Nephew of fellow tennis player Jack Crawford. Allan Kendall entered Sydney University in 1947 to study medicine, but later abandoned that subject for the arts. Also an amateur actor, director, teacher, journalist, broadcaster and author.
Tennis was in the family. Allan was proud to be the nephew of the famous
Australian tennis player and 1933 Wimbledon champion, Jack Crawford, who was his mother’s brother. In 1939 Allan’s father built grass tennis courts in Albury, NSW, and ran a club where many future champions played, including Margaret Smith (later Court) and Rex Hartwig (Allan’s very successful doubles partner). Kendall and Hartwig were the first country pair to win the national junior doubles title, and eventually won 38 doubles titles together.
Allan was coached by his father, although he used to declare that he was “uncoachable” with his unusual slices and chops on both forehand and backhand.
His father was also a musician, performing in cinema orchestras, and obviously passed on some musical genes to his son. When he was 15, during the Second World War, Allan came to Sydney to attend The Scots’ College, and lived in his
Uncle Jack Crawford’s home in Bondi. In tennis, Allan won the 1946 NSW Schoolboy’s Singles Championship. In 1947 he had a magnificent final year in the juniors, winning the Australian, NSW and Victorian junior doubles titles with
Rex Hartwig. A new chapter in Allan’s life began when he went to the University of Sydney. Allan loved personalities, little expecting that he would himself become one in the course of time, but even then, he moved among the university elite with grace and wit. He had emerged from his earlier, not so happy, university experience as a Medical student, to being what he was naturally, a student of the Humanities. Literature and History were his chosen favorites. Allan joined the Sydney Dramatic Society (SUDS) in 1947, and later appeared in a production of Amphytrion 38 with the lovely Trish Connolly, today an established figure on the American stage. Theatre gradually became the centre of his life, perhaps even overtaking his dedication to sport. One of his greatest attributes was his ability to
persuade, so those of his friends who were not already addicted were quickly recruited, if not as actors, as stage crew or dress makers or administrators.
Allan was a triple blue, receiving the award for Lawn Tennis for the years 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951, and for both Squash and Table Tennis in 1951. He captained the Sydney University tennis team which won the Inter-varsity at
Brisbane in 1949. David Crane and John Cheadle were also members of that team. He was in the Sydney team which won the Inter-varsity in Hobart in 1950. He won the Sydney University Singles Championship eight times. The table tennis team won the Inter-varsity in Melbourne, defeating Adelaide, the previous champions, by eleven rubbers to nil in the final. After the match Allan Kendall collected his cups and flew off to Adelaide to perform in “Pygmalion” before flying to Western Australia to represent New South Wales at squash. Allan has endowed scholarships bearing his name for sport and drama at Sydney University and his old college, St Andrew’s.
Allan had a long association with tennis at White City, winning the singles championship in 1957, the doubles three times with his uncle Jack Crawford, and the mixed doubles four times with Norma Marsh. He played regularly there until 2009, when he was in his eighties.
His funeral to be held in The Camellia Chapel of Macquarie Park Crematorium, Cnr Plassey and Delhi Roads Macquarie Park, Sydney on December 20, 2013.
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