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Herbert Roper Barrett – A Lawn Tennis Biography 3/4

22-09-2014 11:55:48
By Mark Ryan

Part III – Greatest Successes

By the summer of 1908, when he returned to take part in the Wimbledon tournament for the first time since 1902, Herbert Roper Barrett was already 34 years of age. This is relatively old in today’s terms, but in the early decades of lawn tennis it was quite common for players not only to play on until well into their thirties, and even their forties, but also to play some of their best tennis during these later years. The idea that they would ‘peak’ in their late twenties or soon after would have been foreign to a player like Barrett and contemporaries of his such as Arthur Gore and Major Ritchie.

In 1908, Herbert Roper Barrett arrived at Wimbledon as an Olympic champion, having won a gold medal in the men’s doubles event with Arthur Gore at the indoor lawn tennis events held as part of the Fourth Olympiad, for which London was the host city. Three lawn tennis events – a men’s singles, women’s singles and men’s doubles – had been held in early May on the indoor wooden courts at the Queen’s Club in Kensington, London. The entry had been very modest, with almost of all of the participants being British, and Barrett and Gore had had to win only two matches to become champions, their opponents in the final being their compatriots George Caridia and George Simond, whom they beat 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Gore had previously won the gold medal in the men’s singles event, in which Barrett did not take part.

Between taking part in the Olympic Games and the Wimbledon tournament, Barrett had won the men’s singles title at the Kent Championships tournament, usually held in mid-June in Beckenham in that county in the south-east of England. In the final match Barrett had beaten Charles Dixon in straight sets, 6-0, 9-7, 6-2

At Wimbledon itself, Barrett and Gore met in the All-Comers’ Final of the men’s singles event – this was the furthest Barrett had yet gone in this event – with Gore emerging the winner after a long five-set match, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4. In fact, this was the championship match because the holder, Norman Brookes, did not take part in the Wimbledon tournament in 1908. At the age of forty Gore thus became the oldest winner of a Wimbledon singles title.

In 1908, the All-Comers’ Final of the men’s doubles event at Wimbledon was also the championship match, Norman Brookes and Anthony Wilding having won the title one year earlier. Together with Arthur Gore, Barrett also reached this stage of the men’s doubles event where their opponents were Wilding and Major Ritchie. After a very poor start Barrett and Gore rallied to win a one-sided third set, but this was their only success, their opponents eventually winning in four sets, 6-1, 6-2, 1-6, 9-7.

Barrett completed the 1908 lawn tennis season by winning the men’s singles title at several English tournaments, including the Suffolk Championships in Saxmundham, the Essex Championships in Colchester and the Kent Coast Championships, this final tournament being held in Hythe on the south-east coast of England.

In 1909, Herbert Roper Barrett began the lawn tennis season by taking part in the Covered Court Championships, the most prestigious tournament of its kind, held in late April on the wooden indoor courts of the Queen’s Club in London. Barrett confined himself to the men’s doubles event where he was partnered by Arthur Gore. They won their first round match against Major Ritchie and another Englishman, Charles Dixon, by the revealing score of 2-6, 6-4, 8-6, 4-6, 11-9, before having a much easier passage, defeating Reggie Doherty and another Englishman, Lionel Escombe, in straight sets in the semi-finals, and two more of their compatriots, the Lowe brothers Arthur and Gordon, in the All-Comers’ Final, 6-1, 7-9, 6-1, 6-2. (This latter match was, in fact, the championship match, Major Ritchie having won the title in 1908 with Anthony Wilding.)

In mid-June of 1909, at the Kent Championships in Beckenham, Barrett retained the men’s singles title. As the defending champion, he did not have to ‘play through’ and was due to face Major Ritchie, the winner of the All-Comers’ event in the Challenge Round (the Kent Championships was one of the last British lawn tennis tournaments to abolish the Challenge Round, eventually doing so in 1912).

In late June of 1909, at Wimbledon, Herbert Roper Barrett repeated his feat of one year earlier by again reaching the All-Comers Final of the men’s singles event and, once again with Arthur Gore, the same stage of the men’s doubles event. In the former event Barrett was beaten by Major Ritchie, in four sets, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4. (The 38-year-old Ritchie went on to lose the Challenge Round to the 41-year-old Arthur Gore. The latter is still the oldest winner of a Wimbledon singles title.) However, due to bad weather at Beckenham, the Challenge Round match between Barrett and Ritchie was postponed, and, in fact, was never played.

Major Ritchie and the New Zealander Anthony Wilding did not defend their Wimbledon doubles title together in 1909, so the All-Comers’ Final was the championship match, as it had been in 1908, when Barrett and Arthur Gore had been on the losing side. One year on their opponents were the Australian Stanley Doust and Harold Parker, a native of New Zealand who later moved to Australia. The latter combination played a very poor match – Parker was ill – but some excellent play by Doust in the third set made the score less one-sided than it might have been.

The following unsigned report of this match is taken from the British publication “Lawn Tennis and Badminton” of 8 July 1909: “The final of the All-Comers’, owing to the retirement of the holders, was the championship round of the doubles. Played on Monday, July 5, in the best of weather, before a good attendance (considering the other functions which commenced that day), it was a disappointing match. The consolation remains that the Doubles Championship for 1909 is held by England.

“The Australasian pair, Stanley Doust and Harold Parker, had shown good capacity on their way to the final. There was not wanting those who favoured their chances. Parker, it must be noted, was not well. His indisposition had had its effect on him in the final of the All-England Plate which preceded the double. Doust did good work and in the third set gave a very fine exhibition, but received little help from his partner. Gore and Barrett consequently won in three straight sets, playing with confidence and not being pressed until the third.

“Gore soon showed that he was at home by winning his first return with one of his best cross-drives from the left-hand court. Barrett scored with a backhand stroke almost parallel with the net, and won the game with a volley down the middle. This game and its strokes is a sort of microcosm of the match, except for ‘the intrusion of Doust.’ Gore won his service in the next game, doing most of the work. Parker lobbed out, as he did frequently in the match, and Gore finished the game with a drive. They reached 3-0, winning Doust’s service, which is weak and invites strong returns. Barrett now began a series of his forehand cross-volleys, and the English pair took the first set by 6-1.

“The second set was mainly a repetition of the first, except that Parker was more in evidence, trying to recover his game. 2-1, 3-1, 4-1 were called in the favour of Barrett and Gore. In the fourth game there was a good rally, ended by Gore failing over a sideline shot. Barrett reached advantage with a short backhand cross stroke, and Parker netting the ball finished the game. Two good rallies distinguished the fifth game. Barrett commenced with a double fault, and Parker won almost his first drive. The latter made a good smash, but failed at another, and also lobbed out, giving the game to Barrett and Gore.

