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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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 in 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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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
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
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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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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
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
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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 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
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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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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
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)
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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
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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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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
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
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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
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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 America 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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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
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
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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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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
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
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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
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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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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
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
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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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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
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)
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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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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1934

June 15 and 16

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

Teams

United States: Helen Jacobs (captain), Sarah Palfrey, Carolin Babcock, Josephine Cruickshank
Great Britain: Dorothy Round, Peggy Scriven, Betty Nuthall, Kathleen Godfree
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United States d. Great Britain 5-2

Sarah Palfrey (USA) d. Dorothy Round 6-3, 3-6, 8-6
Helen Jacobs (USA) d. Peggy Scriven 6-1, 6-1
Evelyn Dearman/Nancy Lyle d. Carolin Babccok (USA)/Josephine Cruickshank (USA) 7-5 7-5
Jacobs d. Round 6-4, 6-4
Palfrey d. Scriven 4-6, 6-2, 8-6
Betty Nuthall d. Babcock 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
Jacobs/Palfrey d. Kathleen Godfree/Nuthall 5-7, 6-3, 6-2
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1935)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“Wimbledon, June 15 and 16. – America won the Wightman Cup for the fourth successive year. The verdict was five matches to two.

“The visitors’ victory was gained conclusively by two players – Miss Helen Jacobs and Miss Sarah Palfrey. Both were unbeaten. Each won two singles, against Dorothy Round and Peggy Scriven in turn; in partnership they defeated Kathleen Godfree and Betty Nuthall. It was a most laudable record, especially as in four of these five contests they had to face and overcome critical situations.

“The legend that America without Helen Wills Moody would be at the mercy of England was exploded at Forest Hills in 1933, when Miss Jacobs and Miss Palfrey, rising to the occasion, also won all the matches for their country. They employed then, as at Wimbledon, the element of the surprise attack; their service scored when it was most needed; they kept their best in reserve for a crucial finish that might develop

“Between five and six thousand people watched Miss Round battling for an hour and a half against Miss Palfrey on the opening day. It was a long struggle and after both had won a set at the same score it came to a thrilling climax, each player leading in turn. But the tennis was not of the highest quality. Neither was at her best at the same time; there were breaks of games gained by losing shots rather than by winning. Of the two, Miss Palfrey was undoubtedly the more versatile and the better general. Miss Round only employed her ground shots, and while these were strong enough at intervals to check the designs of her opponent, she needed the compliment of a net attack. Nor was Miss Round’s service, except in the first game, the weapon of attack that Miss Palfrey’s was to the critical phases of the final set.

“After the English girl was 3-1 in the first set – and she made one of her rare volleys to clinch the fourth game – Miss Palfrey took six games in sequence, and almost the seventh as well. Miss Round was slipping at times on the new turf, and changed her shoes to gain a firmer footing, but during this fine break the American was in command of the court. She had the wider range of strokes and used them; and in her varying pace, now a plain drive and then a chop, coming into the net when she saw the opening, she looked at this stage to have the match in hand. Then it was Miss Palfrey’s turn to falter, to over-drive or to net. Miss Round again went to 3-1 and soon to 4-2, and this time she did not forfeit her lead. The games were long and well contested, and Miss Palfrey’s service was gaining speed, but Miss Round, now more confident, drew level in the ninth game.

“In the final set the visitor played some perfect games, notably in the fourth, which carried her to 3-1. Yet when she had gone to 5-3 by winning her service to love, she was a long way from victory. Miss Round was not discouraged even by a double fault in the ninth game, and some steady driving under pressure and a few too hurried returns by her opponent brought the score level at 5-all. Then Miss Round double-faulted with new balls, lost the vital thirteenth game, and Miss Palfrey, cool and confident, served her way home in the next. She deserved her triumph.

“Miss Jacobs, looking very athletic in shorts, defeated Miss Scriven with the loss of only two games – one in each set. The hollowness of the result – it was virtually a rout –came as a complete surprise. Only in the last game, when all was apparently lost, did Miss Scriven hold the American champion. The Paris match between these two did not prove a reliable guide to a grass court contest. Miss Scriven could never get her teeth into the match, and the fact that she also served double faults only added to her troubles. On a faster and harder surface, with the ball bounding higher, she must have done better. It was an ideal floor for the chops and drops of Miss Jacobs.

“All four players in the doubles match were new to the Centre Court. In spite of this they played well and fought hard. Josephine Cruickshank was better off the ground than Carolin Babcock, and Nancy Lyle was more consistent than Evelyn Dearman, who took some time to find her bearings. The English pair won both sets from a losing position; they were even within a point of actually losing both. They saved the first set from 3-1 and 5-4 down, and the second – a really fine effort – from 5-2 down. All the time Miss Lyle was the best player on the court. She did not lose a service game, and the fact that being at the back for most of the time, she was a constant target, made her dependability the most essential. It was her coolness and judgment that saved both sets.

“The Second Day

“The crowd was double on Saturday, and 10,000 spectators saw four close matches, all of them fought with ardour and courage.

“After Miss Jacobs had beaten Miss Round in two ten-game sets, thus putting America three up with three to play, Miss Palfrey and Miss Scriven took the court with the knowledge that all might depend on their encounter. If the little Bostonian won, the Cup went back to America; if Miss Scriven won, there was still hope for England. The court was harder and faster than on the previous day. It had been tightened by foot traffic, and a hot sun had dried the moisture on the new blades of grass. The balls were whiter and bounded higher. This factor braced Miss Scriven; she opened much more confidently than against Miss Jacobs. Moreover, Miss Palfrey’s orthodox drives were more like Simone Mathieu’s; they did not carry top or underspin, many of them were attacking shots, carrying the element of risk.

“Miss Scriven won the first set in the tenth game. Her opponent had much the better service – a real blow compared with the tap of Miss Scriven – but it was not then under consistent control. Moreover, the English girl, by varied pace and length, often drew Miss Palfrey forward to handle low balls on the run, and this brought errors. But in the second set one saw genius revealed. Miss Scriven was outplayed and could only win two games. There was the Lenglen touch about Miss Palfrey; she seemed to be almost standing still while the other girl was racing round the court. There was the beautiful precision of Lenglen, the manoeuvring for position without strain, the certainty of the finishing stroke. In one respect the American girl excelled the French. She had a service that could score outright by its controlled speed.

