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Old May 18th, 2014, 08:31 PM   #1
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The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

A Brief History

The Wightman Cup was an annual women’s tennis competition pitting teams from Great Britain and the United States of America against each other. It was held every year from 1923 to 1989, excluding the wars years 1939-45. The most significant original driving force behind the Wightman Cup was the American tennis player Hazel Wightman (née Hotchkiss) who hoped to see the establishment of an international women’s team competition similar to the Davis Cup, the international men’s team competition inaugurated in 1900.

Hazel Wightman was in particular inspired by the first Wimbledon triumph of the French player Suzanne Lenglen in 1919. She hoped that the top female players from France, Great Britain, the USA and other countries would, with the support of their national tennis associations, be able to meet each other once a year. To this end, late in 1919, Mrs Wightman purchased a twenty-eight inch, high-fluted trophy for 300 dollars at the store N.G. Wood & Sons on Park Street in Boston. She had the store engrave ‘Challenge Cup – Ladies’ Team Match’ on the cup. (It was never Hazel Wightman’s idea that the competition would be called the Wightman Cup, although that is what it was popularly called from the start. Its official, more staid title was the International Ladies’ Match.)

At first, nothing happened. None of the countries already fielding players for the Davis Cup were enthusiastic about doing the same with regard to a women’s team competition. The reasons for this were general apathy about the idea and an unwillingness to expand their budgets for sending more players abroad to compete internationally. International travel was still in its infancy and the idea that players would travel abroad every year to tournaments, even to the US Championships and Wimbledon, had not become the belief that they should do so.

It was not until the late summer of 1923, four years after Hazel Wightman had purchased the trophy which became the Challenge Cup, that the first Wightman Cup competition was held. In retrospect, it looks like a hastily arranged affair. Its inauguration was inextricably linked with the inauguration of the new stadium at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York, the venue for the United States Tennis Championships.

According to the American writer, Herbert Warren Wind, “The first Wightman Cup match was hastily cooked up. Work on the new stadium at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills had been completed that summer and the United States Lawn Tennis Association was pondering a distinguished opening event when someone remembered the Wightman Cup. In a ship-to-shore exchange of radiograms, an international match, England versus the United States, was arranged for Forest Hills, to begin on August 10.” News of the plan was wired to Hazel Wightman, who was visiting her parents in her native California at the time. She made a hasty return to the east coast, where she had made her home after her marriage 1912 to fellow tennis player George Wightman.

The format for the Wightman Cup differed slightly from that for the Davis Cup, where two players played reverse singles and one doubles was played between the first two singles matches. In addition to two players – the numbers one and two singles players on the team – playing reverse singles, the Wightman Cup also featured one match between the number three singles players and two doubles matches, with no player taking part in more than one of the doubles matches.

To begin with, the competition was held over two days, with two singles and one doubles match being held on the first day, and three singles matches, including that between the number three players, and the other doubles match being held on the second day. In later years this order changed slightly, although a tie always began with two of the main singles matches. Each team also had a captain who, more often than not, was a player or former player.

By the late 1960s, the Wightman Cup had become a three-day event. By then, too, the American venue had changed several times, as had the surface on which the competition was held, at least in the United States. With one exception, the British venue remained Wimbledon until 1974. The matches were held on Centre Court up until 1938 and on the old Number One Court after World War Two.

By the late 1980s, the final, fixed venues were the Royal Albert Hall in London and William and Mary Hall in Williamsburg, Virginia. Both of these were indoor venues, with ties usually being held around early November. Money now played a much greater role in tennis than it had done back in the early 1920s when the first Wightman Cup ties had been held. Indeed, in some respects those early ties might have taken place centuries ago. In the interim, the Federation Cup, a true international women’s team competition, had been established (in 1963) and calls for the cancellation of the Wightman Cup were becoming ever louder. But that is just one of the many stories told in the chronological reports reproduced below.
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Old May 18th, 2014, 08:32 PM   #2
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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

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Old May 18th, 2014, 08:32 PM   #3
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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

Wightman Cup Stalwarts

Virginia Wade (GBR)

Ties played: 21 (1965-85)

Total rubbers played: 56
Total rubbers won: 19

Singles played: 35
Singles won: 12

Doubles played: 21
Doubles won: 7
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Chris Evert (Lloyd) (USA)

Ties played: 13 (1971-73, 75-82, 84-85)

Total rubbers played: 38
Total rubbers won: 34

Singles played: 26
Singles won: 26

Doubles played: 12
Doubles won: 8
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Ann Haydon Jones (GBR)

Ties played: 13 (1957-67, 70, 75)

Total rubbers played: 32
Total rubbers won: 16

Singles played: 21
Singles won: 10

Doubles played: 11
Doubles won: 6
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Helen Wills Moody (USA)

Ties played: 10 (1923-25, 27, 29-32, 1938)

Total rubbers played: 30
Total rubbers won: 21

Singles played: 20
Singles won: 18

Doubles played: 10
Doubles won: 3
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Helen Jacobs (USA)

Ties played: 12 (1927-37, 39)

Total rubbers played: 30
Total rubbers won: 19

Singles played: 22
Singles won: 14

Doubles played: 8
Doubles won: 5
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Christine Truman Janes (GBR)

Ties played: 13 (1957-67, 70, 75)

Total rubbers played: 27
Total rubbers won: 12

Singles played: 21
Singles won: 10

Doubles played: 11
Doubles won: 6
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Billie Jean Moffitt King (USA)

Ties played: 10 (1961-67, 70, 77, 78)

Total rubbers played: 26
Total rubbers won: 21

Singles played: 16
Singles won: 14

Doubles played: 10
Doubles won: 7
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Sue Barker (GBR)

Ties played: 10 (1974-83)

Rubbers played: 26
Rubbers won: 8

Singles played: 18
Singles won: 5

Doubles played: 8
Doubles won: 3
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Doris Hart (USA)

Ties played: 10 (1946-55)

Rubbers played: 24
Rubbers won: 22

Singles played: 15
Singles won: 14

Doubles played: 9
Doubles won: 8
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Louise Brough (USA)

Ties played: 10 (1946-48, 50, 52-57)

Rubbers played: 22
Rubbers won: 22

Singles played: 12
Singles won: 12

Doubles played: 10
Doubles won: 10
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Sarah Palfrey Fabyan (USA)

Ties played: 10 (1930-39)

Rubbers played: 21
Rubbers won: 14

Singles played: 11
Singles won: 7

Doubles played: 10
Doubles won: 7
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Nancy Richey (USA)

Ties played: 9 (1962-70)

Rubbers played: 21
Rubbers won: 12

Singles played: 16
Singles won: 9

Doubles played: 5
Doubles won: 3
-----

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Old May 18th, 2014, 08:33 PM   #4
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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

Background to first tie

From “The Field”, August 30, 1923

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“Women’s International Match

“Lawn tennis history has been fashioned at Forest Hills these last few days. There have been three outstanding events, each in itself significant and in combination a remarkable tribute to the development of the game in general and to America’s zeal and courage in particular. On one and the same day – to wit, August 11th – the present champion country dedicated her new national stadium which, strong in concrete and steel, is both a monument to her enterprise in the past as well as a permanent arena for future contests; founded the Wightman Cup, which promises to inaugurate for women a competition as broad in scope, as smooth in continuity, and as beneficial in promoting international amity as its prototype, the Davis Cup; initiated the first women’s match between teams representing England and the United States.

“Within the short space of fifteen minutes on a beautiful afternoon (not too hot to endanger the uncovered heads of those who stood to salute the flags of the two countries nor to exhaust the stamina of the players who subsequently upheld the honour of those flags on court) these three things were accomplished. We who have followed the evolution of the game fairly intimately for the past quarter of a century know of the long and sometimes anxious spadework, the difficult and sometimes delicate work of organisation, tested and vindicated through the years, and our satisfaction was great as these efforts were crowned on a historic day.

“[...] America’s new stadium has already been described in ‘The Field’. Its 13,000 seats, open to the sky and therefore to any breeze which may temper the hot sun, are not yet, as I write, all constructed, but the amphitheatre, not so complicated in design as that at the new Wimbledon, was virtually ready for occupation. More important for the players, the turf on the three enclosed courts was amazingly matured. Transferred from adjoining ground, it had only been laid down in May, yet, through that intensive process of turf culture practised on the east coast with such good results – the problem of systematic watering, as of drainage, has been systematically solved, while the winter snow, if its incidence is treated expertly in the spring, has a protecting benefit – it produced a surface of championship quality.

“On the first day of the international match there were, it is true, a few unbidden bounds, but these, quite immaterial to the result, were not caused through any faulty cleavage of the turfs. No grass was better knit; and since it was put down and cultivated in record time, it is worth mentioning that the committee, departing from precedent and even from the prejudice of their ground man, cut the sods in long oblongs instead of squares. On the second day of the match the surface was even improved, but this was not because the heavy intervening rain of Sunday had been allowed to feed it. Its custodians prefer to grade and apply their own water; and when a storm threatens, and its advent can be forecasted almost to the minute, the court is covered by a tarpaulin. Here – and not here alone, let me add – Wimbledon is more up to date.

