On Saturday afternoon at the Hotel court Miss Madeline Soper defeated Miss Anna LeDrew to win the Dick Harris Cup, emblematic of the Ladies Singles Open Championship. - (Evening Telegram, 25 August 1939
Lawn tennis was introduced to North America by a Newfoundland resident, Mary Ewing Outerbridge. Miss Outerbridge had travelled to Bermuda in 1874, where she learned the game from British officers. The following year, she left Bermuda to reside with her brothers, who were living on Staten Island, New York. One brother, A. Emilius Outerbridge, was a director of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club, and he arranged for Mary to set up a tennis court on the club grounds. In 1880, the first National Lawn Tennis Tournament was held on Staten Island.
In St. John’s, the first tennis courts were built on the grounds of private residences, including that of William
The Newfoundland Archery and Lawn Tennis Club (later renamed the Newfoundland Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club) was established on Forest Road in 1876, which served both as a social and athletic club.
Other clubs were established in St. John’s, including the Terra Nova Tennis and Country Club, the Bally Haly Club, the Bowring Park Municipal Court, the Mount Pearl Courts and Riverdale. These were private clubs that held their own inter-club tournaments.
Tennis clubs were soon established in Trinity, Clarke’s Beach, Buchans, Grand Falls and Corner Brook. The Corner Brook club had many British members who were employees of the Bowater’s Mill. A team from the Bally Haly Country Club traveled to the Aero Tennis Club in Harbour Grace in 1923, to participate in the first inter-community tournament.
In 1935, the Newfoundland Lawn Tennis Association was founded and organized the first all-Newfoundland Tennis Tournament. Teams from Harbour Grace, Buchans, Grand Falls and the four city clubs participated. The Lever Brothers Ltd. provided the trophy prize for club competition. The Dick Harris Trophy was the prize for Ladies Singles. The Association held official tournaments until 1939, when it elected to suspend the competitions for the duration of the war with so many members having enlisted. Tournaments resumed in 1947. In 1948, Mary (Brien) Kelsey became the first woman to win the “Grand Slam,” winning the ladies’ singles, ladies’ doubles and mixed matches.
Riverdale Tennis Court - Robinson's Hill top tennis player 1937
First Row, left to right:
Anne Emerson, Lenora Paterson, June Hunt, Carla Emerson
Second Row, left to right:
Normie Winter, Munore Baird, Peggy Owen, Mrs. Emerson, Clifford Gardiner, Ruth Chalker, Ella Steele, David Howitt, Owen Carter
Third Row, left to right:
Doug Pinsent, Aaron Feder, Jimmy Watson, Bill Collingwood, Carl Johnston, Herb Feder, Edgar House
|Trinity Tennis Club 1900
Emmie Collins, Blanche Earle, Edith Lillian Mallam, Effie Morris Tulk, Winnie Hollands Morris, Stephen Morris, Beatrice (Lilly) Noel, Faith Hollands Rusted, Bess Green
Courtesy of The Trinity Historical Society Archives
Sophie Pittman Gent, Rachael White, Ettie White, Fanny Collis, Sam Grant, Lill Fowlow Morris, Nellie Christian Pickering, Pet Hollands, Frances Pittman Erikson, John Lockyer, Minnis Ash ?, Floss Pittman Mews, Bess Ash Foster, Orlando Morris, Rev. C.W. Hollands, [Mrs. ?] Pittman, Fredricia White Stickings ?, Dr. Arthur White, Charles Green