Joshua Pim (1869-1942) - A fine Irish player

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by newmark401, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

    Aug 10, 2009
    By Mark Ryan

    Part I

    Joshua Pim was born on 20 May 1869 at Millward Terrace, Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. His parents were Joshua Pim Sr., a medical doctor, and Susan Maria (née Middleton). Joshua Pim Jr. had three older siblings – Susannah (born 1864), Georgina (born 1866) and William (born 1867). Joshua Pim Sr. died in 1871; shortly afterwards the family moved to Crosthwaite Park, Kingstown, County Dublin, just up the coast from Bray.

    Kingstown was developing fast when Joshua Pim was growing up there. By 1874, when Joshua Pim was five years old, Kingstown had been transformed from a fishing village into the main port in Ireland for passenger service. The first railway line in Ireland, laid in the 1830s, linked Kingstown with Westland Row near the centre of Dublin. (Prior to 1821 Kingstown was known as Dunleary. The name was changed to Kingstown in honour of King George IV’s visit that year. After the founding of the Irish Free State in 1921, Kingstown was once again named Dún Laoghaire, or Dun Leary.)

    Joshua Pim was educated at Kingstown School, Dublin, and later went on to study medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons, now the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RSCI), located, then as now, on Saint Stephen’s Green near the centre of Dublin. He also studied at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Joshua Pim became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) in 1896.

    As a youth, Pim joined the Lansdowne Lawn Tennis Club in Dublin. He was coached there by the great professional, Thomas Burke. Pim first came to notice in 1888 when, at the age of nineteen, he took the Wimbledon champion of the previous year, the Englishman Herbert Lawford, to five sets in the Irish Championships, played in those days in Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, close to the city centre. This was the first time Pim had participated in his native championships.

    The following year, 1889, Pim lost in the first round of the Irish Championships to William Renshaw, already six times singles champion at Wimbledon and three times a winner in Dublin. In 1890, Pim reached the All-Comers’ Final in Dublin for the first time before losing in five sets to Ernest Lewis of England. Pim had better success in the doubles event, winning the title with Dubliner Frank Stoker. In the final they beat Ernest Lewis and George Hillyard, also of England, 8-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

    Pim was to enjoy a great deal of doubles success with Frank Stoker. The latter was noted more for his doubles than for his singles play. He was born in Dublin in May 1867 and, like Pim, was a member of Lansdowne Lawn Tennis Club. Frank Stoker was also a cousin of the writer Bram Stoker, best known for his 1897 novel “Dracula”.

    In the run-up to Wimbledon in 1890, Pim won his first important singles title at the prestigious Northern England Championships, held in Liverpool that year. At Wimbledon itself, Pim reached the semi-finals of the singles event for the first time before falling to fellow Irishman Willoughby Hamilton, from County Kildare, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Hamilton beat the great William Renshaw in that year’s Challenge Round match to become Ireland’s first Wimbledon singles champion. In the doubles event at Wimbledon that year Pim and Stoker repeated their success of a few weeks earlier in Dublin against Ernest Lewis and George Hillyard, beating the English pair handily in the All-Comers’ Final, 6-0, 7-5, 6-4. (William Renshaw and his twin brother, Ernest, did not defend their doubles title at Wimbledon in 1890).

    In 1891, Pim was playing so well that many observers expected him to win the Irish Championships. However, after beating his doubles partner, Frank Stoker, in the All-Comers’ Final on the Saturday, he badly injured his right hand later that evening in a motor car accident. The following Monday, against advice, he took to the court in Fitzwilliam Square for the Challenge Round match against Ernest Lewis and lost in three sets, 6-2, 6-2, 8-6.

    In the doubles event at the 1891 Irish Championships Pim and Stoker retained their title by beating Ernest Lewis and Grainger Chaytor, the latter from Dublin, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Challenge Round match. (In those days a Challenge Round was in force in both the men’s singles and men’s doubles events at the Irish Championships and Wimbledon. It also applied to the ladies’ singles event at both tournaments. This meant that the champions did not have to “play through”, but “sat out” to see who their opponents would be after the All-Comers’ events had taken place.)

    At the Northern England Championships, held in Manchester in 1891, Pim retained his title by beating Wilfred Baddeley of England in the final.

