William Murphy (tennis)

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William E. "Bill" Murphy
William Murphy.jpg
Born Nov 15, 1917
Chicago, Illinois
Died May 16, 2005
Tucson, Arizona
Citizenship United States
Alma mater University of Chicago
Occupation Tennis coach
Years active 1948–69
Known for Big Ten doubles tennis champion, 1938, 1939
Coached University of Michigan to NCAA team tennis championship, 1957
Home town Chicago, Illinois

William E. "Bill" Murphy (November 15, 1917 – May 16, 2005) was an American Championship Tennis player and Coach. In 1938 and 1939, Murphy and his twin brother, Chet, won consecutive Big Ten Conference doubles championships while competing for the University of Chicago. Murphy won the 1939 Singles title at the Western Tennis Association tournament in Chicago. He earned a Master's Degree in Physical Education from George Williams college in Chicago in 1941. He was a War hero in World War II as a dive bomber pilot in the Pacific, helping sink the Battleship Yamato. In 1948, he became the Coach of the University of Michigan tennis team, where he remained for 21 years until 1969. He led Michigan to Eleven Big Ten Team Championships and the NCAA Team Championship in 1957.

Tennis player[edit]

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Bill Murphy and twin brother, Chet, played for the University of Chicago from 1937 to 1939, leading the school to three Big Ten Conference Tennis Championships.[1] As a doubles team, they were "undefeated in collegiate meets,"[2] including wins at the Big Ten Conference Doubles Championships in 1938 and 1939.[3] They were also the Finalist team at the 1939 NCAA Doubles Championship.[3]

In 1938, the Murphy brothers helped the undefeated University of Chicago tennis team score the first clean sweep in the history of the Big Ten Conference Tennis Championships by winning all Nine finals matches at Evanston, Illinois.[4][5] The brothers won the doubles title over the Northwestern team, 5–7, 6–4, 7–5. John Shostrom won the No. 1 singles and the Murphy brothers won the No. 2 and No. 3 singles, with Bill beating Northwestern's Harry O'Neil, 6–0, 6–3.[4] At the National level, the Murphy brothers were ranked as the #10 Doubles pair by the United States Lawn Tennis Association in 1938.[6]

In May 1939, when the Murphy brothers led the University of Chicago to its third straight Big Ten Conference Tennis Championship, the Associated Press wrote: "The University of Chicago, where the athletic habit of recent years has leaned toward defeat, now has a new complex well established – tennis championships."[7] The Murphy brothers won their second consecutive Doubles Championship, and Chet won the No. 1 singles.[7] Bill Murphy qualified to play for the No. 2 Singles title, but defaulted due to an ailing back to save himself for the Doubles competition.[7] In June 1939, the brothers were runners up in the NCAA Doubles Championship to Bob Peacock and Doug Imhoff, of the University of California-Berkeley, and Chet was runner up in the NCAA Singles Championship to Frank Guernsey of Rice in Texas.

In July 1939, when Bill Murphy won the Singles title at the Western Tennis Association tournament in Chicago, the Associated Press reported that he won his Championship "the hard way," defeating Top Ranked Wilbur F. Coen, Jr.,aka Junior Coen, of Kansas City in the Semifinals, and then defeated Second seeded Jack Tidball of Los Angeles, 6–8, 6–1, 6–1, 9–7 in the Finals.<ref"Weekend Sports in Brief". Moberly Monitor-Index (AP story). July 17, 1939. </ref>[8] The following week, he won the Mixed Doubles Final at the Longwood Bowl tennis tournament in Brookline, Massachusetts with Mary Arnold.[9]

At the August 1939 Meadow Club Invitational Tournament in Southampton, New York, the Murphy brothers beat the team of Peacock and Imhoff, but lost a close doubles match against Wimbledon champions Bobby Riggs and Elwood Cooke. They won two of the first three sets but ultimately lost, 13–11, 3–6, 7–5, 4–6, 0–6.[10] At Seabright, they beat Riggs and Bitsy Grant. Whenever Bill played Billy Talbert in Singles, he beat him.

