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Old 10-15-2012, 04:03 AM   #1
newmark401
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Default The Doherty Brothers Clay Court Singles Victories (1896-1909)

By Mark Ryan

Part I of II

Although neither Reggie (born 1872), the elder of the two great tennis-playing Doherty brothers, nor Laurie (born 1875), Reggie’s junior by almost exactly three years, ever enjoyed robust health, they were able to achieve a tremendous amount in their chosen sport during the periods in which both of them played it competitively.

They were both multiple Wimbledon champions, Reggie taking the singles title there from 1897-1900 and Laurie following him in the years 1902-06. Together, they took the Wimbledon doubles title eight times in the nine years from 1897-1905 (they lost the final match in 1896, 1902 and 1906). Uniquely for the time, they won the United States doubles title in 1902 and 1903, while Laurie became the first overseas player to take the men’s singles title of the United States in the latter year.

The Dohertys also excelled on fast indoor courts (Laurie won the British Covered Courts Championships, played on wood at the Queen’s Club in London, every year from 1901-06). Although a Challenge Round was in force at this and other tournaments (including Wimbledon) during this period – the defending champion would thus have to play only one match – the brothers’ achievements are nevertheless hugely impressive.

Perhaps somewhat ironically, given their relatively delicate constitutions, both of the brothers were also supreme clay court players (this unforgiving, slow surface requires great powers of concentration, determination and limitless physical reserves). The Dohertys dominated the European clay court tournaments they chose to play in the same way that they dominated their favoured grass and indoor tournaments.

In France the Dohertys preferred the Riviera tournaments, principally those in Monte Carlo and Nice. In Germany, Bad Homburg was their main chosen tournament, at least in the early years (circa 1896-1901). In later years they played little in Germany, possibly because the Bad Homburg and Baden-Baden tournaments were played in August/September. The French Riviera tournaments were played early in spring, at a time when little or no tournaments of any significance were held in the British Isles. There were no Challenge Rounds in the French Riviera tournaments.

Because they both sometimes took part in the same tournament, Laurie and Reggie Doherty inevitably had to face each other across the net on several occasions (in an era when seedings and rankings did not exist, this could happen at any stage of a tournament, even the first round). However, the brothers did not like playing each other in singles and the one tended to give the other a walkover whenever they were due to meet. The brother who had received the walkover would usually be the winner of the tournament in question.

The following list of clay court victories for the Doherty brothers spans the years from 1896 to 1909. (By 1909, Reggie’s best years were behind him, but he was still able to take the South African title in that particular year. Reggie died one year later, in 1910.) This list is not meant to be definitive, but it does, nevertheless, provide a clear indication of the Dohertys’ dominance on this surface. The tournaments are listed chronologically, by year and within each year.
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1896

Bad Homburg, Germany: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. Manliffe Goodbody (IRL) 6-0, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1*

* The main prize for which the men competed at this tournanemt was the Homburg Cup. The Doherty brothers valued this event so much that they preferred playing in it to competing in the German Championships singles event when both events were held simultaneously in Homburg from 1898 to 1901. As a result, neither Reggie nor Laurie ever won the German Championships.
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Baden-Baden, Germany: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. Count Viktor Voss 6-1, 7-5, 6-2*

* The Baden-Baden tournament was popular with overseas players and attracted many of the top players at various times. It is not easy to find results from the earliest editions (circa 1895-1904). The Dohertys probably took part in the Baden-Baden tournament more than once because it usually followed on from the tournament in Bad Homburg.
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1897

Monte Carlo, Monaco: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. R. Blackwood-Price (GBR) 6-2, 6-1, 6-2*

* The main prize for which the men competed at this tournanemt was the Monte Carlo Cup.
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Bad Homburg, Germany: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. George Hillyard (GBR), walkover
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1898

South of France Championships, Nice, France: Laurie Doherty (GBR) d. J. Hay-Gordon 6-1, 6-2, 6-1
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Monte Carlo, Monaco: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. Count Viktor Voss (GER) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-0, retired
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Bad Homburg, Germany: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. George Hillyard (GBR), walkover
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1899

South of France Championships, Nice, France: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. Count Victor Voss (GER) 6-0, 6-0, 6-0
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Monte Carlo, Monaco: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. Count Victor Voss (GER) 6-2, retired
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Heiligendamm Open, Heiligendamm, Mecklenburg, Germany: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. George Wantzelius 6-2, 6-1, 6-2*

* This was the first edition of this tournament, where the men competed for the Heiligendamm Cup.
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Bad Homburg, Germany: Reggie Doherty (GBR) d. Clarence Hobart (GBR) 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4
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