Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Wimbledon Diary

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Wimbledon Diary

Article excerpt

John McEnroe, back in action this week at Wimbledon for the first time in 13 years, is generally regarded as the most famous qualifier ever to go on and win a Wimbledon title.

But looking back over the years of the "heartache tournament", which can make or break the dreams of wannabe SW19 stars, the point is highly debatable.

The Wimbledon Championship Committee decided a qualifying competition was necessary back in 1925 and it is now played at Roehampton, which is soon to become the Lawn Tennis Association's National Training Centre.

And one of the first charismatic names on the list to be put through the rigours of qualifying for the main draw was that of a lanky 20-year-old, one FJ Perry, the man who became Britain's last winner of the men's singles a decade or so later when he picked up the trophy three times in a row.

Move on to 1956 and there's Rod Laver, a four-time winner in the sixties yet still had to qualify in the beginning.

And 12 years before a teenaged McEnroe arrived in 1977 to work his way through those qualifiers, more research shows American Stan Smith needing to qualify before his three title successes.

Smith, though, went through an even more remote back-door ( as a lucky loser when a qualifier pulled out injured.

All this history is supplied courtesy of Dennis Cunnington, veteran former tennis correspondent who still plays an active part in the running of the Championship.

In all his time, of course, Dennis has been a friend to the stars and that is paying off with him being on the ground floor of the launch of Andy Murray-fever.

He knows Andy's mum Judy from way back and recalls: "I remember covering her winning the National Girl Guide's Championship at Queen's Club back in the Seventies when her name was Erskine ( and we have been pals ever since."

WORLD No 1 singles and doubles players David Hall (Australia) and Michael Jeremiasz (France) are among eight of the world's best competing in the first-ever wheelchair tennis tournament to be held on grass at Wimbledon this weekend. …

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