Anna McCune Harper was a noted American tennis player from the early 1930s.
Below is her obituary from the San Francisco Examiner in 1999
Tennis pro, national star Anna McCune Harper
June 16, 1999|By Dwight Chapin, EXAMINER SENIOR WRITER
Anna McCune Harper, who in 1930 succeeded Helen Wills Moody as the top-ranked women's tennis player in the country, has died. She was 99.
Mrs. Harper, who also is a member of the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, died Monday at the Rheem Valley Convalescent Center in Moraga, 10 years to the day after her husband, Lawrence, passed away.
A product of a very different era in tennis, Mrs. Harper learned the sport along with her sister, Lucy, when they were youngsters in Pacific Grove.
Her skill was evident by the time she became a freshman at UC-Berkeley in 1920.
"Lucy and I were persuaded to enter the California State Championships," she told the Examiner's Stephanie Salter in 1981. "We really decided to enter them because we thought it would be cheaper to see all the matches as participants rather than pay for spectators' tickets.
"We won the ladies' doubles title and both of us got quite a way into the singles. Life changed for us then."
Mrs. Harper, who was married after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Cal in 1924, made tennis headlines for most of the next decade. In 1928, she went East for the first time, on a pro circuit that bears little resemblance to today's tour.
"You didn't get jet lag," she said. "You went on the train, from Oakland to Chicago, where you would either play or change trains for New York or Boston or wherever the first tournament would be. It would usually take about six days to cross the country, and then you would have to find a place to stay. By that time you were all out of commission and had to take at least a week to practice and recover."
Then she would return for competition on the West Coast. Mrs. Harper, who won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1931, said she was always on the move on the court, too.
"I scrambled around a lot," she said, "and I tried to finish things up at the net. That was very helpful in doubles and mixed doubles."
She was at the top of her game in 1932, but was called home because of an illness in the family, then decided to give up tennis for other tasks - including rearing three children.
But she continued to follow the game and played for many years. She even had arthroscopic knee surgery, at 81, so she could continue to play. But a bad reaction to a general anesthetic sidelined her for good, and precipitated a long, slow decline in her health.
Survivors include her daughter, Virginia Harper Harrison of Orinda; sons, Lawrence Harper of Davis and Robert G. Harper of Houston; a sister, Lucy Yates of Lafayette; a brother, Francis McCune of Sarasota, Fla.; and six grandchildren.
Private funeral services are scheduled Monday at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. In lieu of flowers, the family invites contributions to the Anna McCune Harper Scholarship Fund at UC, which goes annually to a woman student who is an outstanding athlete and scholar.