Ellsworth Vines 1931 season

krosero

Legend
I mentioned in another thread that I'd been able to get a full record of this particular season. Nearly full, anyway. I'm missing the scores for two matches at the LA Closed (February); and I may not have all of the exos. But apart from that this is a full record of the matches that Vines played in tournaments and team events, as far as I've been able to document.

American Lawn Tennis was immensely helpful with this. They published full draws/scores for most of the important tournaments throughout the year.

At the end of the year Vines was reported to have won 14 tournaments altogether. I can only find 13, but he did win the California Sectionals competition (in May) as part of a team so that may be the 14th.


Title #1
LA Municipal aka Los Angeles Open, on cement at Griffith Park
January 11-February 22 (weekend play only)
6-0 win-loss
Vines d. Stanford, Bob 6-1, 6-2
Vines d. Hovey 6-0, 7-5
Vines d. Scholtz, Orville 6-0, 6-4
Vines d. Bartosh, Gerald 6-1, 16-14
Vines d. Paige, Clayton 6-4, 8-6
Vines d. Stoefen 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 in the final


Title #2
LA Tennis Club aka Los Angeles Closed, on cement
February 21-March 1
5-0
Vines d. Cornica, Martin 6-1, 6-1 (second round, opening day)
Vines d. Del Amo, H. in R16, unknown score
Vines d. Werner, K. in quarters, unknown score
Vines d. Tidball 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Vines d. Craig, Norval 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in the final


LAAC vs. UCLA team competition, on cement
March 13
Uncompleted match
Vines 6-4, 2-6, 11-11 Lewis, Elbert


New Orleans (clay)
March 30-April 5
3-1
Vines d. Smith, William Kline 6-1, 6-0
Vines d. Holden, Henry 6-4, 6-4
Vines d. Buxby 6-8, 6-0, 6-4
Lott d. Vines 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6 in the semis


Title #3
River Oaks Invitational in Houston (clay)
April 6-13
6-0
Vines d. Baker, Malcolm 6-1, 6-0
Vines d. Carter, Winthrop 6-3, 6-2
Vines d. Taylor 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Vines d. Quick 6-3, 6-3
Vines d. Sutter 6-3, 6-4, 8-6
Vines d. Barnes 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 in the final


Title #4
Ojai Valley (cement)
April 23-26
4-0
Vines d. White, H.A. 6-0, 6-3
Vines d. Bartosh, Gerald 6-0, 6-4
Vines d. Stratford 6-4, 6-4
Vines d. Stoefen 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 in the final


California sectionals team competition (cement), featuring singles and doubles
May 2-3
1-0
Vines d. Chandler 6-4, 11-13, 6-3
Vines’ team, Southern California, won 4-2 over Northern California


Title #5
Southern California (at LATC on cement)
May 9-17
6-0
Vines d. Del Amo, Jaime 6-0, 6-0
Vines d. Barker, Clarence 6-2, 6-0
Vines d. Robbins, Cliff 9-7, 6-4
Vines d. Bartosh, Gerald 6-3, 10-8
Vines d. Tidball 10-8, 6-4
Vines d. Herrington, Alan 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the final

Per ALT, Vines “scored forty placement aces to Herrington’s three."


Title #6
California State (at Berkeley Tennis Club on cement)
June 6-14
6-0
Vines d. Wellman, Ted 6-0, 2-6, 6-0
Vines d. Kinney, James 6-0, 6-4
Vines d. Levy 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
Vines d. Stratford 4-6, 10-8, 6-4
Vines d. Holman 6-3, 14-12, 6-3
Vines d. Chandler 6-4, 6-8, 8-6, 6-4 in the final

Vines left for the East on June 22


Title #7
US Clay Courts in St. Louis
June 29-July 5
6-0
Vines d. Frankenstein, Arthur 6-0, 6-0
Vines d. Portnoy, R.J. 6-0, 6-0
Vines d. Hodge 6-4, 6-3
Vines d. Cram, Donald H. 1-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-8, 6-4
Vines d. Bell 6-3, 8-6, 8-6
Vines d. Gledhill 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in the final


Rhode Island State Championship in Providence (at Agawam Hunt on grass)
July 7-12
3-1
Vines d. Ingraham, W.W. 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Vines d. Holden 10-8, 7-5
Vines d. Hess 8-6, 6-0, 8-6
Walkover from Jacobs, Edward in the semis
Gledhill d. Vines 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 in the final


