Budge/Vines tour of 1939 (US)


This was Budge’s first pro tour, and one of Vines' last. It was the last time Vines participated in what might be termed a H2H tour, in which the same two players faced off against each other at every stop on the tour. Vines did take on Budge again a couple of months later in a so-called 4-man tour that also featured Bill Tilden and Les Stoefen, with all four men playing one another. Budge is said to have edged Vines 15-5 in their personal meetings on that tour.

These are the results of the first tour, in the U.S., compiled from various sources including American Lawn Tennis. I've put the running tally on the left.

1-0 after New York, won by Budge.............Jan. 3.............6-3, 6-4, 6-2
2-0 after Boston, won by Budge.............Jan. 4.............6-3, 8-6, 6-4
2-1 after Philadelphia, won by Vines.............Jan. 5.............6-3, 6-3, 6-4
2-2 after Chicago, won by Vines.............Jan. 7.............3-6, 2-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-3
3-2 after Pittsburgh, won by Budge.............Jan. 9.............8-6, 3-6, 12-10
3-3 after Cincinnati, won by Vines.............Jan. 10.............7-5, 2-6, 6-4
4-3 after Detroit, won by Budge.............Jan. 12.............6-3, 0-6, 13-11
4-4 after Minneapolis, won by Vines.............Jan. 14.............2-6, 6-2, 6-4
5-4 after Kansas City, won by Budge.............Jan. 16.............8-6, 6-4
6-4 after St. Louis, won by Budge.............Jan. 17.............6-3, 6-3
7-4 after Louisville, won by Budge.............Jan. 18.............6-3, 2-6, 6-4
8-4 after Cleveland, won by Budge.............Jan. 19.............6-1, 6-4
9-4 after Buffalo, won by Budge.............Jan. 20.............8-6, 1-6, 6-4
10-4 after Baltimore, won by Budge.............Jan. 21.............6-2, 6-1
10-5 after College Park, won by Vines.............Jan. 23.............6-4, 6-4
10-6 after Richmond, won by Vines.............Jan. 24.............6-0, 11-9
10-7 after Chapel Hill, won by Vines.............Jan. 25.............4-6, 7-5, 7-5
11-7 after Charlotte, won by Budge.............Jan. 26.............6-3, 6-2
11-8 after Miami Beach, won by Vines.............Jan. 29.............4-6, 6-0, 6-4
12-8 after Nassau, won by Budge.............Jan. 31.............6-3, 6-4
13-8 after Palm Beach, won by Budge.............Feb. 1.............10-8, 7-5
13-9 after Atlanta, won by Vines.............Feb. 3.............8-6, 8-6
14-9 after Birmingham, won by Budge.............Feb. 4.............6-3, 6-4
15-9 after New Orleans, won by Budge.............Feb. 6.............6-0, 6-1
16-9 after Houston, won by Budge.............Feb. 8.............3-6, 8-6, 12-10
17-9 after Dallas, won by Budge .............Feb. 9.............2-6, 6-3, 7-5
17-10 after Los Angeles, won by Vines.............Feb. 12.............6-2, 6-8, 7-5, 6-2
17-11 after San Francisco, won by Vines.............Feb. 15.............7-5, 6-4
18-11 after Seattle, won by Budge.............Feb. 17.............7-5, 6-1
18-12 after Oakland, won by Vines.............Feb. 20.............3-6, 6-0, 7-5
18-13 after San Jose, won by Vines.............Feb. 21.............6-1, 3-6, 6-2
19-13 after Pasadena, won by Budge.............Feb. 22.............6-3, 6-4
19-14 after Rock Island, won by Vines.............Feb. 26.............6-4, 10-8
20-14 after Milwaukee, won by Budge.............Feb. 27.............6-4, 2-6, 8-6 (clinched series)
21-14 after Toronto, won by Budge.............Mar. 1.............6-1, 8-6
21-15 after Rochester, won by Vines.............Mar. 2.............6-4, 7-5
21-16 after Troy, won by Vines.............Mar. 3.............6-3, 7-5
21-17 after Providence, won by Vines.............Mar. 4.............6-4, 9-7
22-17 after Montreal, won by Budge.............Mar. 6.............6-2, 6-2, 6-3

[Edited to correct date of Pasadena and second-set score in Louisville]
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European tour

Compared to the wealth of material available for the US tour, much less is known about the European tour, which ran from mid-May up to the outbreak of war in September (most of what is known today comes from Bowers, published on his page for 1939).

Tilden, who was one of the four participating players, wrote a detailed report of the tour for American Lawn Tennis, in which he said that there were 49 days of play in the United Kingdom and on the Continent. Unfortunately he did not provide a list of matches, but I have found most of Budge’s matches played on the tour and I estimate that his combined W/L against his three troupe-mates was something like 32-9 (five losses to Vines, two to Tilden, two to Stoefen).

That would represent an even better performance by Budge than in 1942 when he did a similar 5-man tour, finishing 52-18 against Riggs, Kovacs, Perry and Stoefen.

Anyway the European tour really deserves its own thread, which I’d like to post after I can find at least a few more results.
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As far as I know, Budge and Vines faced each other in only two more matches after their ’39 tours. These results are both found in Bowers:

March 6, Biltmore exhibition
Budge 4-6, 6-3 Vines (split sets)

April 2-8, Los Angeles West Coast Pro
Day 6:
Budge d. Vines 6-3, 12-10

I’m not sure but that may have been Vines’ last competitive tennis event.

Later I’ll post links and articles about their US tour.


Bowers writes this as he concludes his chapter for 1938 (http://www.tennisserver.com/lines/lines_05_07_30.html):

Even as he talked of leaving the game, Ellsworth Vines's greatest challenges lay just ahead. For five years as a pro Elly, now 28, had defeated all comers, primarily in extended North American tours. His body was no longer the slender and supple specimen of the former basketball star. There had been eternal back and perhaps shoulder troubles along with other wear-and-tear aches from the many matches on hard surfaces. If his yearning for golf suggested tennis burn-out, still the competitive flame remained strong, seen in his strong finish against Perry in May 1938. His two-year edge over Fred had been hard-won, and it probably owed most to his powers of concentration and determination, his superior ability to resist distraction. The forehand now had a bit more spin than five years ago, probably more sidespin than top, for control, and the backhand had improved hugely. The all-out serve was a shade less overpowering from the years, certainly a lesser asset in reflection of Perry's fine return ability, though Elly's overall serving ability remained a dependable weapon even on nights where his groundstrokes misbehaved. The drop-shot knack was a valuable addition, but in essence Elly was still the baseline power player, with little margin for error either in clearing the net or in staying within the lines.

Don Budge was in Elly's immediate path, but also ahead were long-awaited face-offs with Nusslein in Europe. Nusslein, also 28, was also approaching a crossroads....​


An early preview in the November 20, 1938 edition of American Lawn Tennis:

How will Budge and Vines stack up when they meet at Madison Square Garden on January 3? Although there is only four years between their ages (Vines is 27 and Budge 23), they have never met in competition. They played a number of practice matches two years ago, just before Perry turned pro and after Budge had narrowly lost to him at Forest Hills and beaten him at Los Angeles, and according to Vines’ statement at the time, sets won were about even. Although Budge has been rated by some as the “greatest ever,” it is conceded that Vines on one of his best days is practically invincible, and the conditions under which they will play at Madison Square Garden will be new to Budge, familiar to Vines. The latter is on a Caribbean tour, sharpening his weapons against Perry, while Don has gone back to the Coast until a few days before the big match. They will both practice at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn where the surface, canvas on wood, most closely approximates that of the Garden, canvas on stone. In the doubles they will pair off, Budge and Skeen versus Vines and Barnes.

The tour will last into early May… Vines will get a percentage of the “take” and Barnes and Skeen the salary customary with a supporting cast. There is at present no definite arrangement for Perry to join the troupe, but it is likely that he will get a chance to meet Budge about the tour’s halfway mark. Altogether it is planned to exhibit in 75 or 80 cities, which means that fans in every section of the United States and Southern Canada will have an opportunity to see the world’s No. 1 amateur and No. 1 professional in action.​
The practice matches from two years earlier were mentioned in another preview in the New York Times: "They've played five practice matches with the count 2-all in victories and the fifth halted at 5—all in the fifth set."
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A couple of previews by Allison Danzig, first on December 29:

The unveiling of Donald Budge as a professional will take place at the Garden Tuesday night. For weeks there have been pieces in the papers about this young man, pieces couched in complimentary terms that have been written for no other tennis player leaving the amateur fold.

His unparalleled conquests were sufficient alone to justify the outpouring of blandishments, and the signal courtesy shown him by the United States Lawn Tennis Association in assisting at the launching of his post-graduate career added to the elevation of the pedestal upon which he has been placed. The impression has got across to the public that Don Budge is not only a master with the racquet, he is also a young fellow with the virtues that make for good citizenship.

All this is fitting reward of honest merit, but in the concert of praise for the No. 1 athlete of the year the player who is to face him across the net Tuesday night has been neglected. He arrives in town today without any fanfare, but it wasn't so long ago that Ellsworth Vines stood where Budge stands today—a level-headed youth of exemplary character who had the amateur tennis world at his feet, even though he failed to bring home the Davis Cup or make a grand slam.

When he defeated Bunny Austin in the Wimbledon final in 1932, old-timers who had watched the parade for half a century maintained that no player in history could have stood up against Vines's machine-gun speed. Today, he is still the same estimable young man, only a few years older, and he is playing better tennis than he did as an amateur.

Played Before 16,000

Vines has been coming to New York since 1934 to ply his trade in the Garden, and he has profited more there than has any other tennis player. His professional debut against Tilden in 1934 attracted 16,000 spectators and a gate of $30,000. The next year, 14,000 saw him play Lester Stoefen, and in 1936 nearly 15,000 more turned out for their second match, the two contests grossing $45,000.

In 1937 the record crowd of 17,630 fans contributed $53,119 to see Vines and Fred Perry. A second match between them probably would have been good for another $25,000, but their 1938 tour was not booked for the Garden. Now, after an absence of two years, Vines comes back to New York, and the prospect is, that he will play before another sell-out crowd with Budge.

Here, to the minds of many followers of the sport, is the prize attraction offered by professional tennis. Vines and Budge have never met before in a formal match. They stand as two of the hardest hitters in the history of the game and there is the same interest in their clash that there was in the first meeting on record between Tilden and Karel Kozeluh of Czecho-Slovakia at the Garden in 1931.

Tilden and Kozeluh had passed their peak and yet 14,000 turned out to see them. Budge and Vines are both at the height of their power and prepared to turn loose the greatest onslaught of speed seen on any tennis court. One has been invincible against the world's foremost amateurs for two years and the other has stood as the king of the professionals.

Forehand vs. Backhand

Both of those California giants play the same type of game, characterized by abnormal offensive strength. Neither of them knows what it is to temporize; both go out to make the kill quickly. Vines has one of the most feared forehands of all time. Budge's backhand has been dreaded no less as the ruination of his opponents. Both have cannonball services and knock the ball out of shape with their overhead smash.

Neither of them goes in for variations or makes any appreciable recourse to changes of spin, of which Tilden was the incomparable master. They hit to the hilt from the back of the court, with an occasional resort to the drop shot, and the whole plan of their battle is to open the court through the weight and direction of their ground strokes preparatory to closing in for the finishing thrust at the net. It is a battle of heavy artillery and the kind of tennis that brings out the roar of the crowd.

Vines, because he is an old hand at the indoor game and is thoroughly at home under the lights and on the canvas-covered court at the Garden, would logically seem to be the favorite. He has the better forehand, and his service is a little the faster.

Test for a Champion

But Budge, whose backhand offsets his rival's superiority on the other wing and who is quicker in moving around the court, will not admit to being at any disadvantage because of the strangeness of the surroundings. Instead of seizing upon this as an alibi for possible defeat, the Oakland redhead declares that he never permits himself to worry about the conditions. He maintains that he can adapt himself to any court and circumstances and that a real champion should be able to overcome any opponent, at any time on any surface. If Vines defeats him, he says, it will be only because the professional champion is a better player.

Don admits that he is coming prepared with Seven League boots, knowing how hard Vines hits, and how much he will have to run, but he has an idea that Ellsworth, too, will have to step out wide and handsome. He feels grateful to Vines for the help the latter gave him with his game when he was an unknown kid, and it will be his earnest endeavor to make the teacher proud of the pupil.
Another the next day:

The world's foremost professional tennis player arrived in town yesterday to add another handsome sum to the big nest egg he has made for himself by hitting a ball over a net.

Ellsworth Vines of Pasadena, Calif., got off the Commodore Vanderbilt at Grand Central Terminal, took up quarters at the Hotel Madison and, after interviews with the press, went to the Heights Casino in Brooklyn to begin practice for his match with Donald Budge at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.

Before leaving for the casino the big Californian went into conference with Promoter Jack Harris and received the good news that the advance sale for the match has broken all records for tennis at the Garden.

Vines looked a bit weary from his trip across the continent, on which he was accompanied by his wife, but stated that he was in excellent condition and expected to walk on the court Tuesday night prepared to play his best tennis.

Confident in His Game

"I will be in far better shape for Budge than I was for Fred Perry two years ago," said the professional champion, "and I don't expect to lose. I think my game is a little stronger all-round than Don's. I may be wrong, for I don't really know how well Don is playing. I haven't hit any against him since January, 1937, when he beat me a set, 14-12, in Miami.

"I believe my forehand is a little stronger than Don's and my service is probably a bit faster. His backhand is probably better than mine, but I am not worrying about that too much. Sidney Wood has a pretty good backhand and I played against it when it was at its best.

“I don't think that Budge will be handicapped because of the fact that this will be his first match at the Garden. I feel the same way as does Don, that a great player can play well on any kind of surface. Perry showed that in his match against me at the Garden. I feel more confident about this match than I did about the one with Fred. I had practically no confidence then, as I had the flu.

"The only thing I have to worry about is that I haven't had much competition. Since the first of June I have played only eight matches, all of them with Perry. I played a good deal of golf during the Summer. So it has been harder for me to get into condition than it usually is.

