While our knowledge of professional tennis is quite satisfactory after 1926 (thanks mainly to the excellent research of Ray Bowers, and Joe McCauley), very little is known about professional tennis before 1926. I have accumulated the following chronology using contemporary tennis magazines (Lawn Tennis and Badminton in the Wimbledon library) and on-line databases. I would welcome any additions or suggestions. My end goal is to establish professional and combined (pro-amateur) rankings in this early era. So here is what I could establish from this early era: The first professional tennis players seem to have come from the Fitzwilliam Tennis Club in Dublin, and later on from the Queen’s Club in London. 1883 George Kerr is appointed to assistant professional in the Fitzwilliam Tennis Club, and quickly becomes the chief professional. In Aug 25 in Newport American professional Tom Pettitt (24) defeats US Amateur champ Dick Sears (22) 6-4 9-11 6-4 6-4. 1885 In Aug 22 US Amateur champ Dick Sears (24) defeats American Tom Pettitt (26) the real tennis world champion in Newport 6-2 7-5 6-2. Pettit has become world champion in May when he has challenged and beaten George Lambert at the Royal Tennis Court, Hampton Court Palace. In Oct 9 James Dwight, US No2, also defeats Pettitt in a close game. 1886 In May 14 in Boston Sears defeats Pettitt 4-6 6-3 6-3 7-5. In Aug 27 in Newport Sears once again wins 6-2 6-4 6-4. 1887 In Aug 27 in Newport Sears defeats Pettitt 6-3 7-5 6-3. In Sep 21 Pettitt beats Slocum in a lawn-tennis match. 1889 George Kerr, the Irish professional champion comes to the US and beats Pettitt three matches to one for the world professional champion title. The first match is played in Newport, Aug 29, and Kerr wins 6-3 6-1 6-1. According to New York Times he displays the hardest hitting ever seen in America. Kerr also wins in Springsield on Sep 13. Pettitt wins on Sep 21. Finally in Boston on Sep 25 and Kerr once again wins 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-4. Kerr usually played in short knicker boxers and black stockings, and kept a flask of whisky beside the court. 1890 At the end of May in Dublin Tom Pettitt defends his real tennis world champion title beating Charles Saunders (Princes, London) 7 sets to 5. In June George Kerr and Pettitt clash once again in a series of lawn tennis matches from 9 to 11 Jun in Dublin and Kerr wins the series, and a purse of Ł75, 3 matches to 0. The detailed scores are: 4-6 6-3 6-1 4-6 6-4; 5-7 6-3 6-2 6-3; 6-4 6-4 6-4. In September Pettitt resigns his real tennis world champion title. 1898 In a pro match at Queen’s Club, London in March Thomas Burke (BRI-I) defeats Tom Fleming (BRI-G). The earliest mention of an actual pro tennis tournament from The Times. In Apr 24 a pro tournament was played in Paris on covered courts (probably means wood) in a round-robin format. Both Thomas Burke (tutor of the Tennis Club de Paris, former teacher of Pim) from Ireland and his countryman George Kerr (Fitzwilliam Club) defeat Tom Fleming (Queen’s Club) and Burke overcomes Kerr 6-2 4-6 6-1 5-7 6-4 in a wonderful match, after trailing 1-4 in the fifth set. Burke has played through his matches with coolness, judgment and steadiness, his passing shots and lobbing was marvelous. His back of court play is fine, especially his backhand. George Kerr played a very aggressive game with tremendous forehand drives. Thomas Burke (BRI-I) - Tom Fleming (BRI-G) 6-3 2-6 6-2 6-2 George Kerr (BRI-I) - Tom Fleming (BRI-G) 6-3 6-4 6-3 Pro rankings: 1. T. Burke 2. Kerr 1899 A pro-amateur meeting is played, possibly on the Riviera in the spring where Wimbledon champ Reggie Doherty demolishes the leading professional Thomas Burke 6-0 6-1 6-1. In August in Bad Homburg Thomas Burke and the leading Irish amateur Harold Mahony meet on clay and after both players have won two sets each the match is discontinued at 1-6 5-7 8-6 6-4. Pro rankings: 1. T. Burke 1900 During the 1900 Paris Exhibition a professional tennis tournament is held on clay and Irish Thomas Burke finishes ahead of his countryman George Kerr and the English Charles Hierons. Paris Pro Exhibition, Paris FRA (C) 1900 Jul 9 George Kerr (BRI-I) - Tom Fleming (BRI-G) 6-2 7-5 6-0 Charles Hierons (BRI-G) - Tom Fleming (BRI-G) 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 Thomas Burke (BRI-I) – Charles Hierons (BRI-G) 6-2 6-0 4-6 6-4 Thomas Burke (BRI-I) – Tom Fleming (BRI-G) 1-6 6-0 9-7 6-3 George Kerr (BRI-I) - Charles Hierons (BRI-G) 6-2 6-2 6-1 Thomas Burke (BRI-I) - George Kerr (BRI-I) 4-6 6-4 2-6 7-5 2-1 (retired exhausted) George Kerr was hitting hard and constantly running up to the net, which Burke tried to overcome with lobbing. In the 4th set Kerr lead 