Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More
June 14 and 15
Venue: All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon (outdoors on grass)
United States: Pauline Betz, Margaret Osborne, Louise Brough, Doris Hart
Great Britain: Jean Bostock, Kay Menzies, Joan Curry, Mary Halford, Betty Passsingham, Molly Lincoln
Non-playing captains: Hazel Wightman (USA); Nancy Glover (GBR)
United States d. Great Britain 7-0
Pauline Betz (USA) d. Jean Bostock 6-2, 6-4
Margaret Osborne (USA) d. Kay Menzies 6-3, 6-2
Betz/Doris Hart (USA) d. Molly Lincoln/Betty Passingham 6-1, 6-3
Louise Brough (USA) d. Joan Curry 8-6, 6-3
Osborne d. Bostock 6-1, 6-4
Betz d. Menzies 6-4, 6-4
Brough/Osborne d. Bostock/Mary Halford 6-2, 6-1
From “Lawn Tennis and Badminton”, July 1, 1946
By Lewis Dorey
“America’s Wightman Cup Victory
“The New Outlook in Women’s Play
“America’s crushing victory by 7-0 over Great Britain in the Wightman Cup match, played at the All England Club, Wimbledon, on June 14 and 15, emphasises the large amount of leeway to be made up in the top flight of the British game after the hiatus of six years. Our representatives were outpaced. They could not withstand the controlled speed of stroke which the American quartet of Pauline Betz, Margaret Osborne, Louise Brough and Doris Hart produced, not only on service and volley, but also off the ground, even when forced to play their shots at full stretch.
“The resumption of ladies’ international play enabled us to assess relative international form for the first time for six years and it is apparent that lack of competitive play has inevitably led to a serious deterioration in the standard of our leading women. The primary cause of Great Britain’s defeat in the Wightman Cup was that we were outpaced on the fast and unfamiliar grass against a new generation of United States players whose magnificent physique enables them to pursue the goddess of speed – speed of stroke on service, in the air and off the ground, and speed of foot in covering their court and reaching the net for first-time winning volleys.
“In six years the ladies’ game as played by the American ladies has advanced a further stage in its evolution until it now resembles that of a first-class man. In pre-war days we had among the lawn tennis nations isolated examples of the virile all-court game in ladies’ play, but it is something new in the game’s progress to act as host to an entire team of visiting ladies whose aim is to emulate the methods of play of their men folk.
“Complete physical fitness is an essential for the type of all-court game of the American ladies. Hitherto, persistent volleying in singles has been the prerogative of the men’s field – with the possible exception of Alice Marble – and it remains to be seen whether the new theory of attack from the net can be justified in the top class of ladies’ play when the lawn tennis nations as a whole recover the lost ground of the war years and their representatives develop their ground stroke control to the pitch it had attained in the late ‘thirties.
“Hazel Wightman, America’s captain, who received the trophy form Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent after victory had been achieved, considers that her team is one of the best, if not the best, which has ever represented the United States since the inception of the competition in 1923. It certainly possessed a strength and balance throughout in contrast to some of the pre-war teams, which were top-heavy and dominated by one outstanding exponent, with a distinct ‘tail’ among the lower strings.
“In Miss Betz and Miss Osborne, America possesses a powerful top singles team in the direct line of succession to the Alice Marble school, with their powerful services, aggressive ground strokes and their attacking outlook. Miss Betz may not yet be in the class of the Miss Marble of 1939; she was made to falter at times on the volley by Jean Bostock and sometimes teased into error by slowing up tactics. But she did not allow the hard court champion to impose her game on her for long and forged ahead to victory mainly by means of her manlike service and match-winning backhand.
“She had a tougher match against Kay Menzies on the second day, and her convincing victory made her a warm favourite for the ladies’ championship at Wimbledon. Mrs Menzies was very nearly at her best with the result that we saw a match of very high quality in which the resources of Miss Betz were revealed to the full. Her amazing court-covering and security of return on both wings when attacked strongly in the corners stamped her as a coming champion.