Practiced on Coast

"Budge has a full year of tournament play behind him and, from what I hear, he has been looking great in his practice sessions with Sid Wood at the Casino. We should have a battle out there, and I didn't come all the way from California to lose. Gene Mako and Wayne Sabin gave me some good practice on the Coast and I'll be ready."

The champion, who brought an accordion as well as a half dozen racquets with him, worked out at the Casino with Bruce Barnes. They played three sets, in which Vines concentrated on unlimbering his strokes gradually to get the feel of the ball and give particular attention to his backhand. Today he will practice again at Rip's on the board floor of the armory at Park Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street, while Budge will continue to work out at the Casino against Wood.​
Danzig says that Vines and Stoefen played tour openers in New York in both ’35 and ’36, but Bowers writes that the ’35 opener, though booked, never occurred because the players arrived too late.
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The two were watched closely in their workout sessions, and interviewed about the upcoming fight.

This is probably when tennis most closely resembled boxing.

The NY Times again on New Year's Eve.

Transferring his practice sessions from the canvas surface of the Heights Casino in Brooklyn to the board floor of Rip's Indoor Tennis Courts on Park Avenue, Ellsworth Vines gave a convincing demonstration of his tremendous hitting power yesterday as he prepared for his match with Donald Budge at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.

A small group of players, coaches and press representatives saw the world's foremost professional work out against Berkeley Bell, and at the end of the match the consensus was that Budge faces a far more formidable challenge than he underwent in the last two years as the king of amateurs.

Bell, who formerly ranked in the first ten as an amateur, played unusually well and fought with all his characteristic fire and determination. But though he carried the play to 6-4, 6-3, he was simply at the mercy of Vines's volcanic speed.

The champion's forehand drive, the best in the game, was irresistible in its pace and low trajectory, and his cross-court return of service permitted of no answer. Overhead, he was smashing with deadly accuracy and the ease and finality with which he opened the court and volleyed the ball beyond redemption left well and the onlookers shaking their heads in admiration.

Vines's backhand was not quite up to the rest of his game, though it improved in the second set. The champion has a tendency to take the ball a little too far back and does not always get the weight of his body behind the stroke as he does invariably on his forehand. He was more attentive to his footwork on the backhand in the second set and got better results, particularly with his passing shots.

Bell said at the end, "You won't go wrong in betting on Vines. It's unbelievable the way he keeps on the pressure and never lets up on you. Budge hasn't met any one who hits like this fellow. He's plain murder."

Budge took the day off. The redheaded Californian has been playing so well against Sidney Wood on the Casino courts that he feels he can afford to relax now. Wood was particularly enthusiastic in his praise of Budge's tennis and keenness.

The Garden announced that the advance sale passed $23,000 yesterday. Plenty of good reservations still are available, but from the heaviness of the demand for tickets the expectations are that the match will be a sellout.


Predictions in the Times on January 2:


Vines Is Choice of a Slight Majority to Win Tomorrow's Pro Tennis Contest

Expert opinion on the outcome of the match between Donald Budge and Ellsworth Vines at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night is almost evenly divided.

A canvass of players, coaches and officials reveals that Budge, who will be making his professional debut after reigning for two years as the world's foremost amateur tennis player, has almost as many backers as has the world professional champion. In practically every instance a close match is predicted between two of the hardest hitters the game has known.

Vines, because of his familiarity with the indoor conditions at the Garden, his record of invincibility against the world's best professionals and the lower trajectory of his machine-gun shots, gets a slight majority of the votes. Budge's backers bank on his steadiness, the severity of all his strokes, his competitive keenness and the fact that he has had far more match play in the last year than has Vines.

Frank Hunter and Vincent Richards, former high-ranking amateurs and doubles champions; Mercer Beasley, famous coach; Clifford Sutter, former high-ranking amateur, and Berkeley Bell, well-known professional, are among those who pick Vines. Miss Alice Marble, women's national champion; Sidney Wood and Frank Shields, finalists at Wimbledon in 1931 and former Davis Cup players, and J. Gilbert Hall, ranking player of the Eastern Association, select Budge to win.

Julian S. Myrick, former president of the United States Lawn Tennis Association; Herbert L. Bowman, well-known local amateur, and Walter Senior, professional, regard the match as too close a proposition to select a winner.
Bill Tilden, who had not yet played Budge but had faced peak Vines countless times, may also have picked Vines. A later report on the Budge/Vines match in Buffalo had this: "Big Bill is authority for the statement that no living man can stand up under the furious bombardment of Vines’ attack night after night on a tour of this kind, and emerge victorious."

That may be a reference to a Tilden prediction, though Tilden at this point had been abroad for two years so there is some uncertainty about what this (U.S.) journalist is referring to.

After the first match, the Times-Record of Troy, NY, reported that "Vines entered the opening engagement an active 3-5 favorite in the lobby betting."
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John Kieran, who knew Vines, gave something of a prediction on January 3. He suggested that, just as Vines had lost big opening matches at the Garden to both Tilden and Perry, he might also lose the opener to Budge. But Kieran added that Vines was likely to catch Budge later, just as he had caught Tilden and Perry.

However Kieran did not see Vines emerging as the winner of this tour.

STAND back, men! Down in front! Let everybody have a chance to see whether or not Vines can be Budged. The experts have weighed and considered and any innocent bystander who compares their opinions will have a brain whirling like a revolving door. Some say Yes and some say No. Some pick Budge for his backhand and others pick Vines for his forehand. Some give the service to Vines and others give it to Budge on a silver platter. Some say Donald the Red is better overhead and others say Ellsworth is much the stronger smashing them down from up yonder.

They drag in psychology, too. They say Donald the Red, cheerful chap, has just the right attitude for big matches. He's the Happy Warrior. It appears to be all in fun to him. Compared to Budge, Vines is something of a melancholy Dane, a tennis Hamlet, a Gloomy Gus going out on a covered court. They say a man never can play his best when he is fearing the worst.

A Sure Cure for Indigestion

Well, it's no secret that Vines is the worrying type and that before some of the big matches of his amateur and professional tennis career he was stricken with nervous indigestion that didn't help him a little bit when he took the court. It happened just before he played Big Bill Tilden in his professional debut in Madison Square Garden some years ago and it happened again just before he went on with Dashing Fred Perry when the buoyant Britisher turned pro and tackled Ellsworth in the Garden to start a long series of matches.

Ellsworth lost those opening matches to Big Bill and Dashing Fred. He caught up with them and passed them later on but that nervous indigestion, brought on by worry, must have been a 15-handicap against him in the opening volleys. It could happen again except that this time the Vines Marching and Rooting Brigade has come up with what purports to be an official bulletin to the effect that Ellsworth isn't worrying about this match.

No worry; no nervous indigestion. Apparently it's a sure cure. Ellsworth must think that Donald is just what the doctor ordered.

Fond Beliefs

Faith certainly is a strong stimulant and, in a genial, light-hearted way, Don Budge has great faith in himself, which is as it should be. Many others have the same faith in the Red Terror of the tennis courts, and in a much more serious way.

It's Don's belief that a really great tennis player should be able to beat any other tennis player at any time, at any place and under any conditions, provided they are the same on both sides of the net. Don doesn't say that he is a really great tennis player for two reasons. One is that he is as modest as his appearance and deportment in public would lead any onlooker to suspect. The other is that thousands will say it for him.

It was the Red Terror who put over the Big Slam in amateur tennis, winning all the major tennis titles in a single year. This performance didn't shake his confidence to any notable extent.

On the other hand, the Vines confidence is of the two-edged variety. He plays a rifle game, shooting for the lines and is intent on grazing the canvas whiskers of the net with practically every shot. When he is tuned up to nicking the targets, Ellsworth is confident that nobody around can beat him. But when his aim wavers and he is missing the marks, he feels with equal confidence that ten men and a couple of boys from various parts of the country could take his measure and probably would if they had the chance.

Previous Performances

Vines and Budge never have met formally on the court in tournament tennis, though they had four or five informal practice sessions that, according to rumors, amounted to something of a stand-off. This will be Donald's first tennis competition under a roof as well as his debut in the professional ranks.

The amateur record made by Budge certainly far eclipses the record that Vines compiled at Auteuil, Wimbledon and Forest Hills before he took the cash and let the credit go. But that's water that has gone under the bridge now and, furthermore, Vines seemed to improve his game during his professional career.

Some tennis followers feel that Vines, after all his campaigning with Tilden, Perry and others since he turned pro, must be a trifle bored with it all by this time, whereas Don Budge will be dashing into action with the keenness of a newcomer in the professional field. Since there isn't much difference in their court-covering ability, their speed, strokes and tennis styles, the Budge rooters expect this difference in keenness for the fray to turn the tide in favor of the Red Terror. Just to enter a complicated opinion, this observer wouldn't be surprised to see Budge take this opening encounter, Vines win the majority of the next dozen and Budge come back to pile up an advantage in the long run as he improved in professional competition and Vines began to yearn for the golf links again.

A Retirement Plan

This observer never exchanged a word with Don Budge but happens to know Ellsworth Vines fairly well, and it is the belief here that Ellsworth would trade all the tennis courts in the country for a nice golf course with great pleasure and a considerable feeling of relief.

If Don Budge beats him in the series that starts with this Garden party, it will be farewell to tennis for Vines and out to the links where he longs to be. But if he beats Budge, Ellsworth will stick to the courts for another round or until they bring out somebody else to beat him.

That's where the money lies and, while Ellsworth may have had nervous indigestion occasionally, he never was under suspicion of being crazy. As long as there is money lying around loose on the courts for him, Ellsworth will be there. But when it becomes a matter of playing for fun, look for Ellsworth coming up the fairway on the fifth hole. That's his retirement plan when he gets around to it.
Vines had certainly set a precedent by losing series openers in ’34 (Tilden in three straight sets) and ’37 (Perry in four); but his trouble in the latter match was flu rather than indigestion. Vines had won tour openers in ’36 (Stoefen in two straight sets) and in ’38 (Perry in five), though the latter was in Los Angeles which may be why Kieran doesn’t mention it.
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Kieran expected Budge to improve as a professional, and so did Budge, in one of the linked previews. It was a reasonable expectation and probably widespread: you would expect a new pro, still young, and encountering tougher competition than he did as an amateur, to improve.

Vines was widely thought to have improved as a pro, and there is no doubt he did. Certainly it was true in later eras: Gonzalez, Hoad, Rosewall, Laver all improved as pros: and all had a tough transition on their very first tour(s).

(I am less sure that Perry improved as a pro, though some believed he did, and he claimed to have done so.)

Budge is a bit of an exception because unlike the stars of the 50s and 60s, he didn't undergo a long series of defeats at the very start of his pro career. Unlike Vines he didn't even suffer a big defeat in a ballyhooed opening match -- and of course the same was true of Perry who opened his pro career with a big win over Vines at the Garden.

The amateur/pro divide of the 1930s, in general, was somewhat different than in the Gonzalez/Laver era. In the latter period it was generally conceded that the best pros were better than the best amateurs. In the mid-to-late 30s, when Perry challenged Vines, and when Budge subsequently challenged Vines, it was not clear at all whether the top amateur or top pro was better.

Or better to say: it was not something that anyone could possibly take for granted. No one could take for granted, for example, that a new pro, coming from the amateur ranks, would have to improve in order to make a living among the top pros.

Still it's likely that Budge improved. That is merely logical, but it is also supported by those who observed him. Danzig said that Budge, when he began his later tour against Perry, was better than he had been against Vines. Early the following year Perry himself, after losing to Budge in five sets in Havana and three straight sets in Miami, said Budge was better than he had ever seen him.

Vines noted the improvement, too, after Budge had taken a lead of 17-11 over him. Per American Lawn Tennis:

He says that Budge has improved his game amazingly since their first meeting and that, given another six months or year, “he will be more than a match for the best player that ever lived.”​
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A preview on New Year’s Day in Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Budge-Vines Battle A Long-Sought Duel of Hardest Hitters

By Harold Parrott

The two top hands in the universe at the trade of pounding a fuzzy projectile at such high velocity that it assumes the proportions of an aspirin tablet will go to work in Madison Square Garden Tuesday before a select audience.

It will be 27-year-old Ellsworth Davenport Vines Jr., admitted speed king of the game for almost a decade, against John Donald Budge, 23-year-old all-conquering ruler of the amateurs. Both are Californians. They’re pals.

The crowd, sprinkled with dignitaries in the $7.70 seats, will be 18,350, about as large as that which saw Fred Perry make his professional debut against the same Mr. Vines two years ago. On that occasion the top tickets were priced at $9.90, and there was $52,000 in the box office. This time there will be some $9,000 less.

Tickets are priced from $1.10 to $7.70, but many of the brackets were sold out last week.

Vines Never Lost Series

Budge can murmur “This is my first affair,” as far as Lady Lucre is concerned, but it is an old story for the gangling Vines, a picture of studied indolence in his white peaked cap. Elly turned pro after a disastrous season in 1933, and has improved so steadily ever since that he is rated the world’s No. 1 player now. He has never lost a barn-storming series since turning pro.

In 1934, Elly played Bill Tilden 77 matches, winning 55.
In 1935, Vines went on tour with Les Stoefen, beating him 25 out of 26 times.
In 1936, it was Stoefen again, with Vines winning 75 out of 90.
In 1937, Perry’s first year, the Briton and Vines split 74 matches, 37-37.
In 1938, Vines stepped out, walloping Perry 53 times to 39 losses, including a South American tour, to earn the Budge plum.

Budge’s Better Record

Budge comes into the professional arena with far greater prestige than anybody else in history, the great Tilden excepted, of course. When Perry turned, he had just managed to edge red-headed Don out in our 1936 Nationals, a very lucky stroke for him.

When Vines turned, he had just had a disastrous year. Jack Crawford of Australia had beaten him in a 6-4 fifth set at Wimbledon in the final, both Bunny Austin and Perry had walloped him in Davis Cup play, and he was kayoed by little Bitsy Grant in the round of 16 in our Nationals at Forest Hills.

But Budge had been a king without real challengers ever since that 1936 loss to Perry. In 1937 he personally brought the Davis Cup back here for the first time in 10 years, beating Baron von Cramm in a five-set thriller to halt the Germans and then taking the bowl from the English, who held it. He beat Cramm at Wimbledon that year, beat the Baron again here in the finals of our Nationals at Forest Hills.

