Beverly Baker Fleitz

Beverly Baker Fleitz (March 13, 1930 – April 29, 2014) was a women's tennis player from the United States who was active in the late 1940s and during the 1950s. According to John Olliff and Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Fleitz was ranked in the world top 10 in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, and 1959, reaching a career high of World No. 3 in those rankings in 1954, 1955, and 1958.[1] Fleitz was included in the year-end top 10 rankings issued by the United States Lawn Tennis Association from 1948 through 1951 and in 1954, 1955, 1958, and 1959. She was the top-ranked U.S. player in 1959.[2] She was ambidextrous and played with two forehands.

Beverly Baker Fleitz
Full nameBeverly Joyce Baker Fleitz
Country (sports) United States
Born(1930-03-13)March 13, 1930
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
DiedApril 29, 2014(2014-04-29) (aged 84)
Long Beach, California, U.S.
PlaysRight and left-handed forehand
Prize moneyAmateur
Singles
Highest rankingWorld No. 3 (1954, 1955, 1958)
Grand Slam singles results
French OpenSF (1955)
WimbledonF (1955)
US OpenSF (1950, 1958)
Doubles
Grand Slam doubles results
French OpenW (1955)
WimbledonF (1959)
US OpenQF (1949, 1950)
Grand Slam mixed doubles results
French OpenQF (1951)
Wimbledon4R (1959)
US OpenQF (1948, 1951, 1958)

CareerEdit

Fleitz began playing tennis at age 11 and played mostly on public courts in Lincoln Park in Santa Monica, California. Her father Frank Baker was her only coach and was the assistant director of recreation for the city of Santa Monica.

During 11 of the 12 weeks following June 19, 1950, Fleitz competed in tournaments across the U.S. In singles, she won three titles, was the runner-up three times, and was a semifinalist at both the U.S. National Championships and the U.S. Women's Clay Court Championships. Her six losses during this period were to Doris Hart (twice), Margaret Osborne duPont (twice), Maureen Connolly, and Magda Berescu Rurac. She recorded wins over Louise Brough, Connolly, Berescu Rurac, Patricia Canning Todd, and Dorothy Bundy Cheney. In women's doubles, she was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. National Doubles Championships.

Grand Slam tournamentsEdit

At the U.S. National Championships, Fleitz reached the semifinals twice and the quarterfinals in four of her six other attempts. She played Grand Slam singles tournaments outside the U.S. only six times. At the 1951 Wimbledon Championships, she defeated Althea Gibson in the third round 6–1, 6–3 and Margaret Osborne duPont in the quarterfinals before falling to Doris Hart in the semifinals 6–3, 6–1. Fleitz was the top seed at the 1955 French International Championships, but she was upset by fourth-seeded Dorothy Head Knode in the semifinals 6–2, 6–3.[citation needed]

At the 1955 Wimbledon Championships, third-seeded Fleitz defeated top-seeded Hart in the semifinals 6–3, 6–0, which was the last Wimbledon singles match of Hart's career. Fleitz then played second-seeded Louise Brough in the final. Fleitz was the first mother to play in a Wimbledon singles final since Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers in 1920. Fleitz had won the last four matches with Brough since the beginning of 1954, but Brough prevailed on this day 7–5, 8–6 in 1 hour, 32 minutes. The veteran BBC tennis broadcaster Max Robertson observed "Louise was always prone to tighten up at important points, but [she] had a greater breadth of stroke and experience at her command, which just saw her through a keenly fought struggle. In the sixth game of the second set, for example, it was only after nine deuces and five [game points for] ... Fleitz that [on the game's 24th point] Louise wrong-footed her ... [nearly] exhausted opponent with a backhand slice down the line to lead 4-2. That was the turning point, and Louise went on to win her fourth [Wimbledon] singles [title]...."[3] Afterwards, Fleitz said "I've no excuses for my defeat. Louise was just marvelous today. She played as well as I've ever seen her play and well deserved her victory."[4]

At the 1956 Wimbledon Championships, Fleitz reached the quarterfinals, then she was forced to withdraw from the tournament because of a pregnancy-related illness. She last played Wimbledon in 1959 as the third-seeded player. Unseeded Edda Buding from West Germany defeated her in the fourth round 8–6, 2–6, 7–5.