“Miss Osborne was almost equally impressive against Mrs Menzies on the first day, though the latter was not playing quite so well as she did against Miss Betz. The American lady’s big service and wide range of volleys are the spearhead of her attack and their penetrating qualities have rarely been surpassed in the history of this contest. She revelled in speed and kept the rallies short, but it was significant that she could also win points from the baseline if the need were urgent or if she wished to take a ‘breather’ in the between her service games. Even with her magnificent physique, her intensive type of game would tax her energies in a long duel and force her to rely more on her ground stroke control, which is not comparable to that of Miss Betz.
“Miss Brough, the third American string, who played the odd singles against Joan Curry, pursued a similar type of bustling game to her teammates, though she lacks the forcefulness off the ground of the top strings and she was made to falter in the longer rallies when attacked by deep drives. She could not rival Miss Curry’s great speed about the court or her regularity of return on the forehand, but her powerful game enabled her to play most of the match in the manner of her own choosing – a match-winning service which presented innumerable openings, and short rallies which do not overtax the stamina when the service is being followed up to the net.
“In doubles the American pairs were equally impressive. Both Miss Brough and Miss Osborne and Miss Betz and Miss Hart are established pairs of many years’ standing, and they were impregnable with their powerful services and forecourt play. Indeed the services of all four border at times on the dynamic or even the ‘atomic’ as one critic of discernment put it. Overhead they kill the ball stone dead from all parts of the court. Betty Passingham and Molly Lincoln lacked attacking returns of service against Miss Betz and Miss Hart to have any chance of breaking up the American parallel formation, and Mrs Bostock and Mary Halford were on the defensive from start to finish against Miss Brough and Miss Osborone, and forced to offer rising returns to a pair camped at the net.
“Physical condition played its part in America’s victory. Only players in the pink of condition could pursue the vigorous type of game exploited by Mrs Wightman’s team without overtaxing their physical reserves. Moreover, the opportunities of continuous match play in America enjoyed by the American team as they developed their games in the past few years outweighed the handicap of playing under strange conditions at Wimbledon. They took to the fast surface of the Number One Court like veterans, and got on top of their opponents immediately in the opening games, demonstrating in no uncertain manner that on a fast surface attack is the best form of defence and, if allied to full control, will invariably prevail over spoiling or defensive play.
“The First Day: Miss Betz Impresses
“Miss Betz gave the United States a flying start by defeating Mrs Bostock in the first match by 6-2, 6-4. From the first service ace, with which she opened the match, to the penetrating drives, which brought her victory in the last game, she was on top, scoring most of her points by fluent driving from both wings, although she was never averse to going in to the net to conclude a rally with a cross-court volley. She very rarely had to volley twice for the same point, so sure was her touch.
“She raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set, mainly by the power of a flowing backhand drive across the court, very reminiscent of Donald Budge’s production. Mrs Bostock, pinned to the defence, was not given time to finesse or spar for her openings. The fifth game virtually decided the outcome of the set. Mrs Bostock reached 40-0 against the service and held several more games points, only to be thwarted by some fine American services and drives. Deuce was called five times before Miss Betz served a clean ace and clinched the game with a fine drive. She advanced more serenely to 5-1, struck a bad patch in the seventh game, when she faltered with her volleys, but worked her way to the net in the eighth game to take the set at 6-2.
“Mrs Bostock tried a variety of tactics in the second set to break up the Miss Betz’s rhythm. She infused more power into her driving, interposed with some well-selected drop shots; and after levelling at 1-all from 0-1, she seemed to be getting a grip on the match. Her clever variation of pace caused Miss Betz to concede errors in the third game, won by Mrs Bostock after deuce, and she had chances of reaching 3-1 in a close fourth game, only to be caught at 2-all when her drives sailed over the lines after deuce.
“Miss Betz tightened up her play in reaching 4-2, scoring consistently with her flat-hit backhand, or by means of it paving the way for a successful net attack. Mrs Bostock then made a great effort and got on terms again at 4-all, with the loss of one point in two games; and when she stood at deuce in the ninth game, the issue of the set began to look speculative. But two vital points escaped her; her drive carried the lines to give Miss Betz the ‘vantage and the next point was a clean ace from the American forehand. Miss Betz forced errors in the British backhand corner as she won the match in the tenth game, the sliced backhand of Mrs Bostock giving the victor plenty of time to shape for her own more speedy drive on this wing.