This year his grand slam was without precedent. He won the Australian and English crowds without the loss of a set, dropped one set in taking our title again and in between grabbed the French hard court title. He also won his two singles matches to retain the Davis Cup for us.

Vines Serves Harder

Budge, a famous doubles player, is a beautiful volleyer but his backcourt steadiness is noted. He can outdo Vines there, but that is the only department in which he rates over Elly. Vines is probably the only man in the world who can serve harder than Budge. And his net game is more deadly. He must come to the net to beat Budge, but he must be right to make the forcing shots necessary to advance to the net. He has never been “right” on a first night in the Garden. This may be the time he is.​
Stoefen, at least, could serve harder than both Budge and Vines, according to a statement made by Tilden in late ’39.

The figures for Vines’ previous tours are interesting, and someone will have to do a study one day reconciling all the different figures that are published for him. It’s clear that he had an outstanding undefeated run, but different sources have different numbers.

I wonder if Parrott’s number for 1936 represents the full Vines/Stoefen tour; all that is known definitely is that on March 29 Vines was leading Stoefen by 33-5.

On the other hand Parrott’s number for 1935 does not represent the whole year; it only goes up to the point when Stoefen, due to illness, had to drop out of the tour. Another article has a 27-4 figure against Stoefen and I wonder if that could be the full figure for that particular year: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=T6pQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=FyIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3342,2753439

Incidentally the author of that piece, published during the Budge/Vines tour, argues that Budge was dominating because Vines was lacking financial incentive.
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Here’s Parrott's report on the Budge/Vines opener:

Vines May Take Him in Sticks, But Budge Is Tops in Our Town

Straight-Set Victory in Debut as a Pro Is Clincher by Don

May Have to Call on Perry to Build Up Touring Attraction


John Donald Budge was in a new town (Boston) today, but there were no new worlds left for him to conquer.

The rampant redhead admitted last night that ripping Elly Vines, king of the pros, came easier than any of the four tricks which went into the making of his 1938 titular grand slam.

So Vines, who could win only nine games in three sets, had been a softer touch than Bromwich, Menzel, Austin or Mako?

“Vines’ game is tougher in spots,” said Don. “On service, for instance. But his backhand collapsed tonight and I walked through.”

James J. Carries Banner

The seal of Budge’s greatness and the squelch for the skeptics were supplied by that veteran connoisseur of phonies, Jimmy Johnston, the Boy Bandit of the boxing business.

Lest any harbor the notion that Budge was merely being “built up,” Johnston announced that “if the thing had been a phony it would have gone to five sets.”

Meanwhile tennis doctors in several sectors were busy prescribing for the gigantic headache that was owned today by Mr. Vines.

Vinnie Richards advised Vines to give up tennis. Several others decided he would have to renounce his wealth if he were to acquire again that “zing,” that dash and verve that poor-boy Budge, fresh from the amateurs, showed last night.

Mr. Vines insisted he would do neither.

“You newspapermen,” said he, “count a lot of fellows out too soon. Look at Jimmy Foxx—one bad year and you say he’s through; yet he won the top honors of 1938 in the A. L. in his comeback, didn’t he? I’m telling you here and now that I have as much zest and love for the game now as I had back in 1930. That wasn’t the trouble at all. I was just rotten tonight—but wait!”

Then he had hopes of taming Budge over the course of the next few months.

“I’m sure I will,” he said. “I started this same way against Tilden and Perry, yet I beat them both on the total number of matches, didn’t I? That’s what counts.”

The experts doubted that, too. No matter what happens in the sticks from now on, Budge will be king in New York. The picture of the socking redhead blowing Vines down won’t fade easily. If scores of Vines’ victories on this tour come over the wires, last night’s witnesses will swear they are just typographical errors.

Another Vines Headache

Besides, there was another Vines headache coming. So poor was the veteran’s play last night that backers of the tour were already reading new blood for transfusions into the tour should Vines fail to rally.

“I am going to work Fred Perry into matches with Budge in some of the larger cities on this trip,” Jack Harris told the writer early this morning.

Vines classed Budge “right up with Tilden, Borotra and Perry” after the match. “He played great tennis,” said Elly.

Budge, of course, was beaming. “I thought I played very well off the ground,” he said, “but I never smashed so poorly. I did better when I changed to a tighter racket, but the lights had me down.”

Tennis men noticed, however, that Budge showed in this defect characteristics which have made him a champion. He missed his first smash completely, flubbed others following that. But he insisted on taking them, never softened up, never played them safe. He was determined to conquer his big error—and before the evening was out, he did, to the satisfaction of the crowd. He’s a real winner, that boy!

Budge’s Service in Second Set

The ease with which Budge won in the Garden last night left no squawkers in the $7.70 pews. But when Alice Marble took a bow at the microphone and tossed a posey to the “grand tennis we’ve seen tonight,” the Bronx bird floated down familiarly from the gallery.

Vines was supposed to own the dynamite service, but Budge’s serve was more potent. The whole match pivoted around the redhead’s serves in the second set.

In the fourth game of that set, Budge was down 15-40, but had that little extra something he needed to pull out the game. In the eighth and 10th games he was down 0-30, but each time turned on the heat and won the game, to win out at 6-4.

In the final game of the big singles match Budge was down again, 30-40, but he served thunderbolts to pull himself out.

The big singles match took one hour flat, with emphasis on the flat, and the scores were 6-3, 6-4, 6-2….Receipts were $47,120.35, second only to the Vines-Perry $9.90-top house in 1937… “Budge controlled speed and is the better player, in my opinion,” said Alice Marble… Vines and Bruce Barnes got scant balm from trouncing Budge and Dick Skeen in the doubles match, 6-1, 6-4 … Young Skeen had wowed the crowd earlier, making sensational gets to thump Barnes, 6-2, 6-4.

“I umpired the first match that saw Vines hit the headlines,” said the veteran Scott Johnson, recalling the match out at the old Crescent grass courts in Bay Ridge, when the young Californian beat Frank Hunter.

“I’ve umpired for Vines in 50 matches, more or less, since then,” Scott went on, “and I’ve never seen him so bad as he was tonight.”

Vines said he wasn’t nervous, and there was nothing the matter with his physical condition.

Tennis tacticians thought Budge’s marvelous anticipation did as much as anything to win for him … He was usually Johnny-on-the-spot before Vines’ shot got there… Before the match Vines complained about the smoke, and the customers were asked to throw away their weeds…Elly also moved the center linesman behind the backstop, to give himself more running room… Budge laughed and refused to serve the first point until menacing photogs with their blinding flash bulbs departed the scene.​


Danzig’s report in the Times describes the disappointment (mixed with shock) caused by the opening match.

16,725 See Budge Signalize Pro Tennis Debut by Upsetting Vines at Garden


Don Overcomes Pro Champion, Badly Off His Game, in One Hour on Garden Court


The invincibility associated with the name of Donald Budge as the world's foremost amateur tennis player for the past two years was reaffirmed last night with his first appearance in the role of a professional at Madison Square Garden.

In the presence of a capacity gathering of 16,725 spectators, who paid in $47,120, the red-headed giant from Oakland, Calif., the only player in history to make a grand slam of the world's four major tennis titles, administered a crushing defeat to Ellsworth Vines of Pasadena, Calif., the recognized professional champion.

Vines did not have the satisfaction of taking so much as a set. An hour and two minutes after Umpire T. Levan Richards had started the match, the first formal meeting on record between the two towering Californians, the decision had been reached in Budge's favor at 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

The great crowd, obviously partial in its sympathies to the player who had restored the supremacy of American amateur tennis, was hardly able to realize the match had come so abruptly to an end. The outcome was totally at variance with preconceived notions, which had established Vines as the favorite in a closely fought match, and in spite of its devotion to Budge's cause, the gallery left the Garden with a deep sense of disappointment.

Off Night for Vines

The match fell far short of expectations. Instead of presenting a spectacular free-hitting contest between two of the hardest sluggers the game has known it developed into an uneven struggle in which one of the contestants was helpless to extricate himself from the morass of errors that marred his play throughout the three sets, to leave him and the spectators shaking their heads in discouragement and perplexity.

Budge, while below his best mark in some respects and particularly in his overhead smashing, was cheered to the echo for a performance that was gratifying to his admirers, considering that he was playing under strange conditions. His service was a tremendous asset, and from the back court, where he made his stand almost entirely, both his marvelous backhand and his forehand kept the ball deep, with good pace and with far better control than his opponent could summon.

Vines, an old hand at the indoor game who might have been expected to have less difficulty than his rival in putting his best foot forward, had a miserable evening. The lanky Pasadenan has not derived much joy from his experience on the Garden court. William Tilden ruined Ellsworth's professional debut in 1934 by defeating him, and two years ago he lost to Fred Perry before the record tennis crowd of 17,630.

Vines's Pro Record Great

Vines's victories over Lester Stoefen in 1935 and 1936 did not offset his disappointment from these two setbacks, and last night's debacle must have left him particularly dolorous. For Vines had established himself as unquestionably the king of the professionals by his big margin of victories over Perry in their 1938 tour, and it generally had been thought that no player in the world, not even Budge, was quite equal to staying the wrathful speed of his forehand and service.

But the lanky Pasadenan's terrific pace was of little avail. He lacked the control to harness it to the dictates of his purpose, and it was only sporadically that he was able to sustain a rally long enough to exact his price.

Vines's backhand, the particular object of Budge's attention, buckled badly as his opponent hammered the ball into the corner, but even his great forehand was glaringly at fault, finding the net so persistently as to destroy his confidence. Vines's return of service was almost pathetically weak at times, although allowance must be made for the fury and accuracy with which Budge was delivering the ball.

The professional champion was remiss, too, in his volleying. Time and again when he had worked up an opening with his approaching shot he came in to waste his chance by volleying into the net.

Touch Completely Lacking

Budge seldom permitted him to volley above the net, but Vines can volley from any level when he has the touch. He did not have it in any department and he knew by the start of the third set that it was not his match.

Particularly discouraging to Vines was the prodigality with which he wasted leads. Time and again he was in front at 30-0 or 40-15, only to yield the game. This happened in the last three games of the opening set, and after he had dropped the first two of the second chapter, he dissipated three more leads.

The only time in the match that Vines really threatened was when he pulled up from 1-3 to 4-3 in the second set, allowing Budge only two points in three games. The Pasadenan was going along at his best during this stretch and putting on so much pressure that Budge's control deserted him. But Vines could not sustain the rally, and thereafter Budge fairly stampeded him into defeat, attacking so mercilessly that the professional champion never could collect his forces again.

Lack of sufficient competition may explain Vines's disappointing showing in part. The professional champion played golf during the Summer and his eight contests with Perry in South America constituted the only match play he had had since June. Vines thought that his game was right after he had worked in New York, and professionals who watched him practice predicted that he would defeat Budge, but he never was in the running.

In the opening contest, Richard Skeen, Hollywood professional, showed an aggressive all-round game featured by a strong service and crisp volleying .to defeat Bruce Barnes of Texas, 6-2, 6-4. In the concluding doubles, Vines and Barnes won from Budge and Skeen, 6-1, 6-4.

Included in the big crowd were notables from every field of sport, Park Avenue, the stage and the screen. The United States Lawn Tennis Association had a large representation on hand to give its backing to the professional premiere of the player who brought back the Davis Cup after an absence of ten years.

President Holcombe Ward of New York, Vice President Lawrence A. Baker of Washington, Treasurer Russell Kingman, Captain Walter Pate of the Davis Cup team, Chairman Walter Merrill Hall of the general Davis Cup committee and Chairman Julian S. Myrick of the Wightman Cup committee were among those who had reservations.

Also Bernon S. Prentice, Louis J. Carruthers, George T. Adee, Joseph Thurston of Hartford, Alric Man, Dr. S. Ellsworth Davenport, P. Schuyler Van Bloem, Maskell E. Fox, Frank Shields, Sidney Wood, Fred Perry, Vincent Richards, Frank Hunter, Miss Alice Marble and Miss Eleanor Tennant.​
The way Vines could not sustain leads may have been due to the nerves that Kieran mentioned. Losing leads can also happen to someone who, as Danzig noted, had not had much recent competitive play.

Of course Budge must have been quite nervous himself, if he could whiff entirely on an overhead.


American Lawn Tennis notes that in the doubles Vines played well while Budge played so poorly the crowd actually got on him:

Budge’s First Professional Appearance

He Trounces Vines in Disappointing Match as Latter Piles Up Errors—Winner is Good in Singles, Bad in Doubles—Skeen Beats Barnes

WHEN two of the three foremost players of the day, Donald Budge and Ellsworth Vines, faced each other at Madison Square Garden, New York, on January 3 the stage seemed to be set for a battle worthy of the occasion. Budge was to make his bow as a professional, his first appearance had been well publicised, a near-capacity gallery of 17,000 people had come to watch, both men were believed to be in tip top condition, and speed to the nth degree was supposed to be on the tapis. The U S L T A lent its cooperation and good will to the event, many of its officers and scores of others prominent in the conduct of the game being present, including the woman champion, Miss Alice Marble, Chairman Benjamin H Dwight of the Tennis Umpires Committee was in charge and supported by officials of that body. There was no flying of flags as on the debut of Fred Perry against Vines in 1937, for this year it was a national affair, but there was plenty of keenness and enthusiasm. It is sad to relate that the feature match was short and one-sided. The newcomer to the professional ranks had it all over his more experienced opponent and beat him in three straight sets, 6-3 6-4 6-2. Neither player was at his absolute best, but Vines was so much “off” that despite one or two occasions when he threatened he was never really in the running….

Just before H.L. Richards, in the chair, called for play in the second match Vines asked the linesman back of the center mark to take himself and chair farther back, behind the base line, evidently expecting to need more room. The nearly 17,000 people who had paid $47,120 to see the play settled back to watch fireworks. Vines got to 2-1 though a service break but could not hold it. At 3-all Budge took the bit in his teeth and went out at 6-3. Incidents of the play were Vines’ putting an easy smash into the net and Budge’s following by swinging on an overhead and missing it completely. There were some fine rallies, frequently ending unexpectedly, and very brilliant aced shots, most of them by Budge.