“The dedication of the stadium was brief but singularly impressive. The game in America is the people’s game; the note was democratic throughout. After the beautiful Wightman Cup, filled with flowers, had been carried to the middle court, as yet unnoticed and untenanted, four trumpeters, perched aloft on the highest point of the structure, their instruments garlanded with the colours of the West Side Club, blew the strains ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and then ‘God Save The King’, every spectator rising. Simultaneously the flags of both nations were unfurled and saluted with handclapping by the crowd.

“Short speeches, choice in sentiment, sententious in meaning, were then delivered. I give more or less textually, for the occasion was unique and the words will carry farther than the wall of the stadium. Mr Louis Carruthers, president of the West Side Club, said: ‘It is the privilege of the West Side Tennis Club, of which I have the honours to be president, to dedicate the stadium to the game of lawn tennis and to the further advancement of that game. According to the best available records, lawn tennis was invented in the year 1873, and it is most fitting that upon its 50th anniversary in the year 1923 a milestone should be erected to mark its progress in the public interest.

“‘It has grown from the gentle tossing of the ball from racket to racket over a high net to a lightning delivery and return, requiring a quick mind, keen eye, and a sound body. All these are developed by the game, together with that spirit of friendship and sportsmanship which is requisite to the upbuilding of our manhood and womanhood; and what greater result can we strive to attain than to build up that manhood and womanhood, and thus our nation? To achieve these results is the aim of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, and to its effort this club contributes in constructing and dedicating these courts and the structure within which facilities have been provided for player and spectator as nearly perfects as study and experience can produce.’

“Mr George W. Wightman, Vice-President of the United States Association, added these remarks: ‘Lawn tennis in this country is at last to be given a home appropriate to its importance and dignity in the field of sport. For this notable achievement we commemorate the great advance which tennis has made during these past 50 years... Lawn tennis has played its part both in war and peace in the physical improvement of soldiers and citizens... Its characteristic is its lesson of sportsmanship. Sportsmanship means giving your opponent a 100 per cent square deal. Tennis sportsmanship means giving your opponent the benefit of every doubt. It is a modern application of the Golden Rule. In one of our cities 2,063 players participated in one tournament this year. From many tournaments throughout the country the most skilful and the hardest will each year emerge and appear before you in this enclosure.

“‘It is the hope of the United States Lawn Tennis Association that this stadium will accomplish much in the development of skilful lawn tennis players and good sportsmen; that it will give to an ever-increasing number of spectators convenient opportunity to enjoy the competitions; that it may do much to solidify our friendly international relations; and that the prestige of the United States in lawn tennis may be maintained for evermore. On this occasion it is a source of very real pleasure to welcome the English team to the United States.’

“Mr Carruthers then observed that: ‘Nothing could be more appropriate as part of a dedication programme than a contest between the representatives of our own country and of England, the land in which the game was born. This match, between women of these two nations, is but further evidence of the advancement of the game, for this is the first international team match in which women have participated. Let us hope that these matches will continue and be extended to include the other nations of the world, and that we shall have an annual contest for our women similar to our Davis Cup matches. Distinct goodwill will thus be rendered the cause of international amity and friendship. It is a great pleasure to welcome our English friends to these grounds, which they will help make historic.’

“Mr Henry A. Sabelli, secretary of the British Lawn Tennis Association, said: ‘My Association could not have conferred a greater honour on me than that of representing them on the historic occasion of the inauguration of this mighty lawn tennis stadium. It is true that lawn tennis originated in England and Englishmen introduced the game to the world, but the extraordinary development of our great world sport could not have taken place without the stimulus of international competition. It would be a fascinating theme to elaborate the process by which this great expansion of the game took place.

“‘I will, however, confine myself to reminding you of those early days when American players invaded England and our players returned the compliment from time to time. Then came the contest for the Davis Cup. Mr Dwight Davis must be a proud man when he reflects on the tremendous interest taken in the international championship, which began by being a friendly contest between our two nations and has now spread so that a score of nations enter the test year by year.

“‘My Association realises the importance of the international element, and it is for this reason, and also for the reason that we are such old friends, that my Association has sent me to your shores in charge of the team of ladies, the first that has ever gone overseas. They are as proud as I am that they are fortunate to have been selected to represent Great Britain, and their match with your representatives cannot but give a further impetus to women’s tennis and consolidate the friendly relations which it is the aim of both Associations to foster as much as possible.’

“He concluded by expressing on behalf of the lawn tennis players of Great Britain very cordial wishes for the success of the great adventure embarked upon by the United States Lawn Tennis Association and the West Side Tennis Club, adding: ‘May the seats be always well filled and may every success attend the efforts of all those who have worked so hard and so devotedly in erecting this magnificent structure.’”

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Old May 18th, 2014, 08:33 PM   #5
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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1923

August 11 and 13

Venue: West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York (outdoors on grass)

Teams

United States: Helen Wills, Molla Mallory, Eleanor Goss, Hazel Wightman (captain)
Great Britain: Kathleen McKane, Mabel Clayton, Geraldine Beamish, Phyllis Covell

Non-playing British captain: Henry Sabelli
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USA d. Great Britain 7-0

Helen Wills d. Kathleen McKane (GBR) 6-2, 7-5
Molla Mallory d. Mabel Clayton (GBR) 6-1, 8-6
Eleanor Goss d. Geraldine Beamish (GBR) 6-2, 7-5
Goss/Hazel Wightman d. Phyllis Covell (GBR)/McKane 10-8, 5-7, 6-4
Wills d. Clayton 6-2, 6-1
Mallory d. McKane 6-2, 6-3
Mallory/Wills d. Beamish/Clayton 6-2, 6-2
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1924)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“Ladies’ International Match in America

“Lawn tennis history was made at Forest Hills on August 11, 1923. On that day the present champion country dedicated her new national stadium, which, strong in concrete and steel, is both a monument to her enterprise in the past as well as a permanent arena for future contests; founded the Wightman Cup, which promises to inaugurate a competition as broad in scope, as smooth in continuity, and as beneficial in promoting international amity as its prototype, the Davis Cup; and initiated the first women’s match between teams representing England and the United States. Within the short space of fifteen minutes on a beautiful afternoon (not too hot to endanger the uncovered heads of those who stood to salute the flags of the two countries nor to exhaust the stamina of the players who subsequently upheld the honour of those flags on court), these three things were accomplished.

“The result of the international match – a clean sweep of all seven events for the home side –came as a great shock to the majority of lawn tennis players in England; it was not without its surprise for the Americans. Let us admit frankly that the American players had an advantage in knowing the peculiar qualities of their own climate, although it is only fair to add that Miss Helen Wills and in less measure Mrs Hazel Wightman (who, although now residing in Boston, is also a Californian) come from a country almost as distant from New York as England and possessing a climate quite different from that in eastern states.

“The lighter balls undoubtedly made an appreciable difference, especially to the effective gauging of driving strength, and so possibly did the different food and the more exacting conditions generally under which American matches are played. But these conditions, while they mitigate in some measure the sting of decisive defeat, do not altogether explain the unbroken sequence of victories scored by the local ladies.

“A dispassionate survey would probably serve to remind us that Miss Wills, Mrs Wightman and Eleanor Goss all play the modern all-court game and play it in America under sympathetic conditions with singular confidence and success. Mrs Wightman is probably the greatest lawn tennis general of her sex; what she does not know about tactics and court craft is unknown to any other lady player. Even William Johnston, the winner at Wimbledon this year, would respect her views. Mrs Wightman was captain of the American team; she had trained Miss Wills.

“Molla Mallory, though her game is mainly that of the baseliner, had proved that her physique and temperament are exactly suited to defending the interests of her adopted country on the courts and in the climate of Eastern America. Psychologically the home team was undoubtedly stronger than the visiting team. Not that any of the invaders became demoralised or showed anything but a bold front to their opponents. Perhaps their combative spirit was not quite enough roused; perhaps they were not in such good training as their opponents.

“Miss Wills was undoubtedly discovered by the ‘outer world’ at this contest. She won all her matches (two singles and one double) without the loss of a set; and though she was more than once within a stroke of losing a set to Kathleen McKane (the English player led 5-2 and 40-15), her salving of that set only served to strengthen her reputation. She beat Mabel Clayton with a comfortable margin, pluckily as Mrs Clayton drove in a riotous wind.

“Miss Wills, coming from Californian stock, has physique as well as youth in her favour. She has all the strokes – a fine attacking overhead service; a punishing forehand drive; a beautifully constructed, easily placed backhand; volleys both deep and short, plain and sliced; she lobs uncommonly well. She may be a little slow on her feet – at present she plays too much on her heels – but this fault (a good one, for it indicates deliberation) can be cured. She has a very pleasant, unexcitable disposition; is not cast down after defeat or unduly elated after victory. Undoubtedly she possesses the stroke attributes and character of a great player.

“The other three members of the American team, buoyed up by their unexpected success and anxious, not unnaturally, to show that their ‘foreign form’ might be their worst form, played remarkably well. There was never any doubt about Mrs Mallory’s three victories. She nearly lost the second set to Mrs Clayton through slowing down after a very fast and almost devastating start (her concentration was allowed to slip temporarily), but she covered court too quickly and was too sound in defence and too varied in length and strength off the ground for either of her singles opponents here. Miss McKane did not play as well against her as at Seabright; she was patently disturbed by the strong down-court breeze here and could not control her drives, and so could not come up to use her volleying arm. Nor did there seem to be quite enough ‘iron’ in Miss McKane’s soul for the strenuous American matches. But she completely captivated the crowd by her style and deportment. They cheered for her; they seemed to love her.

