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Tennis in Utah-The First Fifty Years, 1885-1935

Utah Historical Quarterly

Vol. 52, 1984, No. 2

Tennis in Utah — The First Fifty Years, 1885-1935


ALTHOUGH WESTERN PIONEERS ENTHUSIASTICALLY EMBRACED a wide variety of games and recreational activities, tennis is not one of the sports usually associated with the frontier. Horse racing, pugilism, cricket, baseball, skating, hunting, and fishing were all popular in early Utah and the West, but tennis was considered the pastime of the eastern elite. After all, tennis began in England on the gracious lawns of estates and clubs of the well-born and wealthy. After the game was introduced to the United States in 1874, it remained mainly the sport of urban socialites until after World War I.

Given the cultural elitisim of early tennis history, it is remarkable that the sport gained extraordinary popularity in the isolated valley of the Great Salt Lake only a decade after the game came to America (surprising testimony of the elan of the early Utahns). The fascination with tennis was no passing fancy, for Utah has maintained throughout its history an identification with the sport much greater than the population and climate of the state would suggest.

The initial circumstances of the sport's introduction to Utah are unclear. The game may have been introduced by military personnel from Fort Douglas, since tennis was invented by an English army major and spread around the world through military people; it may have been brought from the East by recent arrivals on the new railroad; or it may have been introduced by M. H. Walker, a wealthy Salt Lake pioneer who hosted the first tournament. Regardless of who played the first game, tennis gained such rapid popularity that by June 1885 a tournament was held in Salt Lake City. The matches were played on the court at the Walker Block, an area extending from Main Street to West Temple, from Fourth South almost to Fifth South. Glenn Walker Wallace, youngest and only surviving member of the M. H. Walker family, remembers the tennis court, greenhouse, stables, flowers, and green lawn that made the Walker Block seem "like a park."

It is not surprising that Utah's first recorded tennis tournament took place at the residence of one of the area's wealthiest families:

Although new, or at least comparatively so in this city, and the knowledge of the game confined to but a few, yet the idea has already taken a firm hold upon large numbers of our society people.

The game's reputation in the nineteenth century as the pastime of the elite was evident in Utah, and tennis then, as now, reflected the socio-economic status of the times. The "gay company of ladies and gentlemen" who were present when "the popular pastime was ushered in notably yesterday on the grounds of Mr. M. H. Walker" included a mining magnate (W. B. Conover), a jeweler (Boyd Park), a lawyer (J. M. Zane), two doctors (S. O. L. Potter and a Dr. Hall), a druggist (Bolivar Roberts, Jr.), five army personnel (Lt. Taggart, Lt. Burnham, Maj. W. H. Eckles and his clerk, C. B. Eckles, and "Miss McCook, of the Fort"), eleven "clerks" of various companies (Union Pacific, Auerbachs, Wells Fargo Bank, etc.), and one student (Samuel Park). There were no farmers or blue-collar workers. There was apparent religious diversity in the group, for the list included two employees of ZCMI (T. Hull and D. L. Murdock) and the bishop of the Episcopal church (D. Tuttle). The tournament also included "several members of the Walker families too numerous to mention," probably the wealthiest family present. Matthew H. Walker and his brothers, Joseph, Samuel Sharp, and David F., started Walker Dry Goods Company, a prosperous mercantile business that bought and sold buffalo robes, whiskey, wire, dolls, tobacco, and railroad and mining supplies. When Camp Floyd closed in 1860 the Walker brothers purchased surplus goods from the army for resale at a very lucrative figure. The Walker family also started Walker Bank (now First Interstate Bank).

The tournament at the Walker Block was not the only tennis action in Salt Lake Valley in 1885. A follow-up article reported that the "Tuesday match on the Walker Block court produced . . . the most perfect piece of tennis playing witnessed in the city," implying there was tennis to be witnessed at locations other than the Walker Block in 1885. The Daily Tribune account of the tournament includes the surprising fact that "competition was between the six Salt Lake clubs," an astonishing figure for a frontier town of about 30,000.

