Tennis Trophies and Medals

by rod on April 27, 2010

Apart from the sheer history and possibly the value of silver, there are many collectors who look for tennis trophies. These comprise both tournament wins and participation mementos such as those given to Davis Cup players.

This section contains a myriad of tennis “awards” such as trophy racquets and cups. While predominantly lawn tennis we have included some elements from Royal Tennis which commenced in Australia when the first court and UK tennis professional arrived in 1875 at Hobart, Tasmania.

These racquets were awarded to the first Royal Tennis club champion in 1876 & 1877.  They are both in the collection held by the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum who kindly gave us permission to use these shots. You will note the elaborate work on the second racquet and this practice moved to Lawn Tennis as well.

Both of these racquets were the traditional lopsided design first used also in Lawn Tennis.

Royal Tennis Racquet

Francis Highett Geelong Recreation Club 1880

The trophy above comes from 1880 and must be one of the earliest tennis trophies in existence today. The event was conducted by the Geelong Recreation Club and titled the Lawn Tennis Challenge Cup.  Players from Melbourne’s Cricket Club (MCC) traveled down to win both of the 1880 bi-annual tournaments. Francis Highett, won this trophy in October 1880 (the second winner) and again in 1881.  This must have entitled him to keep the trophy for their are no other names other than his and the first winner W. Officer. Francis went onto win the second Victorian Championships a few weeks later which, in actual fact could well be considered the first Australian Tennis Tournament widely advertised event to players in all of the colonies.  Thanks to the Highett family for contacting Tennis History and for taking such good care of the trophy for all these years.  Note the racquets are tilt top styles of the very early game.

Above is a beautiful 3D silver plate produced in Sydney by Elkington & Co. for the 1892 Strathfield Lawn Tennis Challenge.  This tournament was the preeminent grass court event in Australia and was keenly contested. The winner we presume was Dudley Webb who won the NSW Championships a few times in this era. Tennis Australia now own this plate and to see it on display will be a treat.

Prior to the Australasian Championships which commenced in 1905, the Colonial State Championships linked to Intercolonial events were the preeminent tournaments.  This particular trophy was won by Alf Dunlop and Stanley Diddams three times in a row from1895-1897 permitting them to retain, or retire the trophy into their possession.  In total, Alf won the Doubles 5 times with Diddams and twice with Norman Brookes and Rodney Heath.  He won the singles twice also.  In relation to major events, Alf went on to play Davis Cup in 1905 as Australasian captain, 1911 and 1912. He won the Australasian Doubles in 1908 with USA Davis Cup foe F.B. Alexander.  Other notable names on this trophy are Ben Green who was one of the Victoria’s great singles /doubles players of this era. See Intercolonial tennis for more stories.

 

Over in the USA in 1903, 1904, 1905  Australian Edward Bury Dewhurst was studying to become a dentist, but also played tennis for the University of Pennsylvania.  He won many prestigious events and this is one his trophies from 1904.

Dewhurst Niagara Trophy

 

Dewhurst Niagara Trophy

 

 

This medal is from Wimbledon 1919.  How many of you of heard of these great Australian players? Not many, but the story is as good as any which could be told by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

You can read more about Randolph Lycett under his own profile article. Rodney Heath won the very first Australian Championships in 1905.

In 1905 the UK Slazenger company donated the “Slazenger Cup” to become the major trophy for the inaugural Australian Open to be held in 1905.  According to the 1933 Australian Championship programme, the winner of the men’s singles was to receive ” The Anthony Wilding Memorial medal and a replica of the “The Sun Challenge cup”. The winner of this event will have the right to hold for one year the Cup presented by the “The Sun” Newspaper Co., which shall become the property of any player winning it three times in succession , or five times in all.”

In actual fact “The Sun”challenge cup was the donated original Slazenger trophy. This is confirmed in the 1928 Australian Championship programme ” The winner’s name will be engraved on the Cup, which was presented to the Lawn Tennis Association of Australasia as a Perpetual Trophy by Messrs. Slazenger Ltd., in 1905″

The Slazenger Cup was designed along very similar lines to that of the Men’s trophy from Wimbledon which is perhaps a tad strange.

 

Jack Crawford’s win the Australian singles title in 1933 was the third straight win, so the trophy was awarded to him. Only in 2013, 8o years after being awarded to Jack, this trophy amazingly has been rediscovered having gone missing 30 years ago when Jack sold it off owing to a lack of funds . The pictures below are from Rolf Jaeger showing the 1933 companion trophy kept by the annual winner “The Sun Challenge Cup”. With the main Slazenger trophy now in Jack’s private care,  the tennis association introduced the “Norman Brookes” challenge cup without the opportunity of winning it outright, hence this trophy remains today.

Replica Slazenger Cup 1933

Replica Slazenger Cup 1933

The Sun Challenge Cup awarded to individual Men’s championship singles winners appears distorted but is in fact the correct shape.
This was warded to Jack Crawford in 1933.

First Australian Mens Singles Trophy

After forming the Australasian Lawn Tennis Association in order to qualify a team into the Davis Cup in 1904, the first National Championships were played in 1905.  Donated by manufacturer F H Ayres, the cup could only be awarded to a doubles players private trophy cabinet if won three times in a row or five times in all.  John Bromwich & Adrian Quist won three times straight in 1938, 1939, 1940, although Adrian had won it in 1936 and 1937 with Don Turnbull.  John and Adrian went onto win 1946-1950 as well in an unbroken, except by WWII, record of 8 straight wins. Photo permission courtesy of Kooyong LTC, Kooyong Foundation and the Bromwich family.

Davis Cup trophies are equally precious.  The small silver cups are given to players who played in the Challenge round of the Davis Cup. Silver to the runners up and gold to the winners.  c late 1940′s three cups, three years of being runners up mainly to the USA.

1947 Davis Cup 1948 Davis Cup

While the above are in the upper echilon of collecting, from the very early days of tennis success in competitions was rewarded with medals and various other trinkets.

These medals were usually given to club champions and they make for an interesting link back to the early days. Who knows, with luck, you might find a recognised player inscribed on the medal or even a medal affixed to a racquet in recognition that the owner was the champion.

 

 

 

tennis trophy shield on racquet

 

Hairbrush set

A hairbrush set. Believed to have been won in Australia
D.M.C.C. 1st Prize Mixed Doubles C.M.T – E.G.W. 1903

1885 Tennis Trophy Miss E How Won at Barracks, Shewsbury UK
Holds 4 boiled eggs and is kept warm via tea light candle.

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