    At Wimbledon a few weeks later Pim reached his first All-Comers’ singles final, but went down to Wilfred Baddeley, then aged just nineteen, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, 6-0. In the doubles event he and Frank Stoker lost their title to Wilfred Baddeley and his twin brother, Herbert, in a four-set match, 6-1, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

    Pim continued to progress in 1892. At the Irish Championships he was recovering from a bout of typhoid and did not perform well in the singles event. He and Frank Stoker lost their doubles title to the English pair of Ernest Lewis and Ernest Meers in a one-sided final, by a score of 6-1, 8-6, 6-4. At the Northern Championships, held in Liverpool in 1892, Pim, well recovered, beat Harry Barlow in four sets. This was the third consecutive year that Pim won this tournament.

    At Wimbledon in 1892, Pim went all the way to the Challenge Round of the singles event for the first time. In the All-Comers’ Final, Pim had saved two match points to beat Ernest Lewis 2-6, 5-7, 9-7, 6-3, 6-2, but in the Challenge Round Wilfred Baddeley was too good for the Irishman and won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. In the doubles final, Pim and countryman Harold Mahony lost a 66-game match in the All-Comers’ Final to the English pairing of Harry Barlow and Ernest Lewis.

    At the 1892 London Championships, played just after Wimbledon, Pim lost a five-set final to Harry Barlow.

    Starting in 1893, Joshua Pim was to prove that he was the best player not only in Ireland and the British Isles, but arguably in the whole world. At the Irish Championships in Dublin, Pim took the singles title for the first time, beating Ernest Renshaw in the title match, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. In the doubles event, Pim and Frank Stoker won their third title in four years by defeating Grainger Chaytor and Ernest Browne, also of Ireland, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.

    At the Northern England Championships, held in Manchester in 1893, Pim won the singles title for the fourth consecutive year. He then went on to the London Championships where he beat Harold Mahony in an all-Irish final, 9-7, 1-6, 6-1, 6-8, 6-3.

    At Wimbledon a few weeks later, Pim took his first singles title in impressive fashion. In the semi-final he beat England’s Harry Barlow 9-7, 6-2, 6-2 and in the All-Comers’ Final he easily defeated his compatriot Harold Mahony, 9-7, 6-3, 6-0. In the Challenge Round Pim beat Wilfred Baddeley 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. The scores indicate just how well Pim was playing at this point.

    For good measure, Pim and Frank Stoker took their second Wimbledon doubles title, beating Barlow and Ernest Lewis 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 in the Challenge Round. Joshua Pim thus finished the year of 1893 as singles and, with Frank Stoker, doubles champion at the two most prestigious events in the world. No one had achieved this feat before, although William Renshaw had won both singles titles and the doubles at the Irish Championships with his brother, Ernest, in 1881, when they also won the doubles event at Oxford, the precursor to the men’s doubles at Wimbledon (the first men’s doubles event was held at Wimbledon in 1884).
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010
  2. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

    Aug 10, 2009
    Part II

    According to the “Irish Lawn Tennis Handbook” of 1894, there was no weak point to Pim’s game: “At his best there is no weak point in his game; but if there be one stroke in which more than any other he excels, and which he may be have said to have made peculiarly his own, it is a short backhand cross-court volley with which he disposes of many a furious and seemingly unreachable drive from his opponent’s baseline. Indeed, nothing all round is more characteristic in the champion’s play than his fondness for the backhand stroke, which in his case seldom rises more than an inch or so above the net, and is almost as severe as his tremendous, but not more deadly, forehand stroke. He is very sure and merciless in his treatment of overhead returns, even when placed farther back in the court than the point from which most people would attempt to ‘kill’. Lastly, it may be said of him that he shares with the brothers Renshaw alone the distinction of having preserved an absolutely unbeaten record throughout an entire season [1893].”

    In 1894, Joshua Pim proved just how good he was by repeating his brilliant feat of the previous year in the singles events at both the Irish Championships and Wimbledon. In Dublin, Pim had a titanic struggle in the Challenge Round of the singles event before beating Tom Chaytor, brother of Grainger, 3-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2, 9-7. In the Challenge Round of the doubles event, Pim and Frank Stoker beat Ernest Lewis and C.H. Martin, the latter from Ireland, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

    At Wimbledon as in Dublin, Pim did not have to play through in the singles event (he and Stoker did not defend their doubles title). Pim’s victim in the Challenge Round of the singles event was once again Wilfred Baddeley. This time the final score was 10-8, 6-2, 8-6. At the end of the 1894 season Pim once again stood unchallenged as the world’s player.

