Vincent Richards

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Vincent Richards
Vincent Richards at the 1922 Davis Cup.jpg
Country (sports)  United States
Born (1903-03-20)March 20, 1903
New York, NY, United States
Died September 28, 1959(1959-09-28) (aged 56)
New York, NY, United States
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)
Professional majors
US Pro W (1927, 1928, 1930, 1933)
Doubles
Grand Slam Doubles results
French Open W (1926)
Wimbledon W (1924)
F (1926)
US Open W (1918, 1921, 1922, 1925,       1926)
F (1919)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
US Open W (1919, 1924)
F (1925)

Vincent "Vinnie" Richards (March 20, 1903 – September 28, 1959) was an American tennis player.

Richards was active 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.[3]

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 ambition was to compete in the 1924 Olympics held in Paris, France. He realized this ambition by winning the gold medal for the United States in both singles and doubles, additionally collecting the silver medal 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. Richards is one of two American male tennis players to win the Gold Medal in both singles and doubles, Beals Wright being the other, and ranks second all-time with his three medals won in 1924 to Reginald Doherty of Great Britain, who won four Olympic tennis medals. Between both men and women, Richards is tied with Venus Williams with three overall medals, with Williams collecting three gold medals over multiple Olympics. 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.

Richards was one of the best singles players of the 1920s and played on several United States Davis Cup teams.[4] 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 Koželuh. In spite of a number of close matches, Richards could only beat Koželuh 5 times while losing 15. In 1929 Richards won 2 out of 7 matches against Koželuh 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 Koželuh 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. Coming out of retirement again some 12 years later to play doubles in the 1945 U.S. Pro Championships 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.[5]

Richards was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1959.[6]

Business career[edit]

After retiring from tennis, Richards joined the Dunlop Tire and Rubber Company as general manager of the sporting goods division and became vice president.[3]

Personal life[edit]

In February 1924 he married Claremont Gushee in Greenwich, Connecticut and the couple had three children.[7] She died in 1950.[8] On September 28, 1959 Richards died of a heart attack at Doctors Hospital in New York.[3]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Doubles: 9 (7 titles, 2 runners-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Winner 1918 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Bill Tilden United States Fred Alexander
United States Beals Wright
6–3, 6–4, 3–6, 2–6, 6–2
Runner-up 1919 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Bill Tilden Australia Norman Brookes
Australia Gerald Patterson
6–8, 3–6, 6–4, 6–4, 2–6
Winner 1921 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Bill Tilden United States Watson Washburn
United States R. Norris Williams
13–11, 12–10, 6–1
Winner 1922 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Bill Tilden Australia Pat O'Hara Wood
Australia Gerald Patterson
4–6, 6–1, 6–3, 6–4
Winner 1924 Wimbledon Grass United States Frank Hunter United States Watson Washburn
United States R. Norris Williams
6–3, 3–6, 8–10, 8–6, 6–3
Winner 1925 U.S. National Championships Grass United States R. Norris Williams Australia John Hawkes
Australia Gerald Patterson
6–2, 8–10, 6–4, 11–9
Winner 1926 French Championships Clay United States Howard Kinsey France Jacques Brugnon
France Henri Cochet
6–4, 6–1, 4–6, 6–4
Runner-up 1926 Wimbledon Grass United States Howard Kinsey France Jacques Brugnon
France Henri Cochet
5–7, 6–4, 3–6, 2–6
Winner 1926 U.S. National Championships Grass United States R. Norris Williams United States Alfred Chapin
United States Bill Tilden
6–4, 6–8, 11–9, 6–3
The grave of Vincent Richards in Woodlawn Cemetery

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

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Winner 1919 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Marion Zinderstein United States Florence Ballin
United States Bill Tilden
2–6, 11–9, 6–2
Winner 1924 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Helen Wills United States Molla Bjurstedt Mallory
United States Bill Tilden
6–8, 7–5, 6–0
Runner-up 1925 U.S. National Championships Grass United Kingdom Ermyntrude Harvey United Kingdom Kitty McKane
Australia John Hawkes
2–6, 4–6

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. ^ a b c "Vinnie Richards, Dunlop vp, Former Tennis Great Dies in September" (PDF). Michigan State University. 
  4. ^ "Davis Cup – Vincent Richards". ITF. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ McCauley, Joe (2000). The History of Professional Tennis. Windsor: The Short Run Book Company Limited. p. 40. 
  6. ^ "Tennis Hall of Fame – Player Profile Vinnie Richards". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Vincent Richards, Class of 1920". www.fordhamprep.org. Fordham Prep. 
  8. ^ "Milestones: Feb. 11, 1924". Time. February 11, 1924. 

External links[edit]