You entered the most comprehensive Tennis Grand Slam Online Database

History of the Australian Championships, Chapter 2

This article is dedicated to the 110th anniversary of the first Australian Championship

Written by Karoly Mazak

The early years…1901-1907

The Commonwealth of Australia was formed on 1 January 1901.

In 1902 Wilberforce Eaves made a second visit to Australia and once again won the New South Wales title. However, Eaves needed five sets against both Norman Brookes and Alf Dunlop, the leading Victorian players. It was after this defeat that Brookes changed his game and began volleying much more. Between 1902 and 1904 Brookes won three Victorian titles.

Alf Dunlop

Alf Dunlop

In 1904 Brookes and Dunlop considered entering the Davis Cup with their country. Before Australia could make a challenge it had to be represented by a national association, so the Australasian Lawn Tennis Association was formed, embracing New Zealand.

With Australasia making a challenge for the Davis Cup, many leading Australian players entered Wimbledon in 1905. Norman Brookes reached the challenge round, but lost to Laurie Doherty.

The Victorian Championships in November 1905 carried the Australasian title for men for the first time. However, the first edition took place without defending champion Brookes who had not arrived back from Europe in time. Rod Heath became the first champion of Australasia (Australia and New Zealand).

Rod Heath the first champion of the Australasian Championships

Rod Heath
the first champion of the Australasian Championships

In 1906 Brookes proved he was still the best Australian by demolishing Heath at the South Australian Championships in March. Brookes also defeated Wilding at the Victorian Championships. Then Wilding won the Australasian Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the absence of Brookes. The tournament was played concurrently with the New Zealand Championships, also won by Wilding.

In 1907 Norman Brookes undertook a second journey for the Davis Cup to England. First he won Wimbledon displaying wonderful touch volleys and an infinite variety of serve. Australasia with Brookes and Wilding took away the Davis Cup beating the British Isles at Wimbledon.

In August the Queensland Championships in Brisbane carried the Australasian title for men. Horrie Rice won the event in the absence of defending champion Wilding and Brookes who were in Europe, having just won the Davis Cup. Rose Payten won the ladies’ state title and retired at the age of 28. Stanley Doust, who had played with or against these ladies, judged she was better than Wimbledon champions May Sutton or Dorothea Douglass, but she has never journeyed to Europe to prove it….to be continued.