“It was this weapon, used dramatically when all seemed lost, that saved Miss Palfrey in the remarkable third set. Miss Scriven had gone to 5-1. She was not making many winning shots; her best coup was a fast forehand drive into the corners off a lofted, sliced return. Miss Palfrey was using a new racket brought out by her captain. Her second-set skill had gone and she looked to be throwing the match away.

“Then, in the seventh game, with her opponent serving, Miss Scriven came to match point. The odds against the American were almost incalculable; no doubt Miss Scriven shared this view. Without a sign of strain, unconscious of the expectant crowd, Miss Palfrey served three balls in sequence that were not meant to come back. This reprisal seemed to shake her adversary; Miss Scriven served two double faults at the start of the eighth game. Again Miss Palfrey made her service prevail. A love game took her to 4-5, and she captured the tenth from 15, drawing level. Miss Palfrey had lost only three points since defeat was imminent. In its coolness and its sustained tactical deftness the recovery was perfect.

“Another love game – how swift the change! – carried Miss Palfrey to 6-5. She now dominated the court completely. But she faltered in the twelfth game, and English hopes revived when Miss Scriven won it to love. Then the service disparity came in again. Miss Palfrey recovered the attack and kept it to the end. Her volleying was both dainty and decisive; a net-cord may have given her one point; she deserved all the others. Under a tightening pressure Miss Scriven drove out in the fourteenth game to lose it at 15.

“Of a higher quality, although its finish was less tense, was the struggle between Miss Jacobs and Miss Round. There were some magnificent rallies in it, for which both girls were out to hustle the other at the net, and mobility was often strained to breaking point. Miss Round, having more time to swing than against Miss Palfrey because of her opponent’s chop, drove firmly and often with fine length. She was less happy with low bounding balls near the service line. Here she seemed to need the Palfrey touch, and where smashing was concerned Miss Jacobs generally made the firmer and faster kill.

“In the end the American won both sets at 6-4. She led 5-2 in the first and was nearly caught; Miss Round had a point to level the score. It was a most spirited duel to watch. In the second set, far from reacting, Miss Round went to 3-1. At this stage Miss Jacobs looked the more fatigued. Perhaps the memory of her great and successful fight with Mrs Moody a year earlier supplied the requisite urge. In spite of Miss Round’s startling resistance the American drew level and advanced to 5-3.

“In the ninth game – and Mr Richard N. Williams and the American Davis Cup team had entered the stands in time to see it – Miss Round halted her opponent after a palpitating incident. She had returned a ball under pressure that fell vertically on the top of the net and quivered there for three seconds until at last it fell on Miss Jacobs’ court. This net-cord and the three vital service aces for Miss Palfrey will long be remembered.

“The die was, of course, cast when Miss Nuthall met Miss Babcock. This was a close fight characterised by much hard hitting on both sides. Miss Nutahll lost the first set after leading 5-2 – possibly she was still conscious of Miss Scriven’s experience. But she took the next two sets from three and four respectively in spite of slipping occasionally on the turf. Her drives carried a little more pace than those of the American girl; she won by ramming the ball home more often.

“Miss Nuthall had to follow on almost immediately in the doubles match. In the first two sets, before reaction came, her backhand drives down the middle and her volleying thrusts won many rallies, while Mrs Godfree was returning the service well and intercepting with her famous lunge volleys. In the end the Americans prevailed. Miss Jacobs served better in the third set than in any other, and when Miss Nuthall’s service was twice broken through the end was in sight.

“Princess Helena Victoria, escorted by Sir Herbert Wilberforce, went down to the Centre Court to present the Wightman Cup filled with roses to the winning captain. She warmly congratulated Miss Jacobs, and afterwards each member of both teams was presented.”
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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1935

August 16 and 17

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

Teams

United States: Helen Jacobs, Ethel Arnold, Sarah Fabyan, Dorothy Andrus, Carolin Babcock
Great Britain: Kay Stammers, Dorothy Round, Phyllis King, Freda James, Evelyn Dearman, Nancy Lyle

Non-playing captain: Hazel Wightman (USA)
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United States d. Great Britain 4-3

Kay Stammers (GBR) d. Helen Jacobs 5-7, 6-1, 9-7
Dorothy Round (GBR) d. Ethel Arnold 6-0, 6-3
Sarah Fabyan/Jacobs d. Freda James (GBR)/Stammers 6-3, 6-2
Fabyan d. Phyllis King (GBR) 6-0, 6-3
Jacobs d. Round 6-3, 6-2
Arnold d. Stammers 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
Evelyn Dearman (GBR)/Nancy Lyle (GBR) d. Dorothy Andrus/Carolin Babcock 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1936)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“The Wightman Cup is still in American hands. For the ninth time in thirteen years, and for the fifth year in succession, the British girls were vanquished. The result – a victory for the United States team by four matches to three – was rather more conclusive than the margin suggests, for on the second day the British lead of the first day was not only wiped out by two quick American wins, but the Cup was carried before the seventh match of the series was decided. Moreover, three of America’s four victories were gained in straight sets without any serious threat from the enemy.

“There was some beautiful tennis at Forest Hills, and since large crowds were delighted with the play and both teams thoroughly enjoyed the contest, we may keep our tears for more serious national reverses.

“In stroke technique the English girls proved superior. They had the style, while their opponents seemed to possess the more stubborn character. Their ‘ring sense’ was more developed; the competitive spirit had received more stimulant in a younger, less conservative country. And, in Hazel Wightman, captain of the American team and winner of many championships, home players possessed the shrewdest coach, who directed each battle in turn with her own strategic brain.

