire and dash into his game which could hardly fail to rouse the dullest spectator.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
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  20. Borgforever

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    WILLOUGHBY HAMILTON
    It has been the habit of many critics to deplore the want of brilliancy in more modern play when compared with the game of this period. One writer in particular, using a chess phrase, regretted the "bits of Morphy."

    The phrase is a very apt one. Many of Morphy's brilliant games have been shown to result in great part from weak moves on the part of his opponents, and would not be possible in modern chess. I shall endeavour to show that these very brilliant attacks must, as a rule, crumble before a steady and well-judged defence. But, indeed, counter attack would be a more correct term, as the chief object is never to play a weak short return, waiting till an opportunity offers to kill without undue risk.

    It is just this undue risk which is the Achilles' heel of the very brilliant school; this was well illustrated in the encounters between William Renshaw and Willoughby Hamilton. These players met three times...

    And on each occasion the Irishman was victor...

    He adopted the tactics which have always proved correct against a very hard hitter; speed of stroke was, to a large extent, sacrificed to length and pitch. To place the ball right in the corner, whether the stroke were fast or slow, was considered essential to success by the Irish players.

    I can distinctly remember, when competing in my first English Tournament (1890), being much surprised at the short strokes that many of the competitors considered good enough to follow up to the net. Hamilton's drive was wonderfully safe and accurate, and, if the ball did not bound too high, a very fast stroke, but it was played mostly underhand, which prevented him taking the ball at or near the top of the bound, so that on a very fast court he had either to wait until the ball dropped or take it on the rise. The former method put him very far out of court, while the latter was so risky that to employ it persistently was not to his taste. In practice I have seen him make fancy strokes as well as anyone, but he always maintained that the most important quality for match play was reliability of execution, and that to attempt tours de force with the ball, except when necessary, was to court disaster. Those who have had experience of match play can appreciate how sound is this advice.

    One stroke of Willoughby Hamilton, a very delicate short drop, was almost unique, and, made off the weak second services of those days, was deadly; but a good length delivery rendered this stroke impossible. I have seen him bring this stroke off frequently against both the Renshaws and Lewis, but I cannot recollect a single instance of his treating Pim's service in this manner. His backhand was safe, played with a certain amount of cut/slice; he could place it down the line well, but the short cross stroke was weak.

    Hamilton’s forehand volley deserves notice, being very severe and accurate. It was played correctly with the head of the racket well up, not with the now all- too-common round arm style, which must, of necessity, be inaccurate and unreliable.

    But to return to the Renshaw-Hamilton-matches. Off the very good length strokes of Hamilton, Renshaw now found that his winning shots could only be made at considerable risk, if they could be made at all.

    His opponent, by sacrificing some of his dash to method, and slogging to tactics, was content that the odds, on gaining the point, should be slightly in his favour, and his game, in consequence, a winning one.

    From this description it must not be inferred that the Irishman played pat-ball, or that his game was one of mere return. His passing strokes were phenomenal, the ball pitching very near the side lines, and his lobbing of wonderful length. The moment Renshaw. made a weak stroke he would instantly assume the offensive, but he hardly ever struck the ball right out of his opponent's reach, an outright ground stroke winner -- at the beginning of a rest, which feat Renshaw performed several times during each set.

    Though the match was closely contested, the general impression left on many of the critics was that Renshaw's brilliant game had met its answer in Hamilton's equally effective but less risky tactics, an opinion which the results of the two subsequent matches would seem to justify.

    But, sound as was Hamilton's game, there was a rod in pickle waiting for him in the shape of H. S. Barlow. For at Wimbledon, after defeating E. W. Lewis, he had to play Barlow in the semi-final.

    “The Northern meeting was held then, as now, alternately at Liverpool and Manchester. We regarded it as the third most important event of the year, and as far as the actual ground went I think most of us preferred Aigburth to Old Trafford; but in point of management and a desire on the part of the executive to make us all happy and comfortable, there was nothing to choose between the two. The North usually outshines the South in this respect. It was at the Northern tournament that I first encountered, in 1888, W. J. Hamilton — popularly known as "The Ghost" — who was then coming more and more to the front every day, and was destined to win the Irish championship next year and the English the year after that. It was unfortunate that a severe illness practically closed his tennis career at its very zenith. He played principally, though by no means exclusively, from the baseline, and was the greatest and best exponent of the Irish drive that ever stepped into court.

    His backhand was comparatively weak and he "ran round" frequently, but being very light and speedy and having a preference for hitting the ball while at full gallop, this was no drawback ; in fact, he sometimes deliberately left an opening on the forehand side in order that he might have the felicity of darting across, with a rush and a slide, and banging the ball almost outside the post into your backhand corner.

    On a wet course he was a terror, skating about in evident enjoyment of the fun, while others were tumbling right and left. In those days I thought I could volley a bit, but Hamilton convinced me that I was mistaken. I also ran into and was beaten by his brother W. D. in the handicap (giving me 1 or 2 bisques) so that I had about enough of the Hamilton family that week. “

    “W. D. Hamilton was a born player, with more variety of stroke than his brother, but too casual to be ever really formidable. His interest in the game was never very constant, and apparently ceased with his brother's retirement.”
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
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  21. Borgforever

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    H. S. BARLOW
    Barlow adopted his well-known volleying tactics against W. Hamilton, running in on the service. He would take no risk of any kind, save that of being passed at the net, and succeeded in winning after a very close match.

    Again strokes had to give way to method, and brilliancy to safer and more efficient system. Not that Barlow had not many good strokes; his overhead volleying was absolutely deadly, and he was most difficult to pass at the net, but his great strength lay in his generalship and iron nerve, enabling him to carry out at the critical moment what he saw to be the winning manoeuvre.

    Barlow’s general plan of campaign was, when serving, to place the ball down the middle of the court and follow it up to the net. His service had cut on it, which made it cling to the ground, and, being placed down the centre, left the striker a very small space on either side in which to pass him. When his opponent served and did not follow it up to the net, he still played for the same position, playing a cut and twisted ball slightly to his adversary's backhand, and coming in close to volley on it. There was practically only one reply to such play — to rush in and volley everything; and even Pim and Baddeley were forced to adopt these tactics against him.

    Barlow's defence to his own attack, while lacking in severity, was very safe; he could slip the ball down the line forehanded very accurately, but the cross stroke was uncertain and slow, owing to his peculiar method of striking the ball. This was due to the curious way in which he held his racket. His backhand was much stronger, being equally good down the line and across the court, but it was generally his lobbing that pulled him out of the fire — it nearly always came as a surprise, being used with great sagacity.

    His form at Wimbledon was far in advance of his form at unimportant meetings. In one of the latter his love for losing the first two sets was freely indulged, and he has let matches slip through his fingers which he could easily have won but for this penchant. In consequence his powers have been largely underestimated. Wimbledon was the only meeting for which he ever trained in the least, and his form at the Championships in 1889 and 1890 would show him to be the equal of the Renshaws and Hamilton.

    In 1889, in the final round of the Championship, as it has been so often described; it will suffice to say that Barlow was four times within a stroke of victory, which would certainly have been his but for a very bad decision.

    I have given this rather extended description of Barlow's play because he represents the extreme type of stroke-play sacrificed to tactics. Why he should have cultivated this type of game is hard to say; probably cricket was responsible for his rather awkward grip of the racket. A lawn tennis player seldom gets any coaching when starting the game, so that his style will, to a great extent, be a matter of chance. This accounts mostly for the execrable style and feeble game played by the great majority of players. Every beginner grasping a racquet for the first time will exhibit some peculiarity of grip and action; with this he will start playing, and by a process of experiment and failure evolve his own style. There is no friendly coach to tell him why he should break down so frequently over very simple strokes; he is thus thrown on his own resources.