“In the next both Gore and Barrett failed over returning Doust’s service, and Parker reached 40-0 with a good smash. This, however, was the last game in the set to be won by them. Doust scored in the next with a pretty cross-volley, and Barrett with one of his cross-volleys nearly parallel with the net. In the eighth game Parker scored; he failed over two volleys, and ended the set with a double fault.

“This, which was almost a procession, went on in the third set till the English pair were four games up. Yet in the first game Parker showed some recovery, twice bringing the score to deuce, with a cross stroke and a smash. He and his partner lobbed out three times in the second game. Doust was 15-0, but served a double fault. Gore drove down the middle in his best style, and Barrett won the game with the neatest of backhand lobs.

“The next game included a good rally won by Parker, but it went fairly easily to the leaders, making them 3-0. They also won the fourth, but only after a struggle. The play in this game was of a different character from the proceeding. It was well contested, and of a high class on both sides. Hitherto Gore and Barrett had played very good lawn tennis, but had met with little resistance.

“Doust’s Superb Effort

“Doust was simply splendid in the next four games. In the fourth he could not reach game; Barrett made three winning strokes, and was wonderful in recovery. In the fifth game, in spite of three netted strokes by Parker, Doust ran out after a marvellous exhibition of both drives and volleys. He continued this, though Barrett’s mistakes, due to Doust’s ubiquity, lost the next game. Four-two, and a possibility of the Colonials overhauling the leaders. Doust, doing most of the work leading to a win, finished the game with a fine cross smash.

“The next was a most interesting game and the longest in the match. Gore was driving hard off Parker’s service, winning two returns and missing another. Barrett reached advantage with a clever cross stroke. Doust’s forehand volleys were excellent, he won three times with them, the last giving him the game and making the score 4-all.

“In the ninth, a critical game, Barrett served, and reached 40-15 after a remarkable rally at the net consisting of smashes and half-volley recoveries. He won the game with a smash down the middle, and thus led 5-4. Doust fell away in the next, and the match went to Gore and Barrett by 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Barrett thus becomes an All-England Champion. The pair have worked hard together, and deserve the distinction they have now won.”

At Wimbledon in 1909, Herbert Roper Barrett also won the mixed doubles event, although this particular event did not have championship status at Wimbledon until 1913. His partner in the mixed doubles event was the Englishwoman Agnes Morton, a player he liked to team up with regularly, in particular at the Saxmundham Championships in Suffolk, where they won the mixed doubles title together on multiple occasions. At Wimbledon in 1909, they beat their compatriots Albert Prebble and Dora Boothby in the final, 6-2, 7-5. The following unsigned report of this match is also taken from the British publication “Lawn Tennis and Badminton” of 8 July 1909:  

“Roper Barrett, fresh from his victory in the doubles championship, partnered Agnes Morton in the final of the mixed doubles against Albert Prebble and Dora Boothby. The first game showed Miss Boothby repeating her errors in service of the ladies’ singles. Throughout her first set she failed to find her game, while her partner was unable to cope with the combination of Miss Morton’s drives, played so low and hard as to be unapproachable, and Barrett’s net work.
“In the following set Miss Boothby improved, and called forth many rounds of applause by her treatment of Barrett’s ‘brainy’ strokes. So well did they combine that they gained the lead, and crossed to the committee box end 5 games to 3. Then Miss Boothby was again ‘nervy’ with her service, and lost a love game. Barrett drew level with his, and covering the net most brilliantly, annexed, and won against Prebble. Miss Morton, playing as she had done throughout, made no mistake about hers, and the last match of the 1909 Wimbledon tournament was finished.”

In 1910, Herbert Roper Barrett again began the lawn tennis season by taking part in the Covered Court Championships at the Queen’s Club in London. Once again he did not take part in the men’s singles event, instead restricting himself to the men’s doubles and mixed doubles. A Challenge Round was retained in most of the events at the Covered Court Championships (and at Wimbledon) for several years after it had been abolished at most other tournaments.

In 1910, Barrett and Gore, the holders, were unsuccessful in the Challenge Round of the men’s doubles event at the Queen’s Club, losing their title to the Australians Stanley Doust and Leslie Poidevin in a very close five-set match, the final score being 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 1-6,    8-6. However, in the mixed doubles event Barrett emerged victorious. He was partnered by the Englishwoman Madeline O’Neill (née Fisher), who was then aged 42. In the final match they beat Stanley Doust and a Miss Adams, 6-3, 6-0.

Although Herbert Roper Barrett won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles title at several tournaments in 1910, at the most important tournament of all, Wimbledon, he did not win any title. He was unfortunate in that at Wimbledon he was drawn in the first round against Anthony Wilding, then aged 26 and one of the best lawn tennis players in the world. At a time when, at least officially, there was no seeding at lawn tennis tournaments the best two players could, in theory, meet as early as the first round. However, this did not usually happen, probably due to foresight on the part of the organising committee.

Nevertheless, top players could meet each other as early as round one, and at Wimbledon in 1910 this was the case with Barrett and Wilding. After a promising start, during which he won the first set, Barrett faded, eventually losing in four sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. Wildling would go on to win the first of four consecutive men’s singles titles at Wimbledon.

In the Challenge Round of the men’s doubles event at Wimbledon in 1910, Barrett and Arthur Gore, the defending champions were opposed to Major Ritchie and Anthony Wilding, who had won the title together in 1908 against the same opponents. This time the challengers once again emerged victorious, by 6-1, 6-1, 6-2, the most one-sided score in the history of the final match in the men’s doubles event at Wimbledon

As already stated, later in the 1910 lawn tennis season Barrett won the men’s singles title at a number of tournaments, namely the Suffolk Championships in Saxmundham; the Essex Championships in Colchester; the East of England Championships in Felixstowe; and the Kent Coast Championships in Hythe. At several of these tournaments he was the holder not only of the men’s singles title, but also of the men’s doubles and mixed doubles titles.

In late June and early July of 1911, at Wimbledon, Herbert Roper Barrett, then aged 37, had no success in either of the doubles events, but reached the Challenge Round of the men’s singles event for the first time. His opponents along the way included James C. Parke, the top Irish player of the period, whom Barrett defeated in the first round, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1, and his compatriot Charles Dixon, whom Barrett defeated in the All-Comers’ Final after losing the first two sets. The score was 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1, and the following unsigned report of this match comes from “Lawn Tennis and Badminton” of 13 July 1911:

“This was by far the hottest day of the meeting. Not a breath of wind stirred in the centre court and the sun blazed fiercely on the thousands of spectators who waited patiently from 12.30. At a quarter to four the finalists, Herbert Roper Barrett and Charles Dixon, entered the arena. Both men showed their respect for the sun by wearing hats. Dixon’s hat had already appeared to bring him luck in earlier rounds, but the sight of Barrett in cowboy guise was quite a novelty.