“Sarah Fabyan, who played perfect tennis both in singles and doubles, lives within a stone’s throw of Mrs Wightman in Boston, and has been her protégée. Ethel Arnold and Helen Jacobs, other victors, both came from her native California. She had taught them many wrinkles. In Mrs Arnold she took particular interest, because, like herself, she was only five feet high and to shape her strokes accordingly, relying on mobility and staunch defence to compensate for loss of stature and reach.

“On the first day the visitors won two out of three matches – a most promising start. Kay Stammers had opened with a brilliant victory over Miss Jacobs in one of the best Wightman Cup encounters ever staged. But for excessive enterprise and over-driving the English girl must have won the first set; she forced a lead and only just lost after many tense rallies, in which the American champion had to do most of the running and pray for an error of timing.

“In the second set Miss Stammers held the upper hand all the way. She had proved the efficacy of the short-sliced backhand return, bringing Miss Jacobs forward, and now played this coup with increasing skill. Her service, too, gathered power. She served two consecutive aces in the fourth game. Miss Jacobs also experienced the pressure of a resourceful volleyer – one who could punish lobs and intercept passing drives with a delicate cross parry. Miss Stammers was twice within a stroke of a love set in the sixth game, and looked complete mistress of the court in this bout.

“After the ten minutes’ interval, both girls returned to play resolute and scintillating tennis without a trace of nervousness or fatigue. It was worthy of a championship final. As in the first set, Miss Stammers won the opening game to love and led 2-1. Miss Jacobs replied with a love game, and, by dint of remorseless retrieving, got a break to win the fifth game from 15. Then came more delightful drops from Miss Stammers, and the match was squared again.

“Miss Jacobs fought desperately, but Miss Stammers won the next game to lead 4-3. A ding-dong struggle then developed and was maintained, each gaining the advantage in turn. Miss Jacobs was more distressed by the heat and forced to do more running, for her rival was calling the tune. Mrs Wightman, the American captain, applied ice to her champion’s head and poured water over her neck when she crossed over. Miss Stammers merely sipped water, an ominous difference that indicated her unfading stamina.

“But she had a long way to go. An English double fault placed Miss Jacobs ahead at 5-4. Only two points removed her from victory in the next game. Miss Stammers held on firmly in this crisis, and survived it gloriously. The attack was now all with the invader. She varied her length beautifully, played the long and short game with the coolest precision, and came up at selectedmoments to achieve a brilliant volley. When Miss Jacobs squeezed her way to 7-6, Miss Stammers levelled from 15, and when new balls were served out in the fifteenth game she promptly served two aces, and then forced the champion to err four times consecutively in the final game.

“Mrs Arnold, nervous on the day, was outplayed by Miss Round. The little Californian lacked the control or length to fence with her opponent on level terms. She was forced by Miss Round’s superior driving to loft balls up so that the volleyer had command of the net.

“In the one doubles match Miss Jacobs and Mrs Fabyan beat Miss Stammers and Freda James, 6-3, 6-2. It was a quick victory, gained chiefly by Mrs Fabyan’s magnificent volleying and the fine service of Miss Jacobs. Miss Stammers was wearing a bandage over her ankle, the sign of a slight sprain in her singles match. She was slow in consequence, but the Americans thoroughly deserved their triumph.

“To save the Wightman Cup America required to win three of the four matches on the second day. Her players rose nobly to the occasion. Mrs Fabyan (Sarah Palfrey that was) brought the sides level by a conclusive victory over Phyllis King. The quality of her play may be gathered from the fact that in her opening love set she only forfeited eight points. The young Bostonian possessed every stroke known in the game and used them with almost nonchalant fluency. Mrs King made a plucky fight in the second set and won three games, but her driving attack was too honest to be threatening, lacking the subtlety of touch which Mrs Fabyan had in abundance. The American could always command the forcing shots to invite a volleying coup, and at short range she was imprudently versatile.

“Miss Jacobs followed with a decisive victory over Miss Round. Save for a brief period after the American had taken the first five games, the English girl was the architect of her own defeat. She had speed, but could not control it. She discovered the winning method, which was an attack on Miss Jacob’s forehand, followed by an excursion to the net, but could not maintain it because her measurements were often wrong. Often she would come up on too short a ball, and Miss Jacobs would pass her without compunction. She seemed to be in two minds about the correct tactics, and in this mood of uncertainty she made many timing errors.

“On her part Miss Jacobs was defending her base as stubbornly and as cleverly as she had done at Wimbledon. She recovered all but Miss Round’s finest shots, and many of these as well. She found Miss Round easier to play than Miss Stammers because the court was drier, and Miss Round did not use the sliced drop shot which Miss Stammers found so profitable. Moreover, Miss Round required a longer swing-back than Miss Stammers. She gave the enemy more time to cover the court. Miss Round was never overwhelmed, and she probably deserved more than five games, but she started much too late, and by giving the American champion the first five games she braced Miss Jacobs’ spirit, which was virtually unbreakable for the rest of the match.

“With America now leading three matches to two, Miss Stammers had to beat Mrs Arnold for the Wightman Cup to leave American shores. She made a gallant fight, but found the little Californian too tenacious and too surprisingly quick on her feet when it came to long, tense rallies in challenging heat. There was a marked change in the form of both players from that of the previous day. Mrs Arnold had shaken off her first-day nervousness and showed the crowd how she came to win all her tournaments in the East.

“Miss Stammers was obviously reacting from her great struggle with Miss Jacobs. Only in the second set did she look like a champion; in the first and third sets her backhand was vulnerable. And then, in the last game of all, when the gallery were cheering every stroke, she slipped and fell and, on rising, served a double fault. The winner used top spin on the forehand, which kept the ball in court, and her backhand was under the firmest control. She was at her best when Miss Stammers came to the net, pulling out passing shots on the both wings which had penetrating pace.