    Writing in “Lawn Tennis at Home and Abroad” (1903), Harold Mahony said of Pim:

    “The general opinion of experts would seem to rank Joshua Pim as the finest player the world has ever seen. His game was of the very severe type, yet executed with such ease and nonchalance as to give the impression that he was taking no interest whatever in the proceedings.

    “A critic at Wimbledon once described his play as a combination of Herbert Lawford’s drives and Lewis’s volleys, and though his style was quite different from that of either of these players, the description is apt enough. His drive was a long, easy swing, combining little effort with great pace and accuracy. He would place the ball in the extreme corner of the court time after time in the most daring fashion, and when in good practice, with perfect precision. There is considerable difference of opinion as to whether he took the ball on the top of the bound or allowed it to drop. As a matter of fact he did both. His extraordinary dislike to any hurried movement and his determination that the whole swing of his stroke should be carried through, often made him take the ball very late indeed. But the stroke was generally such a good one, and the direction so well disguised, that it was as effective as if he had played it sooner. If it suited him he could take the ball on the rise as well as anyone. I have seen him swing on to a big kicking first service, playing the ball on the top of the bound and right into the extreme corner, winning the point outright.

    “His volleying was remarkable for its great variety, combining great power and crispness with the softest and most delicate strokes. He could drop the hardest drives short over the net and well out to the sides, a most elegant and effective manner of dealing with them. His service was powerful and kicked considerably, the percentage of faults being very small, while the second delivery was nearly as severe as the first, in strong contrast to the ludicrous description given in the chapter on the service in the ‘Badminton Library’. His encounters with Wilfred Baddeley produced the finest expositions of lawn tennis I have ever seen, and most lovers of the game who were present would seem to share this view.”

    In 1895, Pim won the singles and doubles at the Irish Championships for the third consecutive year, thereby taking possession of the singles challenge cup. In the Challenge Round of the singles event Pim beat Wilberforce Eaves of Australia 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. In the doubles event Pim and Frank Stoker beat the twin brothers Charles and Roy Allen, of England, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.

    In June of 1895, after the Irish Championships, Pim and Harold Mahony travelled by boat to the United States to play together with four American players in the West Newton international tournament at the Neighbourhood Club in Boston. On his arrival in New York, Pim modestly told a “New York Times” reporter that he thought that Wilberforce Eaves, whom he beat in the Challenge Round of the Irish Championships a few weeks earlier, had been somewhat out of form. Pim also confirmed that 1895 would be his last season of competitive tennis. “I expect to rush back as soon as the tournament is over,” he said. “This will be a sort of a farewell tour, and I am delighted of having the opportunity of facing the American players. I don’t suppose that I shall have an easy triumph; it will probably be the other way. I have heard a great deal of the hot days you have, and fear them considerably.”

    In the tournament at West Newton, where each of the six players played each other once in a round robin format, Pim beat Mahony 5-7, 6-2, 6-3, William Larned 6-3, 6-1, Fred Hovey 6-3, 6-4 and Malcolm Chace 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, while Clarence Hobart beat Pim 7-5, 6-3. Pim and Mahony, the two best players, then faced each other for the title, if it can be called that, with Pim winning. In a special doubles match between the two visitors and Clarence Hobart and Fred Hovey, the Americans won 7-5, 6-4, 6-1.

    Having competed in the tournament at West Newton, Pim and Mahony made a trip to Niagara before returning home. Some observers thought that Pim might defend his singles title at Wimbledon in 1895, but he did not. Indeed, Pim did not play much competitive tennis at all after 1895. In 1898, he was beaten 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 by his countryman Harold Mahony in the All-Comers’ Final of the Championships of Germany, held at Bad Homburg. Mahony had taken the singles title at Wimbledon in 1896.

    Pim also played for Ireland in a series of tennis matches against England in 1892, 1893, 1894 and 1896.

