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Early winners of the women's singles event at the Scottish Tennis Championships (1886
Early winners of the women's singles event at the Scottish Tennis Championships (1886-1914)
By Mark Ryan
The Scottish Championships were inaugurated in 1878, one year after the first Wimbledon tournament and one year before the first Irish Championships. The first Scottish Championships featured only two events – a men’s singles event (won by James Patten MacDougall) and a men’s doubles event (won by I. Maconochie and A. Murray). During its first six years, the tournament was held indoors, on wooden courts, at the Grange Cricket Ground in Edinburgh (this venue was popularly known as the “Tin Temple”). In its early years the tournament was held in the first or second week of June.
In 1884, the Scottish Championships had a change of venue, literally moving across the road from the Grange Cricket Ground to the Edinburgh Academicals Cricket Ground, where the tournament was held on grass courts for the first time. This first change of venue was to be a sign of things to come because the Scottish Championships has experienced many changes of venue during its existence.
In 1886, the tournament moved to the University Field at Corstophine in Edinburgh. This year, 1886, was significant because it saw the inauguration of a women’s singles event, which was won by M. Boulton, who might have been English (the “M” may stand for Mabel). In what was a best-of-five-sets final she beat J. MacKenzie 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. J. MacKenzie was probably Scottish; however, the provenance of many of the early winners, and their first names and/or maiden names, are unclear or unknown due to poor early record-keeping.
In 1887, the tournament returned to the ground adjacent to the “Tin Temple”, where it remained until 1893. There was another best-of-five-sets final in 1887 when Connie Butler of Ireland beat the holder, M. Boulton, in four sets, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 8-6. This was actually a Challenge Round match since a cup had been presented in 1886 for the winner of the women’s singles, who would be able to “sit out” before playing the winner of the All-Comers’ tournament in the title match.
Connie Butler retained her title in 1888, when the Challenge Round match was reduced to the best of three sets. In the title match Connie Butler beat a Miss Dod 6-3, 6-3. This Miss Dod was Ann Dod, elder sister of Lottie, who was already Wimbledon champion at this stage in her career.
In 1889, Connie Butler won her third consecutive Scottish Championship title, beating D. Patterson 6-3, 6-3 in title match. D. Patterson appears to have been a Scottish player (she had already enjoyed some success outside of Scotland, winning the inaugural Middlesex Championships at Chiswick Park, London, in 1887).
There was a new winner of the Challenge Cup at the Scottish Championships in 1890 (Connie Butler would probably have gained possession of the first cup, having won the singles event for three years running. It was customary for a player not to compete the year after he or she had won the cup outright). The new winner was Helen Jackson, a player from just across the border, in Northumberland, England. In the All-Comer’s Final, which was effectively the title match, she beat D. Patterson, the previous year’s runner-up, by the one-sided score of 6-1, 6-0.
Then Helen Jackson did what Connie Butler had done after winning the title for the first time in 1887, namely win it again the following two years, 1891 and 1892, thereby taking possession of the second Challenge Cup. Helen Jackson beat Jane Corder 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 in the 1891 title match and Lottie Paterson at the same stage in 1892, when the score was 7-5, 6-1. It is likely that Helen Jackson did not compete in 1893 after winning the Challenge Cup outright.
Jane Corder improved on her runner-up position of 1891 by taking the women’s singles title in 1893. She was another native of Northumberland. She had an easy 6-0, 6-4 victory over a Miss Moir in the All-Comers’ Final. In that year the tournament was held at Saint Andrews, the first time it had been moved outside the capital, Edinburgh.
The tournament was moved again in 1894, this time to Inverkip Rovers Club at Wemyss Bay in Ayrshire. It also experienced a move in the calendar, being held during the last week of July instead of in early June. Jane Corder did not defend her title in 1894, when Lottie Paterson added her name to the list of early winners. In the All-Comers’ Final she had an overwhelming 6-1, 6-0 victory over a Miss Burns.