“Dixon began serving and in spite of two double faults won the game. Both were playing nervously. The games went to the server till the eighth, which fell to Dixon, making him 5-3. Barrett had won two love games. The latter, who had seemed to be feeling the heat more than Dixon, then made a determined effort, and with a bit of luck in the form of a net-cord in the ninth game, made the score 5-all. But he failed to cope with a succession of high-kicked services on to his backhand, and Dixon, playing with great ease and precision, took the next two games and the set.

“For the first part of the second set Barrett was more himself. He was quicker at the net and much safer off the ground. Previously his forehand from the back of the court had been most uncertain – to say the least of it. Deuce was called six times in the fifth game, which ultimately fell to Barrett, who had been leading at love-forty. The acquisition of the next game gave him a lead of 4-2. Some missed opportunities on the part of Barrett gave Dixon the next game and, Barrett starting the next game with a double fault, his opponent won it to love, bringing the score to 4-all. Dixon still seemed the fresher of the two, and making some wonderful recoveries, won the next two games and the set, after being within a point of it four times.

“Barrett took a 3-1 lead in the third set, winning two love games. Dixon with an effort made the game level and then, putting in some fine passing shots, led at 4-3. A close game followed which, falling to Barrett, made the score even. This game seemed the turning point of the match. Dixon now lost his quickness and his length, which had been so good. Barrett, seeing this, betook himself to the net on every possible occasion, and forcing the pace ran out a winner of the set at 6-4.

“The fourth set fell to Barrett at 6-3. Dixon was distinctly the more tired of the two. Barrett led 4-1, playing well, and was 40-0 in the next game, but failed to win it. He won the last point of the set by Dixon double-faulting. The fifth set was more or less one-sided, Dixon winning only one game – the second.

“Dixon would perhaps have been well advised to have let the third set go when Barrett was leading 3-1, and reserved himself for an effort in the fourth set. As it was he expended his energy in pulling up to no purpose. Barrett, although looking as if he had not quite enough at the end of the first set, did not seem to get any worse, and by his victory showed what can be done by just hanging on. After all, however bad one feels, it is quite possible one’s opponent is feeling worse!”

As indicated in the above report, the weather during the Wimbledon tournament of 1911 was particularly hot, an unusually strong heatwave prevailing for most of the meeting. This weather tested not only the physical but also the mental strength of both Anthony Wilding, the holder, and Herbert Roper Barrett in the Challenge Round. However, the New Zealander was the fitter player physically and 10 years younger than Barrett; Wilding had also probably benefitted from the champion’s being able to ‘stand out’ until the end of the All-Comers’ event before taking on the challenger. Nevertheless, in what was a very strange match, Barrett pushed Wilding all the way before Barrett felt he had to retire with the score standing at two sets-all, 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, retired.

The following unsigned report of the Challenge Round match comes from “Lawn Tennis and Badminton” of 13 July 1911: “After a fortnight’s play of the most strenuous and nerve-wearing description, the championships came to an end. The spectators seemed almost as worn-out as the players by the heat and excitement of the foregoing week. But nevertheless they showed their determination to see it out by turning up in thousands, in spite of the cooler counter-attractions of Henley, to witness the final struggle for the championship.

“The challenge round left Wilding still in possession of his title, Barrett retiring at two sets-all. From the first moment of play it was quite obvious that Barrett was feeling the effects of his previous exertions. Instead of his usual look of keen alertness he wore an air of ‘passive resistance’.

“The match opened tamely enough. Wilding soon had a lead of 3-1. Barrett won the next game by bringing his opponent to the net and passing him with a fine backhand cross-drive. With Wilding keeping a good length and Barrett playing very uncertainly off the ground the holder took a lead of 5-2. Barrett then began the tactics which were afterwards to make the game so extraordinary. He started playing gentle high-bouncing pats which, dropping in the centre of the court on the service line, looked like certain points for Wilding. But the holder, try as he would, could never make a winning stroke off them. Wherever he hit the ball there was Barrett waiting for it without apparently having moved.

“It seemed as if some mysterious agency was at work. The worse the shot Barrett played and the greater the opportunities he gave Wilding the less could the holder do. When he had drawn Wilding to the net by these means Barrett’s lobbing was a masterpiece. Lob after lob fell an inch or two inside the baseline, and his lobs were only equalled by his wonderful backhand passing drives. Pursuing these tactics he drew up to 5-4, but a temporary lapse gave Wilding a love game and the first set.

“Barrett led at 3-1 in the second set, with Wilding beginning to get worried. The holder was losing his length and seemed afraid to hit anything – even his overhead work was soft to a degree. In the next game Barrett had the lead with love-40 on Wilding’s service, but lost the game. In the following game, after Wilding had been love-30, Barrett made three backhand passes consecutively, bringing his score to 40-30, but the game ultimately fell to Wilding. For the rest of the set the holder’s game grew steadily weaker. All his winning strokes deserted him, and it was only by Barrett’s occasional lapses that Wilding made any points. The set fell to Barrett amid great enthusiasm at 6-4.

“In the third set Wilding seemed as if a spell had been cast over him. Even one or two quite short lobs he played very gently and with infinite care, as if hardly able to believe the ball was actually there. Barrett led 5-0, and then, for some reason best known to himself, appeared deliberately to throw two games away. However, he ran out at 6-2, winning the last point by putting in an unexpected fast service.

“This was the end of Barrett’s tether. He took the first game in the fourth set, but it was plainly seen that he was in the last stages of exhaustion. He never attempted to run for the ball, and seemed almost dazed. Wilding appeared to shake himself free from his enchantment, and began to play more his usual game. Gaining confidence every moment, he took the next five games. Barrett annexed one more, but Wilding, now completely recovered, took the set at 6-2, and Barrett retired. Thus ended one of the most peculiar matches ever seen. It is an extraordinary sight to see a player of Wilding’s calibre apparently so influenced by his opponent’s play or personality as to lose confidence in himself to such an extent as he did.”

Twenty-four years later, in the interview he gave to the “Gloucestershire Echo” newspaper, quoted from above, Barrett looked back on this strange match at Wimbledon. According to his account, a doctor he saw on Friday, 7 July, told him that he was suffering from a strained heart and that the doctor would not be responsible if Barrett played in the Challenge Round the following day, Saturday, 8 July.