    In 1902, Joshua Pim took part in the Davis Cup Challenge Round tie between the holders, the United States, and Great Britain, played at the Crescent Athletic Club in Brooklyn, New York. Pim, then aged thirty-three was more or less the token Irishman on the team from Great Britain (Ireland was still under British rule at this point). The brothers H.L. (Laurie) and R.F. (Reggie) were the other members of the British team. Pim had lost a good deal of weight in the run-up to the event, but was beaten in both of his singles matches, losing 6-1, 6-1, 1-6, 6-0 to Malcolm D. Whitman and 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to William Larned.

    While in the United States in 1902, Pim played in a number of tournaments after the Davis Cup tie, including the events in Southampton, Long Island, and the US Nationals. At the latter tournament, held in Newport, Rhode Island, in those days, Pim lost in the third round of the singles event to the American Leo Ware. The score was 7-5, 7-5, 6-3.

    In later life Pim became a keen swimmer and golfer. After their marriage Pim and his wife, Robin (née Lane), moved to Killiney in south county Dublin, on the coast, close to Dun Leary. The Pims had one son and three daughters. Pim was a member of Killiney Golf Club for many years. He worked as Medical Officer at St. Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown, County Dublin, and was resident surgeon in Jervis Street Hospital in the centre of Dublin.

    Joshua Pim died at home in Killiney, County Dublin, on 15 April 1942 at the age of 72.
  3. Q&M son

    Q&M son Professional

    Apr 12, 2008
    Trenque Lauquen, BA, Argentina.
    Nice thread, Joshua is in my list of talent greats
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  4. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

    Oct 20, 2008
    Newmark401 -- an absolutely great thread and posts.

    Keep 'em coming please :-D
  5. elegos7

    elegos7 Rookie

    Jun 11, 2009
    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the great bio.
    I would add three comments.

    1) There was no challenge round for the ladies singles at the Irish Championships.

    2) It is true that in 1894 Pim defended his Irish and Wimbledon titles, but he was not as dominant as in 1893.
    Wilfred Baddeley beat him 6-1 6-1 2-6 2-6 8-6 at the international match after the Irish Championships (where Baddeley did not play), and dethroned Pim at the Northern Championships in Liverpool 4-6 11-9 4-6 6-3 6-4. Pim only beat Baddeley in the Wimbledon Challenge Round. Still, Pim was ranked No1 ahead of Baddeley by Pastime.
    In 1895 they did not meet, but in 1896 Baddeley once again beat an out-of-practice Pim 6-4 6-3 6-3 in the international match before the Irish Championships.

    I also read that Pim was a brilliant player (Hillyard called him perhaps the best ever in 1924), but he could only beat Baddeley when he was in top form.

    3) This “Irish Lawn Tennis Handbook” of 1894 seems very interesting.
    Does it have any info on George Kerr and Thomas Burke, the leading Irish professionals? I would be interested in their year of birth as well.
    Were there any pro-amateur meetings between the best Irish players? I wonder whether Pim has ever faced his former teacher Burke in a public match.
  6. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

    Apr 22, 2005
    Nice piece by newmark. I found in Quidet's big book 'Fabuleuse histore du tennis', p. 64, a quote, that Pim appeared sometimes, including in Davis Cup matches, under the alias name Mr. X. Such nommes de racquettes were common use at that time.
  7. liesl

    liesl New User

    Sep 16, 2009
    Yes, really nice post newmark

    It's a pity that Herbert Chip never played against Joshua Pim, for he would have certainly have added him to his "Lawn Tennis Recollections", as stated by himself with some regret.

    The last editions of the Field Lawn Tennis Calendar, with reports and results from the Field magazine, could have some additional information. And in The Story of the Davis Cup (part of which also previously published in his book The Complete Lawn Tennis Player) Wallis Myers' recounts the Davis Cup exploits on 1902. Or for an American point of view you might check the Outing (online) magazine.

    There are also publications on the Fitzwilliam Club and the Northern tournament, I wonder if there's anything helpful in there.
  8. Q&M son

    Q&M son Professional

    Apr 12, 2008
    Trenque Lauquen, BA, Argentina.
    Why Pim didn't defend Wimbledon title in 1895? Cause he did travel to America (tired) or something else (as it seems...)? Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  9. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

    Aug 10, 2009

    That's an interesting question. It seems that Pim more or less intended to stop playing competitive tennis after his win at the Irish Championships in 1895. However, it is true that he did play some more tournaments later on, including the Championships of Germany in 1898, where he reached the final, so it's not as if he couldn't have played very well if he had been in practice.