    If he be fortunate enough to have a strong player with good style to play against, or even to watch, he will often copy his methods largely. Barlow never acquired quite the correct grip of his racket, and though his wonderful activity, strength and sagacity enabled him to win, he could never have been a brilliant stroke player without changing his style.

    E. W. LEWIS
    E. W. Lewis's methods were the exact antithesis of Barlow.

    Capable of making every stroke that can be made on a lawn tennis court, and also of many that would seem impossible, he always played what he considered the most effective return, regardless of the difficulty. The half volley was freely used, at which stroke he was facile, and his cross backhand, both off the ground and on the volley, has left its mark on the Lawn Tennis world.

    H. Chipp, in his lawn tennis recollections, sums up his feelings when watching Lewis play, by saying that he cannot imagine how he ever was beaten.

    I think this feeling has been shared by all who were familiar with his play. That he ever was beaten has been ascribed by some to lack of nerve, by others to want of staying power.

    Personally, I do not think it was due to either; rather to the very complicated nature of his game. To be the least off colour meant breaking down too frequently for success. I cannot help thinking that this, combined with a weak overhead stroke, was the explanation of his few defeats.

    ERNEST RENSHAW
    Ernest Renshaw had a style quite of his own, perfect grace of movement and ease of stroke being its most striking features. He kept his wrist quite flexible when striking the ball, allowing the momentum acquired by the racket during the preliminary swing to do the work of the stroke, the wrist and hand merely acting as guides to the direction. And though this method deprived his game of some severity (especially on the volley), it conduced to wonderful accuracy in strength and direction. He was very strong overhead, and was more successful against Hamilton than his brother. That he was as good a player hardly admits of dispute, though his record is not so fine.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
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  22. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I love the use of the analogy of the great Paul Morphy (who incidentally Bobby Fischer, the former World Chess Champion said would have been the best in the world if given a few months to master modern chess. So you see, we don't just have arguments about past greats only in tennis.) in the description of Hamilton.
     
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  23. Borgforever

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    WILBERFORCE EAVES (1867 in Melbourne - 1920 in London)
    I must not omit to mention one or two other home players who, though not champions, have left their mark on the centre court. The ever-lamented Dr. Eaves was at the height of his form before the twentieth century he was one of the few men who came within a stroke of the championship only to see the great prize slipping away but he was a familiar and ever a doughty competitor almost up to the war's advent. A Wimbledon without the spruce and dapper figure of this fine student of form, ever ready to back his opinion in good coin of the realm and bearing good fortune and bad with the same worldly philosophy, is, I confess, not quite the same thing.

    Virtually the discoverer of Brookes, he also did much to mature Wilding's skill. All of those who followed his tips for improvement lived to bless his name. An inveterate volleyer himself, he insisted, with genial emphasis, that volleying was the only profitable line under modern conditions. "Get on top of the net and stay there," he would say. "Don't let the other man enjoy the best view of your court while you can see next to nothing of his, and that little obscured by his body. Go up and attack!" It was a gospel for the young and strong, of course, but then Eaves was never blind to the great athletic advance of lawn tennis in the past fifteen years. He could see, as others declined to see, that the days of long base-line rallies (1880s) were gone. And now this very wise counsellor and best of good fellows has left us.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
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  24. Borgforever

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    WILFRED BADDELEY (1872 – 1929) retired after Wimby 1897.
    Wilfred Baddeley might fairly bs described as the most successful player that ever was (written in 1901). Not that his record in the championship has been unsurpassed, but his successes were gained against stronger players than any other champion has had to meet. His method and generalship were unrivalled. This superiority lay in the type of game he cultivated, rather than in clever or tricky play in a match. Too often "playing with your head" is taken to mean tricky, short drops, disguised directions or unexpected placing. To do this is comparatively easy for anyone possessing a little cunning and nerve; but to decide what is the winning "play," to use an Americanism, with a view to cultivating it in practice, requires no inconsiderable amount of sagacity.

    It is here that so many players fail, though possessed of many good strokes, and it was just in this department of the game that W. Baddeley showed his superiority.

    He would take just the amount of risk that was justified by circumstances; no one was safer when they had the upper hand in a rest, and few could bring off a risky shot better when the point seemed lost. He did not employ top cut at all, save sometimes on his cross-backhand.

    Yet he was one of the hardest players to volley that I have ever played against, which would seem to indicate that top cut is not essential to good passing.

    A very remarkable feature of his play was the considerable height at which some of his passing shots down the line would cross the net; this gave the strokes a high factor of safety, and as they were generally clean passes, to have played them lower would not have increased their efficiency, whilst he would have had to pay for additional risk in the shape of an increased number of balls placed in the net. His cross passes were played very low and short, as a cross pass should be, and he always gave the impression that the stroke possessed great certainty and could be repeated at will, in strong contrast to the "hit and chance it"-game which finds so many admirers. His style approximated to a certain extent to tennis methods, as the head of the racket was generally kept well above the hand, and the stroke finished on the same side of the body, the secret of all straight hitting.

    JOSHUA PIM (1869-1942)
    Dr. Johua Pim is now out of the match court a memory of brilliance shining without practice or effort. At his best, Pim was superior to Wilfred Baddeley, as he was superior to any other man of his own era; but since Baddeley was the essence of steadiness and a master of scientific method, while Pim had natural genius summoned and exploited at will, the matches between these two, if below the standard of today, will always be remembered for their toughness and contrast of style.

    This latter characteristic was even more pronounced in his great rival, J. Pim. Possibly neither of these players were aware that this had been recognised as one of the first and essential principles of striking a ball at both tennis and rackets for many years, but the fact that they both carried it out in play testifies to their great natural aptitude. The general opinion of experts would seem to rank J. Pim as the finest player the world has ever seen. His game was of the very severe type, yet executed with such ease and nonchalance as to give the impression that he was taking no interest whatever in the proceedings.

    A critic at Wimbledon once described his play as a combination of Lawford's drives and Lewis's volleys, and though his style was quite different from that of either of these players, the description is apt enough.

    His drive was a long, easy swing, combining little effort with great pace and accuracy. He would place the ball in the extreme corner of the court time after time in the most daring fashion, and when in good practice with perfect precision. There is considerable difference of opinion as to whether he took the ball on the top of the bound or allowed it to drop. As a matter of fact he did both. His extraordinary dislike to any hurried movement and his determination that the whole swing of his stroke should be carried through, often made him take the ball very late indeed. But the stroke was generally such a good one, and the direction so well disguised, that it was as effective as if he had played it sooner. If it suited him he could take the ball on the rise as well as anyone. I have seen him swing on to a big kicking first service, playing the ball on the top of the bound and right into the extreme corner, winning the point outright.

    His volleying was remarkable for its great variety, combining great power and crispness with the softest and most delicate strokes. He could drop the hardest drives short over the net and well out to the sides, a most elegant and effective manner of dealing with them.

    Pim’s service was powerful and kicked considerably, the percentage of faults being very small, while the second delivery was nearly as severe as the first, in strong contrast to the ludicrous description given in the chapter on the service in the "Badminton Library." His encounters with W. Baddeley produced the finest expositions of lawn tennis I have ever seen, and most lovers of the game who were present would seem to share this view.

    Pim was badly handicapped in 1891 by an injury to his right hand caused by an outside car accident, and in 1892 he had only just recovered from typhoid fever.

    How he managed to beat Barlow in the Irish Championship, and gain a set from E. Renshaw the next day was a mystery to his friends, as he was totally unfit for hard match play. But in 1893 and 1894 he had matters all his own way, winning both Irish and English Championships.

