Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More
August 14 and 15
Venue: West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York (outdoors on grass)
Great Britain: Kathleen McKane, Joan Fry, Dorothea Lambert Chambers (captain), Ermyntrude Harvey
United States: Helen Wills, Molla Mallory, Eleanor Goss, May Bundy, Mary K. Browne (captain)
Great Britain d. United States 4-3
Kathleen McKane (GBR) d. Molla Mallory 6-4, 5-7, 6-0
Helen Wills d. Joan Fry (GBR) 6-0, 7-5
Ermyntrude Harvey (GBR)/Dorothea Lambert Chambers (GBR) d. May Bundy/Mallory 10-8, 6-1
Lambert Chambers d. Eleanor Goss 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
Wills d. McKane 6-1, 1-6, 9-7
Mallory d. Fry 6-3, 6-0
Evelyn Colyer (GBR)/McKane d. Browne/Wills 6-0, 6-3
From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1926)
By Arthur Wallis Myers
“This was the third year of the Wightman Cup, and precedent was rudely broken. In 1923, when it was instituted on American courts, the British invaders failed to win any one of the seven matches; in 1924 at Wimbledon the American team met with almost similar disaster – they could win only one doubles contest – and that narrowly. It was rashly assumed that home players had the prescriptive favour of the gods, and that no human agency could intervene. Having regard to the manner the English ladies set about their task, the way they were captained by Dorothea Lambert Chambers and had their business affairs handled by Mr J.A. Batley, and taking into account their physical and mental condition – a factor of great import – their gallant victory by four games to three was not surprising, nor was it gained by fortuitous aid.
“The American team was not quite as strong. Hazel Wightman was absent from it; her moral support as a leader and her match-winning capacity, illustrated both in Europe and America, were withdrawn. Mary K. Browne, who partnered Helen Wills instead, at her best is a more versatile, more resolute player than any other in the country; she failed to do herself justice in the match which decided the rubber. The experience of two years had been added to the growth of Miss Wills; she won a great match against Kathleen McKane; she was singularly ineffective in the doubles.
“Molla Mallory had not gone back; Eleanor Goss had added steadiness to speed. Having beaten Miss Browne in a trial game, the latter took third place in the singles; but neither Miss Goss nor Marion Jessup figured in the doubles. Their omission as a pair was probably a mistake, but it was the outcome of an official trial against Mrs Mallory and May Bundy, which the latter couple survived.
“The British team, on the other hand, were well balanced, and their training for the test had been judiciously controlled and graded. They had played exclusively with the American ball in Canada; they were not only on good terms with it at Forest Hills; they found themselves hitting the ball harder and with more security. The continuous doubles matches in the Dominion between Mrs Lambert Chambers and Ermyntrude Harvey and Miss McKane and Evelyn Colyer had produced two thoroughly sympathetic pairs, blending well together; and if Miss McKane and her partner had almost invariably won these friendly engagements, that meant a hardening of the first couple which, in one knock-up ‘four’ at Forest Hills, actually defeated Elizabeth Ryan and Miss Wills in two sets. Then Miss McKane’s physical condition had been carefully nursed. She was in much better fettle, possessed more stamina than in 1923; a difference remarked by all, and which had a vital influence on the result as a whole.
“England led by two matches to one at the end of the first day; they were caught on the second day, but never once passed. The opening single between Miss McKane and Mrs Mallory went into three sets, but the final set was always in the safe keeping of Miss McKane. It was mainly a baseline affair, but the driving was not of consistently good length, and the lapses of the loser rather than the superior play of the winner governed the first two sets. Thus, after leading 3-1, Mrs Mallory lost the next three games with only two points to her credit. Her concentration seemed to depart, and she hit services out of court almost recklessly. Probably a reaction from her first assault had come sooner than usual, and it may have been provoked by the discovery that Miss McKane’s backhand drive was a much stronger weapon than it had been at their last meeting.
“Miss McKane got out at 6-4, and she might have taken the second set at about the same figures if she had not had her uneven patches, culminating in a wild phase which gave the last two games to America to love. For two games she played well, for two badly; the change came invariably in the third game. I imagine (says the ‘Field’ observer) the pace told on her, and when she sighted the ten minutes’ interval she unconsciously relaxed. In the final set she won 36 points to the 24 of Mrs Mallory. I give the relative stroke totals to show that a love set scarcely does justice to Mrs Mallory's stout resistance. Four of the games went to deuce; in the fourth no less than twenty strokes were registered.
“Miss Wills and Joan Fry followed. This was a remarkable match because in the first set the American champion virtually hit the visiting junior off the court, losing only nine points; and in the second she was fighting desperately for her life. It looked as if Miss Wills, who was reported to be indisposed, had suffered such a physical strain by administering her crushing blows that she had no strength left to repeat them in the second set. She became a purely defensive player. Miss Fry drove with such success that she took the first four games with the loss of only two points, three of them to love. An extraordinary dénouement which must have a physical explanation! The English girl was destined to win only another game, the eighth, which took her to 5-3, but she battled on against a better-equipped opponent with the utmost fortitude, and proved at least that she has a fine match temperament for a foreign mission.
“The doubles match was won by England after a long and fluctuating first set. The formation of the two pairs, with one unit at the back of the court, inevitably increased the length of the rallies, while reducing their speed. Mrs Lambert Chambers was the general on the British side, and by eluding the opposing volleyer either by a masked lob or by a half-court cross drive, invested with ‘check’, gave Miss Harvey many volleying chances! These were well accepted, to the discomfiture of the Americans, but the male onlooker got the impression that Miss Harvey might have stepped across and slain some of the less resolute returns.