Fleitz never played contemporaries Angela Mortimer, Ann Haydon, Christine Truman, Darlene Hard, Maureen Connolly, or Shirley Fry in a Grand Slam singles tournament. Her win–loss record against other top players at those tournaments was as follows: Althea Gibson 2–1, Doris Hart 1–2, Louise Brough 0–3, Margaret Osborne duPont 2–1, and Maria Bueno 1–0.

Fleitz's only Grand Slam title was in women's doubles at the 1955 French International Championships. In the final, she and partner Darlene Hard needed 50 games to defeat their opponents in the longest Grand Slam women's doubles final of all time.

Other tournamentsEdit

Outside of the U.S., Fleitz won singles tournaments in Bermuda, England, Ireland, Mexico, and West Germany. She was the runner-up at tournaments in Cuba and England.

Within the U.S., she was the runner-up at the 1949 U.S. Clay Court Championships, losing to former Romanian national champion Magda Berescu Rurac. Fleitz won the U.S. Hardcourt Championships three times, in 1954, 1957, and 1958. She defeated future Wimbledon singles champion Karen Hantze in the 1958 final. In tournaments sponsored by sections (regions) of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, Fleitz was the singles champion of the Southern California section four times (1954, 1955, 1956, and 1958), the Pacific Northwest section once, and the Western section once.

In March 1954, Fleitz defeated Maureen Connolly 6–0, 6–4 at a tournament in La Jolla, California, which was the last time anyone defeated Connolly in a singles tournament and her only loss of 1954. Connolly had won the last seven Grand Slam singles tournaments she had played. Fleitz won four of their nine career singles matches.

Fleitz was a four-time singles champion at the Pacific Southwest Championships in Los Angeles (1947, 1955, 1958, and 1959) and was the runner-up three times. She defeated Hard in the 1958 final and Bueno in the 1959 final. At the Tri-State Championships in Cincinnati, Fleitz won the 1950 singles title and was the runner-up in 1949, with Berescu Rurac being her opponent in both finals.

Retirement yearsEdit

Fleitz retired permanently from singles tennis in 1959 and was inducted into the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2005.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

She married actor Scotty Beckett on September 28, 1949 in Las Vegas, Nevada.[6] Baker was granted a divorce in June 1950.[7] She married tennis player John Fleitz on October 6, 1951. They had five daughters together. John Fleitz died in Long Beach, California on November 14, 2011 at age 82.[citation needed]

Grand Slam finalsEdit

Singles: (1 runner-up)Edit

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1955 Wimbledon Championships Grass   Louise Brough 5–7, 6–8

Doubles: (1 title, 1 runner-up)Edit

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1955 French Championships Clay   Darlene Hard   Shirley Bloomer
  Patricia Ward
7–5, 6–8, 13–11
Loss 1959 Wimbledon Championships Grass   Christine Truman   Jeanne Arth
  Darlene Hard
6–2, 2–6, 3–6

