Category Archives: Tennis
Pauline Betz Addie (Tennis. Born, Dayton, OH, Aug. 6, 1919; died, Potomac, MD, May 31, 2011.) After Alice Marble turned pro, Pauline Betz Addie emerged as the strongest U.S. women’s player while still an undergraduate at Florida’s Rollins College. As Pauline Betz, she lost the 1941 Forest Hills final to Sarah Palfrey Cooke, but then won three straight years before losing the final again (to Mrs. Cooke) in 1945. She then won both Wimbledon (in an all-American final over A. Louise Brough) and the U.S. championship (over Doris Hart) in 1946. She also won the French mixed doubles that year with Budge Patty. Betz was ranked U.S. No. 1 four times and ranked eight times in the Top 10 from 1939-46 before she married Washington, D.C., sportswriter Bob Addie in 1949 and then became a teaching pro in the Washington area. Barred from playing in major championships in 1947 for considering (though not actually) turning pro, she played professionally from 1947-60.
George Adee (College football and tennis. Born, Stonington, CT, Jan. 4, 1874; died, New York, NY, July 31, 1948.) George Townsend Adee was a star quarterback at Yale (1892-94), making the Whitney-Camp all-America team in 1894. He served as president of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association (now the U.S.T.A.) during and after World War I (1916-20), having earlier held several other offices in the organization.
Andre Agassi (Tennis. Born, Las Vegas, NV, Apr. 29, 1970.) First appearing on the A.T.P. tour as a 16-year-old prodigy, the flamboyant Andre Agassi became a major international star in 1990 when he was a U.S. Open finalist (losing to long-time rival Pete Sampras). Agassi became the first unseeded player to win the Open since 1966 (1994), and enjoyed a tremendous year in 1995, winning seven tour events. His 26-match winning streak was ended by Sampras in the 1995 Open final. Agassi married movie star Brooke Shields (herself the granddaughter of a well-known tennis player, Francis X. Shields) and seemed to hit a mild decline in his game until 1999, when his marriage dissolved. That year, he won his first French Open and again roared into the U.S. Open final, outlasting Todd Martin in five sets to win at Flushing Meadows for the second time. He is one of only five men to win all four major events (winning Wimbledon in 1992, the French Open in 1999, and the Australian Open in 1995, 2000, and 2003). Agassi married women’s tennis champion and winner of the Grand Slam in 1988, Steffi Graf. Over the course of his career, he transformed his image from a flighty character who dissipated his talent to a tenacious, mentally tough competitor who thoroughly honored his ability.
Wilmer Allison (Tennis. Born, San Antonio, TX, Dec. 8, 1904; died, Austin, TX, Apr. 20, 1977.) A smallish (5’10”, 155 pounds) but hard-working player, Wilmer L. Allison, Jr., was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in 1934 and 1935, and won the U.S. national singles at Forest Hills in 1935.
Arthur Ashe (Tennis. Born, Richmond, VA, July 10, 1943; died, New York, NY, Feb. 6, 1993.) Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr., was not only one of America’s top tennis players for nearly two decades, but he was also the protagonist in one of the strangest stories in the history of tennis. Since the inception of the sport, tennis had been a game played by amateurs for the glory of being a part of the atmosphere. But in 1968, the sport became “open,” meaning that professional players could compete in all major tournaments for prize money. One of the major events was the U.S. Open. Ashe, however, remained an amateur and even though he won the U.S. Open in 1968, he could not accept the prize money and the $10,000 first-place payoff went to Tom Okker of The Netherlands, whom Ashe had defeated in the final. Ashe first broke into the top 10 in 1963 (sixth) and moved up to fourth the next year. From 1965-71, he ranked no lower than third and was the U.S. No. 1 in 1968, the year he won the Open. He also had a distinguished record representing the United States in Davis Cup competition, playing in three Challenge Rounds and recording a 5-1 record in singles. He later served as Davis Cup captain. On July 31, 1979, Ashe suffered a heart attack that ended his playing career. He died of AIDS, having received a tainted blood transfusion. In 1997, the new main stadium at the U.S.T.A. National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., was named in his honor.
Juliette P. Atkinson (Tennis. Born, Rahway, NJ, Apr. 15, 1873; died, Lawrenceville, IL, Jan. 12, 1944.) One of the first women’s tennis stars to attract significant attention, Juliette Paxton Atkinson made the U.S. singles final four straight years from 1895-98 while playing out of Brooklyn. She had dominated New York-area play before defeating defending champion Aline Terry in 1895. Miss Atkinson lost the 1896 final but then regained the title with a five-set victory over Elisabeth Moore (1897) and successfully defended the next year against Marion Jones. This last win gave her permanent possession of the silver trophy then in competition for women’s champions. She also won seven national doubles titles from 1894-1902 (two of them with her sister Kathleen, in 1897 and 1898) and three more in mixed doubles.
Tracy Austin (Tennis. Born, Redondo Beach, CA, Dec. 12, 1962.) Although her career was curtailed first by injury and later by an auto accident, tenacious, pig-tailed Tracy Ann Austin was the youngest women’s singles champion of the United States ever, winning the U.S. Open in 1979 at age 16 years, nine months. In that tournament, she ended Chris Evert Lloyd’s four-year reign as champion in the semifinals. She won the Italian championship the same year , was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in 1980, and repeated as singles champion at the Open in 1981, defeating Martina Navratilova in the final. Austin also won the Canadian Open that year before back problems began to hamper her career. She later became a television tennis commentator. Her older sister, Pam, was also a touring tennis pro in the early days of the women’s tour.
Larry Baker (Tennis. Born, New York, NY, June 20, 1890; died, Washington, DC, Oct. 15, 1980.) Lawrence A. Baker was a tennis administrator who served as president of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association (now the U.S.T.A.) from 1948-50 after holding every other executive position in the organization (secretary, treasurer, second vice president, first vice president) and several sectional offices.
Boris Becker (Tennis. Born, Nov. 22, 1967, Leimen, West Germany.) A wunderkind who astonished the tennis world as a 17-year-old by winning Wimbledon, Boris Becker was a crowd-pleasing, gregarious, athletic serve-and-volleyer who won the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadow in 1989, defeating Ivan Lendl in the final. Becker’s only U.S. championship came after he had saved a match point in a second-round battle against Derrick Rostagno, whose potential fourth-set match-winning volley was never played as Becker’s shot nicked the net cord and sailed over Rostagno’s racket and in. – J.S.
Bjorn Borg (Tennis. Born, Sodertalje, Sweden, June 6, 1956.) Seldom has any world-class athlete come to New York more often for more frustration than Bjorn Borg. Borg first appeared in the U.S. Open in 1972 and played every year through 1981, compiling a 40-10 record. Although he was a dominant player everywhere in the world (winning five straight Wimbledon singles, 1976-80, and six French Open crowns), he never won in New York. Borg made four U.S. Open finals, losing twice to Jimmy Connors (1976, 1978) and twice to John McEnroe (1980-81). For good measure, he lost the Grand Masters Final at Madison Square Garden in 1977, though he did win that event twice (1979, 1980) before effectively retiring at the end of the 1981 tournament season.