1959/60: The Greatest Season in Tennis?

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
No Doubt. But today‘s players never trained in those conditions and outside of Wimbledon and a couple of other places grass is no longer a relevant surface.
Grass is the classic surface of lawn tennis (you ever wonder why we never hear that term "lawn tennis" recently?), and those wood racquets gave a better test of athletic skill than the jumbo heads on today's racquets.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The place finishes in the ranking points system for that 1959/60 season were as follows.


Hoad 51 points
Gonzales 43 points
Rosewall 41 points
Sedgman 32 points
Trabert 28 points
Segura 14 points
Anderson 14 points
Cooper 8 points
Rose 1 point
Olmedo 1 point
McGregor 0 points
Hartwig 0 points
Giammalva 0 points

Hartwig earned a win over Hoad at Perth in November, but that was insufficient to win him any points.

McGregor won a h2h series against Anderson 3 matches to 0, but earned no Ampol points.

Giammalva won the Southern Professional Grasscourt Championships beating both Budge and Riggs, both of whom could still play.
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The Ampol world series was actually billed officially as "The World Open Championship" in anticipation of persuading a few of the top amateurs to participate

in some of the 15 tournaments. Of course, the amateur authorities refused to consider co-operating with the idea, and it remained a strictly professional tour

for the contract pros. It would also prove to be a one-off series, rather than an annual competition as originally envisioned.

This would be the first tournament championship series to be arranged as an international set of events, the previous pro tournament championship series in

1946 being located entirely within the U.S. Of the fifteen tournaments in the 1959 tour, ten would take place in Australia, plus two in U.S. (L.A. Masters and

Forest Hills), one in Canada (Toronto Lawn Tennis Club in Rosedale), one in Paris (Roland Garros), and one in Britain (Wembley).

There would be another world series of tournaments arranged in 1964, with Rosewall (the third place finisher in 1959) edging Laver for the crown, although

there was apparently no crown or trophy awarded in 1964, or special prize money.
The 1959 Ampol tour attempted to arrange tournament locations at the most prestigious venues, mostly at outdoor facilities.

The Toronto Lawn Tennis Club was/is located in Rosedale, Toronto, one of the prime residential districts and a designated heritage neighbourhood.

The Toronto Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1876, and the first tournament held in 1881.

The greats have played here, Hoad won the 1956 event over Davidson on clay, Gonzales won the 1959 Ampol series event on clay over Sedgman in the final,

Borg, Connors and Evert have played here.

The current resident pro is Daniel Nestor.

Our family used to dine at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club in the early 1960's, and apparently my dad was a member at that time.

Click on the titles below,


 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The most distinguished venue for tennis on that 1959/60 Ampol tour was the historic Forest Hills stadium, the famous "horseshoe" stadium, and was the only

professional tournament of the era to be broadcast nationally on a major television network, CBS.

The West Side Tennis Club still locates here, and operates tennis programs. Click on "History Timeline" below.

The West Side Tennis Club was organized in 1892, and interestingly, that was about 16 years after the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club was formed in 1876.

The Jack Kramer Tournament of Champions was played here 1957/58/59, and, interestingly, is listed on the link here as the "WCT Tournament of Champions".

This makes some sense, as that 15-tournament points series of 1959/60 was a precursor of the later Grand Prix and ATP points series, Kramer being the founder

of both.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The Kooyong Stadium in 1959/1960 hosted the final and decisive tournament of the Ampol series, won by Hoad.

Today, Kooyong is home to the Kooyong Classic tournament, the principal warm-up event to the Australian Open, which awards the Lew Hoad Memorial Trophy

to the winner of the men's singles.


There is also a tennis museum of great moments in the stadium's history.

 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The most distinguished venue for tennis on that 1959/60 Ampol tour was the historic Forest Hills stadium, the famous "horseshoe" stadium, and was the only

professional tournament of the era to be broadcast nationally on a major television network, CBS.

The West Side Tennis Club still locates here, and operates tennis programs. Click on "History Timeline" below.

The West Side Tennis Club was organized in 1892, and interestingly, that was about 16 years after the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club was formed in 1876.

The Jack Kramer Tournament of Champions was played here 1957/58/59, and, interestingly, is listed on the link here as the "WCT Tournament of Champions".

This makes some sense, as that 15-tournament points series of 1959/60 was a precursor of the later Grand Prix and ATP points series, Kramer being the founder

of both.

The Forest Hills Tournament of Champions was televised nationally on CBS, and was blacked out for the metropolitan New York city area, presumably to

encourage the live gate and ticket sales. That was certainly true for 1959, where I could find no broadcast listed in the television listings of the New York Times.

However, in 1957 there may have been another situation.

Here is Hoad's debut match at Forest Hills as a pro in 1957.


Hoad discussed this match that same evening on CBS television's "What's My Line", at the 3:00 minute point and following.

Notice that when he is discovered, at the 4:50 point, Arlene Francis says "I just watched you", referring to the same day's match.

Hoad had rushed over from Forest Hills to Manhattan immediately after the Sedgman match.

And Martin Gable says at the 6:00 point that Hoad's cannonball serve is "frightening...EVEN ON TELEVISION."

It is clear that these panelists were watching the match on CBS live in Manhattan, that it was not blacked out for New York City in 1957.

 
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