These early club players were concerned about tennis fashions. Late nineteenth-century Utah newspapers included many feature articles showing tennis attire. Men wore white flannel trousers, long-sleeved white shirts (sleeves were never rolled in the presence of a gallery), dark belts, high collars, ties, sometimes vests, and white shoes with dark stockings. Women wore regular street clothing: ground-length skirts, leather shoes, and wide-brimmed hats.

Initially, this cumbersome apparel seldom handicapped the players — little movement was involved in playing the game. The high net (four and a half feet in the center, seven feet at the wings) prompted a very slow game, and players gently lobbed the ball back and forth over the lofty net. The net was soon lowered to its present height of three feet, but the play remained genteel. Most women players stayed safely and demurely at the baseline rather than risk hooking their heeled shoes on their voluminous skirts when they moved quickly to make a stroke or up to the net for a volley. A woman who participated in the men's [!] doubles of the Deseret Club tournament in 1899 apparently followed this custom:

The deciding set in the match between Miss Bessie Kirkpatrick and J. F. Sharp and Messrs. [Ralph] Richards and [D. B.] Kimball was won by Messrs. Richards and Kimball by a score of 6-4. The set was marked by very pretty back line play by Miss Kirkpatrick, excellent net work by Messrs. Richards and Sharp, and good serving by Kimball.

The tennis of the nineteenth century was not the game of speed and power that we know today. According to the Herald, "Although it is athletic, it is not too violent, and while affording plenty of exercise, it is not exhausting, and may be played by women and children." Tennis was definitely "not too violent" in 1885. The game had a reputation of being effeminate in the beginning because of the way it was played — underhand serves, few volleys at the net, no driving the ball straight for your opponent (that would probably have brought expulsion from the club). Add to that men's white flannels and women's long skirts and petticoats, "love" as a score, and "lawn" to describe the game, and it is easy to understand why tennis was considered a "sissy" game.

Tommie Griffin, a tennis pioneer who arrived in Salt Lake City in 1897, confirmed the genteel game. Looking back many years later, Griffin wrote, "Tennis then was a game of gentility, a social function and pastime, not a gladiatorial conflict. . . . There were few volleys, no overhead smashes, the idea was to keep the ball in play until it was driven into the net or out of bounds. Most monotonous!"

Griffin wrote about the "tennis wheel horses" of early Utah, all successful in winning open state and Intermountain tournaments: Sam Neel (United States doubles champion), O. J. and Walker Salisbury (original financiers of the Salt Lake Tennis Club), Carl and Frank Roberts, E. M. Garnett, and T. B. Parker. Griffin modestly omitted his own name. He described early tennis equipment:

Racquets were of the square headed vintage; strings heavy cat-gut; balls were heavy with little resiliency, sometimes without cloth covers. I recall a man asking me if a racquet was some kind of a harp and would I play him a tune!

Griffin claims to have played the first indoor tennis in the world: "Some hardy, ubiquitous Scotsman and myself enjoyed a rather unique experience, doubtless unknown elsewhere in the world, when we played in the old Salt Palace on an improvised court." Tommie Griffin was aware of only two public courts in Salt Lake City in 1897: "one where the Bransford Apts. now are [105 East South Temple], the other on First South St., opposite St. Marks Cathedral." He mentioned some private courts later in his article: "Play on Deseret and Roberts Courts was primitive. Tethered cows looked on in wonderment. Chickens ran across the courts."

Courts must have been crude before the turn of the century. Some owners probably scooped out the sagebrush, leveled the land, and painted the lines with lime: "No elaborate structure is necessary . . . simply a plot of ground 78 feet long by 36 feet in width, kept in good condition without any great amount of labor." An 1885 diagram showing how to "draw the lines" for a tennis court appeared in the Salt Lake Herald under the heading, "Lawn Tennis." 11 Although the early Utah courts are described by the English term, "lawn tennis," they were undoubtedly clay. Grass courts require a tremendous amount of upkeep, are far more expensive, wear out faster, require moving the lines often, and can be played upon only about twice a week and only during the summer months.

