The Davis Cup comes to Wagga

This being the time of year for tennis, we thought we would revisit this article on the Davis Cup in Wagga Wagga written by Lauren Carroll for our “At the Archives” page in 2007:

Ken Rosewall, Neale Fraser, Mervyn Rose and Don Candy inspect the Davis Cup at Bolton Park in March 1956
Ken Rosewall, Neale Fraser, Mervyn Rose and Don Candy inspect the Davis Cup at Bolton Park in March 1956 [from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574].
In 1956 the NSW Hardcourt Championships were held in Wagga Wagga, attracting some of the big names of Australian tennis at the time, as well as one of the most coveted trophies in sport – the Davis Cup.

After many years of fighting for the event to be played in their city, the Wagga Tennis Association finally had their chance to host what was seen as one of the major fixtures in the NSW tennis calendar.

During the four day event commencing on 15 March 1956, the people of Wagga and surrounding towns were treated to a world-class display of tennis from players such as Ken Rosewall, Neale Fraser, Mervyn Rose, Don Candy, Mary Carter and Beryl Penrose.

Equally spectacular was the glistening presence of the Davis Cup as it watched over each day’s play. According to a report by The Daily Advertiser on 12 March 1956, the prestigious cup, crafted in 1900, had been brought to Wagga from Sydney on an Ansett plane and had been insured for ₤4000. The famous trophy was carefully guarded whilst on view at the courts, and each night was locked in a vault at the ANZ bank for safekeeping.

Wagga Tennis Association members get up close to the Davis Cup
Two Wagga Tennis Association members get up close to the huge Davis Cup [from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574].
Do you recognise these people? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
The Championships were held at the Wagga Lawn Courts at Bolton Park and included singles, doubles and junior events. The number of entries had exceeded the previous year’s event held in Armidale, with a total of 171 entries from across the State.

To complement the tennis and to ensure the entire event was a memorable one, the Wagga Tennis Association provided a full programme of social entertainment each night. Additionally, the Women’s Auxiliary worked tirelessly to make available refreshments for players and spectators over the four days.

Ken Rosewall was easily the star of the tournament, taking out both the Men’s Singles and Doubles titles. The Davis Cup star, having defeated Neale Fraser 6/2 6/4 in the singles, teamed up with Fraser to defeat Mervyn Rose and Don Candy in the doubles final.

The ladies event was won by Beryl Penrose over Beth Jones; Miss Penrose then partnered with Dawn Fogarty to defeat Alison Paech and Norma Marsh in the doubles.

By all accounts the tournament was a success, and no doubt many felt privileged to have witnessed such quality tennis from such sporting icons and to catch a close look at the trophy that holds the names of many of the greats in world tennis.

When considering all the places the Davis Cup has been and all the champions that have held it aloft, it is nice to think that in the history of the Cup there lies a story of when it came to a city called Wagga Wagga.

Neale Fraser posing with two women in February 1955.
Neale Fraser, Ken Rosewall, Don Candy and Mervyn Rose also came to Wagga in February 1955 for an exhibition match. Here Fraser is posing with two women (locals perhaps?). Later in the day, he injured his ankle during a doubles game. [from the Tom Lennon Collection, RW1574/256)

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