“Miss Goss not only had the personal satisfaction of making the winning stroke which kept the Wightman Cup in America; she rather ‘dished’ those who imagined that, with all her vigour and versatility, she did not possess a match-winning temperament. For in both her matches (the doubles against Miss McKane and Phyllis Covell, and the single against Geraldine Beamish) the issue in the final set hung on her ability to keep a firm touch and clear head in the throes of decisive rallies. Miss Goss’s fine service, admirably controlled backhand drive, and well-assorted volleys, of which the smash was a deadly weapon, did much to bring America her remarkable victory.

“Mrs Wightman was a long way the best general on either side, and her play in the one double in which she took part was a revelation to English eyes. She is one of the very few players who seem to ‘attract the ball to the racket’. She was rarely, if ever, out of position; her volleying touch was as deft as it was delicate; she could both lob and lob-volley on to the baseline; given the kill she could make it. She has many domestic claims and a large family; she would say that her best days are over; she is never likely to win the singles championship again; but there has never been a woman player who has shown so much strategical skill on court, nor fenced so cunningly with the mental forces on the other side. It is fit that a player so strong in leadership on court should have headed the victorious American team.”
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Old May 18th, 2014, 08:33 PM   #6
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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1924

June 18 and 19

Venue: All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon (outdoors on grass)

Teams

Great Britain: Phyllis Covell, Kathleen McKane, Geraldine Beamish, Dorothy Shepherd-Barron, Evelyn Colyer
United States: Helen Wills, Molla Mallory, Eleanor Goss, Hazel Wightman (captain), Marion Jessup

Non-playing British captain: Dorothea Lambert Chambers
--

Great Britain d. United States 6-1

Phyllis Covell d. Helen Wills (USA) 6-2, 6-4
Kathleen McKane d. Molla Mallory (USA) 6-3, 6-3
Covell/Dorothy Shepherd-Barron d. Eleanor Goss (USA)/Marion Jessup (USA) 6-2, 6-2
Covell d. Mallory 6-2, 5-7, 6-3
McKane d. Wills 6-2, 6-2
Geraldine Beamish d. Goss 6-1, 8-10, 6-2
Hazel Wightman (USA)/Wills d. Evelyn Colyer (GBR)/McKane
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1925)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“Ladies’ International Match at Wimbledon

“The second annual match for the Wightman Cup took place on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. When the British and American ladies met on the Stadium Court at Forest Hills the previous August the local atmosphere so inspired the Americans that they made a clean sweep of the seven matches, but the margin in several of them was so small as to suggest a revision of this surprising result when the psychological influence was reversed. The anticipation was realised with almost dramatic vigour on the first day. Phyllis Covell (who had not played the present American champion in her own country) beat Helen Wills, 6-2, 6-4. The winner did not hit as hard as the loser, but she revealed on this occasion a marked superiority in stroke control and strategy.

“In commenting on Mrs Covell’s play on the Riviera early in the year, when she defeated Elizabeth Ryan twice, emphasis was placed in the ‘Field’ on her sound tactical ability and on her capacity to give practical expression to a concerted plan. Mrs Covell more than justified that judgment when opposed to Miss Wills, for the feature of her play was her strategic acumen. Every shot was played with an eye to its successor; the service, having regard to its break, was pitched on exactly the right spot; the excursions to the net were perfectly timed, the rally was completed by a volleying coup evidently considered in advance.

“Against this carefully organised game Miss Wills, lacking any experience of her opponent’s methods, could only bring the rather haphazard hitting which she had practised against male opponents on both sides of the Atlantic. Steadiness was almost completely absent, and in pressing prematurely for a decision in many rallies she lost essential control. Her service asset was weakened almost to a minimum by a tendency to double fault; more than one game, including the first in which she led 40-0, was sacrificed by this frailty. She drove fast enough on both wings to come in, but the excursion was rarely tempted and Mrs Covell was given the monopoly of the volleying.

“In her extremity Miss Wills attempted the lob; she found her opponent consistently safe overhead. When advancing from 2-5 to 4-5 in the second set the American girl (following the Johnston method on which her game is founded) hit some beautiful drives into the corners, but this phase of accurate placing was only transitory and Mrs Covell effectively stemmed it by drop volleys, invested with slice, which drew Miss Wills a long way from her base.

“In 1923, in the same match at Forest Hills, Molla Mallory had beaten Kathleen McKane, 6-2, 6-3. The loser was then ‘patently disturbed by the strong down-court breeze and could not control her drives, and so could not come up to use her volleying arm’. In the windless Centre Court, with its perfectly true surface, Miss McKane had no such handicap, and she reversed the previous result with an almost identical score. Yet Mrs Mallory, had she shown the same ground stroke control as in America, might have made the match much closer. She dropped the eighth game of the second set, which would have squared the set at 4-4, from 40-0; and at that period Miss McKane was beginning to tire visibly. Mrs Mallory hit a good many easy balls into the net; she was not at her best.

“In the one double on the first day Mrs Covell and Dorothy Shepherd-Barron beat Marion Jessup and Eleanor Goss, 6-2, 6-2. The score scarcely does justice to the many long and tense rallies in which the volleying skill of both sides was fully exploited; and in both sets the American pair had games wrenched from them after a critical rest in which one ‘winner’ had to be capped by another. But though Mrs Jessup and Miss Goss made any number of good strokes and showed no lack either of enterprise or zeal, they did not cover the court as rapidly as their opponents, nor was their combination as soundly prepared for every contingency. Miss Goss served well, Mrs Jessup’s backhand volleying was always reliable, but in their ‘piercing’ ground shots at short range the English ladies were markedly superior. Mrs Covell’s forehand cross-drive, a slow, dipping shot, was particularly effective. Mrs Shepherd-Barron had to support a partner who had already done enough for one day; she acquitted herself worthily.

“A decision was swiftly reached on the second day, for Miss McKane won the first match for England against the American champion; and in the end the home side secured a verdict and the Wightman Cup by six matches to one. The visitors’ solitary success came in the doubles. Here the new combination of Miss McKane and Evelyn Colyer was opposed to the mistress-pupil combination of Hazel Wightman and Miss Wills. The Californians won a strenuous struggle in the tenth games of the third set. When Miss Wills had served three double faults in the eighth game, a 5-3 lead looked certain for the English, but at this stage the wonderful generalship of Mrs Wightman, with its shrewd lobbing, definitely turned the scales. Both Miss Colyer and Miss Wills, the youthful assets on each side, needed the strategic support and firm timing of their experienced partners; none the less, both contributed gallantly to a fine, spectacular match in which Mrs Wightman, the visiting captain, gave a most polished exhibition of sound doubles play.

“There were twice as many spectators as on the first day, but they were somewhat disappointed by the lack of excitement in the Wills-McKane single. Miss McKane lost but four games in a match in which her plain drive was much more under control than the top drive of Miss Wills, and in which the volleying of the English player, employed from a sounder position, had more decision. Miss Wills gave the impression of having practised only for the three- or four-shot rally; the fifth shot found her ill-prepared. Fine strokes she played in plenty, but they were uncoordinated, and the probability of a reply (which Miss McKane skilfully supplied) was not considered.

“The other two singles were much more in dispute, and in both America gained the middle set. Mrs Mallory did not return from the ten minutes’ respite with the same unfaltering aim, and Mrs Covell, refreshed for a new volleying campaign, established a long lead which, despite a good effort by Mrs Mallory, could not be materially reduced.

“Miss Goss made a disastrous start against Geraldine Beamish, but played so well and steadily in the second set that she fully earned it at 10-8. But her volleying excursions told on her, and Mrs Beamish’s stream of cross-drives drew just enough errors – and one fatal one, a missed smash, in the ninth game – to carry a long match. Play was not over until Commander George Hillyard’s anxiety was roused over the influence of evening dew on the Centre Court turf.”
------

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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1925

August 14 and 15

Venue: West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York (outdoors on grass)

Teams

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.”
-----

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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1926

June 17 and 18

Venue: All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon (outdoors on grass)

Teams

United States: Elizabeth Ryan, Mary K. Browne (captain), Marion Jessup, Eleanor Goss
Great Britain: Kathleen Godfree, Joan Fry, Dorothy Shepherd-Barron, Dorothea Lambert Chambers (captain), Evelyn Colyer
--

United States d. Great Britain 4-3

Elizabeth Ryan (USA) d. Joan Fry 6-1, 6-3
Kathleen Godfree d. Mary K. Browne (USA) 6-1, 7-5
Eleanor Goss (USA)/Marion Jessup (USA) d. Dorothea Lambert Chambers/Dorothy Shepherd-Barron 6-4, 6-2
Godfree d. Ryan 6-1, 5-7, 6-4
Fry d. Browne 3-6, 6-0, 6-4
Marion Jessup (USA) d. Dorothy Shepherd-Barron 6-1, 5-7, 6-4
Browne/Ryan d. Evelyn Colyer/Godfree 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
--

From “Ayres Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1927)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“Despite the absence of Miss Helen Wills, the American ladies’ team, by a gallant spurt when all seemed lost, were able to ‘lift’ the Wightman Cup at Wimbledon in June. They beat the British ladies by four matches to three – exactly the same narrow margin by which England was able to defend the Cup successfully at Forest Hills the previous August. There was another parallel, and a striking one, between the encounter of 1925 and that of 1926. Each match depended upon the outcome of a doubles match in which Kathleen Godfree and Evelyn Colyer were engaged. The opponents of the British pair in 1925 were Miss Wills and Mary K. Browne. In 1926, Miss Browne was partnered by Elizabeth Ryan, a substitution which proved beneficial, since it provided a more disconcerting opposition for the home side in this particular match.