Title #8
Longwood (grass)
July 13-18
6-0
Vines d. Shaw, Herbert 6-0, 6-0
Vines d. Holden 6-3, 6-2
Vines d. Laimbeer, J.P. 6-4, 6-2, 6-0
Vines d. Turner, Alfred 6-1, 7-5, 6-1
Vines d. Allison 7-5, 6-3, 6-4
Vines d. Doeg 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the final


Title #9
Seabright (grass)
Ending August 1
5-0
Vines d. Miles, George 6-1, 6-0
Vines d. Gilpin 6-4, 6-3
Vines d. Coen 6-4, 4-6, 6-0
Vines d. Sutter 6-2, 11-9
Vines d. Doeg 10-12, 6-8, 6-3, 8-6, 6-1 in the final

After this event Allison Danzig wrote in the New York Times:

It is only since he returned to grass court play that the tennis public of the East has turned its attention to Vines, and so only a few are familiar with the fact that out of approximately fifty matches this year he has lost only two, one to Lott at New Orleans and the other to Gledhill at Providence.​



Southampton (grass)
August 3-8
4-1
Vines d. Hamlin, Ryan 6-3, 6-4
Vines d. Tidball 6-4, 6-3
Vines d. McCauliff 6-4, 10-8
Vines d. Coen 6-0, 4-6, 6-2
Lott d. Vines 6-4, 2-6, 6-8, 9-7, ret. in the semis


Title #10
Newport (grass)
Week of Aug. 17
6-0
Vines d. Greene, Charles 6-4, 6-3
Vines d. Murphy, Richard 6-3, 6-3
Vines d. Burwell 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Vines d. Shields 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1
Vines d. Van Ryn 6-3, 7-9, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Vines d. Perry 6-2, 6-4, 6-8, 6-2 in the final


International meet in Philadelphia (on grass at Germantown Cricket Club)
September 1 and 4
1-1
Perry d. Vines 6-3, 7-5
Vines d. Boussus 6-3, 4-6, 6-2


Title #11
US Nationals (on grass at Forest Hills)
Sept. 5-12
6-0
Vines d. Fischer, Herbert L. 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 8-6
Vines d. Wright, Lenoir 6-3, 6-3, 6-8, 6-2
Vines d. Hall, J. Gilbert 6-2, 6-3, 7-5
Vines d. Bell, Richard 6-1, 6-4, 8-6
Vines d. Perry 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
Vines d. Lott 7-9, 6-3, 9-7, 7-5 in the final


Exo in Detroit (possibly clay, at Detroit Tennis Club)
Sept. 13
0-1
Lott d. Vines in 3 split sets


Title #12
Pacific Southwest (at LATC on cement)
September 18-28
6-0
Vines d. Beckham, Jack 6-0, 6-0
Vines d. Easton 6-0, 6-3
Vines d. Castlen 6-1, 6-4
Vines d. Mangin 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Vines d. Van Ryn 6-0, 4-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
Vines d. Perry 8-10, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the final


Title #13
Pacific Coast (cement)
Ending October 4
5-0
Vines d. Hyde, Gerry 6-0, 6-1
Vines d. Brown, Neil 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
Vines d. Jason, Gordon 6-1, 6-0
Vines d. Wood 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
Vines d. Perry 6-3, 21-19, 6-0 in the final


October 9-11
First annual Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel Invitational (cement)
3-1
Vines d. Cram, Tom 6-0, 6-3
Vines d. Robbins 6-4, 3-6, 11-9
Vines d. Muehleisen 6-3, 8-10, 8-6
Gledhill d. Vines 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the final


Exo with Stoefen in the Venice neighborhood of LA
Nov. 13
Unknown result


Exo in Chicago Stadium
December 29
1-0
Vines d. Lott 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 (on the 11th match point)

This exo took place “on an improvised court made of roofing material … with freak hops and uncertain footing,” also described as “composition roofing material” (ALT). Chicago Tribune report: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1931/12/30/page/15/article/vines-defeats-lott-in-3-set-charity-duel



For the entire year I have Vines at:

86-4 [.956] in tournaments
88-5 [.946] including the team events in California and in Germantown (not including 1 tied match)
89-6 [.937] if we also include known results in exos (missing one result against Stoefen)

[Edited to correct score of Newport QF against Shields]
 
