Monday, January 7, 2008

Dixie International Tournament, 1940

The scene is the International Dixie Tournament. The place is the Davis Islands Tennis Club in January 1940. Participating in the finals of the tournament were Bobby Riggs and Bitsy Grant. Riggs, the world's amateur singles and doubles champion, won the tournament in 1938 and sought his second Dixie championship. Grant, dubbed "126 pound of tennis dynamite" by Tampa Tribune writer Pete Norton, had already won two Dixie titles.

The match began on Sunday afternoon in front of a tournament-record 2,000 fans, but was postponed by rain until the following day with Riggs leading by a set. Grant would storm back when play resumed, winning a five-set thriller 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to capture his third Dixie title in five years. He then delighted the crowd during the trophy presentation by accepting the D.P Davis Trophy and then handing it right back to the presenter, Tampa’s mayor R.E.L. Chancey.

"Tampa has always been one of my favorite places," Grant said. "I want this cup to stay right here so when I get too old to play for it, some of you good people will remember me."

The crowd then rewarded Grant, the Dixie Tournament's greatest and most gracious champion, with a five minute standing ovation.

No comments:

Post a Comment