The Deseret courts, mentioned by Griffin, were built before 1899. A tournament chronicled in the newspapers early in September took place at the Deseret Club. There must have been other courts as well, for an article dated September 4, 1899, says that "most [not all] of the matches were played on the Deseret Club court." The club's two clay courts were located east of the present Hotel Utah. Two asphalt courts were added behind the old LDS Church Office Building on South Temple around 1910, and the clay courts were replaced by concrete in the mid-1920s. By 1920 there were several private courts in Salt Lake City: Popperton Place (going east from Virginia Street), the Haxton Place and Miller courts (on Haxton Place, 940 East South Temple), Husler Flour Mills court on State Street, Rowland Hall (First Avenue and B Street), and the Roberts court.

Ogden had its share of tennis activity at the turn of the century. A tournament was recorded as early as 1899:

OGDENS TOURNAMENT (By Telephone to the Herald)

Ogden, Sept. 2 — The tennis tournament begins Monday evening at 6 o'clock, at the club courts, corner Munroe avenue and Twenty-fifth streets, where spectators will be made welcome.

Ogden, Sept. 3 — The tournament of the Ogden Tennis club is scheduled to begin at 6 o'clock tomorrow, at the club courts. Any player who fails to appear by that time for his match forfeits the game. Mr. Bell of the Alferetta tennis club of California will referee the matches. All preliminaries will be decided by two out of three sets.

Tennis had not yet been organized in Provo. In 1911 a tennis club was started there, including mostly Brigham Young University students. The club was instrumental in building a tennis court on the south side of the college building "at a cost of three hundred dollars, the club members paying half and the University the rest. In 1912 two new tennis courts were started on the ground across the street west from the school."

Don "Sanky" Dixon, a star of the BYU team of the late 1920s, remembers those courts across from the University (600 North and 100 East). As a young boy learning the game, however, he did most of his practicing at the T. N. Taylor court on 300 North and 500 West. The Taylor court was one of the private courts that contributed to the development of tennis in Provo, along with courts owned by R. Eugene Allen and J. Will Knight.

Immediately after the War . . . clay courts were erected on the private property of these three individuals. In fact, tennis, as a major sport in Provo was born on these clay courts. . . . Such players as youngsters, appeared on these courts; Fred Dixon, Sanky Dixon, Hunt Madsen [Hunter Manson], Lee Buttle, Paul Holt. . . .

After the old Knight Woolen Mills burned down, the Knight family donated that property for a tennis club (100 West at 100 North). Twenty-five active members, including John Smith, Horace Merrill, Merle Taylor, Clayton Jenkins, and T. Earl Pardoe, paid a fifty dollar membership fee plus yearly dues of fifty dollars. "Showerbaths of cold water made these first courts, two in number, appear as tremendously fine courts. Only the cold weather kept the members off the court. . . ."The Knight Woolen Mills courts became the home courts for the BYU team in the late 1920s.

Collegiate tennis had been slow in developing. Efforts toward the development of collegiate tennis before the turn of the century had all failed. The University of Utah Chronicle reported interest in tennis as early as 1894:

The University campus is to be cleared and levelled! The "boys" took the initiative step last Saturday, when a score or more of them assembled and removed the trees. The Athletic Association followed closely in appropriating money to have the whole field ploughed and leveled. . . . That the ladies may not be entirely left out, several tennis courts will be arranged on the campus.

Unfortunately, the university "ladies" did not get their courts in 1894. "Lack of funds and the interest in football and baseball probably prevented the carrying out of the promise." Courts were not built until 1901. That year the student newspaper announced that "a double tennis court and also a basket ball grounds are now being constructed on the campus" next to the old gymnasium.

A tennis club organized at the University of Utah in 1904 continued to function in 1906:

Tennis club meets regularly every day in L-5 or elsewhere. But no move has been made to improve the tennis court. The match announced in the last issue of the Chronicle has been called off. Fuzzy has given the assurance that as soon as the court is repaired, the match will be played.