When Vines came from 1-3 to 4-3 in the second set the gallery became tense. Vines had started by being foot faulted and by netting too many balls. Budge was also lobbing to his opponent, with good results. Vines was the better server but he netted more than Budge. The ninth game, at 4-all, was the crucial one. Vines fell into error again and lost his serve, the end coming with the net of an easy smash. Budge served out the set in the next game for 6-4, sending over a service ace. Richards was doing a swell job of umpiring and the gallery had outlived its hopeful mood as it was seen that Budge could hold his errors down to a reasonable point and shoot across many acing shots. Vines’ bete noir was the net; it was a real barrier.

Vines led at 2-1 in the third set, but the first service break came in the fifth game when Budge reached 3-2 largely as a result of Vines’ continued errors. When Budge led at 4-2 Vines made a last desperate stand. He carried the next two games to deuce, but Budge was confident and always pressing. In this game and the following one it was Vines’ errors that told the tale. Budge went out at 6-2.

There was plenty of hard hitting and fine play. The trouble was that most of it came from Budge’s racket. If the match had been carried to even one extra set the crowd would have felt better. But they had little chance to make the welkin ring or to cherish hope of a real battle.

The doubles was almost as disappointing as the singles. There was more bad than good play in it and the roles were just reversed. Budge reacted tremendously from his play as seen against Vines, now missing the easiest shots and many of them. The gallery watched in surprise and toward the end swung into a disapproving mood. Don was given the razz, or as near to it as he ever came in his life. There was tremendous improvement in Vines’ play, and as Barnes was also playing much better they beat Budge and Skeen at 6-1, 6-4. Skeen did not play as well as in the singles, while Barnes played better. It was a short battle therefore, and the gallery—or what was left of it—departed at an early hour somewhat grumpily.​
Underlined above is a fleeting oblique reference to first-serve percentage.
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Per the Point Score printed in the NY Times:

Budge won 98 points, Vines 84 (each man won 30 points in the second set).

Budge won 55 of 89 service points (62%).
Vines won 50 of 93 service points (54%).

Budge was broken 2 times, Vines 6 times.

And per the Stroke Analysis:

Budge had 2 aces, 18 other winners, 2 double-faults and 53 other errors (30 nets, 23 outs).

Vines had 6 aces, 23 other winners, 2 double-faults and 76 other errors (43 nets, 33 outs).

ALT wrote that the net was “a real barrier” to Vines, with his low-trajectory shots. But a majority of Budge’s errors, too, were nets.


TIME magazine’s report:

For a year or more lawn tennis enthusiasts have argued over the possibility of Donald Budge, world's No. 1 amateur, beating Ellsworth Vines, world's No. 1 professional. They had never met in a formal tennis match (Budge was still playing with the juniors in 1933 when Vines turned pro).

Vines backers stoutly maintained that their man has the best forehand in the world, that he had beaten Fred Perry, his successor and Budge's predecessor as world's No. 1 amateur, in a night-after-night series of professional matches last year. Budge backers were equally vociferous in proclaiming that their man has the best backhand in the world, that he had won every match he wanted to win since Fred Perry beat him at Forest Hills in 1936, that he is the only tennist in history to win in one year all four major amateur championships: Australian, French, English, U.S. Like urchins arguing on a street corner, the Vinesmen usually ended the rally by jeering that Budge was at the top because he had never met any real opposition.

Last week in Manhattan's Madison Square Garden, the Budge backhand finally met the Vines forehand. It was the opening match of a 70-city Budge v. Vines professional tour, and 17,000 tennis enthusiasts gladly paid up to $7.70 a seat to see it: They breathlessly watched Budge serve his first ball—his first stroke under lights, indoors, for pay. The ball landed three feet beyond the baseline.

Sixty minutes later 17,000 polite tennis fans looked at one another in astonishment. If they had been prizefight fans they would have yelled: "We wuz robbed." The great spectacle the tennis world had been anticipating for more than a year had been about as exciting as a ladies' Sunday morning doubles match at the club. Budge, playing below his best, had made Vines, the veteran, look like a chump, had trounced him, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Convinced now that Budge could beat Vines, tennis enthusiasts started to argue anew: Could Budge beat Vines in the 70-match series? At week's end they were all even with two victories apiece.​


A post-match editorial in the NY Times.

Budge and Vines

Tuesday’s match at the Garden between Donald Budge and Ellsworth Vines and last night’s at Boston proved only one thing. In tennis, at any rate, the amateur needs no handicap from the professional. The contest here was Budge’s debut in the latter role, while Vines is a veteran. Yet for that first eagerly anticipated meeting and the second as well Budge was the better man.

Perhaps Vines’s anticipation was too breathless. He is apparently more the victim of his own temperament than Budge, the ever-confident. Both have headed into a long series of matches. The somewhat closer duel in Boston, though Budge was again victor, makes it safe to predict that others to come will not be so tame as the Garden exhibition.

Could either Budge or Vines have beaten Tilden in his prime? That is a test that can never be made. It was too late for Vines to settle the question satisfactorily, even when he played the Old Master, and Budge is of another generation altogether. But both are superb champions in their own right. No wonder more than 20,000 enthusiasts have already turned out to watch them smash away at each other.​


I am always fascinated, how comprehensive and well written those old reports by Kieran, Danzig and others were. They could actually visualize the game before your eyes, maybe they needed to do this, because the public had no television or internet to see the event.
And obviously, even in the golden days, it wasn't all gold, what shined. The reports are very authentic in their critical comments on the poor performance by Vines. The Garden wasn't his best place, because he lost big there to Tilden, Perry and now to Budge. Interestingly even in his clear defeat he hit more winners than Budge, but also tons of errors.
On the level of amateurs and pros in the 30s, i am still struggling to build my judgement. The top amateurs did quite well in their first year as pro and finished Nr. 1 or co-Nr. 1, Vines did that in 1934, Perry did that in 1937, and Budge did that in 1939. Maybe Vines and Perry had lost their competitive zest on and especially after their long cross Country series, and after a long lay-off they were not really match fit. Vines came to life after two initial losses, which shows, that he had the tools to stay with Budge.


I am always fascinated, how comprehensive and well written those old reports by Kieran, Danzig and others were. They could actually visualize the game before your eyes, maybe they needed to do this, because the public had no television or internet to see the event.
And obviously, even in the golden days, it wasn't all gold, what shined. The reports are very authentic in their critical comments on the poor performance by Vines. The Garden wasn't his best place, because he lost big there to Tilden, Perry and now to Budge. Interestingly even in his clear defeat he hit more winners than Budge, but also tons of errors.
On the level of amateurs and pros in the 30s, i am still struggling to build my judgement. The top amateurs did quite well in their first year as pro and finished Nr. 1 or co-Nr. 1, Vines did that in 1934, Perry did that in 1937, and Budge did that in 1939. Maybe Vines and Perry had lost their competitive zest on and especially after their long cross Country series, and after a long lay-off they were not really match fit. Vines came to life after two initial losses, which shows, that he had the tools to stay with Budge.
I love delving into these articles, Urban. When I first got into tennis, it was a weekend watching Wimbledon finals on TV that "hooked" me -- but what reeled me in deep was studying the sport's history. After watching those first Wimbledon finals, I spent a summer in the library finding old articles -- particularly Danzig's articles about Tilden and the Musketeers, in the New York Times. Reading those was like entering a world through a great book -- I hope you'll excuse the cliche, but that's exactly what it felt like.

Sportswriting back then had the ability to do that. It was designed to do that, to bring you into the match -- undoubtedly, as you said, because for millions of people it was the only way to experience the matches.

This Budge/Vines series has turned out to be far more interesting than I ever expected. I think it's an under-rated rivalry, in a way -- but then all the things belonging to the pro side of tennis have always been under-rated or little known.


A few stats published by the AP for the second match. Vines had roughly twice as many winners as Budge, and twice as many errors, but he lost in straights because the match as a whole, like almost all tennis matches, consisted of more errors than winners.

While losing his first professional start in Boston, Vines out-scored Budge with 38 placements against 16 and nine service aces to six. Vines’ errors, however, were 48 nets, mostly forehanders, against 20, 37 outs to Don’s 24 and three double-faults to one.​

A long report here, with stats and interviews: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xREqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=J2oFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3000,423390 (“Crowd Shuns Budge Vines Boston Show”)

An excerpt from the Boston Globe's report:

Budge on top of his game from the continuous playing he enjoyed up to the time he turned "pro," started off with a bang in the opening set, blasting his way to a love victory. Vines, errors and all, held his own until the sixth game when he drove one outside the boundaries and then netted twice to drop his service. This was all the opportunity Budge needed to cash in on the set and though he missed set point twice on Vines' next service after holding his own, he came back in the ninth game to wipe out a 40-love advantage which the "pro" champ had rolled up, and win five consecutive points for the match.

Errors Defeat Vines

Vines carried the play to Budge throughout the match. In the first two sets, Ellie, famous for his very low trajectory shots, was constantly banging the ball into the net. In the third set Vines began to lean on the ball more and still he had no control, losing many important points on out balls.

In the first two sets Budge made only 33 errors to 61 for Vines, of which 40 of the latter's were net balls. In the third set the Pasadenan erred into the net only seven times, but banged 13 beyond the baselines. Budge, in the final set, erred nine times at the net and had four outs.

This comparison of the errors clearly tells the story of Vines' defeat, for in the matter of earned points by placements the pro title-holder had a decisive edge. He was never able to make good this advantage, though, because he continually followed up his good shots with errors and lost what leads he gained.

This booting of a game after he had apparently won it was typical of Vines' unsteadiness throughout the contest. He would play cagily until he rolled up this advantage and then would attempt to blast away with his powerful strokes over which he yet hasn't control.

Still Erratic

"Ellie" for a while in the second set, looked as if he was going to hit his real stride. In winning his first two services, he gained six of his eight points on five placements and a service ace. Budge forced him to err badly in the fourth game which went to the former amateur ace by love and evened the count at 2-2, then "Ellie" lapsed back in his erratic state once more by erring four successive times on his service after winning the first point by placement.

Vines got his one and only break in the match in the 10th game of this set, when Budge hit a shot with the wood of his racquet and enabled him to break service and even the count at five all.

Vines couldn't hold himself on even terms, however, for he allowed Budge to break him in the 13th game and Don held his own service in the next game to win the set.

The final set was just a repetition of the others. Vines held on until the seventh game, when a net cord placement enabled Budge to break his service and gain the advantage which gave him the match. In the final game Ellie won but one point, battling the advantage digit out and then netting match point.​
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Vines got his first win in Philadelphia, turning the tables completely, in three straight sets.

Boston Globe:

A crowd of 7900 in Convention Hall cheered Vines as he duplicated the beatings that Budge had handed him in New York Tuesday, and again in Boston last night.

Vines' Control Perfect

Vines found the baselines tonight, and his judgment was keen. In contrast to his performance in Boston last night, he was zipping them over the net with perfect control, and dropping them just inside the boundaries.

In several of the games Budge didn't score a point and he was weakening at the end of the match. Vines' last point was a sizzling service ace.

Budge won the first game of the first set with a service ace after it had been deuced twice. He lost the second game on errors and was within a point of dropping the third when he pulled up to deuce with his stout backhands and blazed over another ace from the service line. Vines won the fourth on his service and broke Budge's in the fifth. When Vines lost his service in the sixth he stopped play to complain of photographer's flashes. But he steadied and smothered Budge's service in the seventh game. Budge started netting, giving Vines the eighth and Ellsworth took the ninth at love.

Continues Victory March

Vines kept up his victory march into the second set, winning his own service in the first game. Don won his own service at love. Then the games went with service until the sixth, when Vines' service ace made it 4-2. Budge didn't score a point in the seventh game, but he put over three service aces in the eighth and won. He duplicated this in the ninth.

The former amateur with a grand slam in titles had an advantage in the third set at 4-3, but Vines won his own service and broke Budge's in succession. In the final game Vines kept Budge chasing back and forth the court and the redhead's final lob was a high weak one outside. Vines netted a return and then finished off Budge with an ace.​

American Lawn Tennis:

The first defeat for Budge in his new career as a professional came on the evening of January 5 in Philadelphia Convention Hall. Budge found the service and forehand drive of Vines stronger and more accurate in this third meeting of the tour ...

The size of the crowd was disappointing, estimates of the attendance running from 6,000 to 8,500, but it is well to compromise at 7,000. There were many empty seats, particularly in the sections selling for the top price of $4.40, whereas the $1.14 seats, the cheapest, were filled. However, the undertaking was a financial success, probably grossing more than $15,000.

It was not a good match, nor an interesting or colorful one. Budge was well below form, his edge perhaps taken off from the rush between New York, Boston and Philadelphia, in short—trouper’s weariness. His control ragged, especially on the backhand which committed 37 of his 65 errors, he could not trade shots with Vines for long and the exchanges were necessarily short.

On the other hand Budge was forced into many errors by some of the best powerhouse drives and services Vines has ever shown in Philadelphia. Vines was distinctly “on.” His flat forehand drive was simply great, at times bulleting for clean placements down the line as Budge came in, at other times smashing crosscourt for a point against Budge’s service.

The odds were all with Vines on service. He served nine aces to two, finishing the match with one. Moreover, he was severe enough on other occasions to force Budge into 17 outs or net of his service returns. Vines made only seven errors in returning Budge’s service. Budge collected but two aces and made three double faults against one. Vines dealt well with the few volleys he had, whereas Budge messed up his few.​

Per the Point Score:

Vines won 101 points, Budge 75.

Vines won 54 of 82 points on serve (65.9%).
Budge won 47 of 94 points on serve (50.0%).

Vines served on 82 points and 26 serves did not come back: 31.7%
Budge served on 94 points and 9 serves did not come back: 9.6%

Vines was broken 3 times, Budge 7 times.
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The Cairns Post had a report on the first three matches (http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/42167887); it describes some general views about how the pro and amateur fields compared to each other.

In their three professional tennis contests Donald Budge has won twice and Ellsworth Vines once. Budge won the first match, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, and the second 6-3, 8-6, 6-4. As in the opening match, Budge dominated play through-out. The nearest approach to a battle occurred in the second set, when Vines pulled up to 6-all after Budge had led 5-3. Budge speeded up his game, however, and wore down Vines to take the set, and went on to a convincing victory. The game was fought mainly from the baseline.