“Nancy Lyle and Evelyn Dearman beat Carolin Babcock and Dorothy Andurs in the last match and showed us what they might have done had the issue depended on their efforts. But, with the issue decided, the match was an anti-climax and none of the four players was at her best.”
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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1936

June 12 and 13

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

Teams

United States: Helen Jacobs, Sarah Fabyan, Carolin Babcock, Marjorie Van Ryn
Great Britain: Kay Stammers, Dorothy Round, Mary Hardwick, Evelyn Dearman, Nancy Lyle, Freda James
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United States d. Great Britain 4-3

Kay Stammers d. Helen Jacobs (USA) 12-10, 6-1
Dorothy Round d. Sarah Fabyan (USA) 6-3, 6-4
Carolin Babcock (USA)/Marjorie Van Ryn (USA) d. Evelyn Dearman/Nancy Lyle 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
Fabyan d. Stammers 6-3, 6-4
Round d. Jacobs 6-3, 6-3
Babcock d. Mary Hardwick 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Jacobs/Fabyan d. Freda James/Stammers 1-6, 6-3, 7-5
--

From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1937)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“Once more the effort of Great Britain to regain the Wightman Cup was frustrated, and America won it for the sixth successive year. Victory was gained by the narrowest margin – the odd match in seven. Indeed, so level did the sides prove that in the last and deciding match – the doubles between the British and American champions – the score was five-all in the final set. But if no finish has been more exciting, no match in the fourteen-year series has witnessed a more gallant recovery on the part of an invading team. The American women actually won the Wightman Cup in spite of the fact that Helen Jacobs, the American champion (who was to become the Wimbledon champion three weeks later), was defeated in both her singles.

“It was a strange first day. Until the rain checked the first set between Kay Stammers and Miss Jacobs after the twenty-first game, one had never seen two girls play fifty minutes of such riotously exciting tennis on the Centre Court – or, indeed, on any other court the world over. These two national champions were gripped in a struggle so level and so fiercely waged, with brilliant shots coming in every rally and never a dull moment, that it seemed inconceivable that the American champion, after the interval, would win only one more game.

“When the rain came, and with it the tarpaulin, it was as if the curtain had come down arbitrarily on a drama ended before its climax. And when the curtain went up again after an entr’acte of 25 minutes, there was little left to see. Only one player had maintained her form; the other had lost not only her aim but her fire as well. It was all a one fine, unfinished Act. Miss Stammers might almost have taken the bow half an hour earlier.

“She had not begun too well. A double fault had opened the match and another ended the third game. Coming to her lead of 3-0, Miss Jacobs had revealed the power of her new forehand drive, which frustrated the earlier volleying coups of her opponent and left one wondering whether its advent might not govern the match. How disillusioned the male onlooker can be where women’s matches are concerned! No sooner had Miss Stammers broken through Miss Jacobs’ service in the fourth game, proving that the high-hopping second delivery was made for her great forcing drive, than her whole game assumed a quality never seen before.

“The English girl fought back splendidly from 2-4 to 4-all, took the lead at 5-4 and 6-5 on her service, each time from 15; was quite undisturbed when her opponent got the lead at 7-6 with a love game, and when a series of wonderful ‘gets’ by Miss Jacobs gave the American champion the lead again at 9-8.

“How these two girls, both so sure-footed despite a rather greasy court, retrieved each other’s winners and fenced for the volleying opening! The spectacle must have amused the hundreds of schoolgirls who, swelling the crowd, were watching a first-class match for the first time. Yet the best and most thrilling tennis was yet to come. It may have been the index game of the match, although Miss Jacobs won it; for the effort expended was stupendous, and from this exertion the American never really recovered.

“Miss Stammers had forced her way to 10-9 and 0-40 on her opponent’s service. She had three balls for the set; it looked certain she would gain one of them. At this crisis Miss Jacobs changed her tactics, swept the corners with fiery drives, and followed the ball to the net. Each time Miss Stammers cleared her lines like a master, each time Miss Jacobs made a winning volley. Then, when she had deuced, she served out the game with two aces. A stupendous feat and deservedly applauded. But the effort brought its reaction. Miss Stammers must have sensed it, for she came up herself repeatedly in the next game and won it to love with three gorgeous volleys. This feat, serenely performed without a sign of abnormal strain, brought her to 11-10 and to a cessation of play.

“Miss Stammers was never threatened again. Miss Jacobs opened her service on resumption with a double fault. She was a machine that had run down. She may have strained a muscle in that famous grim game – one wonders. Miss Stammers took the second set almost with a procession of points. These were fine strokes and deserved to score, but the excitement of seeing them returned and of wondering what coup would win the rally was over. The service of Miss Jacobs became her weakest weapon. No first ball found its proper mark; the second ‘sat up’ prettily for Miss Stammers to hit.

“In the second singles match Dorothy Round and Sarah Fabyan looked to be engaged in a speculative encounter when the score was 3-all. Here again appearances were deceptive. When Miss Round had found her best length and her most insidious speed the defence of Mrs Fabyan, resourceful though it was, could be penetrated, and of the next eight games the little Bostonian could capture only one. After leading 4-1 in the second set Miss Round paused in her work of destruction and her drives became less accurate. The short cross-returns of Mrs Fabyan drew strange errors. But though Miss Round lost the ninth game a little ominously, she made no mistake in the critical tenth and finished very strongly with a love game.

“One wondered why Mrs Fabyan, fine volleyer that she is, did not take the net more often. Perhaps she thought she would unsteady the ex-champion by a sturdy, fleet-footed defence at the back of the court. Miss Round’s sure control on both wings and her splendid variation of length and strength upset that plan.

“Then came the doubles match the unexpected result of which had, as the morrow was to prove, a vital influence on the final tally. Nancy Lyle and Evelyn Dearman, the home pair, were opposed to Marjorie Van Ryn and Carolin Babcock. America captured the first set by breaking through Miss Lyle’s service, but their opponents, slow in striking, then launched a counter-offensive and won nine out of the next ten games.

“At 3-0 love up in the third set they looked certain winners. Perhaps they were lulled into false security. The sequel was surprising. Coming right in behind sound lobs or deep drives the two American girls volleyed their way through the next six games, winning all of them in a row. Thus England, instead of closing the first day with a lead of three matches, requiring only one more for victory, found herself in the same position as at Forest Hills in 1935 – a lead of only one match and a subconscious feeling that history might repeat itself.