However, according to Barrett, who forgets that he lost the first and fourth sets of the match in question, “I travelled down to Wimbledon that day [Saturday] with about 18 other enthusiasts in a third-class carriage, and on reaching the ground told George Hillyard, who was the All England secretary then, that I could not play and had a doctor’s certificate in my pocket.

“‘But look at the crowd,’ said Hillyard. ‘I am afraid you will have to play.’ ‘I gave way and all went well until the fourth set. I won the first two sets fairly easily, but lost the third and had a terrific struggle in the fourth. Tony got an early lead of 2-1, and when I made a big effort to catch up and failed after a lot of running about in the fourth game of the set things became a bit mixed. The net began to jump about in a most curious manner, the ground seemed to give beneath my feet, and the stands began to close in upon me. I could not go on, and had to retire at two sets-all.

“‘Afterwards someone recommended me to see a specialist, and when I did he said, ‘Your heart is perfect, your lungs are perfect, there is nothing whatever the matter with your liver. You have been suffering from sunstroke.’”

Somewhat unusually, at this point in time – the summer of 1911 – Herbert Roper Barrett was still living with his parents in their home in the Forest Gate area of Essex. In addition to 37-year-old Herbert, the 1911 Census of England and Wales lists 67-year-old Joseph Barrett and his 60-year-old wife Louisa as residents, along with their youngest surviving child, Arthur, whose profession is given as stockbroker’s authorised clerk. Herbert is listed as a solicitor, while Joseph, senior, who had stopped practising law by then, is listed as a retired solicitor (Hebert had taken over the family law practice in Leadenhall Street by then). A number of servants also feature on the same census return.

In 1912, Herbert Roper Barrett travelled abroad to take part in a lawn tennis tournament for the first time in several years on the occasion of the Sixth Olympiad, which was held in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. The indoor lawn tennis events were held in early May and featured a modest entry of six nations, with New Zealand, represented by Anthony Wilding, being the only non-European nation participating. Barrett’s best performance came in the mixed doubles event where he won the silver medal alongside Helen Aitchison. Their opponents in the final were another English pair, Charles Dixon and Edith Hannam (née Boucher), who beat them, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

In the men’s singles event at the 1912 Olympic Games Barrett lost a close five-set, second round match against the Swede Gunnar Setterwall, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-8, 6-4. In the men’s doubles event Setterwall, partnered by Carl Kempe, defeated Barrett and Arthur Gore after losing the first two sets, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.

In mid-June of 1912, Herbert Roper Barrett took part in the Kent Championships tournament, in Beckenham, where he had won the men’s singles title on two previous occasions, in 1908 and 1909. In 1912, Barrett went all the way to the final at the Kent Championships where he lost a close five-set match to Anthony Wilding, the reigning Wimbledon champion, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 1-6,   6-2.

Two weeks later, at Wimbledon, Barrett continued his good form, although he lost in the quarter-finals of the men’s singles event to the Frenchman Max Decugis, 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. (In the previous round, Barrett had beaten Major Ritchie in a long five-set match, 8-6, 3-6,   6-2, 3-6, 6-4.) In the men’s doubles event, however, there was more success for Barrett, this time partnered by Charles Dixon. In their first attempt at the title as a pair they went all the way to the Challenge Round where they faced the French team of Max Decugis and Maurice Germot. After dropping the first set the English pair rallied to win a spirited encounter, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. At the age of 38, Herbert Roper Barrett thus won the Wimbledon men’s doubles title for the second time, his first win in this event having come three years earlier with Arthur Gore.

In mid-July 1912, just after the end of the Wimbledon tournament, Herbert Roper Barrett travelled to Folkestone in Kent to take part in the semi-final tie in the Davis Cup pitting the British Isles against France. Although he did not take part in the singles, Barrett and his partner played a crucial role in the doubles match by defeating André Gobert and William Laurentz in four sets, 3-6 6-4 6-1, 6-1, as the British Isles recorded a comfortable 4-1 victory in matches. This would be Barrett’s only appearance in the Davis Cup competition in 1912.

Later on in the 1912 lawn tennis season, in early August, Herbert Roper Barrett retained his men’s singles title at the Suffolk Championships in Saxmundham. He ended the season in mid-September at the Kent Coast Championships in Hythe, which in 1912 was also the venue for the short-lived Championships of Europe, a modest tournament despite its grandiose title.  In the men’s singles event for the Championships of Europe Barrett reached the final, where he lost to his compatriot Algernon Kingscote, 9-7, 2-6, 7-5, 2-6, 8-6.

In 1913, Herbert Roper Barrett more than likely began the lawn tennis season at the Covered Court Championships, held at the Queen’s Club in London at the end of April. Although he appears not to have taken part in the men’s singles event, it seems that he did take part in both the men’s doubles and the mixed doubles events, albeit under the pseudonym of “E.W.E. Lamb”. In the early decades of lawn tennis a number of players sometimes sent in pseudonyms instead of their real names when entering for a tournament. Because this practice was supported by organising committees and only the pseudonyms were reported in the press, it is sometimes difficult in such cases to be sure of a player’s true identity.

In the case of the 1913 Covered Court Championships tournaments it appears that “E.W.E. Lamb” was indeed Herbert Roper Barrett because “Lamb” and Arthur Gore reached the Challenge Round of the men’s doubles event where they lost to the defending champions, Anthony Wilding and Stanley Doust, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. (Although Barrett had played men’s doubles with Charles Dixon at several tournaments in 1912, Dixon’s partner at the Covered Court Championships in 1913 was Major Ritchie.)

In addition, “E.W.E. Lamb” also reached the final match in the mixed doubles event at the Covered Court Championships tournament in partnership with Madeline O’Neill, the player with whom Barrett had won the same title in 1910. In 1913, they lost the final match to the Stanley Doust and the great English player Dorothea Lambert Chambers, 6-3, 6-0.

Later on in the 1913 lawn tennis season, in the run-up to Wimbledon, Herbert Roper Barrett once again took part in the Kent Championships tournament at Beckenham, where he and Arthur Gore won the doubles title over two other Englishmen, Alfred Beamish and the somewhat obscure A.L. Bentley, 6-3, 6-2. Despite their success at Beckenham, Barrett and Gore did not team up at Wimbledon in late June of 1913. Instead Barrett teamed up again with Charles Dixon. This is understandable because Barrett and Dixon were the defending champions and it is common for pairs to defend a title together.

