MARGARET MOLESWORTH

Mal2

MARGARET MOLESWORTH

1922, 1923 Australian Open Champion.

The women’s singles at Wimbleton began in 1884. Three years later women’s events were added to the U.S. champion­ships. Belatedly, in 1922, women became an official part of the Australasian championships, with singles, doubles and mixed doubles events being added to the programme. But if women now enjoyed equal status with the men, the junior girls were not so lucky. Boys’ singles and doubles events were also begun in 1922, but it was not until 1930 that the girls were brought into the fold. It was most fitting that Mrs Margaret (“Mall”) Molesworth (nee Mutch) should win that inaugural women’s championship in Sydney, for she was the complete tennis player in an area when many of her protagonists were constrained on court by moribund notions of femininity. She had the widest range of shots of any player, male or female, at that time. Her service was notable for penetration and variation. Sliced, flat or kick­ing — each came easily to her. She had similar variation to her backcourt driving, with the backhand her piece de resistance. A hard, flat shot, in which she hurled her whole weight behind the ball with a tremendous swing of her hips, it made her a much sought-after left-court partner in mixed doubles — when male vanity could permit a woman to take the backhand side! Crisp volleying completed an all-court game which had been imparted to her as a young girl by her father, a Scot who was a talented all-round sportsman. By the time women were admitted to the championships she was already a married woman of twenty-seven, otherwise she would have won a lot more national titles. (Her husband was B.H. Molesworth, Professor of History at Queensland University, and later a top administrator with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Molesworth began her quest for the Australasian champion­ship by overpowering A. Gray of New South Wales 7-5, 6-3, in a match in which she served numerous clean aces. In the quarter-finals she disposed of Marjorie Mountain of Victoria 6-4, 6-4. Her semi-final victim was Lorna Utz, who was known as a crafty tactician, but her court craft availed her not at all against a player with the power and versatility of Molesworth, who scored 6-2, 6-3.Esne Boyd won the other semi-final 6-4, 10-8 against Sylvia Lance. Lance had led 4-2 in each set, but could not maintain her advantage against Boyd’s deep driving, especially on the forehand side. Molesworth had the answer to anything Boyd could come up with in the final. Her superior fire-power stood her in good stead on the vital points, and she scored 6-3, 10-8 after Boyd had held several set points at 7-6 in the second set. In the inaugural doubles final Boyd-Mountain defeated Utz-St George 1-6, 6-4, 7-5, and Boyd took her second title when she combined with Jack Hawkes in the mixed to defeat H.S. and Lorna Utz 6-1, 6-1.This was but one of many significant titles won by Mall Molesworth. She was eight times champion of Queensland, nine times winner of the Brisbane Metropolitan singles, won the New South Wales singles twice, and also won the cham­pionships of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, as well as many doubles and mixed doubles titles. In her home town of Brisbane in 1923 Molesworth came within a point of being deprived of her second successive national singles in a semi-final encounter with Sylvia Lance. Lance’s volleying won her the first set 6-3, and her backhand was standing up well to Molesworth’s assault. Molesworth switched her attack in the second set to Lance’s stronger wing, the forehand. The move successfully broke up Lance’s rhythm, gained Molesworth the ascendancy, and earned her the second set 6-4 and a lead of 5-2 in the third. Lance then made a final stand, to reach match point at 6-5, 40-30. On this point she played a near-perfect drop shot. Molesworth charged in, just reached the ball and spooned it back over the net for a clean winner. Lance’s chance was gone; Molesworth could no longer be stopped and went on to take the third set and match 8-6. Her opponent in the final was again Esne Boyd, who had beaten local player Miss Haymen in the other semi-final 6-2, 6-2. Molesworth continued her supremacy over the Victorian with a 6-1, 7-5 victory. Boyd, having struggled so hard to establish a lead of 3-1, 40-30 in the second set, seemed com­pletely demoralised by an appalling line decision which went against her. At 3-5 she made a last desperate effort to retrieve the deficit, but it was too late. Sylvia Lance, considered to be the best women’s doubles player of the day, partnered Boyd to win the doubles final against Molesworth-Turner 6-1, 6-4, and then teamed up with veteran Horrie Rice to score a popular win in the mixed doubles final over St John-Molesworth 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Mall Molesworth moved to Sydney in the late 1930s and in 1939 made the decision to turn professional. Her coaching career was as successful as her playing career and she always had a full book of pupils. Now in her late eighties, a recent interview with Ron McLean for Tennis magazine shows her to be a lady of con­siderable charm, style and distinction, and most worthy to head the list of Australia’s women champions.