Poor condition of the clay courts must have been a perennial problem. Concerning a men's doubles tournament in 1916 the student newspaper reported, "The condition of the courts precludes accurate playing. The hollows and small gullies give the impression of a golf course." Care of the university courts was apparently the responsibility of the club members. "Four members of the club were selected each week to take care of the tennis courts. These four members were to keep the courts well lined and in good condition. Club dues were fifty cents, and members had preference to the courts."

Club members must have kept the courts busy, as evidenced by the accelerated tennis activity during the second decade of the twentieth century. "Ever since the first little group of students were able to purchase a net and scrape together a bucket of lime . . . tennis has steadily grown to be the most popular sport of the University. . . ." Despite the popularity of the sport, facilities continued to be a problem. "On some occasions last spring as many as fifteen students waited for their turns to play. . . ." Finally, in 1917, announcement was made of "Four new courts to be constructed . . . east of the present 'Forty Lovers' Field."

The question of whether the new courts were to be clay or cement prompted a trip to Logan by Professor A. L. Mathews, first tennis coach at Utah. His appraisal provides insight into the tennis situation at Utah State Agricultural College in 1917:

Logan has the better of us... in the matter of tennis courts. The Aggie courts are of the cement type . . . can be used later in the fall and earlier in the spring than can clay courts. They require no expert for upkeep, and most important of all, they seem to be more popular. . . . Authorities at the A. C. have promised the students two new cement courts, provided the students do the leveling and constructive work.

Utah State's tennis courts in the 1920s were not as wonderful as Coach Mathews claimed, according to Joe Cowley, Aggies star of the late twenties. Cowley remembers the cement courts, but "the cement ended at the baseline, and the cement and clay rarely came out even." David Freed, a star of the University of Utah tennis team, described the Logan courts as "horrible."

Intercollegiate competition had begun in 1912 in Provo, with BYU victorious over Utah in the first competition. Utah State had entered the meet but defaulted. "The Aggies forfeited both singles and doubles matches. Although the interest at the College was keen, the tennisters were not quite ready for the intercollegiate competition." By 1922 the Aggies were ready. They won back-to-back Rocky Mountain Conference championships in 1922 and 1923, led by Intermountain Doubles champions Cyril Hammond and Wesley Howells. (The Men's Intermountain Doubles was the most coveted championship in Utah from 1922 to 1931. Winners were awarded a trip to Boston for the national championships, expenses paid by the United States Lawn Tennis Association.) Intercollegiate records from 1912 to 1935 show Utah State winning two championships, BYU four, and Utah seventeen championships. (There was no competition in 1917 due to World War I.)

Tennis boomed at all three universities during the 1920s. Earl Pardoe became player-coach at BYU in 1920, followed in 1928 by "Buck" Dixon, star of the "Y" team and one of the all-time greats of Utah tennis. Dixon also coached basketball, football, and golf. He coached the tennis team until 1963, his thirty-five years topped only by Theron Par melee, who coached at the University of Utah from 1921 until 1961, with the exception of three years' army service during World War II. Utah State made tennis progress in the 1920s under C R.Johnson. Johnson taught at USAC, coached the tennis team, and worked with three Logan High School tennis players whose names became quite well knownthroughout the state—Joe Cowley, Hyrum P. "Dutch" Cannon, and Lund Johnson (C R.'s son).

The strength of the university tennis programs filtered down to the high schools. Good competition between the city schools and intercity competition among Salt Lake, Logan, and Provo developed during the 1920s. High school players looked forward each year to two big tournaments — the state championships and the BYU Invitational (a tradition that continued until 1983). The Pardoe Cup, an intercity competition for juniors, was inaugurated in the twenties. The J. Will Knight Cup encouraged intercity senior competition.