Tennis coach[edit]

Bill Murphy was the Tennis Coach at the University of Michigan for 21 years from 1948–1969. His Michigan tennis teams won 11 Big Ten Conference Championships and the NCAA Team Championship in 1957.[11] His career coaching record at Michigan was 198–45–0, for an .821 winning percentage.[12][13] In 1953, he recruited three outstanding junior players: Mark Jaffe, Barry MacKay and Dick Potter that formed the core of his teams for three years. Two of his players, Barry MacKay and Dick Potter, broke the Big Ten record held by Bill and Chet for most Big Ten Conference Doubles Championships with Three. MacKay and Potter won the Big Ten Conference Doubles Championships in 1955, 1956, and 1957. In 1970, Bill was hired by Dave Strack, Athletic Director at University of Arizona and former Basketball Coach at Michigan, to be the University's Tennis Coach. He retired from U of A in 1981, and lived in Tucson.[14]

Bill Murphy's year-by-year coaching record at Michigan is as follows:[13]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Rank#
University of Michigan (Big Ten Conference) (1948–1969)
1948–49 Michigan 8–0 2nd
1949–50 Michigan 9–0 3rd
1950–51 Michigan 6–2 2nd
1951–52 Michigan 6–4 5th
1952–53 Michigan 8–3 3rd
1953–54 Michigan 11–3–1 2nd
1954–55 Michigan 13–0 1st 5th
1955–56 Michigan 12–0 1st
1956–57 Michigan 12–0 1st 1st
1957–58 Michigan 8–2 3rd
1958–59 Michigan 9–1 1st
1959–60 Michigan 7–4 1st
1960–61 Michigan 9–3 1st
1961–62 Michigan 8–2 1st
1962–63 Michigan 7–6 2nd
1963–64 Michigan 9–4 2nd
1964–65 Michigan 10–4 1st
1965–66 Michigan 10–0 1st
1966–67 Michigan 9–3 2nd
1967–68 Michigan 13–0 1st
1968–69 Michigan 15–2 1st
Total: 198–45–0
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

Work as an author[edit]

Bill Murphy also had success as a writer of books about tennis with his brother, Chet. They wrote the "Tennis Handbook", published in 1962, Championship Drills, Advanced Tennis, Tennis for Thinking Players, and Tested Tennis Tips. The two were recognized for their books with an International Tennis Hall of Fame Educational Services Award in 1973.[15]

Honors and awards[edit]

Bill Murphy was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 1984, and his brother followed him in 1985.[16] In 1983, Bill was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.[17] The Murphy brothers were jointly inducted into the University of Chicago Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.[3] They were both members of the USPTA. Both were past presidents and chairmen of the National Collegiate Tennis Coaches Association and National Collegiate Tennis Committee in 1965 and 1966.[citation needed] Bill flew 72 combat missions in the Pacific and was awarded the Navy Cross for helping sink the Battleship Yamato, in April 1945. He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross, and four Air Medals during World War II. (Citations from Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal).

Bill Murphy died in 2005 in Tucson, Arizona at age 87; his wife, Mimi, died in June 2011, and twin brother, Chet. Chet passed away in 2016..[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Helman Captures Illinois Crown". Los Angeles Times. August 31, 1936. 
  2. ^ "Gene Mako To Show In Valley Net Meet". Appleton Post-Crescent. July 11, 1939. 
  3. ^ a b c "University of Chicago Athletics Hall of Fame". University of Chicago. 
  4. ^ a b "Chicago Takes Net Title; Badgers 7th". Wisconsin State Journal (AP story). May 22, 1938. 
  5. ^ "Maroon Netmen Capture Title: Make Clean Sweep in Big Ten Tennis". Waterloo Daily Courier (UP story). May 22, 1938. 
  6. ^ "Budge Wins Top Ranking". Oakland Tribune. December 26, 1938. 
  7. ^ a b c "Chicago Tennis Squad Repeats: Murphy Brothers Capture Doubles Title, and Chet the Singles Title. Honors". Appleton Post-Crescent. June 1, 1939. 
  8. ^ "Bill Murphy Is new Western Tennis Association Net Champ: Fourth-Seeded, He Defeats Two Top-Ranked Men". Ironwood Daily Globe (AP story). July 17, 1939. 
  9. ^ "Weekend Sports in Brief". Moberly Monitor-Index (AP story). July 24, 1939. 
  10. ^ "Bobby Riggs Throttles Wood: Sizzling Play Is Answer To Dubious Critics". The Abilene Reporter-News. August 6, 1939. 
  11. ^ a b "Michigan Sports Briefs". Detroit Free Press. May 20, 2005. 
  12. ^ "U of M Men's Tennis". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. 
  13. ^ a b "Michigan Men's Tennis Year-by-Year Results". MGoBlue.com. 
  14. ^ "2008–2009 Big Ten Record Book, p. 269" (PDF). Big Ten Conference. 
  15. ^ William Murphy and Chet Murphy (1962). Tennis Handbook. John Wiley & Sons Inc. ISBN 0-471-07210-9. 
  16. ^ "ITA Men's Hall of Fame". Intercollegiate Tennis Association. 
  17. ^ "Hall of Honor". M Club.