Major professional tennis tournaments before the Open Era: Wikis

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Before the beginning of the Open era in 1968 only amateurs were allowed to compete in mainstream tennis tournaments, including the four Grand Slams and were not compensated except for travel expenses. However many top tennis players turned professional to play legally for prize money. They played in separate professional events, mostly on tours involving head-to-head competition with three professional slams as the biggest events on the pro tour.

Contents

Professional Grand slams

In addition to head-to-head tours, there were annual professional tournaments called Championship tournaments where the world's top professional players played and these tournaments held with a certain tradition.

The oldest of the three was the United States Professional Championship, played between 1927 and 1999. Between 1954 and 1962 it was played indoors in Cleveland and was called the World Professional Championships. The most prestigious of the three was generally the London Indoor Professional Championship. Played between 1934 and 1990, at Wembley in England, it was unofficially usually considered the world's championship until 1967. The third major tournament was the French Professional Championship, played between 1934 (and perhaps before but the data are unclear) and 1968, generally at Roland Garros.

These three tournaments until 1967 are referred as the professional Grand Slam tournaments by prominent tennis historians such as Robert Geist[1] and Raymond Lee[2].

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United States Pro Championship

The U.S. Pro Championship, also U.S. Pro, was an annual tournament, also know as MFS Pro Championships.

It was first organized by player Vinny Richards when promoter C. C. Pyle withdrew interest in the project. It was played on the Notlek courts located at 119th Street and Riverside Drive, Manhattan. The following four editions were played at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens. The next five were played at various clubs in Chicago and New York.

From 1937 to 1941 a tournament was held at the Greenbrier Golf and Tennis Club, White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia and called the U.S. Open, as it was open to both pros and amateurs. Because of their participation the latter were later officially barred from future U.S.L.T.A. amateur competition. The 1937 edition of the U.S. Open is also viewed as the U.S. Pro. The U.S. Pro was then played in Chicago or Los Angeles until the 1940s, the 1946 through '49 events played at the West Side in Forest Hills.

From 1950 to 1964 promoter Jack March organized an annual tournament called the World Pro Championship that was held at different sites in Cleveland: in 1950 and from 1952 to 1962 the tournament served as the U.S. Pro. Between 1954 and 1962 it was played indoors at the Cleveland Arena. After playing the 1963 edition at the West Side the tournament had a permanent home at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where it was played from 1964 through 1995 and from 1997 to 1999.

Wembley Championship

This tournament was called the "London Indoor Professional Championships" from 1951 through 1967. In 1968, it was called the "Kramer Tournament of Champions." From 1969 through 1971, the tournament was called the "British Covered Court Championships." Finally, it was called the "Benson & Hedges Tournament" beginning in 1976.

French Pro Championship

In 1930 the "Association Française des Professeurs de Tennis (AFPT)" held its first pro tournament, entitled "Championnat International de France Professionnel" (French Pro Championships) in June, 18-22, 1930 [3].

From 1930 the French Pro Championship were always played at Paris, on outdoor clay at Roland Garros except from 1963 to 1967 where it was held at Stade Pierre de Coubertin on indoor wood.

Professional Grand Slam Champions

Year United States US Pro United Kingdom Wembley France French Pro
1927 United States Vinny Richards
1928 United States Vinny Richards
1929 Czechoslovakia Karel Kozeluh
1930 United States Vinny Richards Czechoslovakia Karel Koželuh
1931 United States Bill Tilden France Martin Plaa
1932 Czechoslovakia Karel Kozeluh France Robert Ramillon
1933a United States Vinny Richards United States Bill Tilden
1934 Germany Hans Nusslein United States Ellsworth Vines United States Bill Tilden
1935 United States Bill Tilden United States Ellsworth Vines United States Ellsworth Vines
1936b United States Joe Whalen United States Ellsworth Vines France Henri Cochet
1937c Czechoslovakia Karel Kozeluh Germany Hans Nüsslein Germany Hans Nüsslein
1938b United Kingdom Fred Perry Germany Hans Nüsslein Germany Hans Nüsslein
1939 United States Ellsworth Vines United States Don Budge United States Don Budge
1940 United States Don Budge not held - WWII not held - WWII
1941 United Kingdom Fred Perry not held - WWII not held - WWII
1942 United States Don Budge not held - WWII not held - WWII
1943 United States Bruce Barnes not held - WWII not held - WWII
1944 not held - WWII not held - WWII not held - WWII
1945 United States Welby Van Horn not held - WWII not held - WWII
1946 United States Bobby Riggs not held not held
1947 United States Bobby Riggs not held not held
1948 United States Jack Kramer not held not held
1949 United States Bobby Riggs United States Jack Kramer not held
1950d United States Pancho Segura United States Pancho Gonzalez not held
1951 United States Pancho Segura United States Pancho Gonzalez not held
1952 United States Pancho Segura United States Pancho Gonzalez not held
1953e United States Pancho Gonzalez Australia Frank Sedgman Australia Frank Sedgman
1954 United States Pancho Gonzalez not held not held
1955 United States Pancho Gonzalez not held not held
1956 United States Pancho Gonzalez United States Pancho Gonzalez United States Tony Trabert
1957 United States Pancho Gonzalez Australia Ken Rosewall not held
1958 United States Pancho Gonzalez Australia Frank Sedgman Australia Ken Rosewall
1959 United States Pancho Gonzalez Australia Mal Anderson United States Tony Trabert
1960 United States Alex Olmedo Australia Ken Rosewall Australia Ken Rosewall
1961 United States Pancho Gonzalez Australia Ken Rosewall Australia Ken Rosewall
1962 United States Butch Buchholz Australia Ken Rosewall Australia Ken Rosewall
1963 Australia Ken Rosewall Australia Ken Rosewall Australia Ken Rosewall
1964 Australia Rod Laver Australia Rod Laver Australia Ken Rosewall
1965 Australia Ken Rosewall Australia Rod Laver Australia Ken Rosewall
1966 Australia Rod Laver Australia Rod Laver Australia Ken Rosewall
1967 Australia Rod Laver Australia Rod Laver Australia Rod Laver

