With Wimbledon well under way for another year, it is a fitting time to look at a couple of club members who took part in this – the greatest of tennis tournaments. One lady – Helen Aitcheson – competed in matches before the First World War while Cecil Tindell Green took part both before and after the conflict. The pair were Ashbrooke through and through with Helen living in Grange Crescent and, later, The Cedars while Cecil’s family occupied homes in Thornhill Gardens and Rowlandson Terrace.
Helen was something of a local tennis superstar. Playing alongside three of her sisters, she helped Durham County to the ladies national tennis championship in 1907. She was also a medal winning Olympian, gaining a silver medal in the indoor mixed doubles in Stockholm (1912) while making the quarter finals of the ladies’ singles at the same event. In the following year she won the World Ladies’ indoor singles championship in the same city. Her Wimbledon record is quite stunning. In 1909 at the age of 27 she won the ladies’ doubles.
Between 1909 and the outbreak of war she reached the singles’ quarter finals and semi-finals on numerous occasions – missing out on advancing further due to the presence of Dorothea Lambert Chambers who was the Serena Williams of her day.
Cecil Tindell Green, a solicitor by profession, was an outstanding sportsman who represented Sunderland, Durham County North of England and England at hockey prior to the First World War. A couple of weeks before the outbreak of war he won the Irish singles’ championship. Prior to that he had advanced to the second round of the men’s singles at Wimbledon twice and also the quarter finals and semi-finals. In 1922 he got as far as the fourth round of the Men’s Singles Wimbledon and to the 3 rd round in both 1923 and 1925.
His best achievement was in 1922 when he made the semi-finals of the mixed doubles only to find the legendary Suzanne Lenglen and Australian champion Pat O’Hara Wood on the other side of the net. The champions ran out easy winners.
Here is one of a number of early tennis photographs we have in the club archive.
Photographs of Helen and her sisters and of Cecil Tindell Green in his England hockey kit
have featured in earlier blogs. (See ‘Who’s For Tennis’ and the recent blog on hockey).