“The first day’s programme was interrupted by rain, and only two of the three matches arranged could be staged. Both were singles and American and Britain won one each. The result in each case was a reversal of the verdict recorded on a hard court in Paris the previous week; it cannot be doubted that the change of surface had much to do with the révanche. In Paris the slice with which Miss Ryan habitually invests her ground strokes permitted their recovery by a fleet-footed opponent; and since she was keeping a poor length into the bargain, Joan Fry’s opportunity for a passing drive was increased.

“On the turf at Wimbledon, rendered slower by a moist atmosphere, Miss Ryan’s chops proved a deadly attack to her young opponent, unable to impair their vigour either by variation of length or by a volleying encounter. Moreover, Miss Ryan had the surest control and appeared to have complete confidence; she only lost four games in a one-sided match; and she proved conclusively that Miss Fry will need a more accurate backhand drive down the line before she can combat an attack of the highest class.

“Mrs Godfree was also favoured by the home surface. She had been beaten in Paris by Miss Browne under depressing conditions; on the Centre Court at Wimbledon she was a new player. After winning the first set confidently at 6-1, Mrs Godfree was inclined to react, and while the slump lasted Miss Browne, hitting safely and shrewdly, advanced to 5-2. But the American captain had got to this position because Mrs Godfree had been playing mainly from the back of the court; when the English player launched another volleying attack, which she did at this stage, Miss Browne was too tired to meet it with any success. Her service returns were weaker, especially on the forehand; Mrs Godfree was able to make her forcing shot and to advance behind it and make a fine volley. These volleys were beautifully played; indeed, in the five games which she took in succession to win the match, Mrs Godfree gave a thoroughly satisfying exhibition.

“There was welcome sunshine on the second day – a day of frustrating fortunes and an exciting climax. Eleanor Goss and Marion Jessup, the second American doubles team, proved to be in fine form, with Miss Goss playing her overhead shots with consistent firmness. The couple beat Dorothea Lambert Chambers and Dorothy Shepherd-Barron in two sets, a valuable win for the visitors, since the comparative brevity of the contest preserved Mrs Jessup’s strength for an all-important singles which was to follow.

“In winning the two principal singles, in both of which California was defeated, England got a lead of three matches to two. Miss Fry was much more confident and penetrating against Miss Browne than she had been against Miss Ryan. The difference was explained by the difference in length of drive which the two Americans employ, and also by the fact that after she had won the second set to love Miss Fry realised that her physical resources were superior to those of Miss Browne. The finish, however, was keenly contested. Coming back after the ten minutes’ interval, Miss Browne won the first two games in the final set, but after that Miss Fry forced her to take more exercise than was agreeable. The English girl, directing all her ground shots with a cool hand, and declining to be upset by occasional double faults, passed to 5-3 and beat down triumphantly a final effort on the part of the American.

“Mrs Godfree defeated Miss Ryan after she had squandered a commanding lead. The match looked safe for England when Mrs Godfree, having won the first set at 6-1, led 5-2 in the second with only a point separating her from victory. A lob seemed to have given her the match, but the ball fell just over the baseline. Thus reprieved, Miss Ryan was galvanised into new life, while Mrs Godfree’s play correspondingly declined. The former won five games in succession and passed on to lead 2-0 in the final set. Mrs Godfree rallied just in time, her lethargy possibly shaken out by the effort to recover the drops of her opponent. The British player fought the last stage with renewed spirit. She made one or two perfect lobs at the psychological moment, while her volleying became increasingly firm and true

“Mrs Jessup’s fine win over Mrs Shepherd-Barron kept the contest alive. She had won the first set with a fair margin, had then tired, but made a bold effort to save the second set after Mr Shepherd-Barron was 5-1. A second reaction came. Mrs Jessup could scarcely hit the ball into the right place, and Mrs Shepher-Barron went to 4-0. Then Mrs Jessup took four games in sequence, salving a match that seemed lost irredeemably. She played all her shots with increasing confidence, especially her backhand volley, which was neatly placed.

“In the last doubles match Miss Colyer’s forehand ground strokes were a weakness to her side. She had no plain drive of any value and her efforts to substitute the drop or the lob were only rarely successful. This was a pity, because her partner was playing a brilliant game all through. After each side had won a set all the ladies made mistakes in the excitement of the struggle. But in the last two games Miss Ryan made least of all; her sharp blows at short range won many a priceless rally. Miss Browne’s service returns were comparatively weak; occasionally she passed the in-coming volleyer with a well-placed backhand drive across the court; but her forehand frequently broke down. Nevertheless, like Miss Ryan, she had the skill to direct the ball as much as possible away from Mrs Godfree and on to that almost permanent weakness – the forehand of Miss Colyer.”
-----

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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1927

August 12 and 13

Venue: West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York (outdoors on grass)

Teams

United States: Helen Wills, Molla Mallory, Helen Jacobs, Hazel Wightman (captain), Eleanor Goss, Charlotte Chapin
Great Britain: Kathleen Godfree, Joan Fry, Betty Nuthall, Ermyntrude Harvey, Gwen Sterry, Dorothy Hill

Non-playing British captain: Major Dudley Larcombe
--

United States d. Great Britain 5-2

Helen Wills d. Joan Fry (GBR) 6-2, 6-0
Molla Mallory d. Kathleen Godfree (GBR) 6-4, 6-2
Dorothy Hill (GBR)/Gwen Sterry (GBR) d. Charlotte Chapin/Eleanor Goss 5-7, 7-5, 7-5
Wills d. Godfree 6-1, 6-1
Mallory d. Fry 6-2, 11-9
Betty Nuthall (GBR) d. Helen Jacobs 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
Hazel Wightman/Wills d. Kathleen Godfree/Ermyntrude Harvey (GBR) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1928)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“The Wightman Cup, the women’s ‘Davis’, was won by America by five matches to two – a fairly substantial margin. Yet there was a crucial period on the second day when the whole issue looked as if it might swing round to the challengers – as if the history of 1925 might repeat itself. America were leading 3-2 when Joan Fry made her heroic stand against Molla Mallory. They needed but one more match for victory, and they seemed certain to secure it when the American champion, who was in wonderful form, led 5-1 in the second set, with a set in hand. To quote Sam Weller, Miss Fry looked ‘as dumb as a drum with a hole in it.’

“Mrs Mallory, however, had been hitting with ferocious speed on both wings, and (as in the famous Tilden-Cochet match at Wimbledon), physical reaction began to take its toll. Miss Fry had been retrieving all but the very best of her opponent’s shots; her weaker backhand was hardening under perpetual bombardment; Mrs Mallory attacked this wing just too often. When the pace modified, Miss Fry came into her own, and for fourteen games the sides were at equal strength.

“The English girl deserved to win the set if only because of her fine spirit; Mrs Mallory’s determination is proverbial, and her tenacity on this occasion was remarkable. She saved one set point by a service ace, and another by a penetrating drive, all the while drawing on a nervous energy which seemed to be waning. Had she lost this twenty game set, the odds would have been on the younger player. The British would then have squared the contest, and Kathleen Godfree and Ermyntrude Harvey, when opposing Hazel Wightman and Helen Wills, would possibly have keyed themselves up to capture the decisive doubles match.

“Mrs Godfree’s relative failure – she was beaten both by Miss Wills and Mrs Mallory in two sets – was due to physical incapacity. She might not have beaten either American player at her best – so finely was each attacking – but she would certainly have offered a sterner challenge. Placed on the defensive against Miss Wills, her volleying powers were comparatively sterile, while her service was treated mercilessly, the ball being hit frequently for a winning ace. Mrs Mallory’s display was less spectacular, but more tenacious, and after a close first set Mrs Godfree’s resistance weakened all round. Miss Fry could do nothing against Miss Wills except chase drives hit with maximum power and drop shots from the back of the court delicately graded.

“Betty Nuthall beat Helen Jacobs in two phases of well-timed driving, to which the errors of the Californian girl contributed points. The severity of both young players and their hardihood before a crowd of nearly 10,000 was a fascinating feature of the match; it was the most animated battle of the two days. Miss Nuthall recovered from 1-3 to 6-3 in the first set; after losing the second set before the more varied attack of Miss Jacobs, whose service was much superior, she got back her earlier form and went straight out. The ten minutes’ interval seemed to break the thread of Miss Jacobs’ game; she never recaptured her touch.