Other singles finals (38 titles, 13 runner-ups)Edit

Result Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Lost Apr 1948 Ojai Tennis Tournament
Ojai, California, U.S.
Hard Louise Brough 2–6, 2–6
Won Jul 1948 Colorado State Championships
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Hard Maureen Connolly 6–0, 6–3
Won Jul 1948 Pacific Northwest Sectional Championships
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
Unknown Maureen Connolly 6–2, 6–1
Lost Sep 1948 Pacific Southwest Championships
Los Angeles Tennis Club,
Los Angeles, U.S.
Hard Louise Brough 2–6, 3–6
Lost Apr 1949 Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament
Ojai, California, U.S.
Hard Louise Brough 1–6, 4–6
Lost Jun 1950 Hotel del Coronado Invitational
Coronado, California, U.S.
Hard Maureen Connolly 2–6, 9–7, 2–6
Lost Jun 1950 Southern Sectional Championships
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Clay Magda Berescu Rurac 6–8, 2–6
Won Jul 1950 Tri-State Tennis Championships
Cincinnati Tennis Club
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Clay Magda Berescu Rurac 5–7, 6–3, 9–7
Won Jul 1950 Western Sectional Championships
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Clay Melita Ramírez 6–1, 6–2
Won Jul 1950 Maidstone Club Invitational
East Hampton, New York, U.S.
Grass Maureen Connolly 6–4, 9–7
Lost Aug 1950 Essex County Club Championships
Manchester-by-the-Sea,
Massachusetts, U.S.
Grass Margaret Osborne duPont 3–6, 0–6
Won Jan 1951 Dixie Championships
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Clay Shirley Fry 6–3, 6–4
Won Jan 1951 South Florida Championships
Howard Park
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Clay Shirley Fry 6–4, 6–4
Lost Jan 1951 Havana (Cuba) International Unknown Doris Hart 4–6, 6–8
Lost Feb 1951 U.S. Indoor National Championships
Seventh Regiment Armory
New York City
Wood Nancy Chaffee 4–6, 4–6
Won Feb 1951 Bermuda International
Hamilton
Unknown Barbara Scofield 9–7, 7–5
Won Mar 1951 Coral Beach Club Invitational
Hamilton, Bermuda
Unknown Betty Rosenquest 4–6, 6–4, 6–2
Won May 1951 Hurlingham (England) Hard Courts Clay Kay Tuckey 6–4, 5–7, 7–5
Won May 1951 Priory Club Tournament
Birmingham, England
Grass Nancye Wynne Bolton 4–6, 6–4, 6–2
Lost Jun 1951 Northern Championships
Northern Lawn Tennis Club
Manchester, England
Grass Doris Hart 6–8, 3–6
Won Jun 1951 West of England Championships
Bristol
Grass Beryl Nicholas-Bartlett 6–3, 6–3
Lost Jul 1951 Maidstone Club Invitational
East Hampton, New York, U.S.
Grass Patricia Canning Todd 4–6, 1–6
Lost Sep 1951 Pacific Southwest Championships
Los Angeles Tennis Club
Los Angeles, U.S.
Hard Maureen Connolly 7–9, 4–6
Won Jun 1953 Hotel del Coronado Invitational
Coronado, California, U.S.
Hard Dorothy Bundy Cheney 4–6, 8–6, 6–1
Won Aug 1953 Balboa Bay Club Invitational,
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Hard Dorothy Bundy Cheney 6–4, 7–5
Won Sep 1953 Santa Monica City Tournament
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Hard Dorothy Bundy Cheney 6–4, 6–4
Won May 1954 Southern California Sectional Championships
Los Angeles, U.S.
Hard Louise Brough 5–7, 6–4, 7–5
Won Jul 1954 Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships
Merion Cricket Club
Haverford, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Grass Louise Brough 6–4, 2–6, 8–6
Won Dec 1954 U.S. Women's Hardcourt Championships
La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Hard Barbara Green 6–1, 6–3
Won Jan 1955 Thunderbird Invitational
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Hard Patricia Canning Todd 6–1, 6–1
Won Feb 1955 Shadow Mountain Club Invitational
Palm Desert, California, U.S.
Hard Barbara Breit 6–2, 6–3
Won Mar 1955 La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club Invitational
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Hard Louise Brough 8–6, 3–6, 6–2
Won May 1955 Southern California Sectional Championships
Los Angeles, U.S.
Hard Louise Brough 7–5, 6–4
Won May 1955 Wiesbaden (Germany) International Clay Elaine Watson 6–3, 6–2
Won Jul 1955 Irish Lawn Tennis Championships
Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club
Dublin
Grass Darlene Hard 6–2, 6–2
Won Sep 1955 Pacific Southwest Championships
Los Angeles Tennis Club,
Los Angeles, U.S.
Hard Barbara Breit 6–1, 6–4
Won Feb 1956 Shadow Mountain Club Invitational
Palm Desert, California, U.S.
Hard Darlene Hard 6–4, 6–1
Won Apr 1956 Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament
Ojai, California, U.S.
Hard Dorothy Bundy Cheney 7–5, 6–2
Won May 1956 Southern California Sectional Championships
Los Angeles, U.S.
Hard Louise Brough 6–3, 6–4
Lost Aug 1957 Santa Monica City Tournament
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Hard Dorothy Bundy Cheney 3–6, 6–0, 4–6
Won Oct 1957 Balboa Bay Club Invitational
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Hard Dorothy Bundy Cheney 6–4, 6–1
Won Dec 1957 U.S. Women's Hardcourt Championships
La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Hard Mary "Mimi" Arnold 6–1, 6–1
Won Jan 1958 Thunderbird Invitational
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Hard Louise Brough 6–2, 3–6, 10–8
Won Mar 1958 Puerto Rican Invitational
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Hard Althea Gibson 6–4, 10–8
Won Sep 1958 Pacific Southwest Championships
Los Angeles Tennis Club,
Los Angeles, U.S.
Hard Darlene Hard 6–3, 9–7
Won Dec 1958 U.S. Women's Hardcourt Championships
La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Hard Karen Hantze 6–1, 8–6
Won Feb 1959 Shadow Mountain Club Invitational
Palm Desert, California, U.S.
Hard Sally Moore 6–2, 6–2
Lost Jul 1959 U.S. Women's Hardcourt Championships
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Hard Sandra Reynolds 3–6, 2–6
Won Aug 1959 Santa Monica City Tournament
Lincoln Park
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Hard Diane Wootton 6–3, 6–2
Won Sep 1959 Pacific Southwest Championships
Los Angeles Tennis Club,
Los Angeles, U.S.
Hard Maria Bueno 4–6, 6–4, 6–3
Won Oct 1959 Pan American International Championships
Mexico City, Mexico
Clay Patricia Canning Todd 6–1, 7–5