“A Key Match: Miss Osborne versus Mrs Menzies
“The following match between Mrs Menzies and Miss Osborne was in the nature of a key encounter. Bearing in mind the known strength of the American doubles pairs, a British victory was essential if the match was to be kept alive to the later rubbers. Miss Osborne gained a conclusive victory at 6-3, 6-2, after a remarkable demonstration of controlled speed, which Mrs Menzies was unable to withstand. She served magnificently and kept the rallies brief, moving in to the net early behind paceful drives, and justifying her bold game by a large harvest of volleying winners.
“Much as she delights in speed of shot, Mrs Menzies was uncomfortable against this great pace of service and drive, and was forced to concede many errors as she lost the first two games. She recovered to 2-all by some effective driving down the lines before Miss Osborne scored a run of three games by an intensive net attack for 5-2. She lost her service to love in the eighth game, but promptly took that of Mrs Menzies for a 6-3 set.
“Miss Osborne’s Fine Volleying
“The course of the second set was similar. After 2-all, Miss Osborne went straight out with a run of four games, continuing to score repeatedly with her kicking service and hustling Mrs Menzies in the corners by powerful ground strokes of an exact length, which gave her opportunities for her finishing volley. On her showing today Miss Osborne was little behind Miss Betz in the merit of her attacking skill, despite the many victories which the latter has scored over her in the major tournaments of the American season.
“America’s Winning Lead
“The United States virtually settled the destiny of the Cup for a further twelve months by winning the first of the doubles matches through Miss Betz and Miss Hart against Mrs Passingham and Miss Lincoln. In a brief encounter they were a class above the English pair, dominating the play from so close to the net that they could place their volleys almost at will to the vacant places of the court.
“Both of the visitors hit deep and close to the lines, and they dealt decisively with the stream of lobs to which the British pair resorted. It was a novel experience for Mrs Passingham and Miss Lincoln to face such a powerful and balanced combination and they were out of their depth, though they fought gamely through the second set, in holding on to 3-4.
“The Second Day: Miss Curry’s Fine Fight
“The United States retained the Cup by winning the fourth rubber on the card through Miss Brough, who beat Miss Curry by 8-6, 6-3, after 55 minutes’ play. She emulated the sparkling performance of her teammates with a fine exhibition of serving and volleying, searching for a volley on every possible occasion and clinching her points by first-time angled shots, well away from the nimble-footed Miss Curry.
“After she had accustomed herself to the manlike game to which she was opposed, Miss Curry offered a spirited resistance, driving well on the forehand and covering her court at great speed in defence of her corners. She could never master Miss Brough’s top-spin service, especially the one which kicked wide to her backhand, though she became adept in blocking her returns of service back to a length on her forehand. Her recovery in the first set from 2-4 and 3-5 to 5-all was a splendid effort, and she raised British hopes by hold holding a game point for 7-6, before being volleyed out of the thirteenth game. It was significant that Miss Brough always made for the net when she needed a vital point, and her great skill with the volley constantly extracted her from difficulties.
“It was characteristic of the United States’ team to get an early lead. Miss Brough was no exception, as she reached 3-0 in the first set with the loss of only three points. As Miss Curry found her length, the rallies lengthened, but it was not until the seventh game that she mastered the big American service for the first time to reach 3-4. She saved set point at 4-5, and levelled at 5-all, when she made her opponent miss on the volley with her wide passing shots. Four great services rescued Miss Brough at the crisis of the set, and gave her the 6-5 lead, and her volleys enabled her to win the thirteenth game after Miss Curry had reached 30-40. Miss Curry reacted in the next game after her resolute uphill battle and she fell into error as she lost her service to 15, and with it, the set.
“Miss Curry continued to offer stern resistance in the second set. From 0-2 she levelled at 2-all, and at 2-4 down took Miss Brough’s service, after some great retrieving in her corners for 3-4. Her effort again petered out, just when it seemed that she would get on level terms. Two succeeding shots went astray after the score had reached 30-all, and Miss Brough stood at 5-3. Finishing as strongly as she started, Miss Brough served herself out for match at 6-3.
“Miss Osborne Wins Again
“Miss Osborne was not extended to the limit by Mrs Bostock in the first of the reverse singles. The latter failed to strike her best form, her timing was at fault, especially on her backhand, and this seemed to depress her whole game. The meticulous accuracy and touch, which had characterised her play on hard courts, was conspicuous by its absence. Instead, her game was full of error.
