Tennis World Champion Played Celebrated Match in Pelham During Labor Day Weekend in 1934
With the U.S. Open well underway and Labor Day weekend just ended, it seems particularly appropriate to tell the story of one of a handful of the most notable tennis matches ever played in Pelham. I have written before about a few such notable matches. See, e.g., Tue., Nov. 03, 2015: A Major Tennis Tournament was Played in Pelham in 1885.
Henry Ellsworth Vines, Jr. (known as Ellsworth), was a significant American tennis champion of the 1930s. Born on September 28, 1911, he rose to become the World's top ranked player (or co-top ranked player) for four years in 1932, 1935, 1936, and 1937. He later became a professional golfer.
In 1934, at the height of his tennis prowess, Ellsworth Vines was invited to compete at the Pelham Country Club in one of a series of exhibition tennis matches arranged by the club. He played Vincent ("Vinnie") Richards who was born in New York City on March 20, 1903. Vinnie Richards won the gold medal for the United States in both singles and doubles during the 1924 Olympics held in Paris. He and a partner took the silver medal in the mixed doubles competition as well. Richards and his partner won the U.S. Open Doubles 1918, 1921, 1922, 1925, and 1926. He and his partner also won Wimbledon Doubles in 1924 and the French Open Doubles in 1926. He had many other professional championships under his belt by the time he arrived in Pelham in 1934.
On Sunday, September 2, 1934, more than 800 spectators crowded onto the hillside about and in stands adjacent to a court on the grounds of the Pelham Country Club to watch Ellsworth Vines and Vinnie Richards battle in a masterful tennis exhibition. The photograph below shows a portion of the crowd with the match underway.
The match was thrilling as the two champions battled. Though favored to win, Vines lost the first set to Richards 3-6. The setback seemed to energize the champion who roared back to take the second match 6-4. In the third and final rubber match, the two tennis stars battled back and forth before the crowd, with Vines finally winning the match by taking the final set 11-9. The photographs below show the two stars who battled in Pelham on that Labor Day weekend nearly 75 years ago.
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"Fashionable Audience Sees Vines Defeat Richards On Pelham Country Club Courts
Fall Season Officially Opened With Fast Professional Tennis Matches; Many Prominent Hostesses Entertain.
Before a fashionable audience that numbered more than 800, Ellsworth Vines, outstanding star of the professional tennis world defeated Vincent Richards, former world's professional tennis champions in one of a series of exhibition tennis matches at Pelham Country Club on Sunday afternoon. The tall Californian turned the Yonkers professional back by scores of 3-6, 6-4, 11-9. In another spirited match, Alfred Chapin defeated Charles Wood, 6-3, 4-6, 12-10.
The program officially opened the social season at Pelham Country Club. In conjunction with the tennis matches a buffet supper dance was held. Many Pelham hostesses entertained at cocktails and supper parties.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of tickets will be donated to a worthy local charity.
Among those who made reservations were the following:
Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Morris, Mr. Northrup Dawson, Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Baker, Mr. Roy H. Passmore, Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Bradley, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. White, Mr.
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Fashionable Crowd At Tennis Matches
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and Mrs. J. R. Wettstein, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Hawkins, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Williams, Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Towle, Mr. and Mrs. K. R. Tully, Mr. and Mrs. A. F. Maxwell, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. McGregor, Mr. and Mrs. A. C. McMaster, Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Prescott, Mr. and Mrs. F. J. O'Brien, Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Fuller, Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Arthur, Mrs. Scholz, Mr. and Mrs. Blaine Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Davis, Mr. and Mrs. D. Miller, Mr. and Mrs. D. M. Minton, Jr., Mr. E. B. Baker, Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Arnold, Mr. and Mrs. F. T. Hughes, Mr. and Mrs. M. Collette, Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. T. W. McInerney, Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Shattuck, Mr. H. M. Prescott, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Brooks, Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Dowdell, Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Matson, Mr. and Mrs. Prior Sinclair, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Lahey, Mr. and Mrs. G. A. Muessell, Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Mullen, Mrs. C. M. Leggett, Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Potter, Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Lawrence, Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Kerns, Mr. and Mrs. M. E. Foley, Mr. J. M. Redding, Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Ludlow, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Rauh, Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Jackman, Mr. G. D. Holdom, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Borden, Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Holton, Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Lykes, Judge and Mrs. Frank Roberson, Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Funke, Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Englehardt, Mr. John F. Gilman, Mr. George Cremer, Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Rovensky, Mr. and Mrs. F. E. Haag, Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Retallick, Mr. and Mrs. T. W. Sprague, Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Innes, Mr. and Mrs. C. K. Granger, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Roland R. Reppert, Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Stevens."
Source: Fashionable Audience Sees Vines Defeat Richards On Pelham Country Club Courts -- Fall Season Officially Opened With Fast Professional Tennis Matches; Many Prominent Hostesses Entertain, The Pelham Sun, Sep. 7, 1934, Vol. 25, No. 25, p. 1, cols. 4-5 & p. 4, cols. 3-4.
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I have written before about the history of the sport of tennis in Pelham. For a few examples, see:
Thu., Apr. 07, 2016: The Pelham Heights Tennis Club in the Early Years of the Twentieth Century.
Tue., Nov. 03, 2015: A Major Tennis Tournament was Played in Pelham in 1885.
Fri., Mar. 25, 2005: Tennis in Early Pelham.
Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.
Home Page of the Historic Pelham Blog.
Order a Copy of "Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak."