Vincent Richards

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Vincent Richards
Vincent Richards at the 1922 Davis Cup.jpg
Country  United States
Born (1903-03-20)March 20, 1903
New York, NY, USA
Died September 28, 1959(1959-09-28) (aged 56)
New York, NY, USA
Turned pro 1927
Retired 1930 (very brief comeback in 1933 and 1945)
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HOF 1959 (member page)
Singles
Highest ranking No. 2 (1924, A. Wallis Myers)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
French Open SF (1926)
Wimbledon QF (1924)
US Open SF (1922, 1924, 1925, 1926)
Other tournaments
Olympic Games Gold medal.svg Gold Medal (1924)
Professional majors
US Pro W (1927, 1928, 1930, 1933)
Doubles
Grand Slam Doubles results
French Open W (1926)
Wimbledon W (1924)
US Open W (1918, 1922, 1923, 1925, 1926)
Other Doubles tournaments
Olympic Games Gold medal.svg Gold Medal (1924)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
US Open W (1919, 1924)
Other Mixed Doubles tournaments
Olympic Games Silver medal.svg Silver Medal (1924)
Last updated on: September 18, 2012.
Olympic medal record
Men's Tennis
Gold 1924 Paris Singles
Gold 1924 Paris Doubles
Silver 1924 Paris Mixed doubles

Vincent "Vinnie" Richards (March 20, 1903 – September 28, 1959) was an American tennis player in the early decades of the 20th Century,[1] particularly known as being a superlative volleyer. He was ranked World No. 2 both as an amateur in 1924 by A. Wallis Myers, and as a pro by American Lawn Tennis magazine in 1930.[2]

Biography[edit]

Born in Yonkers, New York, he attended the Jesuit Fordham Preparatory School, attended Fordham University and studied at the Columbia University School of Journalism in 1922.

A superlative volleyer, Richards won the National Boys Outdoor Singles Tournament in 1917. He became a protégé of Bill Tilden after being defeated by the older man in a match, and teamed up with him to win the United States doubles championship in 1918 at the age of 15. He remains the youngest male to have ever won a major championship. Twenty-seven years later, in 1945, he and Tilden won the United States Pro doubles title. While Bill Tilden teamed with Richards to win titles together, he was also beaten by Richards in both singles and doubles, including for several major titles. During their long rivalry, they faced each other 102 times, with Richards holding a career record of 52–50 against Tilden. Richards retained his amateur status for ten years, as his dream was to compete in the 1924 Olympics held in Paris, France. He realized this dream and won the Gold Medal for the United States in both Singles and Doubles, even collecting the Silver Medal as well in Mixed Doubles. After Tennis was a part of the Summer Olympics from 1896 through 1924, it was not seen again until the 1988 Summer Games. As the 2012 Summer Olympics are approaching, Vinnie Richards is the only American Male Tennis Player to ever win the Gold Medal in both singles and doubles, and ranks 2nd all-time with his 3 medals won in 1924 to Reginald Doherty of Great Britain, who won 4 total medals in Olympic Tennis. Between both men and women, Richards is tied with Venus Williams with 3 overall medals, with Williams collecting three gold medals over multiple Olympics. He might very well have won more medals had Tennis been included in 1928 Summer Games, and that may have affected his decision to finally turn "professional". While there was no official "ATP Tour" in the 1920s, Richards was one of the pioneers in creating a version of a "world tennis tour", playing in the equivalent of all 4 "grand slam" events during his career and also playing exhibition matches in front of Emperors, Presidents, and other Heads of State in addition to the major tournaments. While Tilden may have overshadowed Richards, even in the Davis Cup, Richards held a perfect 5–0 record when called upon to play for his country.