“The Second Day

“Saturday’s crowd was worthy of the big occasion; at least 14,000 must have been applauding the highlights of a fluctuating struggle. Heavy clouds hung over a court appreciably slower than on Friday when Miss Stammers and Mrs Fabyan began the fourth match of the series. The defeat of the English girl – gained in two sets, the first of nine games and the second of ten – brought the countries level at two matches-all.

“The result was not altogether unexpected. As her famous victory over Helen Wills Moody at Beckenham last year indicated – and there was the same sequel in New York last August after she had beaten Miss Jacobs in the Wightman Cup – Miss Stammers is a variable champion, liable to supply a shade to her own brilliance. Moreover, neither the service nor the ground-strokes of Mrs Fabyan offered her the slowly rising ball which, when she was opposing Miss Jacobs, allowed her to generate her great forcing shots and to come in gaily behind them. A better-balanced player than Miss Jacobs and with lighter footwork, Mrs Fabyan, remembering how she had beaten Miss Stammers in the American championship last year, always seemed to be steering the ball into a position on the court least agreeable for her opponent. Shrewdly she mixed the flat stroke with the slice, and by aiming balls down the court she prevented Miss Stammers from employing those deadly slashing drives which she can achieve on the run.

“There were six service breaks in the first set. Relative service, nevertheless, influenced its decision. For though Miss Stammers captured Mrs Fabyan’s service in the seventh game to reduce a 4-2 lead to 4-3, she lost her own in the eighth game through a double fault, and then felt the full force of the American’s best service in the concluding game. Mrs Fabyan won it to love. Here was the first example of many cases that were to follow later in the afternoon when the invader sensed the vital game and had the calm resource to capture it. It was the same in the second set, except that Miss Stammers served finely in the ninth to give herself a fighting chance. There were four breaks in this set, but Mrs Fabyan was serving in the all-important tenth game and held it confidently.

“When Miss Jacobs followed against Miss Round it was soon obvious that the memorable opening set on Friday – the record set of 22 games between Miss Stammers and the American champion, conducted at the highest tension – had left its physical mark on Miss Round’s opponent. In the two nine-game sets Miss Round was the complete, perfectly-poised player, never without the right stroke for the occasion, and playing each with increasing control and confidence. She found an accommodation opponent.

“Miss Jacobs, apparently in two minds about the security of her forehand, which she has recently remodelled, could not find a staple stroke on this wing, while this unreliability off the ground seemed to shake her usual complacency at short range, so that she netted volleys that are generally achieved. But even the palpable loss of control which Miss Jacobs displayed could not conceal the high quality of Miss Round’s play. Time and again she hit the lines or played just inside them with shots of perfect length and strength. If one stroke can be singled out for special mention where all were so finely executed, one would mention the backhand cross drive, short enough to draw Miss Jacobs away from her base, yet hard and low enough to compel only a defensive reply.

“Each side had thus gained a conclusive victory and England was ahead again – one up with two to play. It was a responsible position for Miss Mary Hardwick, facing her baptism of fire in the Wightman Cup, and she came honourably through her ordeal. She did not beat Miss Babcock, but that feat was scarcely to be expected. In the American championship last year this resolute Californian had taken the opening set from Miss Stammers by superlatively fine play. Without claiming a classic style, she is a clever and always a cool tactician, gifted with great tenacity and stamina.

“For Miss Hardwick to win a set against so experienced a fighter was a feather in her cap, and though she may have been handicapped to some extent by a leg strain in the final set, she could have no reproaches since Miss Babcock, coming back after the ten minutes’ interval, delivered an assault that was well-nigh irresistible. The American’s only real lapse was when she volleyed out on her first match point.

“The stage was now set for the decisive doubles match, each country claiming three victories. The champion pairs of England and America faced each other in the last battle of the day. The visitors had the memory of a victory in New York to help them; their opponents were playing on their home court, supported by their own crowd. No struggle could have been closer nor provided so many hopes and fears, and, fittingly enough, its highest phase was reserved for the final set, in which the balance of power was the better distributed over the four players, and in which every shot had its vital influence.

“In the first set Miss Jacobs was so obviously not the player whom Wimbledon and New York had envisaged that Miss Stammers and Miss James had a passage through it surprisingly quick and thorough. The Americans captured only one game – the first service game of Miss Jacobs – and that only after deuce. This progress, one felt instinctively, was too good to be true. Well as the British were playing – Miss Stammers with her centre drives and Miss James with her cut-in volleys – the opposition had come from only one unit on the other side of the net. There must come a time when Miss Jacobs, usually so firm overhead, could hit one of her high lobs into court and find a profitable range on her service returns.

“All through the first set Mrs Fabyan never permitted the loss of Miss Jacobs’ support to upset her own composure, and this sympathy between two players familiar with graduations of their own play had its effect on the second set. Miss Jacobs opened this set strongly by winning her service from 15. Mrs Fabyan did the same in the third game and then came the first serious rebuff to the British pair. Miss James lost her service to love. The receivers were increasing their speed and precision; they trapped the incoming volleyer. Lobs were now receiving summary treatment. From 3-1 they went to 5-1. Miss Stammers served two double faults in the sixth game. But the home couple had plenty of fight left. They won Mrs Fabyan’s service to love in the seventh game, Miss James making some brilliant thrusts. Then Miss Jacobs faltered overhead and the eight game went to England. But America went out confidently on the service of Miss Jacobs in the ninth.

“The final set quickened every pulse in the great gallery. In spite of a double fault from Miss Stammers, England won the opening game. The second was nearly carried, too, for Miss Jacobs missed an easy smash; but when Miss James had taken her own service to love and Mrs Fabyan, mistiming two low volleys, had lost the fourth, for England to lead 3-1, the riotous cheering proclaimed the importance of the break. Miss James had made a great drive on the run for the winning point.

“Yet the tide was to turn again. At the crisis of the fifth game, when England had a point for 4-1, Miss Jacobs made a magnificent volley. She was inspired by this reprieve to serve her best in the sixth and squaring game, taken to love. Then Miss James, perhaps the second best player on the court – for Mrs Fabyan was always the best – began to show signs of the strain. She double-faulted and netted two returns, giving America the lead at 4-3. But Mrs Fabyan’s service was nobly broken for the second time after her side were 40-15; the ominous 5-3 lead was averted.