Grand Slam tournament timelineEdit

Key
W  F  SF QF #R RR Q# DNQ A NH
(W) winner; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (DNQ) did not qualify; (A) absent; (NH) not held; (SR) strike rate (events won / competed); (W–L) win–loss record.

SinglesEdit

Tournament 19471 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 Career SR Win–loss
Australian Championships A A A A A A A A A A A A A 0 / 0 0–0
French Championships A A A A QF A A A SF A A A A 0 / 2 6–2
Wimbledon Championships A A A A SF A A A F QF A A 4R 0 / 4 16–3
U.S. National Championships 3R QF QF SF 3R A A QF QF A A SF A 0 / 8 22–7
SR 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 3 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 1 0 / 3 0 / 1 0 / 0 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 14
Win–loss 2–1 3–1 3–1 3–1 8–3 0–0 0–0 3–0 12–3 3–0 0–0 4–1 3–1 44–12

1In 1947, the French International Championships were held after the Wimbledon Championships.

DoublesEdit

Tournament 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 Career SR Win–loss
Australian Championships A A A A A A A A A A A 0 / 0 0–0
French Championships A A 1R A A A W A A A A 0 / 2 4–1
Wimbledon Championships A A SF A A A SF 2R A A F 0 / 4 13–3
U.S. National Championships QF QF 2R A A A A A A A A 0 / 3 3–3
SR 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 3 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 2 0 / 1 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 1 0 / 9
Win–loss 2–1 1–1 4–3 0–0 0–0 0–0 7–1 1–0 0–0 0–0 5–1 20–7

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Bud Collins (2008). The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book. New York City: New Chapter Press. pp. 695, 702–3. ISBN 0-942257-41-3.
  2. ^ United States Tennis Association (1988). 1988 Official USTA Tennis Yearbook. Lynn, Massachusetts: H. O. Zimman, Inc. p. 261.
  3. ^ Bud Collins; Zander Hollander, eds. (1994). Bud Collins' Modern Encyclopedia of Tennis (2nd ed.). Visible Ink Press. pp. 128-9. ISBN 081039443X.
  4. ^ Associated Press (July 3, 1955). "Brough Wins at Wimbledon: Tired Champion Wasn't Certain She'd Make It". St. Petersburg Times. p. C1.
  5. ^ Mark Winters. "Southern California Tennis Association – 2005 Hall of Fame Inductees" (PDF). USTA.
  6. ^ "Pick Parents' Date!". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. December 27, 1949. p. 16.
  7. ^ "This N' That". The Evening Independent. June 2, 1950. p. 12.