Sutton rules at Tri-State

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnatians didn't know they were watching one of the greatest women's players of all time when May Sutton was busy winning the Tri-State three consecutive years (1905-07).

        Sutton, who is in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, won the National Championships in 1904. Rather than defend her title the following year, she chose instead to play the Tri-State.

        Also in 1905, Sutton became the first person from outside the British Isles to win Wimbledon. She was born in Plymouth, England, in 1886 but moved to Santa Monica, Calif., at age 6 and became an American citizen.

        All five Sutton sisters were highly regarded tennis players, but May was the brightest star. She won the 1904 U.S. singles and doubles titles and twice won singles at Wimbledon.

At the post-tournament dinner in 1906, the Governors' Bowl -- which went to the Tri-State winner -- was dropped and damaged. It was given to a member of the University Club, which hosted the dinner, to repair, then disappeared. When May Sutton won her third title and possession of the bowl in 1907, it could not be found. Its whereabouts were never discovered.
        "She was highly competitive, a fighter, she would never give up," her daughter Dorothy Bundy Cheney said. "She had a terrific forehand. Her forehand was quite a bit better than her backhand, but she had so much speed she could run around her backhand and then get back into position and if necessary run way back over to the forehand side.

        "She was still darned good at the age of 41. She reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, which was quite a feat."

        It was at Wimbledon that Sutton created the greatest stir with her rolled-up sleeves, exposed elbows and shorter skirt that exposed her ankles. That surprised those in attendance.

        Sutton married Tom Bundy, who had won three U.S. doubles titles. Their daughter, Dorothy, would come to Cincinnati and win the Tri-State in 1944.

        "Dodo," as she is known, won the 1938 Australian Open but is perhaps better known for her success as a super-seniors player. She continues to win age-group events, and this spring captured her 300th U.S. senior title. She is 82 years old and up to 301 championships.

        Her son Brian, 52, has won 53 age-group titles, and Cheney and her daughter Christie Putnam, 47, won a national doubles championship together.

        "My mother was very strong and very healthy and I think I just have darn good genes," said Cheney, who lives in La Jolla, Calif. "I have been very fortunate in being pretty darn healthy all my life. The few aches and pains I've had I just tried to play through them."



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