“But Miss Jacobs was steadily regaining her lost art. America led 5-4, helped by her champion’s smashes, by the supreme steadiness of Mrs Fabyan, and by Miss Stammers missing a stroke at the back of the court through the ball’s strange break. In the tenth game, leading 40-15, the Americans had two match balls. Each produced a palpitating rally. In the first Miss Jacobs smashed over the baseline; in the second she volleyed into the net. There was thunderous applause when England saved this game.

“But the Americans, perhaps more crisis-proof and more crowd-proof than their adversaries, were not to be denied a second time. In the eleventh game they made Miss James their target and forced enough errors from her to carry it to 15. The end came in the twelfth game from 30 with Mrs Fabyan serving. It was not a certain game, for the little Bostonian had lost her two previous deliveries. But Miss Jacobs now had an unbreakable heart and a loyal eye. Two great smashes carried her team to victory and the Wightman Cup back to America.”
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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1937

August 20 and 21

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

Teams

United States: Alice Marble, Helen Jacobs, Sarah Fabyan, Dorothy Bundy, Marjorie Van Ryn
Great Britain: Mary Hardwick, Kay Stammers, Margot Lumb, Evelyn Dearman, Joan Ingram, Freda James

Non-playing captains: Hazel Wightman (USA); Malcolm Horn (GBR)
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United States d. Great Britain 6-1

Alice Marble d. Mary Hardwick (GBR) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
Helen Jacobs d. Kay Stammers (GBR) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
Sarah Fabyan/Marble d. Evelyn Dearman (GBR)/Joan Ingram (GBR) 6-3, 6-2
Jacobs d. Hardwick 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Marble d. Stammers 6-3, 6-1
Fabyan d. Margot Lumb (GBR) 6-3, 6-1
Freda James (GBR)/Stammers d. Dorothy Bundy/Marjorie Van Ryn 6-3, 10-8
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From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1938)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“America won the Wightman Cup for the seventh successive year, beating the British team by the conclusive margin of six matches to one. But for the substitution of a former champion’s daughter for Helen Jacobs – almost like throwing a sop to Cerberus – in the last match, America might have made a clean sweep. The visitors were soundly beaten; only once before, in the first year, had they lost more decisively. Yet nobody in New York gloated over the débacle and everybody felt that the losers made a brave effort against a team superior in the match-winning craft and flair for the big occasion, and perhaps in systematic training.

“Of fifteen Wightman Cup matches America have won eleven and Great Britain four. Only once, and that because somebody had a brainwave and prevailed on Dorothea Lambert Chambers, delegated for the doubles, to play a singles match which she won by the odd set, have the British women beaten these resolute American girls, so full of courage and ardour, on their own courts.

“To explain America’s preponderating record, when Britain have more girl players of promise and far greater facilities for maturing their skill, would require a comparison of administrative methods and of psychological influences. It may be suggested that successful invasions of well-guarded territory have to be planned months in advance, and all the factors militating against victory in the past considered.

“The excuse that the weather was oppressively hot – hotter than in many Augusts past – ought not to be used, because five of the American team are from California who, born as far away from New York as the English girls, found New York’s humidity just as unfamiliar and as challenging. Moreover, in the actual contest, the winners showed more outward signs of physical strain than the losers. They used ice water douches for their necks more frequently, and their gay gallops left them the more exhausted, in spite of the fact that they were attired in the almost regulation shorts prevailing here, while their opponents, making a stronger aesthetic appeal to the gallery, wore skirts.

“In the first match on the first day Alice Marble required one hour and twenty minutes to subdue Mary Hardwick, an opponent who never gave up. The weather was better than the crowd, but probably the temperature of 85 degrees, with high humidity, kept many from facing a cooking in the uncovered stadium. It was probably the smallest gallery in Wightman Cup history, yet, as if conscious of huge gaps in the stone amphitheatre, the spectators were vocally enthusiastic. Both girls got what Americans call ‘a mouthful of cheers’ for their gallant fight.

“When Miss Hardwick, 4-2 down in the first set, had, with really brilliant driving, taken four games in a row to win the opening bout, one visualised an English girl on American courts doing what Suzanne Lenglen had failed to do 16 years earlier on the same court – beating the American champion in her first match in America. But Miss Marble’s forehand drive had been terribly uncertain in that first set. She could not return service on that wing, and when Miss Hardwick made her full-blooded drives across court there was a wild stab, but nothing more. In the last two games Miss Hardwick was definitely on top, breaking through the service for the first time in the ninth game from 15, and then, in a really inspired phase, serving two aces to take a love game.

“Hazel Wightman, America’s captain, gave Miss Marble a timely hint before the second set, for the American champion discarded the flat drive and introduced short, sliced returns, forcing Miss Hardwick to move forward. At the back of the court the English girl was steadier and always kept a better length than Miss Marble, but near the net the American had the touch and her opponent lacked control. Miss Marble’s service was never lethal, but in the final set its influence was decisive.

“When Kay Stammers and Helen Jacobs came out for the second match the cooling breeze had died down, and one could only admire two girls who, while officials were mopping perspiring brows, could race from corner to corner engaged in long rallies of attacking tennis. These two were old Wightman Cup enemies, and knew each other’s game. Their tactics had a familiar aspect – the patient and mobile defender, chopping and slicing and waiting for the mistimed shot or the too eager move which would serve her industry and win the point.

“Miss Stammers began auspiciously enough and she might have won in two sets if fine strokes had not been followed by loose ones and her service had not presented many double faults. Shadows were creeping over the court in the final set. Each won on service, and then Miss Stammers lost hers through volleying errors. It was tough going, for both girls were racing for everything and giving nothing away.

“Alas, Miss Stammers made three ground shot errors in the fourth game, and Miss Jacobs was 3-1. The American, like the old campaigner that she is, was now increasing the pace of her passing shots, sensing the moral value of aggression when Fortune was smiling. Miss Stammers had game point four times in the fifth game. Each time she netted and finally double-faulted. Both girls took refreshments as they changed courts – it was a grim and stamina-searching struggle.