Vines rarely got Budge into a position to go into the net, and Budge seemed content to stay back.

Vines turned the tables on Budge at their third meeting. Outstroking and outmanoeuvering his opponent, Vines won, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Budge failed to find touch and only appeared dangerous for a brief spell during the final set.

Donald Budge's defeats of Ellsworth Vines serve as a strong contradiction to the assertions made in recent years that a team of five or ten leading professionals would be too good for the leading five or ten amateurs.

We have been frequently told during the past two years that the professionals, with such world champions as Perry, Vines and Tilden--and Nusslein and Kozeluh, whom they claimed were superior to all amateurs other than Budge--would hardly get warm if they met an amateur side.

Now the amateurs can answer that there are several in their ranks who can be relied on to do a little better against Budge than did Vines.

Professional matches in America are played on a portable rubber composition surface. This is a medium paced surface, slightly slower than a really fast grass court, but faster than en-tout-cas. The halls used by the troupe throughout America have either wooden or concrete floors, and the portable court ensures constant conditions.

Budge's main handicap would be the artificial lighting, of which he has had little experience.​

An excerpt from a preview of the next match, in Chicago, by Howard Barry in the Chicago Tribune:

… Since Budge made his first appearance as a professional in Madison Square Garden, New York, on Tuesday evening, he has won two matches and lost one.

This good beginning against the toughest competition in the world was Budge's answer to the critics who believed his success in the amateur field was due more to the mediocrity of his opponents rather than to his own exceptional skill.

This Vines Is Crafty.

Tonight's match is expected to give further Information on how Budge is likely to fare as a professional. His opponent, Vines, has a way of sizing up his adversaries during early meetings, solving their styles and beating them with regularity thereafter. Vines won Thursday's match in Philadelphia in straight sets after he had dropped those in New York and Boston by equally decisive scores.

This has led some followers of the sport to believe that he already is getting wise to Budge's game. When the redhead shoots those powerful drives and services at him tonight, Vines may be expected to handle them more efficiently than in their first two meetings. On the other hand, Budge's ability to win in his first two matches proved his adaptability to changed conditions.

Unhurt by Shift to Indoors.

He had built up his highly effective game on grass and clay courts in the open air. He made the change to playing under lights on a canvas surfaced court without going off stride despite the fact that his opponent was thoroughly seasoned by several years of competition under those conditions.

In the past, some of the world's greatest amateurs were entirely in. capable of making this change. Henri Cochet, for instance, used to earn his share of victories over Bill Tilden during their amateur days. But when Henri went on tour with the troupe, he was badly beaten night after night.

Vines hopes to keep his drives working again tonight. He always plays on a small margin of error, aiming his shots to clear the net by an inch or two and drop just short of the endline or sideline.

…. As a result, when he is off his game at all, he gets beaten badly, but he's just as likely to get his strokes working the next time out and win handily.​
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The first good match took place in Chicago, Vines winning from two sets down and pulling even in the series at 2 wins apiece.

The Auckland Star has a blow-by-blow account, at the end of this report about the tour: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=AS19390210.2.127&e=-------10--1----0--.

Chicago Tribune:



8,000 See Stadium Match.


Ellsworth Vines, at this writing, is still the greatest tennis player in the world. There will be other matches and other nights on the long road that stretches ahead of the touring troupe, but the 8,000 fans who gathered in the Chicago Stadium last night are satisfied that people just don't play tennis any better than Vines did as he beat Donald Budge, three sets to two, to square their series at two victories apiece. Scores were 3-6, 2-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-3.

Things appeared anything but promising as the evening began because Vines, after a lackadaisical start, performed erratically while losing the first two sets. But Vines operates on so close a margin of error that he often has to adjust his sights ever so little before his artillery begins to function with devastating effect.

As Vines Goes, So Goes Show.

He did just that as the third set began and those shots that were going out by inches began hitting the lines for clean placements and those services that were slapping the net cord began clearing it for aces.

That made things just dandy, because Budge already was playing good tennis and once Vines got into the game everything sparkled. It has become a characteristic of the troupe that whenever Vines is right, the show is good, whether he wins or loses.

The turning point of the match occurred in the fifth game of the last set. With the score 2 all in sets and two all in games, Vines stepped up to serve. Losing three points in a row, he seemed about to drop the psychological advantage he'd gained by his long uphill climb to square the match. Then he clicked out point after point to come up from love-forty and win the game.

Double Default [sic] Ends Sets.

In the next game he played as though he couldn't miss. Drawing Budge out of position, he went to the net repeatedly to put away points with confidence and precision. Breaking Budge's service, he led 4-2. On his own delivery he continued to attack inexorably and led, 5-2. He conserved his strength while losing the next. Leading 5-3, Vines then put everything he had into his services. With an ace, a placement after a short rally, and another ace, he went to 40-0. A double fault checked him. Then he put away another clean placement to end the match.

Through the opening games, Vines and Budge maneuvered to get the range, brightening up some lackadaisical tennis with a few brilliant strokes. After Vines had taken the first game, Budge settled down and ran four in a row, breaking through Vines' service on the last of these after it had gone to deuce five times.

Vines steadied and got off some good shots during protracted rallies to take the next two. Then he became erratic again and dropped two, terminating the set with a double fault.

Vines Rallies in Third.

Vines drew the cheers of the crowd with his aggressive play at the outset of the second set. He broke through Budge's service and then won on his own. Budge took command at this juncture and ran six consecutive games. Again the set ended on a double fault by Vines.

Vines started well in the third set, taking the first game as he drew his opponent out of position with a beautifully executed lob and smacked the return for a clean placement. He went on to win his own service at love and then cracked through Budge's service. Leading 40-30 in the next game, Vines hammered a service ace past Budge to take a 4-0 advantage. Continuing his brilliant stroking, Vines won the next also, scoring the decisive point with a long low drive to the forehand corner. He ran the next game to 40-30, tried a drop shot that his opponent returned and then hammered over a fine backhand passing shot to take the set, 6-0.

The Champion Bears Down.

Vines won the first two games of the fourth set to run his string to eight in a raw. Games went with service until Vines, leading 5-3, broke through with a series of perfectly executed placements to take the set, 6-3, squaring the match.

Games went with service for the first five games of the final set. Then Vines, attacking inexorably, broke through to lead, 4-2. His tremendous service ace was the deciding point in the next game and he led, 5-2, Vines eased off while dropping the next on Budge's service. Then he rode in on his own delivery to take the set, 6-3, winning the match.​

American Lawn Tennis:

Now the Oakland red-head enjoyed the slim margin of one victory over his opponent, and this lead was wiped out two nights later before a packed house in the Chicago Stadium. The gallery sensed the drama being enacted on the court before them, and sat hushed as Budge, hitting out boldly for the corners, and forcing errors from the worried Vines, annexed the first two sets. With the third set barely under way, the Pasadenan “caught fire,” and began to hit with a ferocity which broke down all of Budge’s defenses, and brought the set to the pro champion at 6-0. The fourth and final sets were, in a sense, repetitions of the third, although Budge managed to get his shots under better control in these stanzas. The spectators sat on the edges of their chairs as the battle was fought out before them. Never has Vines hit with greater power or with more uncanny accuracy. His service was an unleashed thunderbolt, and his forehand drives bullet-like in their speed. Time and again Budge stood helplessly by as Vines’ booming services rocketed by him, or Ellie’s searing forehand sought out and found the corners. The crowd cheered alternately at the fury of Vines’ attack and the courageous defense of the Oakland sorrel-top in the face of such a pitiless barrage. Fred Le Pell, who umpired the match, said after it was over, that he had never seen such a magnificent uphill fight as that made by Vines after being down two sets. Paul Bennett, tennis coach of Northwestern University, said that it was the greatest exhibition of unrestrained hitting he had ever witnessed. Vines more than made up for his disappointing performance two years ago.​

It was possibly Budge’s first 5-set loss since January 1937 when he lost to Grant.
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Two nights later they put on another marathon in Pittsburgh. It was only three sets but at 45 games it was actually longer than the five-setter they had just played in Chicago.

American Lawn Tennis published a report by a fan who had witnessed the match.

ALT is indebted to a young Pittsburgh fan, Richard Stanewick, for an interesting account and sidelights on the match in that city.

On Monday evening, January 9, Vines and Budge treated the largest crowd in the history of tennis at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne Gardens to an epic struggle. Though only a three set encounter, it was filled with extraordinary suspense and brilliance....

Wonderful offensive thrusts streamed from Vines’ racket and from Budge’s “gets” that took away the gallery’s breath. Don never counted his point until the ball was dead, and Vines’ failure to keep on his toes after he had hit a seeming winner cost him more than one precious point. Both men were tired at the end and Budge was especially glad to finish since he had acquired a painful foot blister early in the match. During the interval before the doubles he sat at the net, bared the injured foot, and tenderly administered what relief he could. Paired with Skeen he saved his foot while Vines and Barnes battered out a 6-0, 6-2 win....

Briefs:—It is hard to picture a man of Vines’ class not doing something about that backhand; he hit into the net each time he did not square right up to the ball and bring off the stroke in copybook style... Only Tilden’s run of service aces against Perry was more dramatic and brought more applause than Vines’ match point stands against determined Don... Paul Sullivan umpired the feature match and did another grand job; the words with which he addressed linesmen and gallery before Vines and Budge went on were eloquent... The lining was excellent.​
The underlined reference may be to a match that Tilden won in four sets over Perry in Pittsburgh (March 30, 1937).


More on the Pittsburgh match, from the AP:


.... The stamina of the red-haired, 23-year-old San Francisco star proved too much for the 27-year-old veteran from Pasadena, who faded in the marathon third set.​

Ottawa Journal:

The repeated rallies kept the largest crowd ever to witness an indoor racquet match here standing most of the time until Vines netted the deciding point.

Promoters said 5,000 attended the match.​

Nevada State Journal:

Budge Takes Lead In Vines Series

Last Set Stretched to 22 Games

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 9 —(U.P.) — Donald Budge of Oakland, Calif., gained a three to two match advantage over Ellsworth Vines of Pasadena, Calif., in their professional tennis tour Monday night, when he won two of three sets, 8-6, 3-6, 12-10. Budge's consistency was the principal factor in his triumph.

A capacity crowd of 6000 tennis fans at Duquesne Garden saw Budge break through Vines' cannonball service three times in the first set, while Vines twice cracked Budge's softer serve. Vines took the second set easily by breaking Budge's serve on the eighth game and winning his own in the ninth.

Last Set Tough

Then in the final set they settled down to steady stroking. The games followed service until the 22nd exchange when Budge finally got his racquet on Vines’ pounding balls and broke his service for victory.

Twice in the final set—including the last game—Budge had Vines at set-point and could not take the match. It occurred first in the 14th game. In the 22nd, Budge ran the score to 40-15, then Vines deuced the game with an ace and a smashing forehand drive.

Budge took advantage in the next rally with a deep, chopped crosscourt shot, and on the final point Vines smashed the ball into the net. Before that finale Budge had won two love games, the third and 15th, and Vines had won the second, fourth and 10th in the same fashion.

Better Control

Budge won the match with better control of his shots than was exhibited by Vines, as well as a superior net game that gave him point victory every time he went up. Vines hit much the harder ball on service and from the baseline.

The Daily Notes:


Downs Vines in Gruelling Play Last Night

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 10.— (UP) — Donald Budge and Ellsworth Vines moved on to Cincinnati today for the sixth match of their cross- country professional tennis series after Budge, pacing to a gruelling, 8-6, 3-6, 12-10 victory, took a one- match lead toward the 1939 Pro championship.

A capacity crowd of 6,600 tennis fans, who paid approximately $9,000, watched one of the most thrilling sets of tennis ever played when Vines and the red-headed former international singles amateur champion came up for their third set last night.

They stroked for 22 games, sweating under the bright lights, before Budge finally broke through Vines' cannonball services and ended the set. That does not tell the story, however, for four times the great Budge had Vines at set and match point, and each of those times Vines staked all his chances on daring rallies that brought him back into the running with wild applause ringing through the Garden.​


When the series was tied at 2-2, the Alton Evening Telegraph published an extensive and interesting comparison of the two mens' games and how their strokes matched up against each other.

Amateur Tennis Stars Were Well Rid of Budge

Redhead’s Series With Vines Crowd Pleaser

Red headed Donald Budge did the tennis world a real favor recently when he turned his head on 1939 amateur glory and picked up his professional racquet. Ellsworth Vines, present professional champion of the world, and British Fred Perry need Budge to keep the money game on its uppers and the amateurs were beginning to show signs of discouragement in their efforts to make things interesting in the various tournaments Don entered.

Budge had done all he possibly could for the amateur game before retiring. With his marvelous ability, he brought the Davis Cup back to America for the first time in years and gave the sport another outstanding figure of the Bill Tilden type as a mark for newcomers to shoot at.

Bobby Riggs, Joe Hunt, Wayne Sabin, Australia's Jack Bromwich, Gene Mako, Bryan Grant and the rest of the “simon pures” are good enough to handle the tennis job without the California champion. Riggs apparently is destined to take over America's high seat in the world of the net and the racquet, with Bromwich his most formidable foreign opponent. Bromwich may be the next man to claim the amateur championship of the universe. Budge, meanwhile, will set out to earn a fortune against Elly Vines in a professional tour of over 40 matches and never in its history has pro tennis been so excited. Can Budge beat Vines? It's a question they're having loads of fun discussing.

The scarlet domed Budge looked like a world beater in his first start against the former American amateur ace, taking him in straight sets in Boston [sic]. One night later, he did it again in New York [sic] but sharp-eyed observers, noticing Vines' grim intensity, refused to be taken in. The following night their doubts were partially confirmed when Vines, in perfect form, trimmed Budge in straight sets in Philadelphia.

Budge was helpless against Vines' blasting drives and played like it. Whether it means he will always be helpless when Vines is at top form remains to be seen. No one can win them all.

An analysis of the two reveals a list of just about every weapon needed in tennis. Vines concentrates on speed and needs complete control. His trajectory of fire is the lowest possible, just over the net, and he hits the ball with cannonball force from every position on the court.

