Bunnies made way for giants at Easter

THE rich history of Albury’s Easter tennis tournament reveals grand slam event winners, Davis Cup captains and a veritable who’s who of the greats from Australia’s golden era of tennis.

Albury tennis spokeswoman Sandra Rouvray has delved into the history of the men’s tournament that celebrates its centenary this year.

The names of past winners are national icons of the sport and still others that, while not household names, were multiple grand slam and Davis Cup winners.

“Ken McGregor was already a grand slam event winner in 1952 at the Australian Open before winning the singles at Albury in 1959,” Rouvray said.

“He partnered Frank Sedgman to claim seven consecutive grand slam doubles titles in 1951-52 and was also a member of the successful Davis Cup teams from 1950, ’51 and ’52.

“Another local, born at Culcairn, in Rex Hartwig won the Australian Junior Boys title in 1948 after a runner-up finish in 1947 in the men’s singles at Albury and again in 1949.

“He won his first Open singles in Albury in 1951 and again in 1953, it proved to be a prolific year as Rex also won the Australasian men’s doubles, US men’s doubles with Lew Hoad and the mixed doubles in Australia.”

Hoad also won the Albury title before his three grand slam singles event wins.

Neale Fraser was another legend to win at Albury.

He won the US Open in 1959, four years before his Albury win, and again in 1960, along with Wimbledon.

Rouvray said another local, Albury born Bob (Robert) Mark, who once held the No. 10 singles world ranking, won at Albury in 1957 and 1960.

“Mark won three Australian doubles titles with Rod Laver — in 1959, 1960 and 1961 — and the US Open mixed doubles with Margaret Smith (Court) in 1961,” she said.

“He won the Australian mixed doubles with Sandra Reynolds in 1959.

“Mark played Davis Cup in 1959 and, with Rod Laver, was runner-up to Neale Fraser and Roy Emerson at Wimbledon.”

Rouvray said the winners also included Owen Davidson (1964 and 1965), who later won 13 grand slam doubles, including eight mixed titles with Billie Jean-King.

“It was a golden era for Australian tennis and they all played here at Easter,” Rouvray said.

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