“The seventh game was long and wavering with five deuces. If only Miss Stammers could have summoned a reliable backhand she might have won it. It closed in America’s favour by the all-too-familiar double fault. But Miss Stammers, like Miss Hardwick, was fighting to the end, and she took the next two games with splendid spirit, both from 30. Miss Jacobs, who was serving, outed the first two balls in the tenth game, but then Miss Stammers lapsed again, and the next four points went to America after the briefest of rallies.

“A storm threatened when the doubles began, but the rain held off. Another American victory was registered. The British couple played better than the score (6-3, 6-2) suggests, especially Evelyn Dearman, whose cross volleying closed many sprightly rallies. But Miss Marble and Sarah Fabyan were definitely superior overhead.

“The Second Day

“On the second day a crowd nearly twice as large as on Friday saw four matches which, although two of them were one-sided, yielded stimulating play. The last was especially ingratiating because, with the sun down to a level which did not require protected heads in the open stands, and with the tension finished and nobody’s reputation at stake, four light-hearted girls provided a riot of hitting.

“When Mr Holcombe Ward, president of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, presented the Wightman Cup filled with flowers to the Boston lady of that name who had captained so many victorious teams and certainly mothered this one, everybody was smiling, and most people thought that friendly relations between America and England were more important than victory in a lawn tennis match.

“Miss Hardwick played better against Miss Jacobs than against Miss Marble on the previous day, though she did not come as near success and was obviously out-generalled in the third set. But she showed, when marching confidently through the first set and nearly catching Miss Jacobs in the second, that she had both the stamina and the strokes requisite for victory. She was meeting Miss Jacobs for the first time, and a much more formidable Miss Jacobs than the player who, when her father was desperately ill in California, had yielded up her Wimbledon title to Dorothy Round.

“For a long period, never revealing any demoralisation, the English girl faced the American’s chopping campaign and gave as good as she got. Miss Jacobs only won by waiting and by an uncanny defence. She might not have won at all if Miss Hardwick, taking three games from 5-1 down in the second set, could have maintained her ball control in the tenth game and then used her superior physical reserve to clinch the match.

“The ten-minute interval was a precious respite to the tiring Californian, and though Miss Hardwick led 2-1, and was fighting confidently in the final set, she could not lift her game when Miss Jacobs, sensing the exact moment for intensive pressure, increased her pace and forged in front. The match was virtually over, and in the last five games Miss Hardwick won only seven points. Nevertheless, in waging two three-set matches against America’s first two players at Forest Hills, she was easily the best of the invaders.

“When Miss Marble met Miss Stammers the Cup was irretrievably lost for another year, but it may be doubted whether the English girl, on her form, would have done much better if the result had really mattered. She found the American champion with the same dominating skill that had outclassed Hilde Sperling at Wimbledon, when the German champion led 3-0 in the final set. Of course, Miss Stammers hit many more loose shots and missed many more backhand drives than Mrs Sperling. She was ever the fair adventurer, and since those who seek adventures get blows, she was giving Miss Marble just enough stimulating pace to encourage her exquisite volleying touch. But she had not an earthly chance of winning, having regard to Miss Marble’s brilliant service and her own inconsistencies. There was only one deuce in the whole match.

“Margot Lumb was never expected to beat Mrs Fabyan, who always shines her brightest in team matches, but she deserved more than her four games. Four of the seven games in the second set were long and bitter, and Miss Lumb had game point in all. Like the other English left-hander, Miss Lumb’s backhand was weak, but she lobbed shrewdly on this side and forced Mrs Fabyan to work hard for all her points. The American has such perfect command of length and strength and her strokes were so soundly produced that Miss Lumb, despite her gallant service aces and forehand drives, and her fine turn of speed, was destined to be out-manoeuvred by a better-equipped opponent.

“Dorothy Bundy would not have partnered Marjorie van Ryn in the last match against Miss Stammers and Freda James if Carolin Babcock had not been indisposed or if the inclusion of Miss Jacobs had been necessary to save the Cup. But, of course, the Cup had long been made safe for America, and so the young curly-headed youngster, bearing an honoured name, was able to have her baptism of fire.

“Miss Bundy’s smashing, with its deep man-like swing-back, proved as deadly as Miss Marble’s, and she got, and deserved, thunderous applause for an entertaining display. Mrs Van Ryn, better off the ground than her young partner, nearly won the long second set by her supreme steadiness, but Miss Stammers and Miss James were returning service and finding the centre opening just too well. It was nearly dark when Mrs Van Ryn’s service was at last broken through and Great Britain scored her only victory.”
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Re: The Wightman Cup Thread – Reports, Results & More

1938

June 10 and 11

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

Teams

United States: Helen Wills Moody, Alice Marble, Sarah Fabyan, Dorothy Bundy, Helen Jacobs
Great Britain: Kay Stammers, Peggy Scriven, Margot Lumb, Evelyn Dearman, Joan Ingram, Freda James

Non-playing captains: Phyllis King (GBR); Hazel Wightman (USA)
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USA d. Great Britain 5-2

Kay Stammers d. Alice Marble (USA) 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
Helen Wills Moody (USA) d. Peggy Scriven 6-0, 7-5
Sarah Fabyan (USA)/Marble d. Freda James/Margot Lumb 6-4, 6-2
Fabyan d. Lumb 5-7, 6-2, 6-2
Moody d. Stammers 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
Marble d. Scriven 6-3, 3-6, 6-0
Dearman/Joan Ingram d. Dorothy Bundy (USA)/Moody 6-2, 7-5
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From “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack” (1939)

By Arthur Wallis Myers

“The Wightman Cup went West again – almost literally so, for three of the four Americans who defended it at Wimbledon, and also the captain, Hazel Wightman, hailed from California. The margin was five matches to two in favour of the invaders. It might conceivably have been larger, for, gallantly as Kay stammers played against Alice Marble on the first day, the present USA champion had a chance to win in two sets. England’s second point came in the last match, when Helen Wills Moody and Dorothy Bundy, the latter playing her first match on the Centre Court, lost in the doubles to Evelyn Dearman and Joan Ingram.