    Since this period I am inclined to think that the game has not advanced; if anything it has receded -- except when it concern the Dohertys... (1901)
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
    #24
  25. Borgforever

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    HAROLD MAHONY (1867-1905)

    “An old friend whom I met" here for the first time — fortunately perhaps for me only in a social sense — was H. S. Mahony, another coming champion, and to this day (1899) still a first-class player, whose brilliant exhibition against Laurie Doherty at Wimbledon last year -- 1898 -- is still fresh in our minds.” (Written in 1899)

    “Harold Mahony, of course, has been Champion of England, as well as of Ireland; ten years ago (1893) he was Covered Court Champion of England, has held the same position in Wales.

    In bygone days when Mahony was paired with E. G. Meers on the covered courts, he veiled, though only partially concealed, his identity under the nom de guerre of J. May, and these two players were then regarded as the leading exponents of the double game on the wood. Meers has now retired from the conflict, and his name remains but a memory the "E.G. M." will doubtless perpetuate; but Mahony, the popular and volatile Irishman, is still as much to the fore as ever; deservedly winning applause for his brilliant volleying, often amusing spectators by his witty "asides," and still keeping abreast with the younger generation. Two or three years ago Mahony's form suffered a relapse that caused some apprehensions amongst his warmest admirers, but in 1901 and 1902 — notably at Wimbledon — the old "fire" burst out anew, and a return of form was witnessed which delighted everybody, most of all, perhaps, the ex-champion himself.

    Having done battle with cracks of the old school as well as of the new, Mahony's experiences of the game are profound and always valuable. His knowledge of the technique, of knotty point, and of variations in style, is almost unfathomable, and the beginner who is lucky enough to secure the ear of this well-known player for a few coach advices will find them at once affable, practical, and sound. He thoroughly believes in keeping in trim, and probably plays more lawn tennis in the winter than any of his friends. I know few men more keen on the game, or more versed in its history and development.” A. Wallis Myers 1903

    Sadly he dropped off his big-wheel bicycle and broke his neck and died, age 38, just before Wimby 1905 -- and subsequently had to give a w/o...
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
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  26. Borgforever

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    ARTHUR WENTWORTH GORE - 1868-1928
    Gore won a big London tournament before Tilden was born…

    Gore first played in the challenge round at Wimbledon when Johnston was five years old; he won his third championship at the age of forty-one, and that was a dozen years ago. All of his great centre court combats are pigeon-holed in my memory. The lines of the arena were surely laid down for his drives to hit, so unerringly did he raise chalk. With an elongated arm which seemed to have no joint between the human shoulder and the racket-head, he drove the ball diagonally from his own backhand corner into his opponent's. In vain would the uninitiated and some of them were foreign champions baste his backhand.

    To be forewarned was to be forearmed.

    Gore had an amiable habit of running round these shots and returning them with far greater speed to the backhand, alleged to be stronger, of his opponent. More experienced antagonists, avoiding this decoy, fed his forehand in the hope, rarely realised, that it would tire and lose its accuracy.

    Another, and perhaps greater, triumph for Gore was his victory over Gobert in the final of the All Comers in 1912. Gore was then forty-four years of age, exactly twice as old as his French opponent, at that time mounting to greatness on his splendid service and beautiful volleying. Gobert led 5-3 in the third set, each man having won a set. He only won one more game in the whole match! The younger man made the fatal mistake of attempting to play a prince of drivers from the back of the court. Gore had lured him into that position by a few clean passing shots and adroit lobs, and then teased him into something of a cat and mouse game…

    A day or two later Gore made an heroic stand for his title against Wilding and nearly carried the match into a fifth set. Of all fighters on court he was the most stubborn; the men who have beaten him at Wimbledon may deem themselves great.

    SIDNEY H. SMITH (1872-1947)
    One of the strangest anomalies on the championship roll is that the name of Gore should appear three times, whereas that of S. H. Smith is missing altogether. Not only was Smith's record against the great Americans superior to Gore's; H. L. Doherty always considered him his most dangerous English opponent; and there is little doubt that as a base-line player, opposed either to an aggressive volleyer or to a man using his own weapons, Smith possessed greater ability.

    Why did this famous driver fail to secure the crown at Wimbledon?

    There were probably two reasons, each interlaced. Smith was a native of Stroud and, unlike Gore, not a regular denizen of the centre court; the environment was strange to him, and he came to it without a key to its subtle mysteries. Then, too, Smith usually arrived at Wimbledon after a strenuous week at the Northern Championships. By the vagaries of the Lancashire climate these were played almost invariably on a soft court; it was a drastic transition to the hard, unyielding surface of Wimbledon. That there was something in these June conditions in the south to militate against Smith's success is emphasized by the fact that when the Davis Cup singles followed in July and he had had time to get acclimatised he was much more certain on the drive -- much more, in fact, the very best Smith. Even so, it is amazing that he should only once have reached the challenge round and only twice have appeared in the final of the All Comers. Some of his contemporaries, admittedly below him, were familiar figures in the last stages.

    How often Smith led the field at Eastbourne, Edgbaston, Newcastle and Newport! His giant figure was an annual Saturday afternoon feature; even at Devonshire Park the younger Doherty, after running what he described picturesquely as "a hundred mile" race had to admit defeat in the end.

    At Wimbledon, Smith will go down to fame as the terror of the American volleyers. He did not meet players so well equipped as Tilden and Johnston, but Holcombe Ward and Little made no secret of their preference for H. L. Doherty as an opponent. "You cannot play Smith from the back of the court," they used to say. "If you go to the net he passes you like a knife going through butter." Nor can one forget that in 1905 when, on his first visit to Wimbledon, Brookes was making his dramatic advance through the All Comers, Smith so nearly beat him in the final. Indeed, but for the fact that one of his drives fell a ball's breadth over the side-line at a critical stage in the fifth set, the Englishman would probably have carried the day. A month later at Edgbaston, on a court more to his taste, I saw Smith beat Brookes.

    “There can he no doubt that there is only one S. H. Smith in the world; and that there will arise another player of the same school, equally formidable, I should be strongly inclined to question. That it is his personal qualities, and not the type of game he plays, that conduce to his extraordinary successes is practically certain.

    His terrible drive is so well known that a description of it is unnecessary, but few seem to realise of what variety and modifications this stroke is capable. He can play it from any position and at any pace, from the slowest passing stroke to the fastest shot that has ever been seen on a lawn tennis court. His backhand is neat and very well placed, but he avoids this stroke as much as possible, his great activity enabling him to run round almost anything. It is curiously difficult to deal effectively with his service, and his lobbing is most deadly; he seldom volleys, though he can do so well enough when he likes.

    His judgment is wonderful, and it should be a lesson to those players and critics alike who can admire nothing but terrific slogging, to see with what moderation and judgment Smith uses his formidable drive. Only when circumstances indicate that he should go for this stroke does he do so, preferring rather to manoeuvre his opponent out of position before administering the coup de grace.” Harold Mahony (1902)

    “Smith has a powerful ‘slog,’ as the English call it, or smashing ground-stroke that depends for its success almost entirely upon its speed. He plays the ball from the very top of the bound, and is known to be good only on hard courts, that give him a high bound to play from. American courts and balls would not favor his game by any means, and few who have seen him play at home would expect to see him at his best…”
    American Journalist J. PARMLY PARET (1902)

    “Though Sidney H. Smith has not yet reached the pinnacle of fame — and luck seems, so far, to have deserted him at Wimbledon — there can be no question that the famous Stroud player stands as high today as he ever did, and that with the single exception of the champion, whom he has more than once defeated, there is not a man in England who is quite his equal. His judgment and activity, above all his severity from the back of the court, are masterly, the "Smith drive" having passed into the category of popular expressions.