Budge's forehand is not as swift as Elly's, but Don's strength there lies in his accuracy. Too, he always gives the ball plenty of leeway in its clearance of the net.

Another Budge highlight is his beautiful and amazing backhand, which is even better than Bill Tilden's. Tilden was once called the greatest backhand shotmaker in tennis history. If Vines has a weakness, it's in his backhand and he experienced trouble right at the start against Budge when Don took advantage by shooting to Elly's left side.

Vines admits his line of attack lies in a strong service and blazing forehand, while the gangling Budge, an accomplished master of every stroke, likes to take advantage of the other fellow's game.

Some tennis experts, men who now predict that Budge is the greatest player of all time, say the redhead can make Vines' strength be his weakness by forcing Elly into errors. Vines' strong forehand can be counted off the lists when his opponent is able to get it back and Elly's steaming smashes, while terrifically hard to handle, lack Don's accuracy.

Maybe the wise guys have something, but Budge and Vines are hard to figure on paper. The line draws thin when their weaknesses and strong points are played one against another. A safe bet would be to divide the total number of matches played by two and give each man half. The system would not lose too much money and it would save a lot of gray hairs.​
Tilden is always the measuring stick, in all the articles from this era.
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The day after their battle in Pittsburgh, Vines tied the series at 3-3 in another close match.

American Lawn Tennis:

Another near-capacity crowd watched Vines defeat Budge in three sets at Cincinnati, 7-5 2-6 6-4 under the roof of the Xavier University Fieldhouse. It was an even match up until the very end. Vines set the pace but it must have been discouraging to see most of his best shots come back. So accurate were both players that they could not afford to take the net position and there was little fore court play. Don looked like the winner when he led at 3-1 in the third set, Vines having tried advances to the net for several games and having been passed regularly. He captured his own service after a hard struggle with the aid of a net-cord shot then pulled even by means of his best play. It was nip and tuck for two games and then Vines pulled away as he peppered Budge’s base line with drives.​

The Brownsville Herald:


Tennis Stars Stand At 3-All Deadlock

CINCINNATI—(AP)—Ellsworth Vines, veteran pro, stood Wednesday at a three-all deadlock with his new companion of the professional tennis ranks, Don Budge, on their exhibition tour.

Displaying superior service, Vines took the match here Tuesday night, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. Both players had their backhand strokes working with such accuracy that neither was able to play the net.

For the first time, Bruce Barnes and Dick Skeen defeated Vines and Budge in a doubles match, 3-6, 8-6, 6-4.​

Boston Globe’s report:

Vines got off to a bad start, losing the first two games, but opened up with a vicious service and took two love. His base line shots had Budge running from one side of the court to the other.

Budge came back in the second match with greater force on his service and won handily. Vines was pushed to the backstop by Budge’s terrific volley, clipping the side lines. In the last set Vines kept his shots close to the net and nearly a score of times the ball hit the net band and dropped over.​
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That night Budge responded to a reporter asking if the matches were fixed: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=1OYzAAAAIBAJ&sjid=q-4HAAAAIBAJ&dq=budge vines blisters&pg=5807,1162287

Somebody asked Budge whether the matches are “fixed.” Don offered to show the blisters on his feet as proof that they are not.

“Besides,” he pointed out, “we’re both out there to win the hardest way because it means so much financially. The fellow who wins this tour will be on top next year and the loser will be on the sidelines trying to pick up what scraps he can find.”

Don, facing what he called “the toughest competition I’ve ever had,” was confident he would win the majority of his 50 matches with Vines.

“I think I’ll be able to wear him down,” he said. “Elly does more running than I do because I like to hit the ball on the rise of the bound instead of at the top where he likes to hit it. That way I can force him more than he can force me.

“He hits them a little harder than I do, I think, and he takes a lot of chances that I won’t take. No, I don’t think he plays foolishly, but when he see a little opening he likes to shoot for an ace, while I usually think, ‘Well, I guess I’ll wait a little longer.’ ”


On to Detroit, and another finish in overtime.

American Lawn Tennis:

The crowd of 5,814 at the Olympia auditorium in Detroit on January 12 was a few hundred less than saw Vines and Perry play there two years ago but the “gate” of $6,770 exceeded the best previous pro receipts in that city. The match was even closer than the one in Pittsburgh, ending at 6-3 0-6 13-11 for Budge. Once again Vines impressed with his greater power and his margin of placements over Budge was even larger than usual—51 to 17; nine service aces to one. Service was not as all-important as might be supposed, however, and in the first ten games of the long third set there were four breaks. Thereafter games followed service until 11-all when Don got the vital break.
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Again Vines tied the series, the count now 4-4.

American Lawn Tennis:

Two days later Minneapolis fans watched Vines even the series in another three set encounter. This time it took him a set to get the vast number of errors out of his system and acquire the “touch.” Trailing at 1-2 in the second Ellie won five straight games with an unbeatable streak that included five service aces. He continued his fine play in the third set but his margin of superiority was less pronounced. Yet he left the 6,000 spectators, the largest in the history of Minneapolis tennis, with the feeling that noboby in the world could have stood up against his hitting that night.​

Lincoln Star:


MINNEAPOLIS. (UP). Ellsworth Vines turned on his vaunted power here to defeat redheaded Don Budge, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, and knot the count in their professional tennis series at four triumphs apiece.

The Vines eye and power came to his aid in the last two sets, and during the second set he literally blasted the redheaded star off the court. His volleys were fast and sure, and Budge was unable to return many of them.

During the final set Vines’ control slackened, and he was at times in danger, but his power counterbalanced his lack of control and he won the set and match.​

New York Times:

The big red-head started the first set by breaking Vines’s service twice to win the first four games. Vines rallied to take the next two, but Budge ran out the set in easy fashion. They split the first four games of the second set and then Vines broke Budge’s service on the fifth when a net ball dribbled over on game point. The pro champion ran out the next three games.

Twice in the third set Vines won games on net balls that just fell across, giving Budge no chance to return them. Working his ace service ball often, Vines built up a 3-1 lead in the final set and then alternated games at service to the end.​
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The reports start to thin out at this stage of the tour, as the big cities were left behind.

Budge again nosed ahead with a win in Kansas City.

The Daily Republican:

Donald Budge again had a one match lead over Ellsworth Vines, in their city-to-city professional tennis tour today.

Budge defeated Vines in straight sets, 8-6, 6-4, last night, displaying precision which kept him consistently ahead of his speedier opponent. Budge’s back-hand was almost mechanically perfect and he returned shot after shot which broke beyond the retrieving range of the professional champion.​

The Evening News:

Budge was the more consistent of the two, but Vines drew repeated applause for his smashing drives.​

An AP report in the New York Times:

Kansas City, Jan. 16 (AP) Erratic Ellsworth Vines lost to Donald Budge, 8-6, 6-4 tonight in the ninth match of their pro tennis tour. It was Budge's fifth triumph.

Only Vines' service did his bidding. His driving forehand shots were invariably inches long and he netted frequently.

Budge used his backhand consistently in halting his more experienced foe, winning four straight games in the second set after Vines had taken a 2-to-0 lead.
"Speedier opponent" in this context probably meant the harder hitter; back then a hard hitter would be said to have great speed.

A common example would be saying that Tilden's great speed (what we would call his great pace) beat his opponent.
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Now Budge took a 6-4 lead with a 6-3, 6-3 win in St. Louis.

Arizona Independent Republic:

Vines cracked his foe’s service in the third game for a 2-1 lead, but Budge opened a furious attack that gave him four games in a row with the loss of only four points, two of the games at love, then coasted to victory.

The second set was almost a repetition, though Budge had a 3-1 lead in games before the two swapped a pair of services.​

Christian Science Monitor:

Vines, erratic in dropping his second successive match, found only his service working. His driving forehand shots were long by inches and he netted frequently.

Budge used his superior backhand to good advantage in collecting 71 points to Vines’ 50.​

At this point American Lawn Tennis ran a report on the first ten matches:

Budge Leads Vines

The Recent Amateur Wins Six of the First Ten Battles—Large Crowds Enjoy Many Extra-Set Matches

Large crowds (the biggest ever in several of the cities) have reveled in the class of tennis displayed—with Vines supplying most of the pyrotechnics and Budge the epitome of steadiness. When Ellsworth is in “touch” he seems to hold the edge and yet Don has showed an ability to lift his game and keep it on an unusually high scale that some doubted he could or would reach. As an amateur he was able to play himself into his best form when the “chips were down,” but seldom went all out on less important occasions.​
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A close match followed in Louisville, but Budge won it 6-4 in the third to take a 7-4 lead, his first significant lead.


A crowd of 4,000 last night saw Budge down Vines, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Slapping Vines down on his own game, Budge employed a fireball service and cannon forehands to beat his opponent. Vines showed a spurt of power in the second set and had Budge at his mercy, but didn’t seem to be able to hold the pace.​

San Bernardino County Sun:
Donald Budge took a three match lead over his barnstorming opponent, Ellsworth Vines, tonight, outpointing him in two sets out of three.

Budge displayed excellent control as he won the first set, 6-3, then dropped the second set 3-6. The two play again tomorrow night in Cleveland.​

At that point the Buffalo Courier-Express wrote up a little piece about the tour, in anticipation of their upcoming match in Buffalo.

In Vines, Budge is facing a hitter worthy of his steel. The Pasadenan, by virtue of his amazing record since entering the pro ranks, has established himself as one of the greatest players of all time. Bill Tilden feels that the tennis world never has seen his equal. The ferocity of his attack has mowed down every opponent who faced him in the last five years: Tilden, Cochet, Nusslein, Plaa, Stoefen and Perry. Big Bill is authority for the statement that no living man can stand up under the furious bombardment of Vines’ attack night after night on a tour of this kind, and emerge victorious.

Budge Holds Lead

Mr. Tilden appears to be off on the wrong foot, judging by the results so far. Budge held a 7-4 advantage up to last night’s match in Cleveland, having made it three in a row by trouncing Elly, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, in Louisville Wednesday night.

It must be apparent to Vines that he is facing the greatest test of his career. While Budge hasn’t the terrific forehand drive of his fellow-Californian, he is considerably more steady, and this has been the deciding factor in their tour to date. Don’s drives aren’t as flat as Vines’, allowing a greater safety margin. When Elly is right, his drives are nicking the lines, clearing the net by hardly an inch. When he’s off form, Budge’s steadiness forces him into costly errors.

The stars will meet on the same court on which they played in Madison Square Garden, a canvas surface brought to perfect smoothness by an elaborate system of turnbuckles. The Auditorium lights have been praised as the best in the country for tennis.​
Again, Tilden had been abroad for two years at this point, but the underlined may be a reference to a prediction he made for this Budge/Vines tour. Tilden was always being sought out for his views -- or at least a good quote -- and it's not unlikely that he was contacted in Europe for something like this.

Tilden, who was never shy about talking to the press, would likely have had something to say about the participants of this tour no matter who they were, but in this case he held a unique position, having observed and faced peak Vines so often.
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Budge then pulled up to 8-4 with a quick victory in Cleveland.

Buffalo Courier-Express:

Red-thatched Don Budge, California’s 23-year-old tennis star, defeated Ellsworth Vines, world’s professional tennis champion, in straight sets here tonight to take an eight-to-four lead in their current tour. The scores were 6-1 and 6-4. It was Budge’s fourth consecutive victory. In the first set Budge amassed a 5-0 lead before Vines took a game. He lost only thirteen points in the entire set. The second set was more of a fight, Vines scoring 32 points to 31 for Budge.

News-Journal of Mansfield, OH:

Many Mansfielders were among the 3578 who watched without much enthusiasm while Budge defeated Vines for the eighth time to take a four-match lead in their present series.

In his first set, the redhead, stroking smoothly with good pace and length, particularly off the backhand, played entirely from the baseline and swept the first five games, breaking through Vines’ service twice. Vines took his service in the sixth but Budge held in the seventh game to run out the set 6-1. Budge played almost errorless tennis while Vines was erratic and drove into the net or out of court repeatedly.

Starting out on his own service in the second set Vines raised his game to spectacular heights to produce the best tennis of the match as his powerful serve began clipping the lines, enabling him to take the net against Budge’s soft returns and lay them away. Trailing at three games to two Vines blazed through the sixth and seventh, as his forehand drives, under complete control for the first time, were good for several magnificent placements which left the amateur king standing helplessly waving his racquet. This, however, was only a momentary spurt and as Vines' game dropped back into low gear Budge easily took the next three games and the set.

With the exception of the first part of the second set, Budge dominated the play by forcing his opponent to exchange backhands, and Don, with the most powerful backhand stroke in tennis, was on top all the way. Vines as usual hit out all the time but he was unable to keep his speed under control to make it effective, and although it brought him more clean placements than Budge recorded, it also produced a much greater number of errors. The veteran professional was out-maneuvered and on the defensive most of the match, and he was rarely able to bring his potent forehand into play without pulling himself out of position.​
The underlined may indicate SV play by Vines.

Urban pointed this out about the opener in New York, but here too Vines had more winners than Budge -- and this match was even more of a blowout than the one there.
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In Buffalo Budge again pulled out a close win, this time winning fewer games than Vines. Score was 8-6, 1-6, 6-4, moving Budge up to 9-4 in the series.

New York Times:

Vines gave Budge a stern fight in losing the first set and came back to overwhelm his rival in the second. Budge appeared to have a comfortable hold on the situation throughout the final set.​

American Lawn Tennis:

An Old-Timer Watches

Budge and Vines visited Buffalo in late January, and one of the Old Guard, Charles R Whiting, thinks that ALT might be interested in knowing the reaction of “a great number of dyed-in-the-wool tennis fans” respecting the night’s play. Extracts from his letter follow:

Budge won in three sets, but it was the consensus of opinion, at least amongst the crowd I was sitting with, all of whom had seen Vines play before, that while he could be the Vines of old if he turned on the heat, he didn’t see fit to turn it on very often. He did in the second set, and from the spectator’s viewpoint, Budge was wondering where the ball was most of the ten or twelve minutes that the set lasted.

In the first set a couple of breaks in Budge’s favor, in conjunction with what appeared to be a misjudgment of balls by a linesman may have had something to do with Vines’ dropping the first set and ultimately, the match. In the third set our friend Ellie appeared to be playing, at times, in a rather lackadaisical manner which didn’t do him any particular good in the eyes of the aforesaid dyed-in-the-wool tennis bunch that I was esconced with in the gallery.