“Like Miss Nuthall, Gwen Sterry thoroughly justified her inclusion in the team. She was the quickest, least laboured, and, at the net, the most aggressive player in the first doubles match, which was won narrowly by herself and Dorothy Hill on the first day. Potentially, on the first day she appeared to hold out more promise than any of the younger competitors on either side; the large crowd in no way affected her; her inherited instinct for the game was revealed.

“Miss Wills was a much stronger player than two years ago. She used more strokes, and graded their strength and length more deceptively. She alternated a fast service with a slow, spin-invested ball; her full-blooded drives possessed a speed that no woman has equalled.”
-----

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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1928

June 15 and 16

Venue: All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon (outdoors on grass)

Teams

Great Britain: Eileen Bennett, Phoebe Holcroft-Watson, Betty Nuthall, Peggy Saunders, Ermyntrude Harvey (captain)
United States: Helen Wills, Molla Mallory, Helen Jacobs, Eleanor Goss (captain), Penelope Anderson
--

Great Britain d. USA 4-3

Eileen Bennett d. Molla Mallory (USA) 6-1, 6-3
Helen Wills d. Phoebe Holcroft-Watson 6-1, 6-2
Ermyntrude Harvey/Peggy Saunders d. Eleanor Goss (USA)/Helen Jacobs (USA) 6-4, 6-1
Holcroft-Watson d. Mallory 2-6, 6-1, 6-2
Wills d. Bennett 6-3, 6-2
Jacobs d. Betty Nuthall 6-3, 6-1
Bennett/Holcroft-Watson d. Penelope Anderson (USA)/Wills 6-2, 6-1
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1929)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“Public interest in the Wightman Cup matches increased in 1928. Its rise was indicated in the size of the crowd which watched the annual struggle at Wimbledon – as many as 10,000 were present on the second day. England owed her narrow victory by four matches to three to the even strength of her game. America’s strength was concentrated in one player.

“At the end of the first day the home team led by two matches to one, after three one-sided contests. Compared with her American form of last year in the same match, Molla Mallory was a mere shadow of herself. Eileen Bennett was able to beat her by firm control and a quiet, purposeful attack. Only in the second set, when she came within a point of 4-2, did Mrs Mallory appear to have a chance of victory.

“Helen Wills gained a sweeping win over Phoebe Holcroft-Watson. If the English player could have manoeuvred Miss Wills out of position by drop shots or bridled her speed with slow balls she might have gathered a few more games, but that is not Mrs Watson’s method. As it was, she fed Miss Wills’s driving machinery with her own fast replies.
“For the first two games in the doubles match Eleanor Goss and Helen Jacobs appeared to have the first set in sight. But when Peggy Saunders had shaken off her initial nervousness she revealed such a delicate volleying touch and such quick anticipation that her side raced to 5-2. A slight relapse followed when America took two games, but England won the set on Ermyntrude Harvey’s service at 6-4.

“At 3-0 and 40-0 down in the second set Miss Jacobs made a brave bid to stem the tide. She served finely and with a perfect lob-volley, which just sailed over her opponents’ heads, carried her side to deuce. Miss Goss made an impolitic poach and the effort was wasted in a double fault. The English pair went out serenely in the seventh game with a love service.

“On the second day Mrs Watson opposed Mrs Mallory. The crisis of the contest came in the first game of the second set. Mrs Mallory, concentrating her attack on Mrs Watson’s backhand and playing with some of her old fire, had won the first set to two. She came within easy reach of the long first game in the second set; having dropped it, her grip loosened. Mrs Watson’s forehand drive increased in power and precision, and she scored many winning drives off her opponent’s shortening length. The set went to England at 6-1. The ten minutes’ interval did not refill Mrs Mallory’s reserves. Mrs Watson drew confidence from the American’s weakening attack and went to 5-1. She won in the eighth game after Mrs Mallory, with characteristic valour, had won the seventh to love.

“In Paris, against Miss Wills, Miss Bennett had been content to defend, with no very decided plan of action. At Wimbledon she revealed her tactics early, drawing Miss Wills forward with chop and drop. The scheme answered until it had lost it novelty; it kept the side level up to 3-3. But Miss Bennett possessed no forceful drive when she had made her openings. Nevertheless, if the English girl had not the aggression of the American, she stuck to her defending task well, saving three match balls in the eighth game.

“This result placed England in front at 3-2. Miss Jacobs quickly levelled the issue. Her defeat of Betty Nuthall was not surprising. The American girl possessed a pointed and speedy service. Her ground stokes carried weight and purpose, her overhead play decision. Miss Nuthall was inaccurate both in service and drive.

“As in 1925 and 1926, the issue hung on the last doubles match. The crowd would have preferred a keen struggle; it saw the home side win in two brief sets. Miss Wills has cultivated the singles art, she has few provocative volleys for doubles. Her partner, Penelope Anderson, seemed nervous, and the English pair had a surprisingly easy task. Miss Bennett covered the net confidently, while Mrs Watson paved the way for her with firm pointed drives.”
-----

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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1929

August 8 and 9

Venue: West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York (outdoors on grass)

Teams

United States: Helen Wills, Helen Jacobs, Edith Cross, Hazel Wightman (captain)
Great Britain: Phoebe Holcroft-Watson, Betty Nuthall, Peggy Michell, Phyllis Covell (captain), Dorothy Shepherd-Barron
--

United States d. Great Britain 4-3

Helen Wills d. Phoebe Holcroft-Watson (GBR) 6-1, 6-4
Helen Jacobs d. Betty Nuthall (GBR) 7-5, 8-6
Peggy Michell (GBR)/Holcroft-Watson d. Edith Cross/Wills 6-4, 6-1
Watson d. Jacobs 6-3, 6-2
Edith Cross d. Peggy Michell 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Wills d. Nuthall 8-6, 8-6
Phyllis Covell (GBR)/Dorothy Shepherd-Barron (GBR) d. Jacobs/Hazel Wightman 6-2, 6-1
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1930)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“America regained the Wightman Cup at Forest Hills on August 8 and 9 by four matches to three. Except for one important exception the contest had a strange family likeness to that of 1925. Then, as now, American won three of the four major singles, while England won the two doubles matches with equal facility. The issue of 1925, as in 1929, turned on the result of the odd singles match, the engagement between the number threes on either side. It was won by Dorothea Lambert Chambers, the British captain, who beat Eleanor Goss in a memorable three-set encounter. Had Phyllis Covell, the British captain of 1929, followed the same line as her predecessor, England might have gained the vital fourth point.

“At the end of the first day’s play the home side led by two matches to one. Helen Wills did not have matters all her own way in the opening tie against Phoebe Holcroft-Watson, but the pace of the American champion’s drives cramped the tactics of her opponent. The invader had little time to run round her backhand; her forehand, in the first set, was disloyal. Yet in the second set she picked up from 0-2 to 2-2, and from 2-4 to 4-4, showing a pertinacious defence.

“In the second match it looked as if England would even the score when Betty Nuthall led 4-1 in the first set against Helen Jacobs. But a lead built up by vigorous and accurate driving was soon forfeited by errors which shook the English girl’s confidence. Miss Jacobs captured a sequence of five games for the set. The second set ran a similar course in favour of America. Miss Jacobs reached 5-2, only to be passed by a brilliant spurt from Miss Nuthall. But on the verge of success Miss Nuthall faltered, and, baffled by her opponent’s skilful use of the chop and lob, lost the next three games for the match.

“The doubles provided a quick victory for Mrs Watson and Peggy Michell over Miss Wills and Edith Cross – a victory gained by the better teamwork of the English pair and the more imaginative volleying of Mrs Michell.

“The second day opened with a victory for England which levelled the score at two matches-all. Mrs Watson’s conclusive victory over Miss Jacobs, after the latter led 3-2 in the first set, was due entirely to her faultless driving skill. Because her opponent used slice on so many of her ground strokes she was offered balls against which, having more time at her disposal, she could operate her fiercest drive. Moreover, Miss Jacobs, least effective on her forehand, had no ready reply to Mrs Watson’s drives on this wing. When she ventured to the net she did so at her peril.

“The next match – a victory for Miss Cross over Mrs Michell – proved the key to the contest. Unless Miss Nuthall could accomplish the downfall of Miss Wills, England had failed in her quest. Mrs Michell had the requisite strokes, but not the stamina, to defeat her American rival; in the humidity of New York, with a storm brewing, she failed to survive a three-set struggle.

“A memorable match followed in which Miss Nuthall offered the sternest resistance to Miss Wills throughout two ‘vantage sets. Indeed, not until the thirteenth game of both sets, after an initial break, could Miss Wills capture the English girl’s service. Then, in each case, she won three consecutive games for the set. Miss Nuthall’s great chance to win the second set came in the twelfth game. She had led at 5-4, but the American champion levelled with a love game. She won the eleventh by sound variation of length and pace; in the twelfth, amid tense excitement, she pulled up from 15-40 to deuce, only to lose the next two points – one by a netted service return.

“In checking the destructive speed of Miss Wills, Miss Nuthall adopted the same plan as René Lacoste when he opposed William Tilden. That is to say, by varying the length and pace of her drives, and by employing a judicious drop shot, she drew her opponent away from her familiar driving base. Yet Miss Nuthall lacked sufficient experience to take advantage of her strategic openings.