In the men’s singles event at Wimbledon in 1913, Barrett had a very unlucky draw in that he had to play the American Maurice McLoughlin, one of the world’s top players, in the first round. At just twenty-three, McLoughlin was sixteen years younger than Barrett and came to Wimbledon as the reigning men’s singles champion of the United States of America, having won this prestigious title for the first time the previous summer. Most experts considered the American as one of the favourites for the men’s singles title, but despite the disparity in age Barrett played one of the best matches of his career on the centre court at Wimbledon, only just failing to beat McLoughlin. The following unsigned report on this match is taken from “Lawn Tennis and Badminton” of 26 June 1913:

“This match had been very keenly looked forward to, and turned out to be one of the best seen on the centre court for many a year. From start to finish it was a thoroughly good match, fought in the best possible spirit by both sides. For winning it the utmost credit is due to McLoughlin. To come straight off ship and be called on to face ‘Barrett the Brain-dazer’ first go off on foreign soil is an ordeal which few young players, even of McLoughlin’s skill and reputation, could face with equanimity. Yet equanimity is the exact word to express McLoughlin’s attitude as presented to the public eye.

“Very deliberate, very imperturbable, coolheaded, tremendously powerful,  thoroughly fit, and armed with every sort of stroke from a rifle-shot service to the most delicate of drop volleys, McLoughlin has all the makings of a world champion. And it is not to be supposed that he was at his best on Monday, especially in the matter of his first service, which, though it won him many aces outright, evidently disappointed him by the frequency with which it faulted.

“Yet no excuses need be made for Barrett’s defeat. He played magnificently clever tennis, and quite as well as he had played any time the last dozen years. Indeed, only just to lose, as he did, to a player like McLoughlin, was a feat almost as good as winning a championship, and it is a matter of sincere congratulation that he could give away half his age to his opponent and yet be going as strong as he was at the finish of a really splendid match.

“McLoughlin started to serve, and from the start it was clear that his service was a big asset. Three points in the first game he won with it, Barrett being quite at sea with the high-kicking bound. Barrett’s service, plain in comparison, proved just as awkward to McLoughlin in the next game; he hit them all into the net or out, except the last, which he returned, only to be passed with a fine cross drive.
“The American led again 2-1, in spite of a double fault; but Barrett squared on the fourth. Barrett got more accustomed to McLoughlin’s service in the fifth game, and in the course of it made a regular ‘Barrett’ shot off a fine volley of McLoughlin’s, slamming the ball down McLoughlin’s forehand sideline just inside the line with the speed of lightning.  McLoughlin’s eyebrows went up at this; it was the first time Barrett had the hit the ball hard. But a couple of good volleys gave McLoughlin the game and the lead again.

“A love game brought Barrett level again, but McLoughlin, with some extra good services and a lucky volley off the wood, two clinking drives and a lovely drop shot, went ahead again at 4-3, after deuce twice. He was out a lot in the eighth, which Barrett took to 15. Then the old campaigner came out. Timing his effort to the moment, Barrett took McLoughlin’s service to love, winning one shot with a lovely half-volley, and another with a shot right across McLoughlin’s body as he came in.  He got to 40-30 in his own service, and then, at set point, in his turn sent in an express service bang down the centre court line, which McLoughlin could only look at – the first fast service he had dealt all through the set.

“Barrett’s successes are largely won by this sudden way of snatching a set off an opponent who is just thinking all is going nicely with him; but McLoughlin is clearly not the man to be rattled by a happening of this kind. Not even by the fact that Barrett won the first two games of the second set, playing his cleverest. The American came in and smashed with terrific force, and in spite of the fact that Barrett was now returning his service very well with a high back-hand pull all across the court, sent in one or two he could not return, and took the third game.

“The next game was remarkable for three of the most perfect passing drives of Barrett’s down McLoughlin’s sideline – they were all only just inside the line, and there was only just room to get past McLoughlin’s racket in making each of them. Barrett finished the game with a good kill and led 3-1. McLoughlin won the next game, and hit very fiercely in the sixth, but Barrett kept on saving them, and won a very good game after three deuces, 4-2.

“McLoughlin kept him well on the run the next two games, and won them both, getting level amidst encouraging (and unstinted) applause. Barrett smacked McLoughlin’s first service in the ninth very savagely down the sideline, and brought off two good backhand passes to make himself 5-4, but then lost his service game to love, McLoughlin being not the least bustled, and driving superbly. In the eleventh Barrett kept digging away at McLoughlin’s backhand, and had him fairly spinning round with the returns, and led again at 6-5, in spite of a winning half-volley from the American.

“Both were very subtle in the critical twelfth game, and Barrett at last found himself against an opponent with a brain little, if at all, inferior to his own. He got up to deuce after being 15-40, and then got within a point of the set. He put up a good lob, which seemed likely to win, but a puff of wind carried it out. Again Barrett got his advantage point, and a fine rally followed, finished by a glorious forehand drive of McLoughlin’s to save the set again. Then, for the first time, Barrett played one or two loose shots out of court, and the precious game was gone.

“In the thirteenth McLoughlin, for the first time since the match started, varied his ordinary service by a couple of reverses. He was now in great fettle, having saved the set. He won the game with a wonderful half-volley from between his feet; but when he was within a point of the next game, and his set, unluckily fell down, and lost the ace. It made no difference, however. Barrett put his next ball in the net, and McLoughlin ran out with a fine drop shot, played with the utmost coolness. Set-all.

“McLoughlin came right in at once, and close in, all the time at the beginning of the third set. But Barrett was equal to the attack, and in spite of one service he could not look at, took the lead. In the endeavour to add the next to it he ran about tremendously, and, besides failing, took too much out of himself. One-all. He won the third game, though, putting the last shot in the extreme corner inch of the base and side line. McLoughlin laughed at it; he thought it was surely out – it was the limit of combined skill and luck.

“McLoughlin drove away hard, with a lot of top spin, in the fourth game, but Barrett won it off him after deuce. The veteran was now going strong, and though McLoughlin kept getting back, by the aid of his tremendous reach, all sorts of shots that Barrett got right past him, he mistimed Barrett’s service a good deal, as many good men have done before him, and Barrett ran out at 6-1, his winning shots in the seventh game including a fine hook drive off one of McLoughlin’s half-volleys, and a great backhand pass down the sideline to end the set. Two sets to one, Barrett leads.

“Barrett looked astonished in the first game of the fourth set, though, when McLoughlin killed one of his cunning lobs from probably as high a point in the air as a lob has ever been killed from, jumping right up off the ground. McLoughlin was as cool and impassive as ever, the only sign of discomfort being a sad shake of the head when his first serve occasionally failed to clear the net. He went off with a 2-0 lead, finishing the second game with a fine forehand chop volley that went right away.