    Whatever Smith achieved in previous years, his record last year stands out as his best. He won the Northern and Welsh Championships, and was first at Edgbaston, Northumber1and, Brighton and Eastbourne. Out of the sixteen matches he played, only two were lost — against H. L. Doherty and Ritchie. That must be accounted as a very remarkable performance, but in the doubles game, partnered by F. L. Riseley, Smith did even better. Since the pair began playing together in June, not a single defeat did they encounter, the English Championship, the Northern Championship, the South of England Championship, and several other open events falling to their lot. This record was all the more notable because of the unorthodox tactics adopted by the Westerners.

    Smith generally stood at the back, or nearly at the back, of the court; Riseley, one of the finest volleyers in existence, stood a few inches from the net, and given anything approaching a loose ball, never failed to score outright. Smith, too, has developed latent volleying powers which have surprised his admirers — did he not again win the Mixed Doubles Championship with Miss Martin? Weak spots in their combination occasionally showed themselves, notably when Smith sometimes bungled an overhead smash at the net; but it was clearly a very powerful and effective union, which had the unique honour of beating the Dohertys at their own game.

    Smith's rise to fame and distinction has been undeniably merited. He has been appearing in public tournaments now for a dozen years, and each season his form has improved and his "bag" of victims swelled in size and importance. Thus ten years ago we find him classified as receiving fifteen from Mahony and almost as much from G. Hillyard — both players to whom at present he could accede two-sixths. He has not been one of those players to burst, like a meteor, into prominence, and it was not until three or four years ago that his efforts were characterised by any display of scientific brilliancy. He has doggedly worked his way up the ladder of fame, improving year by year, profiting by experience on the way. He now holds a unique position as the hardest driver of the day, the surest and speediest "linesman" in England. Smith has never been attracted much to the covered court or to foreign fields, but he is an inveterate "entry" at English and Welsh meetings, as his splendid record will show.” A. Wallis Myers 1902 THE FIELD
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
    #26
  27. Borgforever

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    HERBERT ROPER BARRETT (1873 –1943)
    If Gore's longevity on the lawn tennis court excites wonder, that of Roper Barrett is almost as marvellous.

    In fact, since Barrett was selected a member of the British International Team last year a distinction which he first enjoyed twenty years earlier I am not sure that his record does not eclipse his old partner's.

    After the Renshaws and the Dohertys, and until the oversea stars illuminated the firmament, Barrett was the greatest draw Wimbledon ever had. This attraction, I think, was more a tribute to his personality and to his strategic brain than to the quality of his actual strokes. He has never been the classic artist in the sense that the Dohertys, McLoughlin, or Brookes were; he had not the perfect drives of the first two, nor the spectacular service of the last two.

    Nevertheless, he possessed what none of these four champions revealed in the same measure a capacity for cunning court-craft calculated to embarrass even the greatest in the land. He was, and remains, a prince of tacticians, ever ready to decoy the unsuspecting into a death-trap; a master of varied length and strength, using for his wiles the zone in front of the net just as much as the more orthodox base-line territory ; and, withal, showing a fortitude and a nerve that revelled in an uphill fight and rarely waged a fifth set without winning it.

    So many Barrett matches crowd to mind, it is difficult to select those outstanding. In singles his nearest escape from winning the championship was in 1908. Though not fully fledged that year, Wilding was the favourite for the event. Barrett beat him "all ends up" in an early round, using the lob and the short drop with sinister effect. Barrett was the “bete noire” of most young players; even Wilding's resolute and unruffled front were not proof against him, although, when he strengthened his smashing and backhand a year or two later, the ugly fence was usually carried. With a little more luck in the challenge round against Gore, and perhaps with another corps of linesmen, Barrett would have been champion. He felt the need, however, of a service which his opponent, by years of practice, could not handle with power and purpose, and one must not forget that Gore in a decisive fifth set had a heart as stout as Barrett's. While this nimble strategist could make little headway against Brookes, who was more of his own age, he could always be relied upon to rattle the younger giants, and such players as Wilding, McLoughlin, and Patterson were unmistakably pleased when their ordeal was over.

    It is a singular coincidence that both Wilding and McLoughlin, in the years when each won the All Comers, should have met Barrett in the first round. In both cases the experience was nearly fatal. Indeed, the American had to wage five anxious sets before he could put the spectre behind him, and I shall always consider that the manner in which Barrett handled the Californian's destructive service in this contest a weapon he was asked to combat for the first time redounded to his infinite credit. And even though Patterson did not forfeit a set to Barrett in 1919, the nature of the first set, in which the Englishman held a strong winning lead, suggested that, given his pre-war legs, Barrett would have been almost equal to the task in hand.

    Valiant as Barrett's record has been in singles on the centre court, it is as a doubles player that his name and fame will chiefly be cherished in public memory. In this department he has been the hero of a hundred fights some of them, it is true, entered into when the weapons of modern lawn tennis were not quite so keenly polished as they are to-day and when the demand for mobility was not so insistent. Yet, even in the last two years, after the war had made “old men” seem so much “older” this player shone in the highest company. Both at Queen's and at Norwood in 1920 he took sets from the American players, none of whom were born when he first handled a racket. For positional skill, tactical finesse, and the ability to place the ball in the most inconvenient spot for his opponents and for anticipating and profiting by their reply, Barrett was unequalled. His was the live brain behind the racket, the man who created openings by his own enterprise and invariably took them when they occurred; a fighter to the finger-tips and an adversary who never gave quarter. I do not doubt that some of his success was due to the moral factor. He persuaded those on the opposite side of the net, especially young foreigners, that there was no escape from the net spread to catch them.

    Barrett was never more dangerous than when a strong winning lead was against him. Such situations he revelled in, never overlooking the fact that men are often slack when they think themselves most secure.

    FRANK RISELEY (1877-1959)
    I have already referred briefly to Frank Riseley, in dealing with last year's record of S. H. Smith, with whom he won so many triumphs in various parts of the country. Riseley had already achieved fame (more especially in partnership with his brother, A. H.) before running in double harness with the great "driver," but until last season it is doubtful whether he possessed any claims to be considered as a candidate for the Championship of England. Unfortunately he seems to lack the strength necessary to undergo a five set Single with equanimity; yet, notwithstanding, his advance towards pre-eminence has been very striking, and in a Mixed Double, when his eye is in, he is irresistible. Champion of Scotland and Doubles Champion of England, there can be no doubt that, given health and stamina, this engaging player, with youth and the pleasantest disposition possible on his side, will be able to hold his own against practically all adversaries. His performance with Smith at Wimbledon last year and against the Dohertys will always stand out in the memory of those who witnessed his remarkable agility and his masterly, invaluable volleying.

    His service, too, on that occasion was such that it revealed depths of power in this direction perhaps not altogether realized, and from that day onward Riseley's name was mentioned almost with bated breath.

    Two still foremost players whose names in lawn tennis annals have been famous for many years are not unmentioned in a previous chapter, while contributions appearing elsewhere demonstrate that their power with the pen is almost equal to their power with the racket.” A. Wallis Myers 1902

    Riseley was an aggressive serve and volleyer backed up by a sturdy defense. His deadly sharp service could could on rare occasions falter under intense pressure in a long match although he held fast brilliantly many times as well.

    “Frank Riseley proved himself to be the second best player in England in 1906 (he beat Gore both at Leicester and Wimbledon), and it will always be something of a mystery why he was not selected as a reserve member of the Davis Cup defending team. In the doubles challenge round he was inspired, and so deadly was his right arm on the serve and volley that, stricken with neuritis, it could not be lifted again in play for some years.

    In the orthodox English school Riseley always shone, but he did not possess Smith's ability, as he did not employ Smith's method of driving, to hit the break service as forcefully as the plain. Riseley retired from Wimbledon before the oversea giants mustered in their prime, though he made a welcome return in 1919. He was thus less tested than some of his contemporaries, but while he was a great player, he was not one of the greatest.” A. Wallis Myers 1922
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
    #27
  28. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Sgt. John -- I agree that The South of France at Nice Championships can't be stated as the absolute forerunner of the classic French Open at RG as of 1925 and onwards.

