Tennis in New Zealand

Modern tennis became popular in England in the late 1850s, but didn’t take off in New Zealand until the 1870s. It was played by the Māori on their meeting grounds and by the well-to-do on country estates and in large gardens. In 1886, the first New Zealand Tennis Championships were played and the New Zealand Lawn Tennis Association (NZLTA) was created.

37337-apAmong the best of the early New Zealand women’s tennis players was Kathleen Nunneley. English-born Nunneley was national singles champion for 13 straight years between 1895 and 1907 and won the 1896 singles title at the New South Wales Championships in Sydney (now the Sydney International). In 1995, she was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.

Tennis and sports betting

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Kiwi tennis history

In early men’s New Zealand tennis, Anthony Wilding achieved fabulous success, winning 75 clay court titles in his career and 114 outdoor titles (only equaled by Rod Laver). He won the Davis Cup four times playing for Australasia and took a bronze medal for indoor singles tennis in the 1912 Olympics. During the 1910s he was the world’s No.1 player, and in 1913 he was a triple world champion, having won on clay, grass and indoor wood surfaces. Wilding was Wimbledon singles champion 4 times and runner up in 1914, but was tragically killed as a captain less than a year later in World War One.

New Zealand’s early tennis players are arguably the finest the nation has ever produced, despite competing in a totally different era. Nevertheless, New Zealand has produced other noteworthy players. Onny Parun won 5 ATP singles titles and was runner-up in the 1973 Australian Open, becoming the first player since Anthony Wilding to reach a Grand Slam final.

In 1983, unseeded New Zealand player, Chris Lewis, reached the men’s singles final at Wimbledon, losing out to John McEnroe in 3 straight sets. Lewis won 3 singles titles in his career and was New Zealand Sportsman of the Year in 1983.

Among the best current New Zealand players are Marina Erakovic and Michael Venus.

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