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The 2nd Champion

The 1878 Wimbledon Championships saw the entry of 34 players to compete in the ‘all comers’ category, the winner of which would play the reigning champion in the challenge round. The matches, it was decided, would commence at 4 pm and it was also decided that the Challenge Cup, if won by the same player for three years consecutively, would become his property.

Frank Hadow, a coffee planter in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) had come to England for the holidays when he saw his sisters play tennis. He tried his hand at the new game, and was encouraged to enter the Wimbledon Championships. Hadow did not lose a single set on his way to the challenge round where he met Gore, the reigning champion. Gore relied on rushing the net, while Hadow played the lob cleverly to have his opponent back-pedal constantly. Hadow won the final 7-5, 6-1, 9-7. After that event, Hadow returned to Ceylon to look after his business and though he lived up 91, never played tennis again.

The third Wimbledon champion was Reverend J.T. Hartley, 30 years old and having a parish in Yorkshire. He relied on returning ball after ball and wearing out the opponent. Not expecting to enter the final, he had to return to Yorkshire, take Sunday’s service and return to Wimbledon on Monday to play against Irishman V. St. Leger Goold. The championships in 1879 had attracted 45 players and it made a profit of 100-pound sterling. The final itself had a crowd of 1,100 tennis enthusiasts. Rev. Hartley retained his title the following year beating Herbert Lawford, a solicitor who had qualified for the challenge round from amongst 60 participants of the all comers’ rounds. Nearly 1,300 spectators watched the tedious baseline game of both the players, raising the profit from the championships to 300-pound sterling.

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