“Out came the sun, dazzlingly, in the next game, and bisected the court into sunlight and shadow right down the centre line, with a dark patch at the north-west corner. Lurking here, Barrett sent some puzzling ones down, but McLoughlin was now playing almost unconquerable stuff, gathering himself up on the baseline for his drives, and punching them down the court with immense power. He led 3-2, and then, in his next service game, produced, at deuce, two perfectly magnificent services in succession, and reached 4-2. And then 5-2, being in complete control. He was 15-40 in the eighth game; but then again produced a real tour de force. Four successive services he sent in, not one of which were touched by Barrett – a dramatic ending to a set which had seen the American just about at his best. [Two sets-all.]

“Now the real fight began. Both angled rather cautiously at the start, anxious to get the lead. Barrett got it; but McLoughlin squared in the second game, making an almost unbelievable backhand volley off a shot which seemed far past him – his reach is quite extraordinary. Then he got the lead, finishing the third game with a nice short shot, only to lose the next, Barrett catching him every time at his feet as he came in on his service. Barrett did not appear to be tiring, but the strain must have been beginning to tell. He made five fine saves in the fifth game, but it was no good; McLoughlin’s ground shots were too good.

“The American led 3-2, and 4-2 with a stop-volley and another splendid service. Then Barrett made his effort. Coming right up on everything, he volleyed his way to a love game, and again catching McLoughlin as he came up on his service, led in the ninth on each stroke, only to lose the next, till deuce had been called twice. Then he sent his fast special down the centre line – his favourite service at a real crisis – and led 5-4 amid tumultuous cheering.

“Still as cool as ever, McLoughlin played two stop-volleys, both winners, in the tenth, and won it to 15, again finishing with an untakeable service. Barrett got to 40-30 on his service in the eleventh, but McLoughlin brought it to deuce with a fine hook cross shot from the baseline, right across Barrett at the net – a most daring shot at such a crisis. Then, with two big drives, he led at 6-5. Barrett stuck to it well, and squared again, making a peach of a drive to end the game with, after a very long and beautifully played on both sides rally – one of his very best shots. Six-all

“Caution marked the guarded way in the thirteenth, and indeed the strain must have been tremendous on both men. Barrett was 15-40, but then McLoughlin put one in the net and the next miles out. Barrett then put two in the net, and McLoughlin led again, 7-6. Barrett passed him down the sideline as he came in on his service, and the score was 0-30 in the fourteenth. A backhand cross volley made it to 15-30, but McLoughlin put the next ball out over the baseline – 15-40.

“Barrett just got the tape with a big drive in the next rally, and McLoughlin made it deuce with another glorious service. A fine rally followed, McLoughlin losing the ‘vantage point by hitting out, but he got back to deuce with a really superb passing drive, only to lose it again by going into the net. Again Barrett just got the tape. Deuce. A fine forehand volley gave McLoughlin the next ace, and Barrett’s next drive was just out over the baseline, both players being in doubt as to what had happened until the linesman rose from his chair and walked to the umpire’s chair as an indication that the match was over. It was a glorious match, and it is difficult to see how the play in it can be excelled throughout the meeting.” [Final score: 4-6, 8-6, 1-6, 6-2, 8-6]

At Wimbledon in 1913, there was a consolation of sorts for Barrett after what must have been a very disappointing defeat when he and Charles Dixon successfully defended their men’s doubles title in the Challenge Round. Their opponents were the Germans Heinrich Kleinschroth and Friedrich Rahe who, although they managed to win the third set, were outplayed by their more experienced opponents, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. The following unsigned report of this match is taken from “Lawn Tennis and Badminton” of 10 July 1913:

“Barrett and Dixon, by their strokes, always seemed to be saying to the opposition: ‘You are wonderfully good at the close volleying game, and perhaps some other day we will take you on at it, but at present, well – how’s that for a lob?’ Just as last year France was beaten in the Davis Cup doubles, so at Wimbledon today it was shrewd tactics won the match. There can be no doubt that the Germans, when all four men were at the net, had the advantage, but they were driven out of position time and again, and did not play so brilliantly on other parts of the court.

“The first set was a triumph for the Englishmen, for after Rahe had won his service game, they had a run of five, and to the delight of many it was seen that Dixon was in his very best form; he was hitting with great power, and was as active as a kitten, besides serving with any amount of ‘devil’. It was as well that Dixon found his game at once, for Barrett was patchy to start with, and a game leg retarded his mobility to a great extent.

“The fifth game (Rahe’s service) was well contested, and it was rough luck on Germany that, after being led at 0-40, they managed to pull up to deuce only to lose the game in the end. The seventh game, which was captured by Rahe and Kleinschroth (the latter serving) was very patchy tennis, but the eighth, despite several mistakes by Barrett, the Englishmen secured, and with it the set at 6-2.

“The second set started inauspiciously for Germany, for Rahe lost his service game, but won Dixon’s in turn and squared the games, Barrett hereabouts having a bad patch. Fine services by Kleinschroth in the next, backed up by equally fine smashing, secured his side a love game, and the Germans led 2-1, but Barrett likewise won his service to love. The next game was mainly notable for an amusing incident; Dixon had dropped back to take a lob over Barrett’s head, and succeeded in returning it, but instead of lobbing high in order to recover position, he hit the ball hard and rather low; it was returned at once to a vacant spot on the court, and Barrett’s agonised ‘Yours again!’ met with no response, except a shout of laughter from the gallery. This slight faux pas and some killing by Kleinschroth gave the Germans a lead of 3-2, but they were pulled back at once, as Dixon, serving magnificently, and with a lovely half volley right across the court, made the score three-all.

“The next game was most exciting; Barrett was now playing very well, and a superb passing shot and a most unexpected poach helped to win the important seventh game off Kleinschroth’s service. Barrett, however, failed with his, both the Englishmen being somewhat weak at the start of the game, and despite good close work at the net, and a magnificent lob taken while running backwards by Barrett, the Germans won the game. 4-all.

“The Englishmen were, however, by no means done with, and they scored the next game with Rahe serving, a perfect lob and a fine return by Dixon contributing to the result, and then with Dixon serving in the tenth game the Englishmen secured the set by 6 games to 4, the last shot, however, being a terrible fluke.

“In the third set a slackening by Barrett and Dixon allowed the Germans to run into their best form, and they soon had a lead 4-1, but encouraged by a love game on Barrett’s service they captured Rahe’s also, and Dixon making no mistake in his turn, the score was again made equal at 4-all. Kleinschroth serving in the next game played very well, and earned much applause by returning a wily shot of Barrett’s with a still more wily one of his own, and still showing good form, was mainly instrumental in winning the ninth game. It was now Barrett’s turn to serve, and the play in this game was particularly brilliant, and evoked the loudest applause heard throughout the match. Lobs, smashes, a perfect cross-court shot by Dixon, and close quarter work were all admired by an excited gallery, and the Germans received an ovation when Barrett’s service game was won, and they secured the third set at 6-4.