“The last match proved a runaway victory for Mrs Covell and Dorothy Shepherd-Barron over Hazel Wightman and Miss Jacobs. Alert, resourceful and armed at all points, the winning pair teamed well together. But the fate of the Wightman Cup was then decided, and perhaps Miss Jacobs was conscious of the fact.”
-----

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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1930

Venue: All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon (outdoors on grass)

Teams

Great Britain: Joan Fry, Phoebe Holcroft-Watson (captain), Phyllis Mudford, Ermyntrude Harvey
United States: Helen Wills Moody (captain), Helen Jacobs, Sarah Palfrey, Edith Cross
--

Great Britain d. United States 4-3

Helen Wills Moody (USA) d. Joan Fry 6-1, 6-1
Phoebe Holcroft-Watson d. Helen Jacobs (USA) 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
Fry/Ermyntrude Harvey d. Edith Cross (USA)/Sarah Palfrey (USA) 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
Jacobs d. Fry 6-0, 6-3
Wills Moody d. Holcroft-Watson 7-5, 6-1
Phyllis Mudford d. Sarah Palfrey 6-0, 6-2
Kathleen Godfree/Holcroft-Watson d. Jacobs/Wills Moody 7-5, 1-6, 6-4
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1931)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“After a close and exciting finish, England defeated America at Wimbledon by four matches to three. In regaining the Wightman Cup from its founders the winners brought the record level at four matches-all.

“At the end of the first day’s play England led by two matches to one. In the opening tie against Helen Wills Moody, Joan Fry could only snatch two games. Her high-bounding service invited the summary treatment, which it generally received; her backhand guard was often broken through by the merciless pace of Mrs Moody.

“In the second match it looked as if America would score another victory when Helen Jacobs won the first set easily from Phoebe Holcroft-Watson. Fortunately for British chances, Mrs Watson regained her driving accuracy at the beginning of the second set and, racing the American from side to side, built a solid foundation for a final victory. After the ten minutes’ interval Miss Jacobs’ stamina proved unequal to the task of returning the Englishwoman’s steady blows; she rallied pluckily from 2-4 to 4-4, but in the last two games Mrs Watson clearly out-generalled her.

“With the countries level, the first doubles contest between Miss Fry and Ermyntrude Harvey and Edith Cross and Sarah Palfrey became of considerable importance. America opened well, profiting by her parallel net attack, but when Miss Harvey’s cleverly disguised smashes began to operate the countries were soon on level terms. In the final set, Miss Cross and Miss Palfrey reached 3-1 before the English pair, making a concerted attack from the net and the baseline, rallied to carry the set and the match at 6-4.

“The second day opened with a quick triumph for America which brought the countries level at two matches-all. Miss Fry’s driving and, much of it straight down the court, proved to have no terrors for Miss Jacobs; she won a rather dull battle with the loss of only three games.

“Mrs Moody placed America in front after a duel with Mrs Watson which had an amazing first chapter. Hitting all round the court with extraordinary power and precision, and drawing the American forward with slower and shorter shots, Mrs Watson actually led 5-0 in the first set. Try as she would, Mrs Moody could not counter the Englishwoman’s speedy blows; if she came to the net she was coolly lobbed or passed; at the back of the court her own paceful returns added fuel to Mrs Watson’s fires. But in the sixth game, raising the arc of her drives, the American champion offered her opponent a much less animated ball.

“Now required to create her own pace, Mrs Watson’s aim faltered and her backhand defence began to crumble. Nevertheless, the Englishwoman continued to play well enough to earn two set balls in the tenth game and a third ‘vantage point was lost when, drawn to the net, she failed to tap the ball over with Mrs Moody anchored in a losing position many yards away. After her great assault, which had nearly made history, Mrs Watson won only one more game. The seven in sequence with which her opponent saved the first set was a fine reprisal. It stamped Mrs Moody as a great singles match player.

“Another surprise followed – the quick and decisive win of Phyllis Mudford, making her debut on the Centre Court, over Miss Palfrey. The English girl played with convincing judgment and skill throughout the match and any attempt on the part of her opponent to storm the net was rendered abortive by her clean passing shots. A little disheartened by the ill success of her volleying sorties, Miss Palfrey’s ground stroke and service control also began to weaken – in the second set she helped England’s cause by many double faults.

“The decisive doubles match, between Kathleen Godfree and Mrs Watson and Mrs Moody and Miss Jacobs, allied for the first time, was played amid tense excitement. The rust on Mrs Godfree’s racket was palpable at first; none of the old strokes would go the right way and, despite the back court steadiness of Mrs Watson, the Americans were soon 4-1. But they had advanced more by individual stroke play than by a cooperative assault.

“When Mrs Godfree, inspired by a wonderfully safe partner, had recovered her volleying touch, the sides were soon level at 4-4. In the ninth game the players were momentarily worried by an error on the part of the umpire, who called the score wrong. The mistake was corrected – unfortunately it was against America –and the invaders won the game to lead, 5-4. Mrs Godfree volleyed well to win the tenth game, and in the twelfth Miss Jacobs’ service was broken through (for the third time) for the set.

“Undismayed, the Americans raced through the second set to one, both invaders playing with great verve and enterprise. In the final set England, although caught twice never allowed America to lead. Mrs Moody’s service was captured for 2-0 and again in the sixth game for 4-2, although Miss Jacobs won her delivery for 4-4. There were some tense and breathless rallies, with the Americans a little inclined to go for the same ball. England finally got the lead at 5-4 and, with Mrs Moody serving a double fault, which she redeemed with an ace, Mrs Watson and Mrs Godfree carried the tenth game from thirty – and with it the Wightman Cup.”
-----

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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1931

August 7 and 8

Venue: West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York (outdoors on grass)

Teams

United States: Helen Wills Moody, Helen Jacobs, Anna Harper, Sarah Palfrey, Hazel Wightman (captain)
Great Britain: Phyllis Mudford, Betty Nuthall, Dorothy Round, Dorothy Shepherd-Barron (captain), Eileen Fearnley-Whittingstall
--

United States d. Great Britain 5-2

Helen Wills Moody d. Phyllis Mudford (GBR) 6-1, 6-4
Helen Jacobs d. Betty Nuthall (GBR) 8-6, 6-4
Anna Harper d. Dorothy Round (GBR) 6-3, 4-6, 9-7
Wills Moody d. Nuthall 6-4, 6-2
Jacobs d. Mudford 6-4, 6-2
Mudford/Dorothy Shepherd-Barron (GBR) d. Sarah Palfrey/Hazel Wightman 6-4, 10-8
Eileen Fearnley-Whittingstall (GBR)/Nuthall d. Harper/Wills Moody 8-6, 5-7, 6-3
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1932)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“England lost to America at Forest Hills on August 7 and 8 by five matches to two. The defending team failed to win any of the five singles – only one set in eleven was credited to it. Possibly a novelty in the arrangement of the programme – the relegation of both doubles to the last day – gave a moral advantage to America. In all of the eight previous Wightman Cup contests, four on each side of the Atlantic, one doubles match has been decided on the first day and one on the second. Had this plan been followed in 1930, England would probably have begun Saturday’s programme only one match down instead of three.

“Since Helen Wills Moody’s two singles victories were practically assured before a ball had been struck, the key matches for the English team were the tilts of Betty Nuthall and Phyllis Mudford against Helen Jacobs, and Dorothy Round’s contest against Anna Harper in the third singles. In the opening tie Miss Mudford snatched five games from Mrs Moody. She never appeared discouraged by an uphill task but, like Miss Nuthall on the following day, lacked the capacity to change or strengthen a game that was undermined by the force opposed to it.

“Miss Nuthall began so confidently against Miss Jacobs in the next match that England was soon ahead at 4-0 and 5-1. But the Californian had yet to find her range. When she did so, mixing her chop with a plain drive and using the whole court to conquer Miss Nuthall’s robust hitting, Miss Jacobs had soon drawn level at 5-5 after a set point in her opponent’s favour at 5-4. The English girl went ahead again at 6-5, but the effort, in devitalising heat, taxed her stamina, and she had to yield the set at 8-6. In the second set, still handicapped by a disloyal service, Miss Nuthall never got a lead. She pulled up from 2-5, to 4-5, then a desire to smash down opposition by a single blow rather than work for a winning coup, proved fatal to her cause.

“In a final set of sixteen games Miss Round had five match points before losing to Mrs Harper. In this set the English girl made a plucky pull-up from 0-4 down, when her driving was under perfect control on both wings. But in critical games she seemed to lack the finishing thrusts.

“In the decisive fourth match on Saturday Miss Mudford gained a promising 4-2 lead against Miss Jacobs. The next four games, each desperately close, just eluded her. By this time the American had found her best touch, proving stubborn in defence and withering in attack. Miss Mudford lost the tenth game for the set from fifteen; although she made her opponent work for every point in the second set, the visitor only gathered two more games.

“Meeting Mrs Moody on a court where two years earlier she had carried the American to two ‘vantage sets, Miss Nuthall won four games in the first set and two in the second. She played a more restrained game than against Miss Jacobs, but her strokes had not the variety nor the guile to seriously embarrass her opponent. It was obvious from the match that Mrs Moody’s practice with men in California – not professionals but amateurs who taxed her brain power with unfamiliar situations – had stimulated her tactical skill.