    I believe that he wanted to concentrate on his medical studies and career, and he also got married and started a family at some point, so it may well have been a question of priorities. He was also a man of his word, in the old, reliable sense.
  10. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

    Oct 20, 2008
    ^^^ Agreed Newmark401. His other life took over after Irish 1895. Pim was so incredibly, naturally talented that it didn't take a lot of practice for him to reach decent form even when he's been off the rectangle for months on end -- kind of like a McEnroe, give him a little match-play and it works wonders for Johnnies form...
  11. TennisExpert

    TennisExpert New User

    Aug 28, 2008
    He got married, that's it :(
  12. Idzznew

    Idzznew Rookie

    Feb 18, 2009
    Still inclomplete but working on it (

    Joshua F. Pim

    Name: Joshua F.
    Family name: Pim
    Nationality: Ireland
    Had: 72 years
    Date of birth: May 20, 1869
    Place of birth: Millward Terrace, Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland
    Date of death: April 15, 1942
    Place of death: Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland

    Matches in database: 25
    Victories in database: 20
    Tournaments won in database: 4

    1890 Wimbledon
    Round 1 Pim, Joshua F. d. Milne, Oswald (7-5 9-11 6-3 6-2)
    Round 2 Pim, Joshua F. d. Goodbody, Manliff F. (w.o.)
    Quarterfinals Pim, Joshua F. d. Scrivener, Harry Stanley (6-3 12-10 6-0)
    Semifinals Hamilton, H.J. (Willoughby) d. Pim, Joshua F. (0-6 6-4 6-4 6-2)

    1891 Wimbledon
    Round 2 Pim, Joshua F. d. Milne, Oswald (6-3 6-3 6-4)
    Quarterfinals Pim, Joshua F. d. Barlow, Harry S. (5-7 0-6 6-2 6-3 7-5)
    Semifinals Pim, Joshua F. d. Mahony , Harold Segerson (6-4 6-0 6-2)
    Final Baddeley, Wlifred d. Pim, Joshua F. (6-4 1-6 7-5 6-0)

    1892 Wimbledon
    Round 1 Pim, Joshua F. d. Crispe, James H. (8-10 6-1 6-4 6-3)
    Round 2 Pim, Joshua F. d. Meers, Ernest G. (10-8 6-2 6-3)
    Quarterfinals Pim, Joshua F. d. Barlow, Harry S. (3-6 9-7 6-2 7-5)
    Semifinals Pim, Joshua F. d. Mahony , Harold Segerson (6-1 12-10 2-6 6-2)
    Final Pim, Joshua F. d. Lewis, Ernest Wool (2-6 5-7 9-7 6-3 6-2)
    Challenge Round Baddeley, Wlifred d. Pim, Joshua F. (4-6 6-3 6-3 6-2)

    1893 Wimbledon
    Round 1 Pim, Joshua F. d. Crawley, Alfred E. (6-4 2-6 6-3 6-2)
    Round 2 Pim, Joshua F. d. Smith, Sydney H. (6-2 7-5 7-5)
    Quarterfinals Pim, Joshua F. d. Goodbody, Manliff F. (8-6 6-3 3-6 6-1)
    Semifinals Pim, Joshua F. d. Barlow, Harry S. (9-7 6-2 6-3)
    Final Pim, Joshua F. d. Mahony , Harold Segerson (9-7 6-3 6-0)
    Challenge Round Pim, Joshua F. d. Baddeley, Wlifred (3-6 6-1 6-3 6-2)

    1894 Wimbledon
    Challenge Round Pim, Joshua F. d. Baddeley, Wlifred (10-8 6-2 8-6)

    1895 Wimbledon
    Challenge Round Baddeley, Wlifred d. Pim, Joshua F. (w.o.)

    1902 US Lawn tennis championships
    Round 2 Pim, Joshua F. d. Plummer, Harold A. (6-1 6-3 8-6)
    Round 3 Pim, Joshua F. d. Whipple, S.C. (6-0 6-0 6-4)
    Round 4 Ware, Leo E. d. Pim, Joshua F. (7-5 7-5 6-3)

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