Alexander Van Rensselaer

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Alexander Van Rensselaer
Country (sports)  United States
Born (1850-10-01)October 1, 1850
Burlington, New Jersey[1]
Died July 18, 1933(1933-07-18) (aged 82)
Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Grand Slam Singles results
US Open QF (1884)
Grand Slam Doubles results
US Open F (1881, 1883, 1884)

Alexander Van Rensselaer (October 1, 1850 – July 18, 1933) was an American sportsman and patron of Princeton University. A member of a prominent Philadelphia family, he played both tennis and cricket at high levels.


Alexander Van Rensselaer, known as Alec or Alex, was born in 1850 into a wealthy and influential Philadelphian family. His grandfather was Stephen Van Rensselaer. He graduated from Princeton University in 1871. On January 27, 1898, he married Sarah Drexel Fell, daughter of Anthony Joseph Drexel.

Due to their ancestry, it was never necessary for the couple to work for a living. Instead they focused on fostering science and arts in Philadelphia. From 1901 until shortly before his death, Alexander was president of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association. In addition, he was a member of the board of trustees at Princeton University. Sarah gave large parts of her wealth to the Drexel Institute that was founded by her father. In 1901, Alex and Sarah traveled around the world and were guests of Japanese Emperor Meiji, the British royal family and the Viceroy of India.

An outstanding tennis player, Van Rensselaer took part in the first stagings of the US Tennis Championships in the 1880s, losing in the quarterfinals to Howard Taylor in 1884. In 1881, 1883 and 1884, he reached the finals of the doubles competition.[2]

Van Rensselaer also played cricket at high levels, during a time when the sport in Philadelphia was at its most popular, and Philadelphian cricket teams regularly drew touring international teams to play in the United States, and went on overseas tours themselves. In the Halifax Cup, the premier American tournament at the time, Van Rensselaer represented the Young America Cricket Club, which won the tournament in 1880, 1881, 1883, and 1885.[3] A wicket-keeper, he made a single first-class appearance for the "American Born" in the 1880 American Born v English Residents match, scoring three runs for the match and recording two dismissals – a catch and a stumping.[4] He was still playing as late as the 1891 season, aged 41, when he toured Chicago and Pittsburgh with the Germantown Cricket Club.[5]

Alexander Van Rensselaer died in 1933, four years after his wife, at the age of 82. He was buried at the Saint Thomas Episcopal Church Cemetery at Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.[1]

Grand Slam record[edit]

Runners-up (3)[edit]

Year Championship Partner Opponents Score
1881 U.S. Championships United States Arthur E. Newbold United States Clarence Clark
United States Frederick Winslow Taylor
5–6, 4–6, 5–6
1883 U.S. Championships United States Arthur E. Newbold United States James Dwight
United States Richard Sears
0–6, 2–6, 2–6
1884 U.S. Championships United States Walter V.R. Berry United States James Dwight
United States Richard Sears
4–6, 1–6, 10–8, 4–6


  1. ^ a b "Alexander Van Rensselaer". Retrieved October 11, 2013. 
  2. ^ Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). [New York]: New Chapter Press. p. 476. ISBN 978-0942257700. 
  3. ^ Halifax Cup matches played by Alec Van Rensselaer (25) – CricketArchive. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  4. ^ Alec Van Rensselaer – CricketArchive. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  5. ^ Miscellaneous matches played by Alec van Rensselaer (57) – CricketArchive. Retrieved 6 January 2015.