Our open : 100 years of Australia’s grand slam

 

Prior to the formation of an Association for Tennis Coaches in this State, all Coaches who had declared themselves, or been declared by the Lawn Tennis Association to be Professional Tennis Coaches, were issued with a form which became known as a “Coaches Ticket”. These coaches were referred to as “Ticketed Coaches”. Any person who accepted remuneration of any kind for services provided to any area of the sport would be declared a professional by the Lawn Tennis Association. It was not an easy thing to declare oneself a “Pro” because it had far reaching consequences. One could no longer play competitive tennis in any tournament or competition organised by the Association or any affiliate of the Association, which meant that playing days were over for these people. To make matters tougher still, any person who knowingly played with or against a “Pro” was liable to be declared also. The “Pro” could no longer hold any official position with any tennis association or club, the Tennis Pro was virtually an outcast, one of the untouchables.

On Monday 7th August 1950 a group of “Ticketed Coaches” who had very recently completed Country Divisional Schools for the NSW Lawn Tennis Association were present at White City to prepare and present reports to the Secretary.

Those present were very impressed by the open exchange of ideas and the discussions on coaching techniques and other matters concerning the profession. Mr Victor Edward who at that time conducted Sydney’s largest tennis coaching organisation had for sometime had a vision of a Tennis Coaches Association, which could officially represent the coaches of NSW and eventually become quite a strength in the Australian tennis scene.

Observing the splendid fellowship amongst those present Victor Edwards revealed his thoughts regarding a Pro’s Association and this received unanimous support. The next step was to seek the support and the approval of Mr Victor Kelly, Secretary of the NSW Lawn Tennis Association. This support was forthcoming and Victor Kelly remained an enthusiastic supporter of the Association for many years. On Thursday 17th August 1950 a meeting was held at White City to further discuss this matter and present were:

In attendance Thursday 17 August 1950:
Mr Victor Edwards Mr J O Anderson
Mr G Biddle Mr M Coppe
Mr H Mellor Mr W H Waters
Mrs Mal Molesworth

It was unanimously agreed that an Association be formed and that Victor Edwards should draw up a Constitution for discussion and approval. All Coaches holding a NSW Lawn Tennis Association Ticket were to be issued with a copy of the Constitution and an invitation to be present at a meeting at White City on Wednesday 30th May 1951 to officially form the Association to be known as the NEW SOUTH WALES LAWN TENNIS PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION, and to adopt if they thought fit the proposed constitution. This meeting was duly held with an attendance of 21 coaches. Apologies received from six coaches. Present were -Messrs. J.O. Anderson, E. Budrodeen, M. Copp, J. Coady, V.A. Edwards, J. Garrett, C. Horne, H. Kirkpatrick, T. Moore, H. Mellor, E. Nicholson, A. Newman, L. Pery, R. Ryan, D. Thompson, W. Waters, A. Willard, V. Welch. Mrs. M. Molesworth, Mrs. E. Dalton and Miss Mackney.

The motion to establish the NSW Tennis Professionals Association was passed unanimously as was the motion to adopt the proposed Constitution. The following were nominated and elected to become the initial Board of Managerment of the fledgling Association –

Initial Board of Management:
President Mr J O Anderson
Hon. Secretary/Treasurer Mr Victor A Edwards
Vice-Presidents Mr. A. Willard Mr. H. Kirkpatrick Mr. D. Thompson
Board of Management Mrs. M. Molesworth Mr. W. Waters Mr. H. Mellor

And so the Pro’s Association was up and running!!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!