I don’t mean to detract for one minute from the ability of Budge. He is a marvelous player, appears to have a wonderfully well-rounded game, and I have never seen Vines’ service handled so ably by any one, with the possible exception of Fred Perry. Of course there were a number of services that apparently Budge never even saw let alone got his bat on, and this also applied to some of Vines’ forehand shots. I have read considerable regarding the vulnerability of Vines’ backhand. I didn’t see the slightest sign of there being anything wrong with it, even though he did lose the match.​
In the doubles just before this match, Jack Castle was called in at the last minute to fill in for Bruce Barnes who had come down with appendicitis.

Castle was nearly "decapitated" by a Vines overhead, per Frank Lillich of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (http://fultonhistory.com/Process s...20- 0828.PDF). In the locker room afterwards, Vines explains that it was an accident. Castle then compliments Vines on his serving:

"I never saw anything like it. I knew it was fast, but when you lean on it, it just can’t be seen. Goodness gracious, Don can’t hit a ball the way you do.” Budge says, “It looks that way to me sometimes, too.”​

Lillich observed Vines, in the locker room at the end of the night, "carefully removing great strips of adhesive tape from his side."


The match report in the Buffalo Courier-Express was excellent, combining match details with stroke analysis.

Again the backhand-to-backhand exchanges were noted as a key.


Coast Redhead Scores Fifth Straight Win Over Pro King and Takes 9-4 Lead on Tour


Don Budge, Californian who brought the Davis Cup back to the United States, scored his fifth successive victory over Ellsworth Vines, defending professional champion, for the edification of 3,820 tennis fans in Broadway Auditorium last night. Budge won at 8-6, 1-6, 6-4 to take a 9-4 lead over Vines on their transcontinental tour.

The roving racqueteers put on possibly as brilliant an exhibition as local devotees ever have seen. The match for the most part was a hitting duel from the baselines, with few net sorties. The rivals ran true to form as Budge out-steadied his foe in the first set, was fairly blasted off the court as Elly found his control in the second, then reasserted his supremacy in the third.

Budge's Pressure Tells

In the long run Budge's relentless pressure on Vines' backhand told the story. He kept the ball away from the pro titlist's dread forehand until Elly pressed at crucial stages, notably in the last game of the first set. Budge's backhand, heralded as the best in tennis history, fully lived up to its press notices. On the few occasions on which he was caught a step out of position, he got into hitting position by a unique skip, taking the ball on the rise.

Vines was a mighty figure in that second set, though, and it was easy to see how he has disposed of every other pretender to his throne. When he's hot, as he was over those seven games, there isn't any answer to his raking drives. His game over that span was reminiscent of Tilden of the Roaring Twenties. His passing shots were things of beauty in the first game as Budge rashly stormed the net and Vines scored four straight placements.

During this set Vines' backhand stood up under a persistent hammering, and every shot that came off his flashing racquet appeared a winner. Twice he caught Budge flat-footed at the baseline with soft cut shots over the net that went for placements.

Budge's more consistent method proved the better one last night, though. His shots were made with a greater margin of safety, his drives clearing the net by close to a foot, while Vines' smashes were scarcely two inches over the barrier. Budge has power, there is no doubt of that; but that power is carefully directed.

Vines Starts Fast

Vines started off by breaking Budge's service and ran up a 5-3 lead. The eighth game saw Budge get an atrocious call, or lack of one, on a drive of Vines' that was close to a foot out of bounds. But the rivals can't indulge in the silly gesture of throwing points, by a pre-tour agreement. Don hit a splendid stride to take the next three games with the loss of only two points. Games went with service until Budge took the fourteenth and the set on an out, a double fault, a placement and a net, breaking Vines' service as Elly visibly wound up in an effort to stay in there.

Vines was hotter than a forest fire in sweeping six of seven games in the second set, Budge taking only the third. So clear was Elly's margin that only one game was deuced. But he couldn't hold that sizzling pace, in the face of Budge's tireless retrieving.

Budge broke through his adversary's service in the third game of the decisive set. Vines managed to stave off two match points in the ninth game, finally pulling out with an ace. But Budge wasn't to be denied. With the count 30-all in the tenth game, he forced Vines into an error, then wound up with an earned point with a leaping forehand volley at the net.

Budge's deep, hard game kept Vines on the wrong foot altogether too often for his own good. Vines, when that cannonball first service was working as it should, proved his right to greatness. But it seems that Budge just doesn't have any off nights.​
The term “soft cut shots” means, I assume, drop shots.

Per the boxscore:

Each player won 90 points.

Budge had 2 aces and 17 other winners; 1 double-fault and 59 other errors (30 nets, 29 outs)

Vines had 4 aces and 26 other winners; 1 double-fault and 70 other errors (38 nets, 32 outs)

Vines’ sole double-fault, presumably, was in the last game of the opening set.
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In Baltimore the following night, Budge moved up to 10-4 with his sixth consecutive win, which turned out to be the longest streak for either man in the series.

An AP story in the New York Times:

Don Budge whisked Ellsworth Vines off the court in less than half an hour here, 6-2, 6-1 and ran his string to six straight victories in their cross country professional tennis duel.

The victory put the red topped Californian out in front, 10 to 4, in their series.

Vines failed almost utterly to give Budge any competition. He came to the net just once, in the second set, to pop a weak volley a yard out of court. Officials heard Budge ask Vines at one point if he “felt all right.” The pro champion is said to have been staving off an attack of grippe all week.​

Per the Point Score:

Budge won 58 points, Vines 35.

Budge won 33 of 51 points on serve (64.7%)
Vines won 17 of 42 points on serve (40.5%)

Budge was broken once in 8 service games, when serving at 5-1 in the first set.

Vines was broken 5 times in 7 service games, all in consecutive games (he began and ended the match with holds).

Per the Stroke Analysis:

Budge had 0 aces and 6 winners; 0 double-faults and 31 errors (15 nets, 16 outs)
Vines had 2 aces and 2 other winners; 2 double-faults and 50 other errors (32 nets, 18 outs)

The report in the Baltimore Sun:


Newcomer To Pro Tennis Ranks Romps Through Champion, 6-2, 6-1—Loser Goes To Net Only Once In Match At Carlin's

Defeat, Worst Of The Current Tour, Places Don In Front In Series, By Score Of 10 To 4.

Doubles More Interesting


J. Donald Budge whisked Ellsworth Vines off the courts in less than half an hour, 6-2, 6-1, before a disappointed crowd that packed the Carlin's arena last night for the tennis encounter between the professionals.

In explanation for Vines' seemingly [sic] disinteredness, it was said after the match that he had been suffering from the effects of an attack of grippe all week. On one occasion as he sat down for a moment's rest during the match, Budge was heard to ask him if he felt all right.

Vines played as though weary of it all, and Budge, on top of his game, pulled no punches in disposing of his opponent. It was not good competitive tennis, for Vines provided none of the necessary competition. He came to the net just once, in the second set, and popped a weak volley a yard out of court on a shot made to order for any first-class player.

Series Stands 10 To 4

Budge gave the crowd what little excitement it had by some marvelous shots. His service was sharp, his backhand, with its characteristic lift, was accurate and forcing.

The defeat was the first sustained by Vines in his several trips here, and the worst of his current tour. Budge now leads, 10 to 4, and if the sample of Vines’ play last night is what to expect for the remainder of the trip, there is little use in continuing; Budge may be awarded the palm here and now.

They began with Budge serving, and his blistering first ball accounted for three of the needed points as Vines' returns were faulty. Vines held service in the second game, and the third went to deuce. Budge fell into errors after a 40-15 lead, and needed three successive volleys for the ultimate placement that won the game and held his service.

Then he cracked Vines in a 12-point game. The present pro champion was missing with his first service and Budge was crashing into the weaker second ball with killing efficiency. He scored a placement on a net-cord shot —the first of three in the match—and won the next two points on Vines' errors to lead in games, 3-1.

Vines Often Hits Net

After that Vines did not seem to care. He scored an ace now and then, Budge letting the sizzler go by, but more often lashed the ball into the net with his flat trajectory shots.

He made a brief stand at the start of the second net, but wasted a 0-30 lead on Budge's service. The redhead grand-slam winner won eight straight points, including four to take a love game off Vines' delivery. Elly helped him with a net-cord second service that bounced for a fault.

In the fourth game, Vines' only attempt to take the net sent the ball wide of the court into the folded coat of a spectator in a side-line box, where it hid from the ball boy.

The loser rallied his service strokes in the sixth game to save a shutout, forcing two faulty returns of the first one and then rifling an ace past Budge. But the latter did not care a bit, for Vines won only 12 points in the entire set as it was.

Players Have Little Color

The match held little of the awe inspired by the earlier matches under Maestro Bill Tilden. There is little color to either man. Each examined the net height and decided to raise the barrier before the match. Vines would have done well to tear it down entirely before beginning play. Elly complained about the noise of the pop salesmen, and Budge threw in a good-natured admonishment to the nearest offender.

In a preliminary match, Dick Skeen, of California, defeated Alfred H. Chapin, of New York, 6-2, 6-3. Chapin, substituting for Bruce Barnes, victim of a sudden attack of appendicitis in Buffalo on Friday, had greater variety and skill to his game, but showed the lack of competitive play. By the time he worked into his form, the odds in games won were too heavily against him.

The doubles provided a different story and by some sparkling tennis helped erase the impression left by the featured singles. Vines and Skeen won this in straight sets from Budge and Chapin, 6-4, 7-5, but, there were many sparkling rallies, and Vines, not under the pressure to run as much as in singles, was able to hold up his side of the partnership in good shape. Budge was still the best player on the court, but the consistency of Chapin's volleying was not up to the standard of the others, though he did bring off some spectacular shots.

Budge showed to even greater advantage than in the singles, despite the loss by his side, for he let out his game to even greater lengths in an effort to contribute enough for a victory.

Whatever the disappointment to the fans, the result of the match here helps answer the questions as to whether the boys are really battling or playing a series of exhibitions. Under the circumstances, with Vines indisposed, it would have been easy for Budge to carry him to some extent and few in the crowd could have known the difference.
“Grippe” is an out-dated term for flu.

Some other reports say that Vines is rumored to have a "bad cold," but Vines said he had a stomach ailment. He was asked about it when the troupe -- along with Fred Perry -- showed up at the next stop, in College Park, MD.

Washington Post:

Fred Perry is with the serve-and-volley boys here, though by his own account only to arrange for naturalization papers at the Labor Department.

Perry’s excuse for his appearance on the scene slightly spikes the rumor that Vines was too ill to go on with the tour. Vines’ personal appearance, though not exactly glowing, does the rest. For several matches now, the mainstay of pro tours for the past 5 years, has suffered with an ailment he calls “nervous indigestion.”

He says it’s partly to blame for the fact that he trails Budge by 10 matches to 4. The rest of the blame lies with Budge’s sterling serve and unerring backhand.​
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They had played 6 matches in a row without a day of rest – all 6 won by Budge. It turned out to to be the longest stretch of uninterrupted play in the series.

After a day of rest, Vines broke the losing streak with a win in College Park, MD, near Washington, DC.

The Daily Mail:

Ellsworth Vines showed a complete reversal of his Saturday form tonight and disposed of Donald Budge, 6-4, 6-4, in the fifteenth match of their professional series.​
At Baltimore Saturday, Budge swept Vines away 6-2, 6-1 in less than 30 minutes, but Vines was the master all the way tonight. Playing on a hard-wood court in the Coliseum, he let Budge get into the lead of the first set, 4-3, then took the next three games in quick order.​
The victor’s placement was excellent and his service more than once too hot for the redheaded Californian to return. The victory reduced Budge’s lead in the series to five matches, Budge having won 10 and Vines five. An estimated 4,000 persons saw tonight’s match.​

Washington Post:

Three Love Games End Hot Match​
Redhead's Serve And Backhand Futile Against Californian​
By Bill Burnett.​
Four Thousand Jam Ritchie Coliseum as Tennis Kings Hold Court​
A complete reversal of form was shown by Ellsworth Vines, veteran professional tennis player, when he issued a 6-4, 6-4 beating to Donald Budge, amateur champion of the world, in the fifteenth of their professional matches last night at Ritchie Coliseum. More than 4,000 fans, the largest gathering to witness a tennis match in this area, stood and sat in every available bit of space in the Maryland University gym.​
By the victory, Vines reduced Budge's 10-4 lead in matches played since the tour began on January 3, and kept clean his record of having never been defeated in the District and vicinity. He has appeared here every year for the last five, the duration of his professional tennis existence, as well as in amateur Davis Cup play before that.​
Fully Recovered​
The breezy manner in which Vines took the opening set might have indicated he was back on his game. Night before last he bowed miserably to his red-headed opponent, 6-2, 6-1, in Baltimore, giving as his reason a stomach ailment. The pain had evidently left the tall Californian, as he whipped Budge in straight sets.​
As each racqueter won his serve, the match was tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4, before Vines cracked Budge's serve in the ninth game. He took the next two games with well-placed angle shots that Budge couldn't touch.​
The best form of the flaming-topped Budge, winner of six straight matches until last night's, was shown in the seventh game of the first set which he won with four unapproachable service aces.​
Vines opened the second set in exactly the same manner as the first, but topped it off with a string of beautiful shots Budge could scarcely see. He trailed, 3-4, after the seventh game but unleashed aces and placements to win the final three games by love counts.​
… During the feature between Budge and Vines, spectators became conscious of the jammed conditions and started shouting, "Give us air." Added to this, several fans in the upper stands began whistling as Budge served, causing the red-head to complain to the judges.​
In all other ways the doubles were a complete success. Budge displayed a flair for showmanship belied by his inexperience in the professional ranks, several times causing waves of laughter with ridiculous grimaces. But Vines was the idol of the crowd, probably because of his underdog rating. The genuinely enthusiastic tennis gathering cheered the efforts of both men, but mostly those of Vines.​
The doubles, staged after both singles, featured Budge paired with Chapin and Vines paired with Skeen. In this encounter, Budge also finished on the short end, he and his partner losing, 6-2 and 9-7.​
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Professional Tennis ran a report covering the first 29 matches. They provided an incomplete report, having failed to get information directly from Jack Harris as they had hoped. They did say this about the Richmond match:



Don Budge and Elly Vines started south by playing in Richmond, Va., at the Howitzer’s Armory on Tuesday night, January 24th, before a capacity house. Vines had a losing streak prior to playing in Washington the night before, and was five down to Budge when they swung into action in Virginia. It was rumored Vines had not been feeling well physically but he disproved this conclusively by taking the first set from Don 6-0 and the second set 11-9 before 3,500 enthusiastic fans. Budge, especially, seemed to have some difficulty in “finding the ball” during the first set due perhaps to the inadequate lighting facilities of the hall. Many remarked, however, that at the rate Vines was whipping across his first serves on this night and gambling with abandon with drives that skimmed the net and cut the lines, little could have been done about it by the world’s greatest player, amateur or professional, even with the best of Forest Hills sunshine!​


Vines got his third straight win in Chapel Hill, pulling to within 10-7. Jack Harris called it the best match of the tour thus far.