    This arguable point I made since several players and experts of the day many times said that it was the most important clay tourney from late 1890s to about 1907, 08 -- then probably replaced by Cannes, Monte Carlo and the Hard Court Championship in Paris followed by the RG 1925. One can also argue that the Paris Olympic Tourney in 1900 on clay -- won by Laurie in style -- was the major clay event that year -- but the draw wasn't really in any way as large as Nice's neither as strong. Besides me stating these points made by others of the era there's mainly these reasons that make me think this carries some (not all) weight:

    The red clay tourneys in France attracted the best players in the world during this era and while all of them had their "special" trait and attraction, from 1925 and onwards, the greatest championship in the world on red clay has been placed as the last tourney of the spring clay season also containing the deepest and largest draw -- every player had sharpened their skills when RG arrives.

    These traits Nice had from 1895 to 1906 at least. Nice was the last big clay tourney with a huge draw with every major player who's competed in the other preceding tourneys so the field was in form.

    The Homburg Cup in August of course was also huge -- wiht several men's singles tourneys (!?) with an even deeper draw with an enormous amount of international players. But it was in August, broken off from the spring section that mounts nicely on the shoulders of Monte and Cannes and others culminating at the seven rounds finals at Nice...
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
    #28
  29. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    "Although it did not include my American experts The Dohertys were on opposite sides, and meeting in the finals the younger defaulted as usual to his older brother. In the meantime the leading professionals of Europe had finished their section of the tournament, and the winner and second “pro” met the Dohertys in two exhibition matches for big prizes offered by Eugene Higgins, the American sportsman. R. F. Doherty beat Burke, the professional champion, by three easy sets to one in most decisive fashion, and H. L. Doherty beat Fleming, the second-best professional, in straight sets. The Dohertys have never failed to win any championship title they set out for during the last five or six years, and the American championship has now furnished a new laurel to be sought after, which has yet proven to be a little out of their reach. Smith is the strongest of the base-line players abroad, and probably the best in the world, although Whitman might dispute this claim, since the American ex-champion plays a very strong game without ever volleying a ball.

    Lawn tennis skill is not an acquisition of the year, or two or three. There are plenty of cases of golf players who have jumped from the bottom to the top in two or three seasons—witness the case of the present champion, James, or even of Travis himself— but we have yet to record a single instance anywhere at home or abroad where a man has entered the first class or has even learned to be a high-class tennis expert without his full six or eight years of experience, and it may be considered a reasonable standard that it takes fully ten years for a lawn tennis player to perfect his game.

    Even after such an apprenticeship the star player goes on learning new methods, new styles, and new strokes for years after maturity. A fresh contrast of styles will be seen in the international this season, for the easy, graceful strokes of the Dohertys always furnish a marked contrast to the forceful, energetic, strenuous style of the typical American players.

    Our men bend more to meet the ball; they throw their weight harder at it; they “run lower,” as the football coaches say, and they are quicker in turning and starting and stopping. Their execution is not so perfect nor so highly cultivated as that of their British cousins, else they would be clearly their superiors. Smith, however, is somewhat American in his style. He is more energetic in his play than most of the British experts, hitting the ball harder and in the strenuous American style. Riseley is more like the other English players, always graceful..."

    American Journalist J. Parmly Paret 1902
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2009
    #29
  30. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    JOSIAH RITCHIE (1870 – 1955)
    He is best remembered for being a three time medalist at the 1908 London Olympics at 38. At the Games he won a gold (men's singles), silver (men's doubles) and bronze (men's indoor singles) medal. In 1908 and 1910 he and Tony Wilding won the doubles in Wimbledon. In 1909 he lost the Wimbledon singles final. He also won the Irish championships in 1907 and the German championships 1903 - 1906 and 1908 (in 1904 and 1906 also the doubles there). In 1908 he was member of the British Davis Cup team. This fine and much-travelled player, nearly as good at the age of fifty as he ever was.

    Ritchie only won the All Comers singles at Wimbledon once, but he was in the final for three successive years (1902 to 1904), and even as recently as 1919, after the long war interregnum, he reached the semi-final, and in that round was the only player in the whole competition to take a set from Patterson. No man living has played more lawn tennis than this hard-grained expert of the British school. I saw him beat H. L. Doherty both at Monte Carlo and Queen's, and always regret I was not in Boston, U.S.A., when he beat Beals Wright. Smith, Gore, Mahony, George Hillyard, Greville all the English and Irish giants of the decade before the last tasted defeat at his hands at one time or another. Even last June (1920) he was good enough to overcome R. N. Williams, the American ex-champion, on a soft court at Queen's.

    I have heard Ritchie described as a base-liner. If this means he has sound ground shots on both wings, all of them produced in the best way, it is true, but it is still only half the truth. Ritchie is also a sound volleyer -- not spectacular like Karl Behr nor a player who does not prefer to stay back; yet a driver who, if the occasion demands, can hit as hard "on the fly" as anyone and push home an advantage very adroitly at the net. The greatest of Ritchie's victories have been achieved by timely volleying notably that over H. L. Doherty under cover at Queen's."

    “In recent years the name of M. J. G. Ritchie has become almost a household word in every lawn tennis centre on the Continent, so extensive have been his peregrinations, so numerous his foreign triumphs.

    In England, though always regarded as a player of great promise, it was not until about three years ago that Ritchie attained the conspicuous position which he now holds.

    Last year he did wonders; not only abroad was he credited with the Championship of France, the Swedish Championship, the Danish Championship, the Champion- ship of Berlin, and the Championship of Austria, but in this country he won the Championship of London at Queen's Club, and among other noteworthy performances reached the final both at Wimbledon and Eastbourne.

    It is as a Singles player at which Ritchie, up to the present, has shone the more, despite a style which appears to the spectators as perhaps a trifle forced and unnatural. His remarkable driving powers, both fore and back, are undeniable. Yet Ritchie has his vicissitudes — witness his mysterious collapse in the final at Eastbourne last September. Like many another celebrated prayer he owes most of his success to having begun the game when quite a child; indeed, he has told me that from ten to fourteen years of age he played with great zest.”
    A. Wallis Myers 1902

    GEORGE HILLYARD
    Both cricket and tennis have claimed George Hillyard as their votary, and in both has he excelled. Tall and distinguished, finely built, and strong as a lion, it would indeed be a surprise if outdoor sports did not claim Hillyard as an expert. He was showing me his photographic album one day, and I received reliable evidence that his versatility extended to golf, at which game he has won several prizes, among other places at Cannes.

    During the last fifteen years has rarely failed to put in an appearance at all the principal meetings in England, while his pilgrimages abroad have been both many and fruitful, and on two occasions he has been returned Champion of Germany. It should not be forgotten that Hillyard was within an ace of beating Gore at Wimbledon in 1901, the ball hitting the top of the net and rolling over on the wrong side. Had it fallen on the right Hillyard might have been Champion of England! As far back as 1889 he won the Doubles Championship of Ireland with E. W. Lewis, which is pretty conclusive evidence that he must have been almost as good in those days as he is at the present time.

    In the following year, partnered by H. S. Scrivener, he won the Doubles Covered Court Championship of England and defended the position with succees the following year. Only two years ago we find him "coming through" at Queen's and winning the Mixed Doubles Championship of England with his wife; while this year he played in both the challenge rounds. Recently, in company with Cazalet, Hillyard has come very near — within an ace in fact — to vanquishing the Dohertys, who, I believe, regard the pair as the most difficult of any to beat in England. With a trifle more luck the old Leicestershire cricketer should have held the Doubles Championship of England before now; for his play is of times the most brilliant of the four in any match.