Tennis was flourishing at private schools as well. Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City had one of the earliest tennis courts in Utah, probably built around the turn of the century. Clara Colburn, principal of Rowland Hall from 1895 to 1913, explained the difficulties involved in building the first court:

I think that you would be interested in knowing that the first tennis court I paid for by tutoring evenings, preparing a young man for Yale College. The whole lawn had been an alfalfa field on which the Bishop's cow had lived, and we had much trouble and expense killing the roots, as they grow very deep. At last, by the help of water, we froze the roots and had a good court.

I think I have heard that you have two courts now, but I believe you never had more joy over the second court than we had over the first, when, at last, we had conquered the alfalfa.

Another private school that emphasized tennis early was Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant. Three courts were built there in 1924, influenced by the arrival of Ernest Brunger who became "coach of everything." Soon Wasatch Academy tennis teams were competing favorably with high schools around the state.

Utah's best junior college team in the early years was at Snow College in Ephraim. Snow established itself as the power of the Intermountain Collegiate Athletic Conference.

It is surprising that there is no indication of early competition in the southern part of Utah. One would expect tennis to have flourished in the favorable weather conditions of St. George. However, R. J. Snow, who grew up there, explains that there were no tennis courts in St. George until the 1930s; hence, no early tennis competition.

Newhouse, Utah, a mining town near Milford, had a tennis court. Samuel Newhouse bought the town in 1900, following his financial success in Bingham. A tennis court was built there in about 1905, as well as an opera house, library, hospital, and hotel. When the Cactus Mine gave out five years later, the town was abandoned.

An unexpected stronghold of tennis, away from the urban centers, was Manti in central Utah. Wilbur Braithwaite, coach of the Manti High School tennis team since 1952, credits the strength of Manti tennis to a long-standing tradition and an early Manti pioneer — Dilworth Woolley. Judge Woolley (he was district judge) graduated from Brigham Young Academy, then left to study law at the University of Michigan. According to his son, Harold Woolley of Salt Lake City, "the Judge was a health nut who stressed physical fitness and was always telling his sons to run around the block." The judge was very impressed with the physical condition and cleanlooking clothing of the tennis players he observed at Michigan. When he returned to Manti in the early 1900s he built a tennis court behind his house. There was so much enthusiasm for the game (there wasn't much else to do in Manti, according to Harold Woolley) that people lined up to play on the Woolley court and on two other courts built later in Manti Memorial Park. Manti has a long tradition in tennis and continues to be a strong tennis center today. Manti High School has won its regional championship twenty-five of the last twenty-six years.

Another tennis pioneer lived in Mayfield, Utah, about twelve miles south of Manti. "Charlie" Whitlock built a court on the clay at his property in about 1916. His daughter and sons, and others in the small community, kept the court busy until 1926. That year a new school building was constructed in Mayfield, and two tennis courts were included in the building project. The tennis players moved to the school courts and the Whitlock court was allowed to deteriorate, but there was considerable tennis action in the tiny town of Mayfield in the early 1900s.

In view of nineteenth-century puritanical influences that considered sports, recreation, and amusement anti-religious, it is surprising to find strong support for tennis in such predominantly Mormon communities as Manti and Mayfield. However, the Mormon church has always been in favor of sports. The Mormons built the Social Hall in Salt Lake City for recreation and amusement less than six years after their arrival in the valley: "The Social Hall was used for socials and dances for more than half a century . . . and was also occupied as a gymnasium." The Mormon church later built many gymnasiums. Brigham Young asked for a new type of church architecture with recreation halls adjacent to the actual church building. The bishop of each local area was encouraged to provide facilities for the youth so that "young people would be able to engage in games and sports under the close supervision of the Church, and they would not be forced to seek these things elsewhere."