“Miss Osborne had a harvest of three-quarter length returns, which gave her the net position, as she won the first set at 6-1. The second set was equally one-sided. Miss Osborne led at 2-0 and 3-1, and her powerful services and reliable ground strokes would have sufficed for victory on the run of play, even without her volleying ability. As it was she seemed content to rest on her lead and win her service games for a 6-4 victory.
“A High-Class Encounter
“The remaining singles between Miss Betz and Mrs Menzies produced the highest standard of play seen in the two days. After a great fight the former American champion won by 6-4, 6-4, only eleven points separating winner and loser. Mrs Menzies touched her best form of the year, and, but for one or two costly mistakes in the key games, would probably have forced a deciding set. Miss Betz was less prone to break down over the easier return. She was more ‘match-tight’, and her ability to pull out a dazzling winner when running at full speed across the court just tipped the scales in her favour.
“Miss Betz and Mrs Menzies had maintained such speed of shot from the baseline that an advance to the forecourt was a hazardous undertaking for either, and the match was fought out mainly from the baselines, though with every variation of return – the drop shot or the short fade away cross-court drive, or the drive straight down the line, which completely wrong-foots the opponent.
“Miss Betz was quickly into her stride for a 3-1 and 4-2 lead. Mrs Menzies improved with each game and began to run her opponent about by her variation of length, frequently using the drop shot to open up the court. She lost a vital point, which would have brought her to 3-4, when she netted a return with half the court open to her; and had to face a 2-5 deficit.
“She had the better of a series of fierce driving duels in the following two games and climbed to 4-5. In the tenth game Miss Betz showed her class. Following a backhand drive, which scored outright, she produced a clean passing shot to reach set point and out-steadied Mrs Menzies off the ground in the ensuing rally for the set at 6-4.
“The Favourite For The Championship
“The form of Miss Betz in the second set won her many supporters for her claim to the Ladies’ Championship [at Wimbledon]. At last we saw her fully extended as she withstood a battering from Mrs Menzies, and gave as good as she got, frequently winning a point with a ‘neck or nothing’ shot, played outside her tramlines. Revealing exceptional speed about the court and playing almost errorless lawn tennis, she went to 3-0 and 4-1. Mrs Menzies made a splendid recovery to 4-all and 30-all, but this was the limit of her resistance. Miss Betz regained her dominance of the early games and won six of the next seven points for victory at 6-4, earning four of these points by winning drives or volleys. It was an impressive finish, which argued well for her prospects in the Championships.
“An American Record
“Miss Brough and Miss Osborne, the United States doubles champions for the past four years, overwhelmed Mrs Bostock and Mrs Halford by their virile play at 6-2, 6-1, and America’s victory was complete. For the first time in the history of the competition their representatives had won without the loss of a set in the seven rubbers, an achievement which eclipsed their previous best in 1923, when victory was gained by 7-0, but with the loss of two sets.
“Miss Brough and Miss Osborne gained or held the net position in almost every rally by means of their penetrating serving, and they volleyed down for their points, either across the court or down the centre, after making the opening. Mrs Bostock was still a good way from her best, especially on her return of service, but Mrs Halford, after a shaky start, served well and at times scored through some narrow openings in the American net formation.
“Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent, accompanied by Lord Templewood (President of the British Lawn Tennis Assocation), and Group Captain Sir Louis Greig (Chairman of the All England Club) and Mr J.H. King, Chairman of the British Lawn Tennis Association, presented the Cup to Mrs Hazel Wightman on the court during the afternoon, when the players of both teams were presented to her in turn.
“Exceptionally large crowds filled the Number One Court terraces on both days, and the contest was played from start to finish without interference by rain, though a cloudburst flooded courts a few miles away from the club during the second afternoon. The arrangements for the match went through without a hitch, no mean feat of organisation, when new staff had to be procured and trained in the handling of such large crowds round a confined space. Members of the Umpires’ Association were in charge of the matches, and it was a happy move to recruit the ball-girls from some of the schools which take part in the annual Schoolgirls’ Team Competition.”
Last edited by newmark401; May 19th, 2014 at 12:00 PM.