In 1895, there was another change of venue, with Moffat being chosen to host the championships. This would be a quasi-permanent home for the national tournament, at least until its next move in 1908. In both 1895 and 1896, Lottie Paterson did what Connie Butler and Helen Jackson had done before her, namely retain her title twice, thereby winning the Challenge Cup outright. In 1895, Lottie Paterson beat Ida Cressy 8-6, 6-3 in the Challenge Round match. One year later she beat the same player 6-3, 8-6 at the same stage.
It is very likely that, having won the Challenge Cup outright in 1896, Lottie Paterson did not defend her title in 1897. The winner in 1897 was a player from Yorkshire, Alice Hunter, known as "Minnie". In the All-Comers’ Final she beat a Miss Kendal 6-4, 7-5. Minnie Hunter returned for the Challenge Round match in 1898, but was beaten there by Madeline O’Neill, the score being 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The Englishwoman Madeline O’Neill was probably the first married woman to win the women’s singles title at the Scottish Championships.
Madeline O’Neill did not defend her title in 1899 when Charlotte Cooper travelled north of the border to win it by beating Minnie Hunter 6-3, 8-6 in the All-Comers’ Final. At that stage in her career Charlotte Cooper had already won the Wimbledon singles title three times and the then prestigious Irish Championships title twice. Although one source refers to the time when the Scottish Championships were held in Moffat as the tournament’s golden era, its fortunes fluctuated greatly during the years 1895-1907, with the number of entries showing a consistent falling-off.
Charlotte Cooper did not defend in 1900, when Minnie Hunter won the title for the second time. In the All-Comers’ Final she beat Helen Pillans 6-3, 8-6. The following year Muriel Robb became the third player from the English county of Northumberland to win the Scottish Championships when she beat Minnie Hunter 6-4, 6-3 in the Challenge Round. Muriel Robb had won the Irish Championships earlier in the 1901 season and the Welsh Championships in 1899. In 1902, she would win Wimbledon, thereby completing the quartet of national titles of the British Isles – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. No other player has ever won all four titles.
In the early 1900s the trend was towards abolishing the Challenge Round at tennis tournaments and this is what appears to have happened at the Scottish Championships in 1902. The winner that year, when Muriel Robb appears not to have defended her title, was Alice Maud Ferguson, a Scottish player. In the final she beat her compatriot Mary Curtis-Whyte (née Gray), 6-2, 6-2.
In 1903, when the Scottish Championships had a fixed position in the tennis calendar at the beginning of August, an M. Crawford won the women’s singles title, beating a Miss Stoltz 8-6, 6-2 in the final. Miss Stoltz was from Edinburgh. A mixed doubles event was inaugurated at the Scottish Championships this year. The first winners were A.W. MacGregor and the aforementioned Miss Stoltz.
One year later, in 1904, Alice Maud Ferguson reached the final again, but was unable to repeat her win of two years earlier, losing 6-3, 6-2 to England’s Winifred Longhurst. In 1905, Mary Curtis-Whyte beat Alice Maud Ferguson 6-4, 6-3 in the final. However, Mary Curtis-Whyte did not hold the title for more than one year, Alice Maud Ferguson gaining revenge in 1906 by beating her in the final, 6-3, 8-6.
Alice Maud Ferguson won her third and final Scottish Championships singles title in 1907, beating Mary Curtis-Whyte in the final by a score of 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. In 1908, after thirteen years in Moffat, the tournament was moved once again, this time to Bridge of Allan. The winner that year was the Englishwoman Maud Garfit who, like her countrywoman Winifred Longhurst, would never quite win the biggest titles of all.
However, in 1908 Maud Garfit did achieve a unique feat, namely win the Irish, Welsh and Scottish Championships in the same year. At Bridge of Allan that year she beat Alice Maud Ferguson 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Maud Garfit retained the title at the same venue in 1909, beating M. Fergus 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 in the final. The runner-up was probably a Scottish player.