The Daily Tar Heel (Chapel Hill, NC):

Ellsworth Vines Rallies To Trounce Budge By 4-6, 7-5, 7-5


Veteran Shortens Budge's Series Lead; Score Is Now 10-7


Displaying unique power at the net and shooting across ace services with set regularity, Ellsworth Vines, Jr., rallied in the closing games of the third set in Woolen gymnasium last night to defeat J. Donald Budge 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in their 17th meeting of a nation-wide tour to decide the World's Professional Tennis championship. In the opener Richard Skeen made it four straight over Al Chapin, winning 9-7, while in the final doubles match, Vines and Skeen trounced Budge and Chapin 6-4, 6-4.

It was a full house, loaded down with over 4,000 amazed spectators that witnessed one of the finest exhibitions of tennis ever seen in the South. Cheering the two stars on, especially in the waning minutes of the deciding set, the galleries appreciatively clapped and laughed with every move made on the courts. Jack Harris, genial manager of the pro tour, termed tonight's Budge-Vines meeting "the greatest match of the whole tour." Tonight's win pulled the standings to 10-7, still in favor of Budge.


Budge and Vines started off on the right foot, as far as enjoyment goes, for as soon as the pro king had hit the first ball his racquet broke. After refusing Budge's offer to use "one of mine," Vines picked up another and prepared for the match. The flaming California redhead took an early 2-0 lead in the opening frame but soon succumbed to Vines' retaliations, as the champ pulled the count up to 2-all.

After the first showing of long and fast volleying which occasionally crept into the match, Budge aced Vines neatly, his first and next to the last of the night, to go ahead at 3-2. A double fault by Vines gave Budge a two game lead, but Vines, again seemingly spurred on by the great disadvantage, worked his way to a 4-4 tie. Relying on Vines’ weaker backhand, Budge forced his opponent to err out the ninth game and continued ahead to win the set.


The second set worked along a definite pattern, whether by coincidence or otherwise. Budge set the pace by taking a game lead, but at 5-5, the Oakland youth relinquished his lead to fall in straight games dropping the set 7-5. Vines closed a 1-0 gap with the first real display of his powerful serves and drives as he quickly annexed the second game for a 1-1 deadlock. Continuing to out-volley and outsmart Budge, either at the net or in the backcourt, Vines drew up to 5-5 in short-order. Then, in successive brilliant net plays, Vines went into a 30-15 lead in the eleventh game, only to give Budge an easy point by driving one into the net.

A double fault by Budge, his only one of the evening, shoved Vines ahead to 40-30 with a force shot causing Budge to put one down the alley, giving the pro king a 6-5 advantage. The winning game of the set was taken with little trouble by Vines when he broke through Budge’s service for the set.


The deciding set truly brought the house down. Aceing two serves and driving two accompanying shots out of reach, Vines once again pulled up to 1-all but with all his concentrated efforts to control the game, something which he seemed to have had a hard time doing, Vines was still forced to fight an up-hill battle.

Budge ran ahead to 5-3 in the third set, but a drop shot, a fast net game followed by a climaxing cross-court net smash by Vines put the latter only one game behind Budge, 5-4. Once again Vines came through with his spasmodic service aces and drives, taking a love game to climb into a 5-5 tie amid the wild yelling and clapping of the crowd.


Taking the opening two points of the eleventh game for eight successive tallies, Vines continued his mad pace with a pretty pass shot, scoring on Budge at the net for game.

The closing game of the set, capping a four-game continuous rise from 5-3 to 7-5 by Vines, really showed much of both players’ perseverance. Vines’ set-match-game-point no less than four times kept all in virtual hysteria.

Budge opened the last game with his first really successful return of one of Vines’ power serves for a point. An ace by Vines for good measure and a net smash put the pro king at set point, 40-15. But, from here on, Vines only got as far as ‘advantage in’ for three successive deuce points. Finally, after Budge smacked an easy floater on a service return out across the back line, Vines gained point and victory.​
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A decidedly irreverent report by Wesley Hayden in the Daily Times-News of Burlington, NC:

…even the usually vociferous habits of the Carolina students stayed in check in the face of the taboos of polite tennis....but that couldn’t last forever and every so often somebody would let loose a characteristic Tar Heel yell or a catcall... but all in all, the crowd entered beautifully into the spirit of the thing.... tennis is funny that way...often during rallies there’s no sound or movement other than the patter of racing, white-clad feet and the crisp ‘thuck’ as ball meets racket... the crowd sits tense, every head turning quickly from side to side to follow the lightning progress of the ball as it shuttles back and forth across the net with a hair’s breadth to spare...It looks sometimes as if every head is part of a huge marionette show, responding to the simultaneous twitch of a hundred strings...

Alternately entertaining, amusing, tense and exciting the match left little to be desired among the 4000 or so who watched its progress... the most disgusted people in the huge, beautiful gym were those who brought field glasses and then couldn’t follow the action of the ball with ‘em...

But anyway, ‘twas a swell match ... and I notice Budge turned the tables in Charlotte last night.... he’s a far more colorful player than is Vines and probably more inspired... Ellsworth is apparently about fed up, and takes his game pretty grimly as nothing more nor less than business... the fans loved the redhead when he berated himself on a couple out-by-inches shots with a wail aw-w-w-Donald... but they didn’t approve Vines’ more serious testiness and irritability... but how those boys can play tennis... just to think about their perfection makes a dub want to say... see you Mon.


Everyone says that tennis didn't get loud or rowdy until the Open Era, but people are mostly thinking of Wimbledon, and perhaps the other traditional amateur slams.

The pro tours before the Open Era were clearly not for buttoned down crowds. These were tennis fans, but they acted like everyday sports fans, coming to venues and public centers where other sports were often played. And they seemed to be often a young crowd, especially in the high school and college gymnasiums.

They cheered their heads off and pounded their feet on the rafters, because there was generally nobody around telling them that they couldn't do it.


Budge then moved up to 11-7 with an easy win in Charlotte, NC.

Arizona Independent Republic:

Budge Whips Vines Easily

Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 26—(AP)—Donald Budge handily defeated Ellsworth Vines in a pro tennis match tonight in the Charlotte armory before a crowd of 2,500. Scores were 6-3, 6-2. The victory gave Budge a lead of 11 matches to seven on the pair’s current tour.

In doubles, Budge paired with Dick Skeen and won over Vines and Al Chapin, 7-5, 9-7.​
I could find nothing else on this match.


Miami Beach was next, outdoors and on a clay court.

Vines came from behind to win, cutting Budge's lead to 11-8. The Palm Beach Daily News had a report at http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hLotAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hosFAAAAIBAJ&dq=vines budge&pg=3915,744499

Yesterday, for the first time, the two tennis stars met out of doors and on a clay surface. Vines won his sets on the service, which experts rate as the world’s best, and on an almost never failing backhand.​
Vines used “the drop shot frequently to move Budge from his place of comfort in back court,” per Bowers.

Salt Lake Tribune:

The pair played the 19th match of their present campaign before a crowd of 2000 persons at Flamingo Park. Of the total, Vines has won eight matches.

Experts said Vines won Sunday on his service and superior court tactics. He forced Budge into a great many errors.​

Budge then took their next match in the Bahamas, 6-3, 6-4, in Nassau. Can’t find any details about this match; presumably it was on clay.
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They returned to the mainland for a match at the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, on clay. Budge won for a 13-8 lead.

An excerpt from the report in the Palm Beach Post at http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=uUlRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=tjMNAAAAIBAJ&dq=vines budge atlanta&pg=1321,2916121

Vines’ cannon-ball service and Budge’s unfailing backhand were the chief characteristics of their games, and Budge won because his power and speed were concentrated into more perfect shots.

Vines’ advantage on the service was off-set by his many errors, and he netted many returns.​
Some previews:

Budge and Gene Tunney were photographed at the club on the day of the match: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bertmorganarchive/4420391620/in/set-72157624047569962.

That Flickr set also has photos of Budge and Tilden on the same court 12 months later.


Next match was to be in Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution provided a couple of previews.

Vines-Hit Balls Go 150 Miles Per Hour

Atlanta Fans To See Budge Return Lightning Serve at Auditorium Friday Night.


Almost nightly, Donald Budge, the California red head, is called upon to return tennis balls hit at a rate of more than two miles a minute.

Tests made with a “magic eye” prove that serves and smashes of Ellsworth Vines travel at a speed of 150 miles an hour—faster than planes, streamline trains and speed boats.

Under lights Vines is capable of making a tennis ball look like a blur. And yet he cannot seem to disturb the phlegmatic Budge, who continues to hold a decided edge in the world series of professional tennis.

Atlanta tennis fans will witness one of the “world series” matches this Friday night in the city auditorium. Already 1,000 tickets have been sold....

Al Ennis, advance agent for the Budge-Vines tour, advises that because of the terrific speed of Vines’ services and smashes the tour has developed considerable expense for Budge relative to the wear and tear on rackets.


The finest gut cannot withstand any such speed as two miles a minute. Often the smashes tear a racket up, especially if there are weakened strings which have escaped notice.

Vines hits a tennis ball harder than anyone else in the game. He has more controlled speed, even, than William Tatum Tilden II, the old master, had when he was at his height.

And so the fact that Budge can face such a barrage and come out ahead makes it very apparent that he is the logical successor to the tennis throne which Tilden occupied for so long.


Atlanta fans have seen both Budge and Vines before. But they haven’t seen Vines or Budge as a pro, nor have they seen the two boys in action against each other.

It is one of the most attractive matches ever scheduled for Atlanta and is destined, it seems, to draw one of the finest crowds. There are seats for more than 4,000 at the auditorium—all good seats—and the early demand indicates that a lot of out-of-town folks will clamor for admissions.

There shouldn’t be any need for drum-beating in such a match as this, anyway. It so happens that Budge and Vines are one-two in tennis. They’re the tops.​
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And AJC, of course, interviewed Atlanta native Bitsy Grant who had scalped both men:

Grant’s Beaten ‘Em Both

Has Won 5 Out of 9 From Don; 2 Out of 4 From Vines


Bryan (Bitsy) Grant, Atlanta’s own giant killer of the tennis world, holds a most important victory over Ellsworth Vines, who plays Donald Budge tonight on the city auditorium court.

It was Grant who knocked the national tennis crown from Vines’ hand at Forest Hills in 1933—and it was Vines’ last stand as an amateur. Vines was defending his 1932 National championship in that now famous quarter final match of 1933 which Grant won, his last over Vines and providing an even break in four tournament matches between the two.

Soon after that 1933 defeat Vines deserted the amateur ranks and began his spectacular pro matches in January, 1934.

Bitsy has beaten Donald Budge, five out of nine times. In 1937 Grant beat Budge in both the Miami and Tampa tournaments, but later lost to the Californian.

And so Grant is in the best position to speak of tonight’s match.

Grant would not venture out on a limb in predicting a winner.

“Both are tops in tennis and both are unbeatable at times. So there’s no best, but the player who is ‘on his game’ and in the best condition will win,” Grant said.​
So Grant, with that 5-4 edge, was one of the few players before the war to come out with a winning H2H against Budge.
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Vines won 8-6, 8-6 in Atlanta, and the accounts suggest that it reached an especially high level of play.

The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA):

Two magnificent rallies coupled with a blasting service enabled Ellsworth Vines, professional tennis champion, to defeat Donald Budge here last night in straight sets, 8-6, 8-6, before a city auditorium crowd of 3000.​


Ellsworth Vines defeated Donald Budge in straight sets tonight, 8-6, 8-6, with a steady performance before approximately 2,500 tennis fans.​

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Victory Decreases Don’s Lead to 13 Wins, 9 Losses; Redhead’s Backhand Fails Him.


Ellsworth Vines played tennis like the king of pros last night to defeat Challenger Donald Budge, 8-6, 8-6, before 2,167 applauding fans at the city auditorium.

The play-for-pay champion literally blasted his way to a brilliant victory over the lanky, pink-complexioned Budge, who, despite his defeat, still holds a 13-9 advantage in the pro net league....


Vines played brilliant tennis against Budge, whose back hand failed him at crucial moments.

The first set started off and rocked along with both players winning their services until the 13th, when Vines broke through.

He held his own to run out the set.

However, as the next set started, Budge blasted his way to a 3-0 lead, breaking Vines’ service in the second game.

However, the champ came right back and returned the compliment by winning the next three games and squaring the set. Both held their services again until the thirteenth game when Vines repeated his performance of the first set.


The redhead had a great chance to take the second set during the tenth game. He was leading, 5-4, and was at set point twice but both times brilliant forehand drives by Vines forced weak errors by the Oakland flash.

After breaking Budge’s service in the thirteenth game, Vines went after his prey like a hungry tiger and won the last game at love. Included in the last game were two of Ellsworth’s blistering service aces.

His two-mile-a-minute drives kept Budge away from the net nearly all evening, but the ex-king of amateurs battled gamely and played some terrific tennis.

...The match was brilliantly played and extremely hard fought—in fact, much harder than the Vines-Perry affair here last summer.​
That comment reminds me of something Agassi wrote about Sampras in his book:

Pete closes out the game, then goes on to break me.

Now he’s serving for the match, and when Pete serves for the match, he’s a coldblooded killer.​
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