Mormon leaders were appointed to promote athletic participation. In 1911 a series of lessons were held at the Deseret Gymnasium to train directors in several sports, including tennis. Twenty-seven young men from twenty-seven wards and stakes were enrolled in lessons in "basketball, baseball, volley ball, and tennis. . . . The course was very short, lasting four weeks, with five hours per day. . . . 'Rejoice, O young man, in thy strength.' "

Another organization that promoted athletics, particularly tennis, was the United States Army. The inventor of the game of tennis, Maj. Walter C Wingfield, was a British army officer who introduced "sphairistike" to his military friends at a lawn party in London in 1873, claiming it was a game played by the ancient Greeks. 30 The game spread around the world through military people. Mary Ewing Outerbridge learned tennis from British army officers while vacationing in Bermuda and returned home to lay out a court on an unused corner of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club in 1874. Some accept that court as the first in America; others argue for different sites. A few military posts had tennis courts that same year, including Camp Apache in Arizona and Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. Fort Douglas must have played a role in the development of tennis in Utah, and the first tournament included several participants from the fort. The military-tennis connection is evidenced in an 1892 newspaper story about a Memorial Day celebration:

The programme of athletic contests between the Utah university cadets and the students of the Ogden Military academy, attracted fifteen hundred persons to the baseball park yesterday afternoon. . . . Tennis was the first game to open up the programme. . . . Roberts did not play his usual game. . . . The Ogdens won the two sets by a score of 6 to 3.

The news that "Roberts did not play his usual game" suggests that the Utah cadets had played before. The article is also revealing in its indication that there was tennis in Ogden in 1892, at least at the military academy.

The Fort Douglas Museum has 1917 photographs showing two tennis courts at the fort, but there is no record of the year of construction. The courts were apparently built before 1905 — a tournament was played on them that year.

The first annual tournament of the newly-formed Inter-Mountain Lawn Tennis Association, which comprises the four states of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado, with headquarters at Salt Lake City, was played August 7 to 14, 1905, on the fine clay courts of the Fort Douglas Tennis Club, located on the Military Reservation.

There were fifty-four entries in the tournament. First prize, the $500 Newhouse Cup, was won by R. G. Hunt from California. Runner-up was Frank T. Roberts of Salt Lake City. The Salisbury brothers won the Gentlemen's Doubles.

Another military tennis facility can be dated 1918. From 1917 to 1920, the area east of the present University of Utah Special Events Center was the site of a prisoner-of-war internment camp. German prisoners of World War I were housed there, as well as at other camps throughout the nation. Switzerland was the country charged with supervising the Fort Douglas internment camp, and many photographs were sent to Switzerland to prove that the prisoners were treated satisfactorily. Those pictures reveal two tennis courts next to the prisoner barracks, probably located where the Annex Building now stands. Frederick Wissenback (who had been studying for the ministry when he was taken from a seminary into custody) organized a tennis club at the camp. ZCMI donated equipment for the club, and the YMCA helped finance the facility.

The club that became the greatest force for developing tennis in Utah was the Salt Lake Tennis Club, first organized in 1912 on a site near Second South on Tenth East (later Victory Playground and now a senior citizens center). O. J. and Walker Salisbury, state and Intermountain tennischampions, financed the five clay courts. The club became the premier tennis facility in Utah and one of the first clubs in the West to join the United States Lawn Tennis Association, ruling body of American tennis. For twenty-one years the Tennis Club functioned at the Tenth East location, hosting almost every tournament held in Utah. A young high school student, David L. Freed, was paid "$2.50 per day in 1928 to water the courts atnight, roll them each morning with a large, heavy roller, and then mark the lines with a paint brush dipped in lime water. A tough job! " Freed learned a lot about the lines of a tennis court — in 1954 he won the U.S. Seniors Championship and was ranked number one in the nation. He also won the National Public Parks Senior Singles in 1957 and captained the Davis Cup team in 1960-61.

Manager of the Salt Lake Tennis Club at that first location was Frank Capp, who had other interests as well — he was a bootlegger. "His liquor was furnished by Wallace Stegner's father. One day while Wallace was playing football at the Tennis Club, he hurt hisfinger and had to have it amputated," but that did not stop him from becoming one of the top tennis players on the University of Utah team and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author as well. Stegner no longer plays tennis, but it is amazing how many of the early players do — a testimonial to the life-long aspect of tennis. Many of the tennis lettermen from the 1920s on are still playing tennis.