“Although England’s two doubles victories came too late, they proved again that the cultivation of mixed doubles competition in this country trains our women to play more forcible strokes and to acquire greater resource than their American rivals, who concentrate mostly on women’s doubles.

“Dorothy Shepherd-Barron and Miss Mudford lost the first three games to Hazel Wightman and Miss Palfrey before capturing the set at 6-4. The second set, lasting for an hour, was full of fluctuating phases. The home team won two games to love for a 3-2 lead; then the games went with service until the eighteenth, when Mrs Wightman’s was finally captured for the match, after the Americans had saved two match points in the fourteenth and sixteenth games. Had Mrs Wightman and her partner directed their attack away from Miss Mudford at the back of the court, they might have carried the second set, for Mrs Shepherd-Barron was inclined to mis-time her volleys.

“The man-like smashing and brilliant volleying of Eileen Fearnley-Whittingstall were the features of the last match against Mrs Moody and Mrs Harper. Miss Nuthall gave her partner firm driving support, but was still inclined to double fault. Mrs Harper was the weak link in the American side, and the English team wisely directed their attack upon her in the final set. Mrs Whittingstall ended the match on her service with a wonderful smash, and the spectators showed their appreciation of a tense struggle by hurling cushions and programmes into the arena.”
-----

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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1932

June 10 and 11

Venue: All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon (outdoors on grass)

Teams

United States: Helen Wills Moody (captain), Helen Jacobs, Anna Harper, Sarah Palfrey
Great Britain: Dorothy Round, Eileen Fearnley-Whttingstall, Phyllis King, Betty Nuthall

Non-playing British captain: Dorothy Shepherd-Barron
--

United States d. Great Britain 4-3

Helen Jacobs (USA) d. Dorothy Round 6-4, 6-3
Helen Wills Moody (USA) d. Eileen Fearnley-Whittingstall 6-2, 6-4
Anna Harper (USA)/Jacobs d. Peggy Michell/Round 6-4, 6-1
Will Moody d. Round 6-2, 6-3
Fearnley-Whittingstall d. Jacobs 6-4, 2-6, 6-1
Michell d. Harper 3-6, 6-3 6-1
Fearnley-Whittingstall/Betty Nuthall d. Sarah Palfrey (USA)/Wills Moody 6-3, 1-6, 10-8
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1933)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“The Wightman Cup went back to America. Its destination for another year was determined on the first day (June 10) when America, regarding victory as the supreme objective, just as Gene Sarazen had done at Sandwich, concentrated on the vital moves. Then three matches out of the four necessary for success were secured. On Saturday, without a check, the fourth was added, and the whole world across the seas knew by cable and radio that American women had triumphed over British women without the loss of a set. Eight sets to none! Three matches were played after this depressing verdict, and all were won by the home team. It was a laudable effort to restore British prestige, but it came too late. A record Centre Court crowd for the Wightman Cup matches cheered those who launched it.

“Not to mince matters (the ‘Daily Telegraph’ correspondent [Wallis Myers] observed), the British challengers suffered a débâcle. They were not without the strokes to offer a level fight to an opposition which was certainly not stronger than other international teams which have come to the Centre Court from the States. They had the advantage of a home surface and a home crowd – and no gallery in the world is more tolerant to those who come before it than Wimbledon’s.

“In all the first three matches one saw the same failing – halting play when a cool aim and unfaltering nerve were demanded; opportunities for scoring missed when the opening was yawning in front; double faults, which meant points presented to an inactive opponent; and – what was really disquieting – an inability to make the moral response to a rally on the part of the enemy.

“It would not be fair to place all the blame, or, indeed, most of it, on the players themselves. The composition of the British team did not encourage confidence in the lawn tennis world generally. There were young players omitted who, at Wimbledon and elsewhere, had shown not only greater steadiness under fire, but a sounder knowledge of tactics and a firmer power to face a crisis before a large gallery. These girls may have been younger or less experienced; they had exhibited to sound judges of the game who had played with them a match-winning capacity under nerve-testing conditions.

“If the selectors considered that the best available team was put into the court, then they admitted that the lawn tennis talent in this country was lower than that of other countries with less promising material, fewer facilities for play, and less youthful ardour ripe for sympathetic guidance. There was no excuse for the poor exhibition on the first day unless it concerned the system of choosing, organising and training teams.

“The First Day

“In the first match Helen Jacobs was obviously an inferior stroke-maker to Dorothy Round. She had no stroke on her forehand at all menacing; she only had a defensive chop. Her backhand was more orthodox, and when the line shot was offered to her she made it with inflexible will. But Miss Round had a much finer backhand, since she could place it at will, while she added to it a forehand of considerable speed. Unfortunately the English girl, having practised against strokes very similar to her own, could not coordinate them to meet a ‘slowing-up’ game like that which Miss Jacobs purposely pursued – a game which Anna Harper found effective against Miss Round in New York in 1931.

“Instead of using her best length drives as forcing shots for a net attack – and Miss Jacobs had few passing shots at her command – Miss Round remained at the back of the court where, asked to create her own pace, her errors accumulated and her cause faded. Not only did she lose valuable points by double faults, she stimulated her opponent just when her physical condition, less secure than Miss Round’s, was beginning to distress her.

“It must not be inferred that Miss Round did not win many of the long rallies. Her fault was that she was unreliable in the rallies that really mattered – those, for example, which gave the Americans a 5-3 lead in the first set. Miss Jacobs always seemed to be feeding on good fortune – that is, on the tactical errors of her adversary. She had several bad patches, notably in the ninth game, which she lost to love. But when she saw the set-winning points coming – that is, when she had to deliver the goods – hers was the mailed fist and the confidence.

“In the second match, as in Paris, Helen Wills Moody did not reveal her championship quality until she was faced with the loss of a set. Eileen Fearnley-Whittingstall had been unlucky not to win more than two games in the first set – for she was playing confidently and making any number of pleasing strokes. But in the second set, catching her opponent with a lowered guard, she struck with unexpected power and accuracy, using her service as a battering ram. She took the first four games and missed a fairly easy chance for a 40-0 lead in the fifth game.

“Mrs Moody’s smoothly running game, with its rhythm of swing and grace, had been thwarted at Auteuil in the same way – but only for a period. It required a continuity of effort and mobility to do more than dent her shield – and this Mrs Fearnley-Whittingstall, despite her plucky attempt, could not apply. Once the champion began to unmask all her guns she saved the set in sequence games without further parley, although her opponent came within a stroke of 5-2. Again, precious points were presented to the invader by errors of timing which a greater match-player would not have committed.

“The depressed home galleries had to be content with their one thrill – the prospect of Mrs Moody losing her first set on the Centre Court since she became champion. They found nothing to stimulate them in the doubles match unless it was the clever left-handed volleys of Mrs Harper. Peggy Michell and Miss Round started on level terms, but finished a defeated and almost demoralised pair. Over the last few games a veil had better be drawn; mistakes multiplied on the English side. Mrs Michell is a fine doubles player, but her partner gave her no effective support –and as Miss Round got worse so Mrs Michell declined in sympathy.

“The Second Day

“Many club and school champions swelled the crowd at Wimbledon on Saturday; it was delightful to hear their spontaneous applause. They had an ideal day for watching, for the sun on the exposed seats was not too searching, and the arrangements for the matches, under Mr Dudley Larcombe’s management, were in every way admirable. Some aesthetically-minded spectators did not fall in love with the new uniform of the ball boys. They preferred the old with the All-England colours, and they would probably have voted in favour of the Basque attire of the lightning-like youths who field in the wings of the Auteuil court. But probably the majority had eyes for none of these details.

“Miss Round did not find Mrs Moody’s easy-flowing strokes, firmly controlled though they were, nearly so disturbing to her security as those of Miss Jacobs. This was to be expected, because one can often play better against an adversary whom one is not expected to beat, and who, conscious of that knowledge herself, does not press her claims unduly.

“Mrs Moody’s favourite shot is a backhand drive across the court to her opponent’s backhand corner, and here she was aiming at Miss Round’s strength. Staunchly did the English girl defend this ‘blockhouse’; she gave nearly as good as she got. But she struck too many balls back to a place where Mrs Moody expected them to come. She did not do what Gwen Sterry did in a championship match on the same court against the same player, when she won a set by her enterprise – attempted to conclude these backhand diagonal exchanges with a shot of half-court length down the forehand line. This was Suzanne Lenglen’s plan at Cannes and it had the effect of forcing Miss Wills (as she was then) to run diagonally forward to make a low stroke on her forehand.

“It is true that the American, since coached by Howard Kinsey, has now acquired a lifting forehand shot suitable for such an emergency; but on Saturday, with feet still blistered (as was shown more clearly in the subsequent doubles match), she did not want to start too often for a new coup. Miss Round won two games in the first set and three in the second, deserving every one of them, and in securing them playing any number of beautiful drives. But Mrs Moody was relentless in defence, and even after she had given a hostage to fortune, since she was obviously tiring under the strain. It was clear that in a sheer driving duel with Mrs Moody Miss Round must, with her longer and more deliberate swing, which she also adopted for her service, suffer eclipse against a player who hits an earlier-rising ball, and gains in time and prevents physical reaction by that habit.

