The history of the Australian Championships (1925-1940)
by Karoly Mazak
The second edition of the ILTF recognized Official Australasian Championships took place in January 1925 in Sydney. James Anderson defended his third Australasian title against top-seeded Gerald Patterson, while Daphne Akhurst became the champion among the ladies.
In 1926 the Australasian Championships was played in Adelaide. Jack Hawkes beat on his way to the title top-seeded defending champion Anderson in the semis. Daphne Akhurst defended her title.
The Australasian Championships was renamed Australian Championships in 1927 and carried out in a new stadium at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne. Gerald Patterson, already two-times Wimbledon champion, finally won his home title beating defending champion Hawkes 3-6 6-4 3-6 18-16 6-3 after saving 5 match points in the fourth set. During the match Patterson blasted 29 aces and 29 double faults. Esna Boyd won the ladies’ title.
The Australian Tennis Federation invited a French team to play at the 1928 championships. The team’s journey around the world (through South America, Australia and South Africa) by ship took seven months from September 1927. World No. 4 Jean Borotra became the winner of the Australian Championships in Sydney over Ronald Cummings. Daphne Akhurst won her third title.
In 1929 John Colin Gregory, member of a visiting British team, won the Australian Championships in Adelaide, while World No. 3 Daphne Akhurst defended her fourth title.
In 1930 local player Gar Moon won the Australian Championships in Melbourne, while World No. 4 Daphne Akhurst defended her fifth title. In February Akhurst married Roy Cozens and played no more major singles events.
The Australian Championships was played unusually late in 1931, in March in Sydney. Local players Jack Crawford and Coral McInnes Buttsworth both won their inaugural title.
In 1932 the Australian Championships was played in February in Adelaide, and both Jack Crawford and Coral McInnes Buttsworth defended their titles.
A US team had travelled to Australia at the end of 1932, with world No. 1 Ellsworth Vines, who won the New South Wales Championships in Sydney over teammate Wilmer Allison, but lost to Jack Crawford at the Victorian Championships in Melbourne. At the Australian Championships in January in Melbourne top-seeded Vines was surprisingly beaten in the quarters by Viv McGrath, one of the first players with a two-handed backhand. Jack Crawford defended his third title in a row against American Keith Gledhill. Joan Hartigan won her first title beating defending champion McInnes Buttsworth. Crawford went on this year to collect the Roland Garros and Wimbledon title, only barely missing out becoming the first winner of the Grand Slam when he lost to Fred Perry in the final of the US Championships. Before that event expectations were high that Crawford might win in the same year the championships of the four nations who had already won the Davis Cup. The term “Grand Slam” was coined by journalist Kieran, a bridge-player, comprising these four titles.
A British team had travelled to Australia at the end of 1933, with world No. 2 Fred Perry, who won the Victorian Championships in Melbourne beating world No. 1 Jack Crawford. Fred Perry repeated this feat at the Australian Championships in January in Sydney. Joan Hartigan defended her second title.
A British team had travelled once again to Australia at the end of 1934, but this time world No. 4 Crawford overcame world No. 2 and Wimbledon champion Perry at the New South Wales Championships in Sydney in five sets. World No. 1 and Wimbledon champion Dorothy Round was also part of the team and she collected the New South Wales and Victorian titles. Jack Crawford repeated his victory over defending champ Perry, winning his fourth Australian title in Melbourne. Dorothy Round collected the ladies’ title, illness keeping defending champ Hartigan out of the tournament.
In 1936 Adrian Quist won the Australian title in Adelaide beating defending champion Crawford 6-2 6-3 4-6 3-6 9-7. Joan Hartigan won her third title.
In 1937 Viv McGrath and Nancye Wynne both won their inaugural Australian title in Sydney.
American World No. 3 Don Budge (as the best amateur) and Dorothy Bundy (the daughter of Tom Bundy and May Sutton) travel to Australia at the end of 1937 and win the Victorian Championships in Melbourne. Don Budge, came to Australia with the secret ambition of achieving the Grand Slam, but in January was beaten in test matches by his German rival Gottfried von Cramm and Australian hope John Bromwich before the Championships. At the Australian Championships in Adelaide von Cramm lost in the semis to Bromwich who was overwhelmed by Budge in the final. Dorothy Bundy collected ladies’ trophy. Budge went on to complete the Grand Slam among the amateurs.
In 1939 John Bromwich and Emily Hood Westacott both won their inaugural Australian title in Melbourne.
Next year Adrian Quist and Nancye Wynne both won their second Australian title in Sydney, before the escalation of World War II made the organization of the championships impossible for a number of years.