    His low cross fore-hand drive, which so often scores outright, his enormous reach, and high muscular service — above all, his stamina, are professional equipments that any man might envy. In private life G. W. Hillyard is a modest and amiable gentleman with a host of friends.

    ERNEST BLACK
    Ernest Douglas Black is undoubtedly Yorkshire's best player, and in lawn tennis circles his name is quite familiar. He possesses a severe service and a back-hand stroke of great accuracy and speed. His strokes were learnt playing against a wall, covered with boards, and having a line the height of the net. In 1899 he won the Yorkshire Championship outright, and was again champion of the county in 1901 and 1902. By defeating W. V. Eaves in 1899 he secured the Scottish Championship, and at Scarborough, Sheffield and Leeds and his successes have been numerous.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
    #30
  31. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    MALCOLM D. WHITMAN
    Whitman began his tennis career in the Interscholastic tournaments, and at first was almost invariably defeated by Ware, who, paradoxical as it may seem, although Whitman's inferior, could be relied upon to defeat him in tournament play. Whitman, however, kept at it conscientiously, studying every stroke, and always trying to perfect his game.

    In 1896 he was rated in the First Ten in sixth place, and the next year he sprung into prominence by defeating Mahony, one of the visiting Englishmen, at Newport, and by playing a close match against Nisbet. The next year, 1898, he won 11 early every important American tournament, and brought his tennis season to a successful conclusion by winning the Newport Tournament, taking the Championship from Wrenn by default. (Wrenn, with Larned, had been in Cuba with the " Rough- Riders.") Whitman played through the seasons of 1899 and 1900, defending his Cups successfully, and then retired, an undefeated Champion. He was persuaded, however, to take up the game again when it was known that the Doherty brothers were to represent England in the 1902 International matches.

    He defeated both Pim and R. F. Doherty at Bay Ridge, only to lose to the latter in the final round at Newport.

    Though radically different from Larned in his style of play, Whitman in his way is probably the greatest genius at the game that America has produced. He is slow and careful and steady, and has almost perfect control over the ball. Every stroke is made with care and precision and forethought. His forehand stroke is taken when the ball is somewhat lower than Larned's, and instead of a side stroke, his is more of a "Lawford."

    He is clever at delaying this stroke, waiting until the ball has fallen quite low before making the return, and then concealing skilfully its direction. His backhand is more of a defensive stroke ; he puts some upward cut on the ball, striking it at the top of the bound, and with more of a side stroke. At lobbing he is good, and uses this play at opportune times.

    His service is rather slow, but well placed and varied in pace and direction. Unless pressed close, he prefers not to follow his service to the net, and on the whole, is inclined to the back court game, I should say, rather than to the net play.

    At the net, however, his great height and enormous reach give him a distinct advantage ; and while not a brilliant volleyer, is a safe one, and a very hard man to catch off his guard. His low volleys, I think, arc comparatively weak; but his smashing, while not severe, is accurate, and a low lob means that the point is his.

    It is rare, indeed, to find two such masters of the game as Larned and Whitman with two such totally different styles of play; and the saying, "Lawn tennis players are born, not made, "is proved false in this case, for while Larned is a natural born player, Whitman's game was acquired only after long and careful study and conscientious practice. Which is the better man will always be a matter of discussion. Where Larned is dashing, reckless, brilliant, apparently indifferent, Whitman is deliberate, cautious, steady and wholly wrapped up in his play. Larned, at the most critical point, hits the ball swiftly, as if not caring what the outcome of the "rest" will be; Whitman at all times plays his strokes slowly, surely, striving for every point. While Larned will pass his man at the net half a dozen times in succession by a series of almost marvellous shots, crosscourt or straight down the lines, backhand or forehand, Whitman prefers to take fewer chances, to wait for an opening, to play the ball from side to side, until he gets his opponent out of position, and finally wins the point by an easy pass, or more likely by his opponent's error.

    Thus Whitman's fine points are not on the surface by any means ; while he seems to be merely batting the ball back and forth, he is, in reality, putting all of his skill into the effort to get his opponent into difficulties, so that the latter will lose the point on an apparently poor play. It is here that Whitman's skill lies; he is a disappointing player for one to watch who has been led to expect great things of him ; for while he himself does not seem to be playing especially well, it is always his opponent who is playing poorly, and who is throwing the match away what seem to be inexcusable errors. It is only those who understand the fine points of the game, or who have played against him, who realise what a master he really is.

    Larned's play, on the other hand, is "neck or nothing"; he wins or he loses on his own good or poor play; in his matches, the "rests" are short and are usually ended by a brilliant pass or by a short, sharp volley, that brings the crowd to its feet in a burst of applause. Willing to take the net at the first opportunity, he follows up a swift, deep stroke, and either wins the point or loses it in an extraordinarily short space of time.

    Larned either plays wonderfully well, or mighty poorly; his play is never mediocre. It is Larned, of course, who "carries the crowd" with him, and who keeps them in a state of excitement from the first point to the last; in fact, one cannot watch Larned at his best without being enthusiastic. On the other hand, by the very nature of his game,

    Whitman's matches do not provoke great enthusiasm; now and then a long "rest" cleverly played, or an unusual "save" after the ball is apparently well out of his reach, will cause applause; but on thewhole, one can watch Whitman's matches with much greater comfort and peace of mind than those of the more brilliant player. Whitman, in a word, strives not to lose points; Larned, to win them; the result, Whitman has been the most consistent player, and the most reliable we have yet produced; Larned, the most dashing and brilliant.

    Speaking in general terms, our development of late years has been in a direction of better net play, of faster, sharper volleying, and more accurate overhead work. Rightly or wrongly, Americans, as a class, consider the net the objective point towards which they are struggling always. We have seen this emphasised in our game of Doubles, in which almost everything else was sacrificed by those who formerly held the Championship in order to get to the net ; and these tactics proved quite successful, until overcome by the superior steadiness and better "all-round" play of the Doherty Brothers — the present American Champions in Doubles.

    R. F. and H. L. Doherty beat Dwight F. Davis and Holcombe Ward, who had held the Doubles Championship of the United States for the past three years, in 1902.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
    #31
  32. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Hi Borgforever,
    as you can note I haven't written much stuff in that forum for weeks because I'm very busy professionally. I haven't even answered pc1 about Budge, Kenny, Rod and Björn (but I'll do it).
    I haven't even read your such awaited thread about Doherty and his peers at last created.
    But I can't prevent myself to have a glance at that forum and I have at last seen your stuff (but not read as said just before) about the pre-WWI players.

    I thank you for that thread that I will read in some ... weeks.
    I can't stay here more than 5 minutes a day so I quit you and the others.
    Bye and once again thank you for that thread (I guess it is wonderful)
     
    #32
  33. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

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    This is very interesting. Thanks for tracking all of this information down and posting it.
     
    #33
  34. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Your welcome! I do miss your epic posts though... :)
     
    #34
  35. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Before I go into Norman Brookes comments and start posting the updated records with commentary -- let's check out some Doherty-brothers statistics:

    Career losses R.F. Doherty: 23 losses (16 real match-losses)
    Career losses H.L. Doherty: 20 losses (11 real match-losses only)

    Tournament wins R. F. Doherty: 25 -- out of 49
    Tournament wins H. L. Doherty: 60 -- out of 80

    H2Hs with the greatest of their era:

    H.L.'s H2H first followed by R. F. H2Hs:
    J. Ritchie 8-2 0-0
    F. Riseley 4-1 0-0
    W. Baddeley 0-1 1-2
    J. Pim 1-1 0-1
    H. Mahony 5-1 1-5
    S. H. Smith 6-1 2-1
    W. Larned 5-0 1-3
    M. Whitman 0-0 1-1
    N. Brookes 1-0 0-0
    W. Eaves 4-2 2-2
    A. W. Gore 5-3 2-1
    A. F. Wilding 1-0 0-0
    Bill Clothier 3-0 0-0
    George Hillyard 6-2 0-0
    Summary:
    H. L. was 49-14 against his strongest opponents.
    R. F. was 10-16 against his strongest opponents.