“Yet, though the Americans gained a handsome victory, they were stoutly challenged. Miss Stammers took a set from Mrs Moody, no competitor in the subsequent championship did that. Margot Lumb also won a set from Sarah Fabyan. Indeed, the only match in which the Americans dominated the court was the first doubles; here the combination of Miss Marble and Mrs Fabyan proved too formidable, especially overhead, for Miss Lumb and Freda James.

“The sixteenth Wightman Cup created a record in that all three British representatives in the singles were left-handers. They were the natural choice, for Dorothy Little, the [Wimbledon] champion, was not available, but the fact that all were materially stronger on the forehand than on the backhand was a tactical advantage to the visiting side – they could systematise their attack. Mrs Moody, too, had met and parried this left-handed resistance at Surbiton a fortnight earlier; and in combating it at Wimbledon, though she had an anxious duel with Miss Stammers, and might conceivably have gone down if rain had not called a long adjournment at one set-all, she knew where the greater danger lay.

“If the observer could justly praise the home team for their gallant fight – they were captained, by the way, by Phyllis King, herself a great fighter – he was conscious that the Americans possessed the more penetrating strokes and the finer ball control. They always looked the bolder match players and appeared to take the larger risk.

“On the first day America won two out of three matches. It was not an ideal day for lawn tennis. A sharp shower interrupted the first match; deflecting wind currents swept the Centre Court. Yet the play was stimulating. Miss Marble led 3-1 against Miss Stammers, but was caught; she led 4-3 when rain intervened. A slow starter, Miss Stammers could not recover her range again, and Miss Marble went out. In the second set the American was a mixture of glorious attack and uncertain defence, and while she was endeavouring to secure a victory mean her opponent raised her game to a high peak. Miss Marble led 5-4 and had her fine service to follow. She faltered – missed one or two volleys – and failed to hold the set.

“During the interval the American remained on court; Miss Stammers wisely took advantage of the respite and repaired indoors. With a perfect retinue of measured attacking blows Miss Stammers sped to 5-1 in the final set. In the ninth and last game Miss Stammers hit two fine forehand winners for 30-0; then lost a point on a doubtful decision; then Miss Marble ‘outed’; finally Miss Stammers struck one of her blazing forehand drives into the backhand corner.

“In the second match Mrs Moody could not put a ball or a foot wrong. She took six games in a row from Peggy Scriven, whose weak service gave her the opening offensive. Then the Californian reacted and Miss Scriven’s solid defence, combined with splendid mobility, really deserved to win the set. She led 4-3 and had a point for 5-3. But Mrs Moody was unbending and took the next three games. Then each won a love game and at 6-5 Mrs Moody was 40-0. Miss Scriven hit three screaming drives down the line to level the score and had the ‘vantage point five times. Once she missed an easy volley for the game. In the end the American was out at 7-5.

“The doubles match was always safe for the American champions, but the wind depressed the play, and Mrs Fabyan lost her service three consecutive times. She atoned by many subtle volleys.

“The Second Day

“There was another large gallery on the second day – and no rain. [?] The three British left-handers strove valiantly to stem the adverse tide and each won a set. Mrs Fabyan, looking like a little fairy with a wand, did not find her perfect touch until Miss Lumb, getting a two-game break, had stolen the first set. Thereafter Mrs Fabyan was supreme. She handled Miss Lumb’s serpentine service with deft skill, not attempting to hit it for a winner, but returning a slow, clinging return, which drew the server forward. Thus she prevented Miss Lumb from using the full-blooded forehand drive, and, showing the surest control, so controlled the rallies that she won the second and third sets to two.

“England could not now lose another match if the cup was to be won. It was rather a hopeless proposition with Mrs Moody and Miss Marble ‘still to bat’. Yet Miss Stammers nearly achieved a miracle. Without having Miss Marble’s errors, as on the first day, to help her, she played almost the best Mrs Moody – and nearly triumphed. Perhaps the American, having banked the first set in the eighth game, eased her pressure. She was soon fighting for her life. With an inspired display Miss Stammers went to 5-2 and was out in the ninth game. Not a double fault came from her racket; she raked the lines or corners with flashing drives and, feinting as if to drive again, played that ‘just-over-the-net’ ball that drew her opponent vainly forward.

“But then came a forty-minute halt through rain. The players returned with socks over their shoes – a sign that foothold would be less secure, and the prospect of Miss Stammers using her lighter weight less favourable. The English girl could not revive her former greatness until the court was drier and risk of slipping had gone. She lost the first three games – another shower interrupted play after the first two – and then Mrs Moody went forward stolidly to 5-2. She was now anticipating the insidious drop-shot; moving in more rapidly, she stowed the ball away.

“But Miss Stammers had not fired her last shots. She won the eighth game amid heartening applause and made a bold bid for the ninth. It was a game replete with deuces and ‘vantage points, of drop-shots from Miss Stammers and of shaded forehand drives from Mrs Moody. The last rally was the finest of the match. At last Miss Stammers played a perfect drop. Her opponent, running faster than she has ever run before, reached it, and steered the ball with her backhand just over the net. The Wightman Cup was won.

“In two irresistible phases Miss Marble beat Miss Scriven. The first came after 3-3 in the opening set; the Californian took the next three games with a man-like service and volleying attack. The second came in the third set, which Miss Marble won to love. In the middle of the match Miss Scriven’s ubiquity and Miss Marble’s errors combined to give England a chance. The American service came out of a gun; by comparison Miss Scriven’s service was meek.

“When the Duchess of Kent had presented the Cup to Mrs Wightman, the last match was staged. The light was fading and the eyes of the players must have been sore with watching. It could scarcely be a great match. Miss Dearman was the best of the four; Dorothy Bundy, new to the Centre Court, the least certain. Mrs Moody had obviously had enough tennis for the day, and England won in two sets, thus capturing the last match as well as the first. America had taken the other five in between.”
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