“The match between Mrs Fearnley-Whittingstall and Miss Jacobs, which gave England her first victory, had not the same sustained brilliance as the struggle between these two in the American championship in 1931. Then both were inspired, and each saved match balls in a hectic finish at Forest Hills. After winning the close first set – not without some anxious moments – Mrs Fearnley-Whittingstall wisely let the second go, when Miss Jacobs had, by supreme steadiness and concentration, taken a long lead.

“The ten minutes’ interval gave the English girl time to recharge her batteries, run down by producing a service of withering speed. She came back to command the situation. Attack was her keynote, and the exposure of Miss Jacobs’ forehand limitations her aim. She did not permit the chop to deaden her pace; she did not give Miss Jacobs the short length which enables the American to slice down the rising ball in front of her. Some delightful volleys were complements to sound ground work.

“The last singles match on the card brought another success to England. Phyllis King, making her first appearance in the match, required a set for reconciliation to the combination of stabs and balloon shots to which Mrs Harper treated her. The American played very shrewdly, and by skilfully graded length drew her opponent forward for the winning thrust. Mrs King, however, is not easily discouraged; she has valuable moral reserves. In the next two sets, although challenged all the way, she hammered away remorselessly until Mrs Harper’s length began to fade, while her own improved. The second set was the tougher; after the interval Mrs King hit her way home with firm control.

“There followed a double match in which excitement steadily mounted until the climax brought a real thrill. Mrs Moody and Miss Sarah Palfrey were not a well-balanced couple when they opened fire, whereas Mrs Fearnley-Whittingstall and Betty Nuthall, moving forward in line and sharpening their blades in the process, had confidence and success to inspire them. Except in Miss Palfrey’s two services games, when the junior aimed the blows with her first or second ball, the Americans could not win a game.

“In the second set the British visibly reacted, and Miss Palfrey emerged as the best player on court. While her defence was remarkably firm she scored many points by attacking volleys taken on the run – shots of a real champion. Mrs Moody was commendably steady on the return of service, but her own service lacked fire, and most of the brilliant strokes came from the racket of her partner.

“Enlarging their break of games, the Americans came within a point of a 3-0 lead in the final set. This vital, long third game, with Mrs Moody serving, was gallantly won by the British. Then the battle for mastery quickened and the pendulum swung backwards and forwards. When Miss Palfrey lost her first service game, for the British to lead 5-4, it seemed a fatal concession, but it was only one of many crises. In the tenth game Mrs Fearnley-Whittingstall lost the first point by foot-faulting and the third by double-faulting; the Americans took it to love.

“But with England leading 6-5 Miss Nuthall, to be in the fashion, must also double fault. Miss Palfrey, serving a fine ace, put her country ahead at 7-6. Miss Nuthall won the fourteenth game off her own racket by daring volleying. By this time the ball chest was exhausted; the quartet seemed glad of the interval while fresh supplies were obtained. Their advent brought good fortune to England. Mrs Moody’s service, a lone deuce game, was captured in spite of three lobs from Mrs Fearnely-Whittingstall which sailed out of court. Miss Nuthall took charge of the sixteenth game; her volleying was irresistible.

“If every set in the Wightman Cup could have been as exciting as the last, women’s lawn tennis would draw the town. The two players previously engaged in singles were naturally less active than their respective partners, who were fresh. Miss Nuthall and Miss Palfrey both gave a splendid exhibition.”
-----

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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1933

August 4 and 5

Venue: West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York (outdoors on grass)

Teams

United States: Helen Jacobs, Sarah Palfrey, Carolin Babcock, Alice Marble, Marjorie Van Ryn
Great Britain: Dorothy Round, Peggy Scriven, Betty Nuthall, Mary Heeley, Freda James

Non-playing captains: Helen Wills Moody (USA); Malcolm Horn (GBR)
--

United States d. Great Britain 4-3

Helen Jacobs d. Dorothy Round (GBR) 6-4, 6-2
Sarah Palfrey d. Peggy Scriven (GBR) 6-3, 6-1
Jacobs/Palfrey d. Mary Heeley (GBR)/Round 6-4, 6-2
Betty Nuthall (GBR) d. Carolin Babcock 1-6, 6-1, 6-3
Round d. Palfrey 6-4, 10-8
Jacobs d. Scriven 5-7, 6-2, 7-5
Freda James (GBR)/Nuthall d. Alice Marble/Marjorie Van Ryan 7-5, 6-2
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1934)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“America won the Wightman Cup without Helen Wills Moody and with the aid of new substitutes; her credit is the greater on that account. But it is equally true to say that England lost the Wightman Cup by a stroke or two; in that respect, after a gallant recovery on the second day, England was unlucky.

“How are we to account for the remarkable disparity in form which the British women revealed on the two days? They were routed on the first day, failing to win a single set in three matches; on the second day, requiring four successive victories to turn the tables, they all but succeeded. I think (suggest A.W.M. in ‘The Daily Telegraph’) psychological influences, to which women may be more sensitive than men, were the main cause.

“The prologue of the contest was strangely disturbing. Mrs Moody, the American captain, was not practising with her team; rumours were rife about her health. The haze was increased when Alice Marble, America’s third string, was declared hors de combat; an attacking player, she had virtually collapsed after waging three finals on the same day at Easthampton at an invitation tournament. These sudden casualties on the American side had their reaction on the British side. Tactical plans, carefully rehearsed, had to be changed abruptly. The modifications may have changed the morale of the whole team. In tendering their sympathy to the American captain the visiting players may have lost some of their concentration.

“Now, of all the world’s match arenas, Forest Hills requires more concentration than any other. The crowd is exclusively urban; it is much more detached from the players than the Wimbledon crowd; it is not so national as the French crowd; it always comes to see a fight to the finish.

“Conceivably, in feeling sorry for the American team, the British team had their guard a little weakened. They were unprepared possibly for the storming play of Helen Jacobs and Sarah Palfrey on the first day – girls inspired by the thought that in Mrs Moody’s absence they could yet show their mettle. The public would be as unprepared for this reprisal as the visitors. Doubtless they demonstrated their delight; the British ordeal would have the extra handicap of disillusion. Possibly the voice of the radio reporter, describing the matches to the outer world, could be heard by the girls battling on court. The clicking of the journalists’ typewriters, only a few yards from the sidelines, would also be audible. These and other distractions are unknown at Wimbledon. We must not condemn them at Forest Hills; variety is the spice of life; players like Betty Nuthall were inured to them by previous visits.

“On the second day familiarity would have bred contempt. The British girls would be under no delusion about the calibre of their opponents; true to type, they would have their backs to the wall. The court had probably improved under foot traffic; the wind had dropped, the heat abated. Every game, almost every point, was now precious; concentration would be imperative.

“In the first match Dorothy Round won six games from Miss Jacobs. The court favoured the sinister chops of the American; it also upset Miss Round’s preconceived plan of attacking her opponent’s forehand and coming to the net. The bad bounds seemed to disturb Miss Round more than Miss Jacobs. It was a dull, uninspiring contest.

“The match between Peggy Scriven and Miss Palfrey was brighter. The little Boston girl, responding in the confidence placed in her by her mentor – the donor of the Cup – sped to victory almost before she had realised the race had begun. Miss Palfrey played better than she ever had in England. The pace on her forehand drives almost made Miss Scriven’s look slow. Several canny drop shots helped her to win the first set at 6-3; the second was America’s all the way.

“Miss Palfrey, partnered by Miss Jacobs, was also the heroine of the doubles match against Miss Round and Mary Heeley. She was always ready with a deft and finishing volley, and very few of her smashes ever came back. The English pair did not combine well, and Miss Heeley, usually so dependable on her ground strokes, was woefully erratic. The first day’s play closed with America leading by three matches to love.
“Second Day’s Play

“The English team made a great fight on the second day. Miss Nuthall brought England her first victory when, after a shaky start, she beat Carolin Babcock. In the first set the court was too small for Miss Nuthall and her old weakness of double faults returned. Then, steadying herself with commendable control, she won the next two sets almost as easily as she had lost the first.

“Miss Round, recovered from her depression of the first day, beat Miss Palfrey in two close sets. The English girl might have won sooner if she had played less to the forehand wing of her opponent. Then came the crucial match of the series – Miss Scriven against Miss Jacobs. They were meeting for the first time – what a memorable première! A set apiece, Miss Scriven led 3-1 and 5-3 in the final set. In the next two games, both grimly snatched by Miss Jacobs, Miss Scriven came within two points of the match. In the tenth game at 30-all the English girl drove out and then netted after one of the longest rallies of the match. Further she could not go; her physical reserves, unlike her moral reserves, were inadequate. The saving of the first set from 5-2 down had meant a big drain on stamina. In the crisis the defensive strokes of Miss Jacobs, more automatic and less tiring, came into their own; she was the more experienced general and could play the waiting game to perfection.

“England won the last match to lose by the odd match in seven. Miss Nuthall and Freda James blended well together, Miss Nuthall cutting short many rallies at the net and her partner keeping the back of the court covered. Miss Marble, prevented from playing in the singles from a collapse due to the heatwave, was able to partner Marjorie Van Ryn in this match. Both Americans were erratic, but even at their best they would have had a formidable task to beat the English girls.”
-----

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