    NOTE: Regarding H. L. and Brookes I didn’t count the worthless test-mach that Brookes won after Wimby and Davis Cup in 1905. Basically because it didn’t carry any weight and the fact that Brookes has said that Laurie was so sick during this match that Brookes asked Laurie to stop the match. Otherwise it would be 1-1 in H2H.

    And these H2H statistics are from incomplete records so one must imagine that Reggie’s stats are higher than the summary but still these numbers are way too negative to suggest that R. F. was close to his brother as a quality tennis-player...

    When it comes to H2H I will further add that IMO the H2Hs carry more weight if they contain many match-ups as opposed to the reverse. The more meetings the more truthful the stats mainly because then the players have time to learn their opponent and have more opportunities to better their individual stats.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2009
    #35
  36. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    R.F. FIVE-SETTER 4 won – 1 loss (80% winning percentage)
    R1: Harold Mahony (BRI-I) - Reggie Doherty (BRI-G) 6-3 5-7 6-1 3-6 6-2 (Wimby, grass 1896)
    FC: Reggie Doherty (BRI-G) - Arthur Gore (BRI-G) 1-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 (Wimby, grass 1899)
    F: Reggie Doherty (BRI-G) - Clarence Hobart (USA) 3-6 4-6 6-0 6-3 6-4 (Homburg Cup, red clay 1899)
    FC: Reggie Doherty (BRI-G) - Arthur Gore (BRI-G) 6-4 7-5 7-9 7-9 6-3 (Irish, grass 1900)
    FC: Reggie Doherty (BRI-G) - Bob Wrenn (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-8 6-4 (Davis Cup, Boston, grass 1903)

    H.L. FIVE-SETTER 10 won – 4 losses (71.42 % winning percentage)
    SF: Harold Mahony (BRI-I) - Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) 6-3 4-6 6-2 2-6 10-8 (Queens, grass 1896)
    SF: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) - Sidney Smith (BRI-G) 0-6 1-6 6-2 6-2 11-9 -- Northern, grass 1898
    F: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) - Harold Mahony (BRI-I) 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 2-6, 14-12 -- Wimby, grass 1898
    Q: Frank Riseley (BRI-G) - Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-2 (Irish, grass 1899)
    F: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) - George Hillyard (BRI-G) 7-5 6-2 3-6 4-6 6-2 (Homburg Cup, red clay 1900)
    R3: George Hillyard (BRI-G) - Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) 0-6 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-3 (Wimby, grass 1901)
    F: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) - Sidney Smith (BRI-G) 5-7 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-3 (Nice, red clay 1903)
    F: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) - Bill Larned (USA) 6-3 6-8 6-0 2-6 7-5 (Davis Cup, Boston, grass 1903)
    FC: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) - Josiah Ritchie (BRI-G) 6-2 8-10 5-7 6-4 6-3 (Queens Indoor Spring, wood 1904)
    R3: Josiah Ritchie (BRI-G) - Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) 6-2 6-4 8-10 1-6 6-4 (Queens Indoor Fall, wood 1904)
    F: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) - Holcombe Ward (USA) 7-9 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-0 (Davis Cup, Wimby, grass 1905)
    F: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) – Bill Larned (USA) 6-4 2-6 6-8 6-4 6-2 (Davis Cup, Wimby, grass 1905)
    F: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) - Ray Little (USA) 3-6 6-3 6-8 6-1 6-3 (Davis Cup, Wimby, grass 1906)

    NOTE: Borg (strongest stat in open era) 25-5 in five-setters 83.33% winning percentage.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2009
    #36
  37. Borgforever

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    MAYBE LAURIE DOHERTY'S MOST DOMINATING PERFORMANCE

    Aug 30 1903
    US Championships (gentlemen), Newport USA (G): (Aug 27)
    R1: Reggie Doherty bye
    R2: Reggie Doherty d. B. Merrill 6-1, 6-2, 6-1
    R3: Reggie Doherty d. K. Collins 6-2, 2-6, 10-8, 6-3
    R4: Reggie Doherty (BRI-G) d. J. Parmly Paret 6-0, 6-1, 6-2
    R2: Bill Clothier (USA) d. Beals Wright (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-1
    R4: Bill Clothier (USA) d. Holcombe Ward (USA) 6-2, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5
    SF: Bill Clothier (USA) d. Edward Larned (USA) 6-3 6-1 6-2
    R1: Laurie Doherty d. C. Relyea 6-0, 6-1, 6-1
    R2: Laurie Doherty d. M. Colket 6-2, 6-2, 6-0
    R3: Laurie Doherty d. R. Stevens 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
    R4: Laurie Doherty d. Harold Mahony (BRI-I) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
    QF: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) d. Reggie Doherty (BRI-G) w/o
    SF: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) d. Richard Carleton (USA) 6-2, 6-0, 6-0
    F: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) d. Bill Clothier (USA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
    C: Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) d. Bill Larned (USA) 6-0, 6-3, 10-8

    D: L. Doherty (BRI-G) / R. Doherty (BRI-G)

    7-0 (8-0 including the w/o) in matches
    21-0 in sets
    130-44 games 74.71 % winning percentage

    BOTH SINGLES AND DOUBLES CHAMPION -- first player to win a GS-tourney without set-loss in seven rounds and winning the doubles -- Donald Budge I think won singles, doubles and mixed too when he won Wimby 1938 without set-loss...
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2009
    #37
  38. elegos7

    elegos7 Rookie

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    Hi Borgforever,

    I also agree that the South of France Championships at Nice was the most prestigious Riviera event in the first decade of the 20th century.
    Do you have final results before 1899 (in that year R. Doherty beat Voss)?

    I also noticed in this thread you included some early round results of Laurie (notably the 1896 Queens semi). Did you get these results from Carlo (whom I have provided the pre-1914 results) or do you have another data source?

    Last year I spent a couple of days in the Wimbledon library where I gather the most important pre-1914 results, but a couple of more would still be welcome, especially early professional results...
     
    #38
  39. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Relative Prestige of Homburg

    Hello,

    I notice that on Tony Wilding's Wikipedia site that it calls 'Homburg' the championship of Europe. Did it really have this status in the first decade of the 20th Century? I note that Wilding won it a couple of times. He also won Nice 4 times. Was Nice more highly rated?

    Thanks
     
    #39
  40. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Hi elegos7,

    I used the stats Carlo (and you I presume) graciously submitted and I've added about 10-20% results that I've got from AELTC, THE FIELD, DAILY TELEGRAPH plus an assortment of vintage magazines bought and (luckily) read at a friends house who's also vintage tennis-nut like me.

    I'm still disappointed -- I want the entire Nice results R1 and onwards and so forth. But if one holds an eye open the scores trickle in from time to time.

    What struck me is the wealth of info, the strong similarities to own way of tennis now and the strength of the era. Brookes, as Carlo said, took a set from Tilden -- 10-8, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 -- AND Johnston -- 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in the Davis Cup-final of 1920 and Brookes was 43 years old...

    Brookes made the R4 at Wimby I guess in 1924 at 47! Josiah Ritchie and Hillyard and several other did decently in the 20s -- it doesn't prove anything conclusive -- but it gives proof that suggests it's not a cut and dry issue.

    I will post the entire record soon that I got and added on and I will e-mail you anything you ask after this...