Notes:

a The status of the 1933 French Pro is unclear. In History of the Pro Tennis Wars, by Ray Bowers, there is no mention of a French Pro tournament in 1933. The only professional competition played that year at Roland Garros was a USA-France meeting, September 22-24, in the Davis Cup format. Many sources probably wrongly considered the Tilden-Cochet match as a final of a supposed French Pro.

b The status of the Wembley Championships of 1936 and 1938 is unclear. Two of the three major sources for the professional championships list the results as shown. Ray Bowers' History of professional tennis says that neither of these tournaments ever occurred and offers substantiating evidence for his assertion.

c The 1937 US Pro was the first pro event open to amateur players and is considered as both the U.S. Pro Tennis Championship and first "true" U.S. Open event.

d The US Pro events from 1950-1962, were billed the World Pro Championship with the exception of 1951, where a separate U.S. Pro and World Pro in Cleveland were held.

e The status of 1953 French Pro is unclear. Joe McCauley included this tournament in his list of French Pro tournaments but he precised in his book "History of Professional Tennis" that it may not have been considered at the time as an official French Pro.

Other professional tournaments before 1968

The Championships at Wimbledon, the US Championships, the French Championships, and the Australian Championships were typically the top events, where amateur players could compete for the title, albeit without prize money. Since the professional circuit was less organized and somewhat less popular than the amateur circuit, the professional events hierarchy changed each year. In 1934 the US Pro was a high-class tournament with all top ranked pro players whereas in 1936 it was a meeting between pro teachers without any leading pro players. A tournament could even be canceled at any time due to poor attendance.

Consequently for a given year a pro tournament was a major one when it attracted the best pro players and then another year this same tournament could be a second-rank tournament because few or no leading players came. Before the open era in addition to numerous small tournaments and head-to-head tours between the leading professionals, there were some major tournaments which stood out at different periods. Some survived sporadically because of financial collapses and other temporarily stood out when other great tournaments weren't held. Examples of these include:

  • 1920-32 - the Bristol Cup; held on the French Riviera at Menton, at Cannes or at Beaulieu.
  • 1928 - the Queen's Club Pro
  • 1930s - the Bonnardel Cup in team format
  • 1935-39 - the International Pro Championship of Britain at Southport
  • 1930s - the World Pro Championships in Berlin
  • 1945-46 - the U.S Pro Hard courts in LA; the only significant pro tournament of the last year of World War II.
  • 1950-52 - Philadelphia Indoor Pro
  • 1956-59 - the Tournament of Champions held in Los Angeles in 1956 and then at Forest Hills.
  • 1957-58 - Masters Pro Round Robin in Los Angeles
  • 1954, 57, 58 - the Australian Pro
  • 1961-63, the Kramer Cup in team format
  • 1966-67 - Madison Square Garden Pro
  • 1967 - Wimbledon Pro

References

  1. ^ "DER GRÖSSTE MEISTER Die denkwürdige Karriere des australischen Tennisspielers Kenneth Robert Rosewall"
  2. ^ "Greatest Player of All time: A Statistical Analysis" article ( http://www.tennisweek.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=503656 )
  3. ^ Le Tennis en France 1875-1955

External links


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