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pc1

G.O.A.T.
Obviously for a guy that was rumored to be inconsistent he did have a super winning percentage. My theory is that guys like Vines and Laver may be inconsistent at times within a match but often under pressure their great power weapons can pull it out for them. Laver was also know to be inconsistent at times. Laver mentioned he often lost the first set. I read some expert (may have been Vic Braden) write that was because Laver was getting his topspin power under control in the first set but once he got it under control his opponent was in big trouble. That may have been true with Vines and his control at times.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Really 1931 ????:eek::eek::eek:
Vines is considered by a number of people to be the GOAT. He was the greatest player in the world for years and the dominant Pro for a number of years. Some have called him the greatest athlete of all time. He was a world class golfer, excellent basketball player and they said he could hit baseballs out of sight. He may very well could have had the most pure power in the history of tennis.
http://articles.latimes.com/1990-12-11/sports/sp-6213_1_ellsworth-vines/2

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/20/obituaries/ellsworth-vines-tennis-star-of-1930-s-dies-at-82.html
 
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7

70sHollywood

Guest
Obviously for a guy that was rumored to be inconsistent he did have a super winning percentage. My theory is that guys like Vines and Laver may be inconsistent at times within a match but often under pressure their great power weapons can pull it out for them. Laver was also know to be inconsistent at times. Laver mentioned he often lost the first set. I read some expert (may have been Vic Braden) write that was because Laver was getting his topspin power under control in the first set but once he got it under control his opponent was in big trouble. That may have been true with Vines and his control at times.
Yeah, he seems to have developed a reputation as a player who came along and had a few good years, was wildly inconsistent, then went off to play golf. A sort of 30's Safin. But his consistency and longevity were very strong. A player at the very top for nearly a whole decade.

I agree with your "theory". I wonder if he had a better record in best of 3 sets or best of 5? On the 39 tour he and Budge tied 3-3 in Bo5 matches.
 

krosero

Legend
This was definitely one of his most impressive seasons. It was somewhat of limited scope in that he stayed in the U.S., so he played only one of the four most important events (French, Wimbledon, US, Davis Cup). But it's an impressive haul of titles, over good opponents on various surfaces. And just 4 defeats in tournament play, which is very rare. Even McEnroe in '84 had 3 losses (4 if we count the Suntory Cup which was an important event despite being non-sanctioned).
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
This was definitely one of his most impressive seasons. It was somewhat of limited scope in that he stayed in the U.S., so he played only one of the four most important events (French, Wimbledon, US, Davis Cup). But it's an impressive haul of titles, over good opponents on various surfaces. And just 4 defeats in tournament play, which is very rare. Even McEnroe in '84 had 3 losses (4 if we count the Suntory Cup which was an important event despite being non-sanctioned).
And of course let's not forget that while McEnroe played all opponents, Vines didn't have Tilden and Nusslein to play in 1931.
 

krosero

Legend
Running these scores in Excel, I have Vines winning 1616 games, losing 1040. That's in all matches for which I have scores, including the tied match. So his Games Won percentage was 60.84%.
 
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krosero

Legend
A little background on the question of 13 of 14 titles.

LA Times wrote in September 1931:

That Ellsworth Vines’s victory in the 1931 national men’s singles championship was not due to a sudden flash is shown in the recapitulation that he has lost only five singles matches in a year of competition. Since the 1930 national championships, in which Vines lost in the third round to G. Lyttleton Rogers, the newly crowned king has dropped the following duels: To Lester Stoefen in a three-set semifinal in the 1930 Palomar T. C. tourney [aka the Midwinter Championships]; to George Lott in the semis at New Orleans, this year, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6; to Keith Gledhill in the finals at Providence, R. I., by scores of 7-5, 6-3, 6-0; to Lott in the semis at Southampton, when he had to default the fifth set because of a stomach ailment, and to Fred Perry in the international team matches by scores of 6-3, 7-5.

By virtue of his capture of eleven singles and ten doubles titles in 1931 Vines is virtually certain to be ranked No. 1 in the national rankings for this year, with Lott at No. 2. Vines’s sensational 1931 record follows:​

The Times then lists all 11 titles as I listed them above. This shows that the Times was not listing the California Sectionals as a title. And this newspaper is a great source here because they were Ellsworth’s hometown paper so to speak, and they covered all the events he played.

However a couple of weeks later the New York Times called the Pacific Coast (title #13 in my list) his “Fourteenth Singles Crown of Year.” If Forest Hills was #11, I don't see how he could have jumped to #14 at Pacific Coast in the last two weeks of September; there's simply no place in which to fit an extra tournament, apart from Pacific Southwest and Pacific Coast.

That's why I guess that either the NYT made a mistake; or, the NYT included the California Sectionals as a singles title. That event involved both singles and doubles matches, so it could technically be counted as either.