“After the first set Mrs Mallory could throw nothing useful into the scale except an occasional return of service which ‘beat the band’; she was more profitable to her opponents than to her own side when at the net. Mrs Bundy hit hard, but always against the sure shield of Mrs Lambert Chambers. These two, by the way, were facing each other in a match after an interval of eighteen years. The honours then had rested with the Californian; today it was the other way round.
“On the second day, marked out for good tennis by perfect weather and a much larger gallery – about 6,000 were present – Mrs Lambert Chambers gave her country an inspiring lead by defeating Miss Goss in the singles. Not since 1920, when she appeared in the challenge round against Suzanne Lenglen at Wimbledon, had the former taken part in a singles match, and she began so nervously, losing four out of the five first games, that many present deemed her strength unequal to the strain. How these fears were falsified the fact that Mrs Lambert Chambers came within a stroke of winning the third set to love, and was in no way distressed by her effort, amply demonstrates.
“She elected wisely not to chase the wildest drives, conserving her energy for a concentrated attack by varied length and pace on Miss Goss’s weaker forehand. By this plan she drew enough errors to save and snatch the first set; she could afford to lose the second, in which Miss Goss was serving and driving admirably. She came back for the final set much fresher than her opponent. It was a victory for strategy, but one noted that Mrs Lambert Chambers was serving nearly as fast as Miss Goss in the third set. She was foot-faulted several times, but regarded the penalty as only a stimulant to greater effort. ‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/And treat those two Impostors just the same.’ These two lines from Kipling now adorn the portals at Forest Hills as they do those at Wimbledon – they owe their inscription to Mr Julian Myrick, who was in England in 1924. Many a stern foot-fault judge has made their expression valuable.
“No women’s match in America has ever yielded a finer struggle than that between Miss McKane and Miss Wills, who met for the first time since their final at Wimbledon. If the first two sets were won by a wide margin by each player in turn, the result only served to balance the scales for the final set which, both in quality of play and in its exciting phases, was a battle royal. As against Miss Fry on the previous day, Miss Wills tried to hit the cover off the ball at the start, and she was aided in her quest of points by the poor length of Miss McKane, who attempted without success to adopt the same tactics.
“In the second set much of the fire had left Miss Wills’s strokes; all the accuracy and control, and a fine instinct for making the correct volleying coup, were with her opponent. Miss McKane’s backhand drive was as loyal as her forehand, and even more profitable as a forcing shot, since its trajectory was lower and its spin more pronounced. Miss Wills was trapped time and again by deft volleying drops. She was outplayed when the interval came. Could the English player have gone right on, a swift victory would probably have rewarded her, but after the respite she did not recover her great form until Miss Wills was 5-2.
“Then she made a stand that will ever be memorable, and which deserved, though it did not obtain, the reward of victory. The eighth game was won from 30, but the next two only after a terrific effort, in which every risk had to be taken. One ‘breakthrough’ of Miss Wills’s service had been accomplished; could another be achieved? Not in the eleventh game, which the American took splendidly from 30, but in the thirteenth, to gain the priceless lead of 7-6, Miss McKane had but to negotiate a simple backhand volley. It was one of those crises when a mind, tired by exertion, rouses to act in front of the hand. The ball was hit on to the tape, and Miss Wills was reprieved.
“Again, in the fifteenth game, Miss McKane, running forward to smash a ball that had bounded comfortably in front of the net, overswung and hit the ball yards out of court. Instead of 0-40, it was 15-30, a vital difference at such a moment. The chance did not recur, and by winning Miss McKane’s service from 30 in the next game, Miss Wills went out. She had played brilliantly except for the period, possibly self-imposed, of her repression. Then she ‘skied’ the ball into the air almost aimlessly. Miss McKane was thereby given a valuable breathing time, and the concession, in eight cases out of ten, would have been fatal. Yet Miss McKane has never played a better single in her life; she has never stood the strain of such an exciting battle so well, nor hit so hard over so long a period, nor controlled the ball (save in the two instances mentioned) so skilfully.
“Mrs Mallory only gave Miss Fry three games, but the latter deserved more, for she resisted the fierce driving attack with great valour, considering her comparative inexperience, and some of the longest rallies were won by the English girl. Mrs Mallory’s backhand, however, was much sounder and her stroke action quicker. With three matches now credited to each country, the second doubles contest, to decide the issue, was launched amid great excitement. The hour was late, but every spectator remained. It might have been better if those who hissed Miss Wills for coming late on to court had gone away. The incident was very regrettable, since the match hitherto had been waged in an atmosphere of goodwill, and there was every excuse for the young American champion, strained as she had been by her exhausting single against Miss McKane. The hostility of a small section of the crowd obviously distressed her, and she scarcely made a winning stroke in the whole contest. Miss Browne, too, was erratic.
“The English pair won the first nine games, and never once looked like being seriously threatened. They played with great confidence, ever aggressively and with an eye on the net position. Miss Colyer excelled herself in the first set, and only had one brief lapse in the second. Her close volleying was brilliant and daring; there was nothing like it seen in the two days. Miss McKane, though less spectacular, was consistently sure in all her strokes, creating many openings by her solid groundwork and hitting firmly overhead.
“It was a conclusive victory and the brevity of the contest seemed to nettle some of the crowd, who towards the end loudly challenged the decisions on the lines. These interruptions were wisely ignored. They diminished in no way the hearty cheering which greeted Mrs Lambert Chambers when she received the cup at the hands of Mr Meserau, the President of the United States Lawn Tennis Association. As happened 22 years earlier, the British had won in America on their return.”
Last edited by newmark401; May 19th, 2014 at 11:32 AM.