    But Laurie was so stupendously successful and completely mastered an era that was filled with very competitive people that -- for me -- he easily reaches that high level were a serious question-mark should be attached to his name as regards to the GOAT-issue.

    He didn't enjoy any of the comfort-creating or performance enhancing tools and methods that we do -- neither did he even enjoy a decent medical treatment for his ailments -- and still outperformed everybody to such a degree that it simply has to be recognized...

    I know that the first Wimby-footage that exists today are from 1904 -- right smack-dab in Laurie's reign -- and he was a famous guy. Maybe some moving images exists of him. I'm looking. It would be the coolest thing in five years for me to find a minute somewhere. I'm not holding my breath but you never know...

    I've looked at many photos of both H. L. and R. F. and they have immaculate technique.

    Check out the photo down on the right (that Urban linked to earlier) on Reggie as he rips his famous immortal instant BH down the line winner...

    http://bmarcore.club.fr/tennis/champions/doherty/laurie.htm

    Perfect. Dynamic. Modern. You can see it's a strong shot. Another link:

    http://bmarcore.club.fr/tennis/avant14/E-doherty.html

    Their technique is absolutely contemporary. I'm very impressed...
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2009
    #40
  41. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Hey timnz -- yes, Homburg was huge and to a certain extent was maybe the Championships of Europe. It had something like 4-6 men's singles events (including the German Championships) simultaneously with an enormous amount of players from everywhere. It was also confusing -- it was easy to play too many tourneys and get swamped. Nice had a finer field that had also a big draw but it was capping the spring Riviera-clay-season so it seems it was more "RG-like" back in the day.

    But around 1908, 09 and early 1910s Monte Carlo and Cannes at the Beau Site got stronger and stronger (there were also some other championships in France during this time that was very good) plus that The World Hard Court (red clay) Championships in Paris got underway and kind of actually was the forerunner to RG in the 1910s...

    As I understand it...
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2009
    #41
  42. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    And remember that Tilden himself played well against Pancho Gonzalez in (I guess 1950) and Pancho was a great player even back then. And remember Pancho's results even so far as into the 70s (and he even killed baby-Borg in 1972 in NYC, 6-1, 6-1) so you can't just dismiss "Little Do". His skills (especially as a match-player and tactician beyond his obvious shot-making prowess) seem, to quote Harold Mahony, "mind-boggling"...

    I've always had high regard for Tilden but my research into The Dohertys have also raised my appreciation for Tilden...

    Bonus on bonus so to speak...

    One shouldn't dismiss anybody unless you really find devastating proof. Look at Sampras -- he's not on in my top tier for GOAT on all surfaces -- but he's secure in my top tier for GOAT on grass, hard court cement and indoor regardless if his era lacked something. Just because Agassi wasn't there a few seasons doesn't automatically cancel out anything. It's not definite proof of anything. Therefore Pete Sampras could very well be the GOAT on these surfaces...

    In my opinion that is...
     
    #42
  43. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    I've also always been fascinated with Anthony Wilding and I've found out a lot about him too -- but I had to restrict myself, I don't have all time I wish I had and this becomes easily Tolstoj "WAR AND PEACE"-length...

    On December 11th 1911 Anthony Wilding arrived for the first time in cold Gothenburg, Sweden and two days ago I visited the site Anthony crushed the Gothenburg champion of the day (on the 12th) by 6-1, 6-1, 7-5. The indoor court is torn down now. And he said he really liked the "Gothenburgians" -- even after only two days -- which is always good to hear...

    He even drove across this country on his motorbike...

    Most macabre detail?

    In 1915 on the western front -- Anthony Wilding sat talking with his company in a building when a shell fell down on the roof.

    Everybody died instantly.

    Anthony's body was completely crushed to pieces. Only his head protruded above the rubble. Completely untouched. Without a speck of dirt on his face. His eyes were shut. Like he was sleeping.

    He could've lived into the 1970s. Many did. P. G. Woodehouse, the great comic writer, was born in 1881 and died in 1975 just as he finished his last book -- lively to the end. I even have a television interview with P. G. from 1974 and he talks about how he wrote all those books in the 1910s and onwards...
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2009
    #43
  44. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    #44
  45. 120mphBodyServe

    120mphBodyServe Banned

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    Aiming an ICBM at Portland, Oregon..
    Can't believe people are discussing these pre-historic players..
    *sigh*
     
    #45
  46. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Hi,
    my 5 minutes-a day-discussion-in-that-forum-because-of-work.

    Yes the South of France Chps at Nice were possibly the greatest Riviera event before WWI.
    I listed Wilding's wins in Wikipedia from Len and Shelley Richardsons' book about Anthony.

    Bad Homburg is a German inland city while Hamburg is seashore city. At Bad Homburg were held the men's doubles European (amateur) championships and also the most important Continental tournament. It was also the site of the first German (amateur) Chps while there was also a tournament at Hamburg. Later the German Chps were held at Hamburg.
    For instance the Dohertys used to favour the Bad Homburg tournament and to skip the Hamburg tournament showing that in the early days the Bad Homburg tournament was the most important one in Europe with some of the Riviera tourneys, Nice and Monte Carlo.

    Bye (my 5 minutes have passed)
     
    #46
  47. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Gonzales beat Tilden in 1952, 62 61 or 61 62, I never remember the score (if someone has to hand "Man with a racket" by Pancho himself or "The History of Professional Tennis" by McCauley he will look at the right score).
     
    #47
  48. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Great work, Borgforever. To Bad Homburg. I think from German books on tennis, Roderich Menzel wrote a voluminous book in 1950, thet Bad Homburg was the first tennis venue in Germany, imported by the Brits, who went there to cure their maladies. I think it was played on lawn at first, and i don't exactly know, when they changed lawn to clay. Bad Homburg was the leading place for German tennis alongside Hamburg Rothenbaum and Berlin, Rot- Weiss-Club.The leading German amateur before WWI was Otto Froitzheim, who did well against Brookes at Wimbledon. Some German pros were 'Wackel' Richter and especially Roman Najuch, who played with Tilden and Nuesslein until the early 30s.
     
    #48
  49. elegos7

    elegos7 Rookie

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    Hi Borgforever,

    I am very interested what kind of results you have in addition to my compilation.
    Did you find professional results before 1914? (look at the thread I began 2 days ago on professionals before 1926).
     
    #49
  50. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Hi elegos7 -- I will get to the additional results when I post the records (including the additional scores -- though I wish I had more) and the crazy thing is that I've only been posting this for two days or so and new (what am I talking about? Centuries old) results keep popping up even during the last two days.

    I mean elegos7 -- these guys -- this era, is a juicy, fierce era -- jam-packed with entertaining players. This era is over-ripe for a brick-sized bio -- easy...

    This era reads like "300" (with brains!) and no ones been capitalizing on this. Britain's got some of the finest writers on the planet -- including sports -- and NOT ONE BRITISH SOUL has turned their energies toward this particular time in history despite the eye-catching and eye-brow raising events. Everyone's looking for a great story -- if true, the better and here we got something that isn't pitty-pat, silly but the the real, timeless deal.

    Can you imagine, as pc1 wrote many moons ago, that Harry Hopman named Lawrence Doherty together with Laver and the top guys as GOATs at the end of his life. Harry Hopman was a genius and no bull*hitter. This is no drunk on the street yelling (not to denigrate or disrespect any drunk on the street :))

    Back to your specific question as regards to the pro players: No I haven't come across any more results as regards to the early pros (such as Burke or Kerr) I just added J. Parmly Paret's quotes on their meeting.

    This doesn't mean I'm not interested or dismissive of them or that if I direct my eye in their direction I won't find anything more than already found with the material I already amassed. It's just that I'm going to Wimby very soon I still got stuff to do and I like the guys here at TW former pro player talk and I have work and stuff so I have to make serious priorities...
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
    #50

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