Not a major issue; either way, Vines' title haul this year was one of the highest of the decade. Crawford is said to have won 14 titles in 1933 but I doubt there are any others with this many titles.
 
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pc1

G.O.A.T.
Running these scores in Excel, I have Vines winning 1616 games, losing 1040. That's in all matches for which I have scores, including the tied match. So his Games Won percentage was 60.84%.

Which is extremely strong but a number of players have done better. Vines did have a way of winning close matches so perhaps the lower number is not indicative of his actual strength. Players like Vines imo tend to impose there game on the match more than others.
 

krosero

Legend
Which is extremely strong but a number of players have done better. Vines did have a way of winning close matches so perhaps the lower number is not indicative of his actual strength. Players like Vines imo tend to impose there game on the match more than others.
He played 11 five-setters this year, which seems to be a lot. (I don't have that stat for other players like Laver or Rosewall, but just quickly looking, Budge only played 5 five-setters in the 1937-38 span.) In the 5-set thread I made for Vines, I remember we were talking about whether Vines might have been a slow starter. I wasn't sure then, but I've since found that he did have that rep.

For eg in this '31 season, at the LA Closed, Vines beat Norval Craig in four sets, "after a slow start, characteristic of the local champ" (LA Times). When he went down two sets to Perry at Forest Hills, his serve didn't kick in until the third set. After the five-set final at Pacific Southwest, one report said, "As usual, Ellsworth was forced to come from behind to win."

You probably saw that quote from ALT that I put in the Greatest Serves thread:

Tilden was able to produce his cannon ball in the beginning of a match, while Vines appears to need considerable play before he can bring this gun into action effectively—and the further the match goes the more devastating and frequent it is.​

That was what ALT wrote in late '32. Re-reading some of the material I have for other years, it comes up with regularity, for example in one match against Budge: "Vines started slowly, but in the second set he got control of his serve."

I have no idea, technically, why Vines would have needed time to get the serve going. But I think the GWs reflect that, to some extent. He was great in fifth sets; but was sometimes a slow starter, which forced him to play longer matches (or longer sets) than he might do otherwise.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
He played 11 five-setters this year, which seems to be a lot. (I don't have that stat for other players like Laver or Rosewall, but just quickly looking, Budge only played 5 five-setters in the 1937-38 span.) In the 5-set thread I made for Vines, I remember we were talking about whether Vines might have been a slow starter. I wasn't sure then, but I've since found that he did have that rep.

For eg in this '31 season, at the LA Closed, Vines beat Norval Craig in four sets, "after a slow start, characteristic of the local champ" (LA Times). When he went down two sets to Perry at Forest Hills, his serve didn't kick in until the third set. After the five-set final at Pacific Southwest, one report said, "As usual, Ellsworth was forced to come from behind to win."

You probably saw that quote from ALT that I put in the Greatest Serves thread:

Tilden was able to produce his cannon ball in the beginning of a match, while Vines appears to need considerable play before he can bring this gun into action effectively—and the further the match goes the more devastating and frequent it is.​

That was what ALT wrote in late '32. Re-reading some of the material I have for other years, it comes up with regularity, for example in one match against Budge: "Vines started slowly, but in the second set he got control of his serve."

I have no idea, technically, why Vines would have needed time to get the serve going. But I think the GWs reflect that, to some extent. He was great in fifth sets; but was sometimes a slow starter, which forced him to play longer matches (or longer sets) than he might do otherwise.
Sometimes there are players who just have to have some time to hit before everything kicks in. Laver was known for time to use him as an example. I think Laver said that he used to have longer practice sessions in order to have a better start in a match. Vines may have been one of those players.
 

krosero

Legend
Sometimes there are players who just have to have some time to hit before everything kicks in. Laver was known for time to use him as an example. I think Laver said that he used to have longer practice sessions in order to have a better start in a match. Vines may have been one of those players.
I think that's true. I've heard the same about Laver being a slow starter.
 

krosero

Legend
After Santa Barbara Vines said that he would lay down his racquet for the rest of the year. I have not found any other activity for him after Santa Barbara, other than the exos I've listed above.
 

urban

Legend
On Laver's start i have read an interesting theroy by Marty Riessen's wife in a Riessen Tennis Magazine column of 1969. She thought that Laver was probing and measuring in the first set, that he played deliberately so short and commode, that the opponent could just reach the shots. Then in later stages he hit just a bit longer and wider, that the other guy was passed and lobbed. Maybe this is nonsense, but i read similar things about Tilden. Now, Laver was indeed a slow starter, in his amateur time he thought of giving up his right to serve first, to get better warmed up.
 
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