Joseph Sill Clark Sr.

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Joseph Sill Clark Sr. (November 30, 1861 – April 14, 1956) was an American tennis player. Clark won the 1885 U.S. National Championship in doubles with partner Dick Sears. He was also the inaugural singles and doubles national collegiate champion, in 1883. When he died in 1956, he was Philadelphia's oldest practicing attorney.[2]

Joseph Clark
Full nameJoseph Sill Clark Sr.
Country (sports) United States
Born(1861-11-30)November 30, 1861
Germantown, Philadelphia
DiedApril 14, 1956(1956-04-14) (aged 94)
Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia
Turned pro1882 (amateur tour)
Int. Tennis HoF1955 (member page)
Career record55/23 (70.5%) [1]
Career titles6 [1]
Grand Slam Singles results
US OpenSF (1885, 1886, 1887)
Grand Slam Doubles results
US OpenW (1885)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
US OpenW (1888, 1889)
Joseph Sill Clark Sr.
Parent(s)Edward White Clark
RelativesClarence Munroe Clark, brother
Enoch White Clark, grandfather


Clark was born in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 30, 1861, to a family of bankers and financiers. His father, Edward White Clark, was a partner in the family firm, E. W. Clark & Co. Clark's brother, Clarence Munroe Clark, would also become a tennis player of note.

As a student at Harvard University, Joseph Clark won the U.S. intercollegiate singles and doubles titles in its inaugural staging, in the spring of 1883. In the singles, he defeated fellow Crimson player Dick Sears.[3]

Clark graduated Harvard in 1883 and later earned a law degree. He and his brother, Percy Hamilton Clark, opened a law practice at 321 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. The practice centered on the "street railway, electric light, and power businesses" operated by E. W. Clark & Co.[4]

In 1885, he took the U.S. National lawn tennis doubles title, and also became champion of Canada, the first American to be so. Clark was also a semi-finalist at the U.S. National Championships lawn tennis singles in 1885, 1886, and 1887. He captured the first two U.S. National mixed doubles championships in 1888 and 1889 with Marian Wright (fr).

He served as president of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association from 1889 until 1891.[3]

On November 26, 1896, Clark married Kate Richardson Avery (1868-1951), whose family owned Avery Island in Louisiana.[5] She was the daughter of Dudley Avery (1810-1879), who was the brother-in-law of Tabasco sauce inventor Edmund McIlhenny (1815-1890).[6]

Their children included two sons: future Philadelphia mayor and U.S. Senator Joseph Sill Clark Jr.[7] and Avery B. Clark. They had at least three grandchildren: Joseph Jr.'s children Joseph S. Clark III and Noel (née Clark) Miller, and Avery's daughter Kate Avery Clark.[8]

In 1955, Clark was inaugurated into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.[3]

Clark died April 14, 1956, in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Joseph Sill Clark:Career match record". Tennis Base. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Joseph Clark Sr., an Attorney, Dies. Father of Former Mayor of Philadelphia was Elected to Tennis Hall of Fame". New York Times. April 16, 1956. Retrieved 2010-12-08. Joseph Sill Clark Sr., father of former Philadelphia Mayor Joseph Sill Clark Jr. and the city's oldest practicing attorney, died yesterday at his home in Chestnut Hill here. He was 94 years old.
  3. ^ a b c "Joseph Clark". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2010-12-08. In the spring of 1883, Joseph Clark represented Harvard with vigor, earning singles and doubles titles at the first U.S. Intercollegiate Championships. Two years later, the Philadelphian won the U.S. Doubles Championships with Dick Sears. Thereafter, Clark turned his attention to administrative endeavors. He worked his way assiduously up the USNLTA ladder from Secretary to Vice President on up to the Presidency, demonstrating in the process that his off-court skills were also admirably sharp.
  4. ^ "Secretary's 4th Report". Harvard College: Class of 1896. 4: 64–65. June 1911.
  5. ^ Taylor, Charles William (1949). Eminent judges and lawyers of the American Bar, past and present. C.W. Taylor. p. 75. Retrieved December 8, 2010.
  6. ^ Beers, Paul B. (1980). Pennsylvania Politics Today and Yesterday: The Tolerable Accommodation. Pennsylvania State University.
  7. ^ Current Biography. H.W. Wilson Company. 1953. p. 107. Retrieved December 8, 2010.
  8. ^ O'Keefe, Adm. J. (April 4, 2002). "In Re: Trust, Estate of KATE R. AVERY CLARK, Settlor" (PDF). Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Orphans' Court Division. Retrieved December 8, 2010.

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