“Things now began to look ominous for England, as Barrett was limping, and it was evident his leg was giving him a good deal of pain. The opening of the fourth set saw a chance missed, the score being called ‘vantage striker on Rahe’s service, but some fine overhead work on his part secured the game for his side. Dixon, however, balanced matters by winning a love game, his service being very severe and beautifully placed.

“Kleinschroth followed, and here Barrett made his effort. He played a wonderful game at the net, and with a fine return to service from Dixon, who, by clever anticipation, also saved Barrett a lot of work at the back of the court, the Englishmen men won. Inspired by this success, the next game was also won, Dixon showing splendid form, and England led by 3-1.

“The next game was won by Rahe on his service, a shocking misunderstanding between Dixon and Barrett as to a short lob materially contributing to the result. Dixon won his service with something to spare, but the German hopes were shattered when Kleinschroth dropped his; a cross shot by Dixon, a fine return of Barrett’s and a poach by Rahe which was hit outside the court giving the game to the Englishmen.

“Barrett then served in what turned out to be the last game of the match, and it was very exciting. The Germans were fighting with their backs to the wall, and heard the score called 15-30; if Rahe had not missed an easy one it would have been 15-40, but Barrett, with a very fine kill, reached 40-30, and then missed one at the net. Deuce. The Englishmen secured the ‘vantage point three more times before they were able to secure the victory. Once previously it  looked all over, for a lob of Kleinschroth’s seemed to be going well out, but it dropped suddenly bang on the baseline, much to Barrett’s horror! But the end was at hand, the Germans finding the net, and a fine match ended in Barrett and Dixon’s favour by 3 sets to 1.”

At the time of this men’s doubles Challenge Round match at Wimbledon in 1913, Kleinschroth and Rahe had a combined age of 48, thirty years less than the combined age of their opponents, both of whom were 39. Charles Dixon was another of those English players who, like Barrett, Arthur Gore and Major Ritchie, seemed able to play some of his best lawn tennis well into his thirties and even in his forties.
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Charles Percy Dixon was born on 7 February 1893 – in the same year, but nine months earlier, than Herbert Roper Barrett – in Grantham, a market town in the eastern English county of Lincolnshire. He was the fourth son and sixth and last child of William Dixon (b. 1834 in Grantham, Lincolnshire), a clothing manufacturer, and Susannah Dixon (née Woodcock; b. 1835 in Leicester, Leicestershire).

Like Charles, the remaining Dixon children were all born in Grantham, Lincolnshire. The eldest son, Arthur (b. 1859), died in Germany at an early age. The three surviving Dixon sons all became top-class sportsmen. In addition to Charles, the second-eldest son, John Auger Dixon (b. 27 May 1861), was a first-class cricketer and captained the county of Nottinghamshire in this sport. He also played association football for Nottinghamshire County and the Corinthians and, once, played for England in an international match against Wales. The 1881 Census of England and Wales lists his profession as warehouseman.

The third eldest-son, Frederick James Dixon, (b. 18 June 1865), played cricket in the Lincolnshire eleven. He studied medicine at Cambridge University before qualifying as a doctor, one of his first posts being house physician at Saint Bartholomew’s (‘Bart’s’) Hospital in London.

In his youth Charles Dixon attended the independent school of Haileybury before also going up to Cambridge; he was admitted at Clare College on 7 July 1891 before matriculating later that year. He studied law, eventually becoming a solicitor, although he does not appear to have practised law much, probably because he was financially independent. While at Cambridge, he gained a reputation as an excellent racquets player, winning the silver medal in this sport. In later years, in addition to his prowess at lawn tennis, Dixon would also become an excellent scratch golfer.

Like his contemporary Herbert Roper Barrett, Charles Dixon won many singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles during a long lawn tennis career. However, also like Barrett, the very highest honour – the Wimbledon men’s singles title – was beyond him. His best performances in the men’s singles event at Wimbledon came in 1901, when he lost in the All-Comers’ Final to Arthur Gore, and ten years later, in 1911, when he again lost in the All-Comers’ Final match, in the aforementioned match against Herbert Roper Barrett.

Charles Dixon married Louise Robinson on 17 August 1897 at the Parish Church in Spilsby, Lincolnshire. They did not have any children. When World War One broke out in 1914, the 41-year-old Dixon joined the National Volunteer Reserve. After the end of the war he continued to take part in lawn tennis tournaments for several years, in both open and senior events. As late as 1932, at the age of 59, he was still capable of winning lawn tennis titles. In that year he won the All-England Veterans’ Doubles Championships, held in September during the South of England Championships tournament in Eastbourne, with another Englishman, George Greville.

Charles Percy Dixon died on 29 April 1939 at his home in 32 Chestnut Road, West Norwood, London. He was 65.
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In late July of 1913, Herbert Roper Barrett returned to the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon to take part in the Challenge Round of the Davis Cup, the British Isles having won back the trophy from Australasia in Melbourne in December of 1912. For the Challenge Round in 1913, the British Isles, in addition to Barrett who, as usual, only played doubles, was represented by Charles Dixon and the Irishman James Cecil Parke. Their opponents, the United States of America, were represented by Maurice McLoughlin, Richard Norris Williams and the doubles specialist Harold Hackett.

After the first two singles matches on day one of the tie the teams were level at one victory apiece. Parke had beaten McLoughlin in a tremendous five-set battle, 8-10, 7-5, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, while Dixon had lost to Williams by a similar score, 6-8, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, 7-5. As sometimes happens, the doubles on the second thus proved to be of vital importance and, given how things turned out on the third and final day, here, it could be said, the British Isles came very close to retaining the Davis Cup. In a thrilling match Barrett and Dixon led McLoughlin and Hackett by two sets to one, and reached match point on McLoughlin’s serve in the fourth set before the Americans rallied to win another five-set match, 5-7, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4.

On the last and deciding day of tie Maurice McLoughlin took on Charles Dixon in the first of the reverse singles, but the spark had gone out of the Englishman’s game and an in-form McLoughlin won easily, 8-6, 6-3, 6-2. With an unassailable 3-1 lead in matches, this meant that the Americans had regained the Davis Cup. However, Parke’s victory over Williams in the final match of the tie – the score was 6-2, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 – left many wondering what might have been if Barrett and Dixon had been able to convert the match point they had had in the crucial doubles match.