The grave of Vincent Richards in Woodlawn Cemetery

Richards was one of the best singles players of the 1920s and played on several United States Davis Cup teams.[3] He won the Silver in mixed doubles with Marion Jessup. In 1927 he was the first prominent male player to turn professional. The following year, in 1928, he was still generally considered to be one of the top 5 or 6 players in the world and played a brief tour at the end of the year against another new professional, the hitherto virtually unknown Czech player Karel Kozeluh. In spite of a number of close matches, Richards could only beat Kozeluh 5 times while losing 15. In 1929 Richards won 2 out of 7 matches against Kozeluh and in 1930 2 out of 6. At the end of 1930 he then announced his retirement from professional tennis. At the time, he had won the United States Pro Championship three times, in 1927, 1928, and 1930, beating Kozeluh in the finals in both 1928 and 1930, while losing to him in the 1929 finals. He later came out of retirement and won the Pro Championship once again in 1933, this time beating Frank Hunter. As already mentioned, coming out of retirement again some 12 years later to play doubles in the 1945 version of today's U.S. Open was more of a "lark", with neither Richards or Tilden actually expecting to be competitive, let alone win the tournament. Yet that's exactly what happened, as even at age 45, Richards was the prototypical serve and volley player whose game was perfectly suited for the finer, "pure" elements of the Game of Tennis. John McEnroe is one of the last players to win Major Tournaments with a pure serve and volley game, although the two players could not have been more different with respect to their on-court personalities.

Richards was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1959.[4]

Grand Slam doubles finals[edit]

Titles (7)[edit]

Year Tournament Partner Opponents Score
1918 U.S. National Championships
Forest Hills, USA
United States Bill Tilden United States Fred Alexander
United States Beals Wright
6–3, 6–4, 3–6, 2–6, 6–2
1922 U.S. National Championships
Philadelphia, USA
United States Bill Tilden United States Watson Washburn
United States Richard Norris Williams
13–11, 12–10, 6–1
1923 U.S. National Championships
Philadelphia, USA
United States Bill Tilden Australia Pat O'Hara Wood
Australia Gerald Patterson
4–6, 6–1, 6–3, 6–4
1924 Wimbledon
London, United Kingdom
United States Frank Hunter United States Watson Washburn
United States Richard Norris Williams
6–3, 3–6, 8–10, 8–6, 6–3
1925 U.S. National Championships
Forest Hills, USA
United States Richard Norris Williams Australia John Hawkes
Australia Gerald Patterson
6–2, 8–10, 6–4, 11–9
1926 French Championships
Paris, France
United States Howard Kinsey France Henri Cochet
France Jacques Brugnon
6–4, 6–1, 4–6, 6–4
1926 U.S. National Championships
Forest Hills, USA
United States Richard Norris Williams United States Alfred Chapin
United States Bill Tilden
6–4, 6–8, 11–9, 6–3

Runner-ups (2)[edit]

Year Tournament Partner Opponents Score
1919 U.S. National Championships
Forest Hills, USA
United States Bill Tilden Australia Norman Brookes
Australia Gerald Patterson
8–6, 6–3, 4–6, 4–6, 6–2
1926 Wimbledon
London, United Kingdom
United States Howard Kinsey France Henri Cochet
France Jacques Brugnon
7–5, 4–6, 6–3, 6–2

Grand Slam mixed doubles finals[edit]

Titles (2)[edit]

Year Tournament Partner Opponents Score
1919 U.S. National Championships
Forest Hills, USA
United States Marion Zinderstein United States Florence Ballin
United States Bill Tilden
2–6, 11–9, 6–2
1924 U.S. National Championships
Forest Hills, USA
United States Helen Wills United States Molla Bjurstedt Mallory
United States Bill Tilden
6–8, 7–5, 6–0

Runner-ups (1)[edit]

Year Tournament Partner Opponents Score
1925 U.S. National Championships
Forest Hills, USA
United Kingdom Ermintrude Harvey United Kingdom Kathleen McKane
Australia John Hawkes
6–2, 6–4

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First Edition), p. 424.
  2. ^ K. De Lang, ed. (January 14, 1930). "Lawntennis" (PDF). Het Vaderland (in Dutch) (Beetsterzwaag, Netherlands: C.M. Schilt) 61: 15. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Davis Cup – Vincent Richards". ITF. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Tennis Hall of Fame – Player Profile Vinnie Richards". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 23, 2012.