The Salt Lake Tennis Club property was sold to Salt Lake City in 1927, but the club was allowed to remain at the Tenth East location until 1933. That year the five clay courts were cemented and became a public facility. The Tennis Club moved to Forest Dale, which had been the second home of the Salt Lake Country Club (the first had been at Gilmer Park). The Country Club vacated Forest Dale for its present location on the east bench, leaving three clay tennis courts in a state of disrepair. The Tennis Club remodeled those courts and later added two new red clay ones. This excellent facility introduced a new era to Utah tennis. Utah State Championships held there each year began to attract world-class fields: Bobby Riggs, Ted Schroeder, Frankie Parker, Joe Hunt, and many others. The Intermountain Championships were held there every other year, alternating with a Colorado location. Three national championships were held at the Forest Dale facility.

By 1935, fiftieth anniversary of the first tennis tournament in Utah, the game had exploded here. Utah's facilities had evolved from courts dug out of the sagebrush to outstanding tennis centers. Collegiate tennis had developed from no action before 1912 to one of the most popular sports at all three Utah universities in 1935. Utah players were traveling to tournaments throughout the nation, and some of the country's finest players were attracted to the Utah State and Intermountain championships. Tennis was no longer the genteel, lobbing game of the turn of the century but had become a game of speed, grace, and athletic ability. Players had discarded the bulky clothing: men wore short-sleeved, open-throat polo shirts and sometimes short pants; women's skirts had moved up to the kneecap, and Helen Jacobs brazenly wore shorts at Forest Hills in 1933. Utah tennis stars were becoming well known: David Freed, Buck and Sanky Dixon, Earle Peirce, Welby Emms, Ralph McElvenny, Mel Gallacher, Joe Cowley, Lee Buttle, Wes Howell, and Cy Hammond. Stars whose names were unknown competed in a new local tournament beginning in 1928. Only those who had never won a tournament were allowed to enter this unique competition — the Salt Lake Tribune No-Champs. Internationally, the names of Bill Tilden, Suzanne Lenglen, and the French Musketeers became well known in the twenties; and the thirties brought talk of the famous American Helens — Wills and Jacobs. Fred Perry and Ellsworth Vines, stars of the thirties, played one of a series of matches in Salt Lake City, which prompted a full-page story in the Deseret News Society Section featuring the "smart young society matrons" who hostessed parties celebrating the matches. 38 Tennis was no longer a game for a lawn party but a spectator sport and prime box office attraction.

The year 1935 concluded a half-century of tennis progress in Utah. The key to success was involvement. Utah's tennis pioneers established a tradition of activity and exceptional leadership that has continued through the years.

Utah's contribution to the growth of the game of tennis (there are an estimated thirty million players in the United States today) has been greater than the population and climate of the state would suggest. Salt Lake City has hosted more national championships than any city in the country — the NCAA Men's Championships twice, NCAA Women's Championships twice, National Clay Courts, National Public Parks twice, National Seniors many times, National Hardcourts, and others. Salt Lake City was first to host the Intermountain Championships in 1905. The State Championships became in the 1930s one of the prestigious tournaments of the West. The Salt Lake Tennis Club was one of the first clubs in the West to belong to the United States Tennis Association and in 1981 was honored as the outstanding "Member Organizaton of the Year." National rankings of the top players in the country list several Utahns every year, including the 1983 NCAA champion. Community endorsement of tennis has been extensive: the Salt Lake Tribune has sponsored the No-Champs for over a half-century; the Deseret News sponsors a large tournament that has been on-going for twenty years; the Ogden Standard-Examiner has sponsored a tennis tournament for about eight years; the Mormon church for many years held a churchwide tennis tournament; local businesses underwrite many tournaments. Utah has a progressive development program for young players, aided by the Youth Tennis Foundation started by David L. Freed in 1935. Freed also originated Little League and Junior League Tennis, programs that have now been adopted all over the nation. The traditions of Utah's tennis pioneers continue.

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