Later on in the lawn tennis season of 1913, Herbert Roper Barrett won the several titles at the tournaments he was in the habit of patronising in the latter part of the summer. These victories included the men’s singles title at the Suffolk Championships in Saxmundham, the East of England Championships in Felixstowe and the Kent Coast Championships in Hythe.

In late June of 1914, Herbert Roper Barrett returned to Wimbledon as a 40-year-old. Despite his age, his enthusiasm for the sport of lawn tennis remained undiminished though his physical and mental powers had begun to decline somewhat. He lost in the second round of the men’s singles event at Wimbledon, Major Ritchie beating him in four sets, 4-6, 6-1,   6-4, 6-3. In the Challenge Round of the men’s doubles Barrett and Charles Dixon were attempting to win the title for the third successive year, but they made a disastrous start against the challengers, Anthony Wilding and Norman Brookes. Although the English pair rallied to win the third set, this was not enough and the Australasian pair won a four-set match, 6-1, 6-1,   5-7, 8-6. This was Herbert Roper Barrett’s last appearance in a final match at Wimbledon.

In the weeks following the Wimbledon tournament Barrett took part in two Davis Cup ties in England. In the quarter-finals of this competition he took part in the tie opposing the British Isles and Belgium at the Pleasure Gardens in Folkestone, Kent. Playing only doubles, Barrett and Theodore Mavrogordato easily defeated William du Vivier and Georges Watson, 6-1,    6-2, 6-2, as the British routed Belgium 5-0.

In the first of the semi-finals of the Davis Cup competition in 1914, held at Wimbledon, and opposing the British Isles and France, Barrett and Theodore Mavrogordato once again teamed up for the doubles match. This time they lost, to Max Decugis and Maurice Germot, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4. However, this match had no effect on the outcome of the tie because Mavorogordato and James Parke won both of their singles matches to give the home side a 4-1 victory.

In the All-Comers’ Final of the Davis Cup competition in 1914, held at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston from 6-8 August, Australasia defeated the British Isles 3-0. The reverse singles matches were not held because Norman Brookes and Anthony Wilding had already sealed victory by the end of the second day. This tie was played against a backdrop of increasing international tensions, Great Britain having declared war on Germany on               4 August. The British players were thus keen to return home as soon as possible.

One of the last lawn tennis tournaments to be held on British soil before the war caused the cancellation of all important sporting events was the Suffolk Championships in Saxmundham, which began in early August. Here Herbert Roper Barrett won the men’s singles title for the eleventh time in a row and the fourteenth time in the past seventeen years, an impressive record. In the final he beat Alfred Beamish, 8-10, 6-4, 6-4.

When Great Britain declared war on Germany at the beginning of August 1914, Herbert Roper Barrett was already 40 years of age. According to “Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack”, he served in the National Guard during the war. Given his age, it is unlikely that he would have been considered for active military service, at least during the early part of the war. Conscription for single men was introduced in Great Britain in January 1916. In May of the same year it was extended to all men aged between 18 and 41, unless they were married, widowed with children or served in one of a number of reserved occupations. However, Herbert Roper Barrett had turned forty-two the previous November, so he would not have had to join up.

John Ambrose Barrett, the third of the surviving Barrett brothers, who had been born in 1881, did join up following Great Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1914. Like his brother Herbert, John had attended Merchant Taylors’ School where he excelled both inside and outside the classroom. After leaving the Merchant Taylors’ School he went up to Oxford University where he obtained a ‘half blue’ at lawn tennis.  In July of 1902, he took part in the annual Oxford versus Cambridge ‘Varsity lawn tennis matches, held at the Queen’s Club in London. He was also an excellent cricketer and played association football for the Merchant Taylors’ School senior team.

The 1911 Census of England and Wales lists John Barrett’s occupation as brewer. He had married Evelyn Marion Back (b. 1890), a solicitor’s daughter from Hethersett in the county of Norfolk, before the outbreak of World War One. John Barrett was initially a private in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry before being appointed Second Lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own), 16th Battalion. By the summer of 1917, he was a member of the 117th Brigade of the 39th Battalion. John Ambrose Barrett was killed in action in Belgium on 31 July 1917, the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres (Battle of Paschendale) during the Battle of Plickem Ridge, the opening attack of the main part of the Third Battle of Ypres. He was 36.

In 1919, following the cessation of hostilities, lawn tennis and other sports resumed in Great Britain. Now 45 years of age, Herbert Roper Barrett returned to tournament play, although he would restrict himself more and more to taking part only in doubles events. At the Surrey Championships tournament, held in Surbiton in late May, he reached the final of the men’s single event before losing to the Australian Gerald Patterson, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

In mid-June of 1919, Herbert Roper Barrett reached all three main finals at the North London Championships (Gipsy Open), but was unlucky in each of them. In the final of the men’s singles event, where his opponent was another Englishman, William Ingram, he won the first set, but lost the next two before retiring; the final score was 4-6, 9-7, 6-0, retired. In the men’s doubles event Barrett teamed up again with Arthur Gore, now aged 51. They lost the final to Ingram and another Englishman, George Thomas, in two sets, 6-1, 9-7. In the mixed doubles event Barrett’s partner was 51-year-old Madeline O’Neill. They were well-beaten in the final by Ingram and the English player Dorothy Holman, 6-2, 6-1.

At Wimbledon in late June of 1919, Herbert Roper Barrett lost in the second round of the men’s singles event to Gerald Patterson, 7-5, 6-2, 7-5. The Australian would go on to win the title for the first time. In the men’s doubles event Barrett and Arthur Gore lost in the second round to Major Ritchie and the New Zealander Francis Fisher, 7-5, 6-2, 7-5.

In mid-July, Barrett was part of the British Davis Cup team which took on South Africa in a tie held at Devonshire Park in Eastbourne on the Sussex coast. Once again, Barrett played only doubles, his partner being Algernon Kingscote. They had a straightforward victory over George Dodd and Harold Aitken, 7-5, 9-7, 6-4. The British won this tie by 4 matches to 1.

In late August of 1919, Barrett and the other members of the British Davis Cup team travelled to Deauville for the All-Comers’ Final against France. The other members of the British team were Percival Davson, Algernon Kingscote and 18-year-old (Oswald) Noel Turnbull. The French were represented by André Gobert and William Laurentz, and had a real advantage on the slow clay courts of Deauville.

At the end of the first day’s play the teams were level at 1-1, Gobert having beaten Davson in four sets before Kingscote outlasted Laurentz in a five-set match. On the second day the doubles match featured Barrett and Turnbull against Gobert and Laurentz. In this match the combination of British youth and experience proved a mismatch as the French pair won in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0, 12-10. France thus led 2-1 at the end of the second day.





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