John Doeg

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John Doeg
Full nameJohn Thomas Godfray Hope Doeg
Country (sports) United States
Born(1908-12-07)December 7, 1908
Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico
DiedApril 27, 1978(1978-04-27) (aged 69)
Redding, CA, United States
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Turned pro1927 (amateur tour)
PlaysLeft-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF1962 (member page)
Highest rankingNo. 4 (1930)[2]
Grand Slam Singles results
WimbledonSF (1930)
US OpenW (1930)
Grand Slam Doubles results
WimbledonF (1930)
US OpenW (1929, 1930)

John Thomas Godfray Hope Doeg (December 7, 1908 – April 27, 1978) was a male tennis player from the United States.

In August 1929 Doeg won the singles title at the Seabright Invitational defeating Richard Norris Williams in three straight sets.[3] About a year later he fulfilled his promise and won his first and only major singles tournament, the 1930 U.S. National Championships at Forest Hills, defeating Frank Hunter in the quarter finals, Bill Tilden in the semi finals and Frank Shields in the final in four sets.[4] He proceeded to reach a career-high singles world ranking of No. 4 in the same year.[2]

In 1962 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Doeg was the son of tennis player Violet Sutton and the nephew of Wimbledon and U.S. National singles tennis champion May Sutton. Born in Mexico, he became a U.S. citizen in 1933.[5]

Playing style[edit]

Although his name is not well known today Doeg in his heyday was often considered among the premier servers in tennis history:

We are able, thanks to [Henri Cochet]'s conclusions, to study the deliveries of three great servers of the past few years—Tilden, Vines and Doeg. Opinions will vary as to their comparative effectiveness as well as some of their other qualities. Certainly no one will deny that in their services the three players named possessed assets of tremendous value. It would be of great interest to obtain opinions of the varying degree of game winning value possessed by each.

There was this difference between the three men: Doeg’s service was his chief weapon, and once he had broken through an opponent he was thought to be certain of winning that set. With Tilden and Vines the service was only one of many weapons, and it was employed intermittently and sometimes kept in reserve for time of need.[6]

Don Budge in his book Budge on Tennis would later echo the same sentiment:[7]

McLoughlin was a terror in storming the net behind his service, and Doeg's left-handed service, one of the two or three best of all time, was so demoralizing that it constituted a mental hazard for his opponent. The latter was always harried with the thought that if he ever lost his own service, the set was gone, so seldom was anyone able to break through Doeg's. The story goes that in a Davis Cup test doubles match between Doeg and George Lott, and Tilden and Frank Hunter in 1928, Hunter, in the right court, never was able to return Doeg's service safely once in an entire set that went to 12-10, so cleverly did Doeg place it and so sharp a break did it take from the corner.

Budge, however, was careful to note the shortcomings of the rest of Doeg's game. In his 1969 memoir Budge observes, "John never achieved the greatest stature in the sport because many facets of his game, his ground strokes, for instance, were somewhat lacking," before proclaiming Doeg "one of the most effective servers of all time":[8]

The argument about who is the premier server is invariably restricted to include only Tilden, Vines, and Gonzales, but you should have seen Doeg. He did not hit it quite as hard as Vines, but with that big left-handed move, he came around with a slice that actually knocked the ball lopsided. I mean that. Doeg turned the ball into an ellipse, and try hitting that back. The players referred to it as "John's egg-ball." Besides, when Doeg's serve in the ad court bounced it would fly crazily off to the side, and no man could chase it down. If you did manage to get the ball back, just reaching the return carried you so far out of the court that there was no chance you could make it back in time to get Doeg's return. However, since John had little more proclivity for returning serve than losing serve, all his matches were forever running to 18-16. You never broke Doeg's serve. You outlasted it.

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Singles (1 title)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Winner 1930 U.S. Championships Grass United States Frank Shields 10–8, 1–6, 6–4, 16–14

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

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Winner 1929 U.S. National Championships Grass United States George Lott United States Berkeley Bell
United States Lewis White
10–8, 16–14, 6–1
Runner-up 1930 Wimbledon Championships Grass United States George Lott United States Wilmer Allison
United States John Van Ryn
3–6, 3–6, 2–6
Winner 1930 U.S. National Championships Grass United States George Lott United States John Van Ryn
United States Wilmer Allison
8–6, 6–3, 4–6, 13–15, 6–4


In 1931 he wrote an educational tennis book titled "Elements of Lawn Tennis", together with sportswriter Allison Danzig.[9]


  1. ^ "Details About Players". American Lawn Tennis. New York. 5 Sep 1932.
  2. ^ a b Kehrling Béla, ed. (20 Nov 1930). "A világ legjobb tiz férfijátékosa" [The World's Top 10 Male Players] (PDF). Tennisz és Golf (in Hungarian). Budapest, Hungary: Bethlen Gábor irod. és Nyomdai RT. II (21): 398. Retrieved 16 Aug 2015.
  3. ^ "Doeg Becomes One of Tennis Ranking Stars". Miami News. 3 Aug 1929.
  4. ^ "U. S. Open 1930".
  5. ^ "John H. Doeg, 69, Won 1930 Title As U.S. Singles Tennis Champion". New York Times. June 2, 1978.
  6. ^ "Three Services". American Lawn Tennis. New York. Nov 1932.
  7. ^ Budge, J. Donald (1939). Budge on Tennis. New York: Prentice-Hall. pp. 51–52.
  8. ^ Budge, Don (1969). Don Budge: A Tennis Memoir. New York: Viking. pp. 73–74.
  9. ^ Doeg, John; Danzig, Allison (1931). Elements of Lawn Tennis (1st ed.). New York: Coward-McCann. OCLC 1482687.

External links[edit]