Don McNeill (tennis)

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Don McNeill
Hammersley and Mc Neill.jpg
McNeill (right) with Chilean tennis player Andrés Hammersley in 1942.
Full name William Donald McNeill
Country  United States
Born (1918-04-30)April 30, 1918
Chickasha, USA
Died November 28, 1996(1996-11-28) (aged 78)
Vero Beach, USA
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
College Kenyon College
Int. Tennis HOF 1965 (member page)
Singles
Highest ranking No. 4 (1940, Karoly Mazak)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
French Open W (1939)
Wimbledon 2R (1939)
US Open W (1940)
Doubles
Grand Slam Doubles results
French Open W (1939)
US Open W (1944)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
US Open F (1944)

William Donald McNeill (April 30, 1918 – November 28, 1996) was an American male tennis player. He was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma and died in Vero Beach, Florida, United States.

Biography[edit]

Don McNeill graduated from Kenyon College in 1940, where he became a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Lambda chapter).

McNeill won his first major title in 1938 when he defeated Frank Bowden at the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships, played at the Seventh Regiment Armory in Manhattan, New York.[2]

In 1939, McNeill became the second American to win the French Championships singles title (after Don Budge) when he defeated compatriot Bobby Riggs in the final in straight sets.[3] Afterwards he played at Wimbledon, the only time he participated, and lost to Franjo Kukuljevic in the second round of the singles, reached the third round in the doubles and the quarterfinal in the mixed doubles.[4] He went on to win the All England Plate, a tennis competition held at the Wimbledon Championships which consisted of players who were defeated in the first or second rounds of the singles competition.[5]

In June 1940 McNeill beat Bobby Riggs to win the singles title at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships in Chicago.[6] In August that year he also won the Southampton Invitational tournament after a victory in the final over Frank Kovacs.[7] His run continued two weeks later when he won the invitational tournament at the Newport Casino.[8] In September he won his second Grand Slam title when he defeated Riggs in the final of the U.S. National Championships after being down two sets to love.[9] He was the third player who managed to overcome a two-set deficit in the final of the U.S. Championships after Maurice McLoughlin (1912) and Bill Tilden (1922).[10]

His title wins in 1940 earned McNeill the No. 1 ranking in the USA at the end of the year.[11] There were no "official" amateur rankings during World War II - McNeill reached as high as World No. 7 in Gordon Lowe's amateur rankings list in 1939.[12] During the war McNeill served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and was attached to the embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While stationed there he won the Argentinian Championships in 1942 and defended the title successfully in November 1943, defeating Pancho Segura in the final.[13][14]

After the war McNeill decided to focus on his business career and played tournaments less frequently. In 1950 McNeill won his second U.S. Indoor title, twelve years after winning his first. This time in the final he was too strong for Fred Kovaleski, defeating him in four sets. Additionally he had been a runner-up in 1940 and 1946.[15]

He was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1965.

After his tennis career he became an advertising executive in New York.[3] McNeill died on November 28, 1996 in Vero Beach due to complications from pneumonia.[16]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Singles: 2 (2 titles)[edit]

Outcome Year Tournament Opponent Result
Winner 1939 French Championships United States Bobby Riggs 7–5, 6–0, 6–3
Winner 1940 U.S. National Championships United States Bobby Riggs 4–6, 6–8, 6–3, 6–3, 7–5

Doubles: 3 (2 titles, 1 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Tournament Partner Opponents Result
Winner 1939 French Championships United States Charles Harris France Jean Borotra
France Jacques Brugnon
4–6, 6–4, 6–0, 2–6. 10–8
Winner 1944 U.S. National Championships United States Bob Falkenburg United States Bill Talbert
Ecuador Pancho Segura
7–5, 6–4, 3–6, 6–1
Runner-up 1946 U.S. National Championships United States Frank Guernsey United States Gardnar Mulloy
United States Bill Talbert
6–3, 4–6, 6–2, 3–6, 18–20

Mixed: 1 (1 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Tournament Partner Opponents Result
Runner-up 1944 U.S. National Championships United States Dorothy Bundy United States Margaret Osborne
Ecuador Bill Talbert
2–6, 3–6


References[edit]

  1. ^ Mazak, Karoly (2010). The Concise History of Tennis, p. 68.
  2. ^ "Don McNeill Wins Indoors Tennis Singles Crown". Palm Beach Daily News. Mar 6, 1938. 
  3. ^ a b Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). [New York]: New Chapter Press. pp. 612,613. ISBN 978-0942257700. 
  4. ^ "Wimbledon player archive – Don McNeill". AELTC. 
  5. ^ Alan Little, ed. (2011). 2011 Wimbledon Compendium. London: The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. pp. 493–497. ISBN 9781899039364. 
  6. ^ "Don McNeill Defeats Riggs in Tennis Finals". St. Petersburg Times. Jun 25, 1940. 
  7. ^ "Don MvcNeill Wins Southampton Tennis". Eugene Register-Guard. Aug 4, 1940. 
  8. ^ "McNeill Wins Both Titles at Newport". The News. Aug 18, 1940. 
  9. ^ "McNeill Takes Rigss' Crown". The Tuscaloosa News. Sep 10, 1940. 
  10. ^ E., Digby Baltzell (2013). Sporting Gentlemen : Men's Tennis from the Age of Honor to the Cult of the Superstar. Somerset, NJ: Transaction Publishers. p. 320. ISBN 978-1412851800. 
  11. ^ "Don McNeill and Alice Marble Top Tennis Lists at Year End". The Spokesman-Review. Dec 28, 1940. 
  12. ^ United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First Edition), p. 425.
  13. ^ "McNeill Wins Tennis Title". The Montreal Gazette. Nov 22, 1943. 
  14. ^ "Tennis to Promote Pan-Americanism". The Milwaukee Journal. Jun 9, 1944. 
  15. ^ "Aging Don McNeill is Spry Enough to regain Net Title". The Milwaukee Journal. Mar 27, 1950. 
  16. ^ "W. Donald McNeill, 78, a U.S. Tennis Champion". The New York Times. November 30, 1996. 

External links[edit]