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Eric William Sturgess (10 May 1920 – 14 January 2004) was a South African male tennis player and winner of six Grand Slam doubles titles. He also reached the singles final of a Grand Slam tournament three times but never won. Sturgess was ranked World No. 6 by John Olliff of The Daily Telegraph in both 1948 and 1949.[1][2]

Eric Sturgess
Full nameEric William Sturgess
Country (sports)South Africa South Africa
Born(1920-05-10)10 May 1920
Johannesburg, South Africa
Died14 January 2004(2004-01-14) (aged 83)
Sunninghill, South Africa
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Singles
Career record292–55 (84.15%)
Highest rankingNo. 6 (1948, John Olliff)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenSF (1950)
French OpenF (1947, 1951)
WimbledonSF (1951)
US OpenF (1948)
Doubles
Career record0–1
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian OpenF (1950)
French OpenW (1947)
WimbledonF (1951, 1952)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
Australian OpenF (1950)
French OpenW (1947, 1949)
WimbledonW (1949, 1950)
US OpenW (1949)

Contents

BiographyEdit

Eric Sturgess was born in Johannesburg, South Africa where he attended Parktown Boys' High School.[3] Sturgess joined the South African Air Force on the outbreak of World War II and became an instructor with No 4 Spitfire Squadron, SAAF. In October 1944 he was shot down by anti-aircraft fire, captured on landing and sent to the air force officers' prison camp, Stalag Luft III, in eastern Germany. In January 1945 he was transported to Stalag IIIA at Luckenwalde which was liberated two months later by the advancing Russian forces.[3]

He reached the singles final of the 1947 and 1951 French Championships but lost to Hungarian József Asbóth (6–8, 5–7, 4–6) and Jaroslav Drobný (6–3, 6–3, 6–3) respectively. In 1947 he won the doubles competition with countryman Eustace Fannin. In 1948 he reached the singles final at the U.S. National Championships but lost to American Pancho Gonzales.[4]

In 1947 and 1948 he won the British Hard Court Championships played in Bournemouth. He won the first three Swedish Open tournaments (1948, 1949, 1950), played in Båstad. Sturgess won a record 11 singles titles at the South African Championships between 1939 and 1957.

By the end of his career Sturgess had reached fifteen Grand Slam finals (three in singles, six in doubles and six in mixed doubles). He won four titles (the 1947 French Championships doubles title, the 1949 French Championships mixed doubles title and the 1949 and 1950 Wimbledon mixed doubles title).[4]

He represented South Africa in the Davis Cup competition in six ties, compiling a 13–5 record in singles and doubles.[5]

Grand Slam finalsEdit

Singles (3 runner-ups)Edit

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Runner-up 1947 French Championships Clay   József Asbóth 6–8, 5–7, 4–6
Runner-up 1948 U.S. National Championships Grass   Pancho Gonzales 2–6, 3–6, 12–14
Runner-up 1951 French Championships Clay   Jaroslav Drobný 3–6, 3–6, 3–6

Doubles (1 title, 5 runner-ups)Edit

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Winner 1947 French Championships Clay   Eustace Fannin   Tom Brown
  Bill Sidwell
6–4, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3
Runner-up 1949 French Championships Clay   Eustace Fannin   Pancho Gonzales
  Frank Parker
3–6, 6–8, 7–5, 3–6
Runner-up 1950 Australian Championships Grass   Jaroslav Drobný   John Bromwich
  Adrian Quist
3–6, 7–5, 6–4, 3–6, 6–8
Runner-up 1950 French Championships Clay   Jaroslav Drobný   Bill Talbert
  Tony Trabert
2–6, 6–1, 8–10, 2–6
Runner-up 1951 Wimbledon Grass   Jaroslav Drobný   Ken McGregor
  Frank Sedgman
6–3, 2–6, 3–6, 6–3, 3–6
Runner-up 1952 Wimbledon Grass   Vic Seixas   Ken McGregor
  Frank Sedgman
3–6, 5–7, 4–6

Mixed doubles (5 titles, 2 runner-ups)Edit

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Winner 1947 French Championships Clay   Sheila Piercey Summers   Jadwiga Jędrzejowska
  Christian Caralulis
6–0, 6–0
Winner 1949 French Championships Clay   Sheila Piercey Summers   Jean Quertier
  Gerry Oakley
6–1, 6–1
Winner 1949 Wimbledon Grass   Sheila Piercey Summers   Louise Brough
  John Bromwich
9–7, 9–11, 7–5
Winner 1949 U.S. National Championships Grass   Louise Brough   Margaret Osborne duPont
  Bill Talbert
4–6, 6–3, 7–5
Runner-up 1950 Australian Championships Grass   Joyce Fitch   Doris Hart
  Frank Sedgman
6–8, 4–6
Winner 1950 Wimbledon Grass   Louise Brough   Pat Canning Todd
  Geoff Brown
11–9, 1–6, 6–4
Runner-up 1952 French Championships Clay   Shirley Fry   Doris Hart
  Frank Sedgman
8–6, 3–6, 3–6

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First Edition), p. 426.
  2. ^ "Richard Gonzalez World's No. 1: Amateur Lawn Tennis Rankings", The Sunday Indian Express, 18 November 1949.
  3. ^ a b "Obituaries – Eric Sturgess". Telegraph. 5 February 2004. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). [New York]: New Chapter Press. pp. 373, 387, 400, 436, 460. ISBN 978-0942257700.
  5. ^ "Davis Cup – Player Profile". International Tennis Federation (ITF).

External linksEdit