By 1909, the tournament had been moved back a week or two to late July. That year also saw the introduction of a women’s doubles event. In the final Maud Garfit and Mary Curtis-Whyte beat B. Stewart Cupar and Mary Thom 6-2, 6-0. In 1909, Maud Garfit became the first player to win a “triple crown” at the Scottish Championships, completing the feat by winning the mixed doubles title with her compatriot Theodore Mavrogordato.
In 1910, the Englishwoman Ethel Larcombe, formerly Thomson, won the first of three consecutive singles titles at Bridge of Allan by beating Mary Welsh 6-0, 6-1 in the final. (Mary Welsh had formerly been Mary Curtis-Whyte, her first husband having died in 1907.) One year later the Englishwoman beat a G. Scott 6-1, 6-4 in the final. In 1912, the tournament was held at Bridge of Allan for the last time; Ethel Larcombe had a walkover against Mary Welsh in that year’s final. Ethel Larcombe repeated Maud Garfit’s feat of 1909 by winning the “triple crown” in 1912, taking the doubles with Mary Welsh and the mixed with the Irishman James Cecil Parke. Ethel Larcombe had won the Wimbledon singles title a few weeks earlier.
In 1913, the tournament moved once again, this time to the grounds of George Watson’s College at Myreside. The winner that year was Mary Welsh. In the final she beat M. Fergus, who retired after losing the first set of the final, 6-2. In 1914, the tournament was moved to yet another different venue, namely the Edinburgh Hydropathic in the Craiglockhart area. Mary Welsh retained her title by beating M. Fergus 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 in the final. At this point in its history the tournament was once again being held towards the end of July and the women’s events in particular had taken on a local flavour.
Winners of the women’s singles at the Scottish Championships, 1886-1914. (A Challenge Round was in force from 1886 until circa 1902.)
1886 M. Boulton d. J. MacKenzie 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
1887 Connie Butler d. M. Boulton 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 8-6
1888 Connie Butler d. Ann Dod 6-3, 6-3
1889 Connie Butler d. D. Patterson 6-3, 6-3
1890 Helen Jackson d. D. Patterson 6-1, 6-0
1891 Helen Jackson d. Jane Corder 4-6, 6-0, 6-1
1892 Helen Jackson d. Lottie Paterson 7-5, 6-1
1893 Jane Corder d. Miss Moir 6-0, 6-4
1894 Lottie Paterson d. Miss Burns 6-1, 6-0
1895 Lottie Paterson d. Ida Cressy 8-6, 6-3
1896 Lottie Paterson d. Ida Cressy 6-3, 8-6
1897 Minnie Hunter d. Miss Kendal 6-4, 7-5
1898 Madeline O’Neill d. Minnie Hunter 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
1899 Charlotte Cooper d. Minnie Hunter 6-3, 8-6
1900 Minnie Hunter d. Helen Pillans 6-3, 8-6
1901 Muriel Robb d. Minnie Hunter 6-4, 6-3
1902 Alice Maud Ferguson d. Mary Curtis-Whyte 6-2, 6-2
1903 M. Crawford d. Miss Stoltz 8-6, 6-2
1904 Winifred Longhurst d. Alice Maud Ferguson 6-3, 6-2
1905 Mary Curtis-Whyte d. Alice Maud Ferguson 6-4, 6-3
1906 Alice Maud Ferguson d. Mary Curtis-Whyte 6-3, 8-6
1907 Alice Maud Ferguson d. Mary Curtis-Whyte 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
1908 Maud Garfit d. Alice Maud Ferguson 6-3, 6-4
1909 Maud Garfit d. M. Fergus 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
1910 Ethel Larcombe d. Mary Welsh 6-0, 6-1
1911 Ethel Larcombe d. G. Scott 6-1, 6-4
1912 Ethel Larcombe d. Mary Welsh, walkover
1913 Mary Welsh d. M. Fergus 6-2, retired
1914 Mary Welsh d. M. Fergus 6-2, 1-6, 7-5
Indexed 21 Feb 2012
Last edited by newmark401 : Mar 31st, 2012 at 08:05 PM.