5-4 and was within two points of winning the match, and in the 5th retired, very much exhausted, his age and the fierce, forcing game he played took its toll. M.Masson, the observer in Lawn Tennis thought that Kerr played the better, the forcing game throughout the match and he is at least as good as Burke (two years ago Burke also beat him in a very close match, both both times they played on Burke’s own court, and the Irishman is not accustomed to playing on wood or clay). Hierons is an excellent player at the net. Thomas Burke, the father of Albert and Edmund Burke, must have been an outstanding player. In 1920 the Times stated that at his best he could even beat Reggie Doherty, who was the Wimbledon champion between 1897 and 1900. Pro rankings: 1. T. Burke 2. Kerr 3. Hierons 1902 Thomas Burke wins a pro round-robin in Nice, ahead of Tom Fleming and Charles Haggett (English pro working in Stockholm): Thomas Burke (GBR-I) - Tom Fleming (BRI-G) 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-2 Thomas Burke (GBR-I) - Charles Haggett (BRI-G) 6-2 6-3 6-4 Charles Haggett (BRI-G) - Tom Fleming (BRI-G) 6-1 6-0 6-1 In each year Tom Burke (Monte Carlo Pro) and Tom Fleming (Cannes pro) play matches, one in Cannes, the other in Monte Carlo, usually 5 hard-fought sets. Their tennis is reported (by Myers) to be mechanical and not very entertaining. In April at the Queen’s Club in London Tom Fleming beats Charles Hierons indoors 10-8 6-8 0-6 6-3 7-5. Pro rankings: 1. T. Burke 2. Haggett 3. Fleming 1903 American millionaire Eugene Higgins offers 5000 francs for a competition between the leading amateurs and professionals in Nice in March. The players are divided in 3 groups, in the first amateur group Laurie Doherty, while in the second Reggie Doherty triumphed. Then Laurie gave a walkover to his brother. In the third group 3 professionals played: Thomas Burke (GBR-I) – George Kerr (BRI-I) 6-3 6-4 6-3 Thomas Burke (GBR-I) – Charles Hierons (BRI-G) 7-5 4-6 6-1 4-6 6-4 George Kerr (BRI-I) - Charles Hierons (BRI-G) 6-0 6-4 6-2 The finals between the amateurs and professionals: Reggie Doherty (BRI-G) - Thomas Burke (GBR-I) 1-6 6-1 6-0 6-0 (after losing the first set Reggie puts down his sweater and outclasses Burke) Laurie Doherty (BRI-G) - George Kerr (BRI-I) 6-3 6-2 7-5 A fortnight before in Nice both Burke and Kerr were beaten by leading British amateurs Sidney Smith and Frank Riseley. At the end of May, before the Budapest International Championships Hungarian pro Ferenc Burger beats a leading British amateur, Josiah Ritchie 5-7 11-9 6-3. Pro rankings: 1. T. Burke 2. Kerr 1907 Hungarian Pro Championships in Sep in Budapest: (first edition) F: János Zeitler (HUN) – Ferenc Burger (HUN) 6-3 4-6 7-5 1908 An article in Lawn Tennis and Badminton describes the state of professionals in lawn tennis. There are few professional players and these few do not have the sufficient incentive to bring out their best qualities. Since the 1900 Paris Exhibition tournament (even that lacked the importance and the official stamp), there was no professional championship and by virtue of his victory Burke is still regarded the professional champion. Hierons mentioned recently that he and his colleagues would welcome a competition. They would like to play for a title under set and authorised conditions, and not have to wait for some philantropist to come forward and offer a prize for an unofficial exhibition match, which is far from satisfactory as a test of merit, and concerns only two players and not the many. Cowdrey was another good professional at the Queen’s Club, and was supposed to be capable of beating the Doherties. Hungarian Pro Championships in Aug in Budapest: F: János Zeitler (HUN) - József Zeitler (HUN) 1909 Hungarian Pro Championships in Oct in Budapest: F: János Zeitler (HUN) - József Zeitler (HUN) (in the 1930s there are further editions of this event, usually won by Ferenc Schmied (Schmidt/Szigeti) who also plays in international pro tournaments) 1910 George Kerr, who has taught tennis in Berlin for many years leaves Germany and resettles in England. But his legacy in Germany is immense and ensures the leading role of German professionals in the next decades. One of his most prominent students, Roman Najuch, takes over his role. 1911 The German Professional Tennis Association is founded, the first of its kind in the world. 1912 Karel Kozeluh beats Roman Najuch 6-2 6-3 in the West Germany Pro Championships in Wiesbaden, probably in the spring. The first German Pro Championships is played in Bremen indoors in Oct 4-6. There is a closed event for German citizens, won by Willi Hannemann (born in 1892); and an international event, won by Roman Najuch (born in 1893).