Joshua Francis Pim was born on 20 May 1869 at Millward Terrace, Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. His parents were Joshua Pim Sr., a medical doctor, and Susan Maria (née Middleton). Joshua Pim Jr. had three older siblings ? Susannah (born 1864), Georgina (born 1866) and William (born 1867). Joshua Pim Sr. died in 1871; shortly afterwards the family moved to Crosthwaite Park, Kingstown, County Dublin, just up the east coast from Bray.
Kingstown was developing fast when Joshua Pim was growing up there. By 1874, when Joshua Pim was five years old, Kingstown had been transformed from a fishing village into the main port in Ireland for passenger service. The first railway line in Ireland, laid in the 1830s, linked Kingstown with Westland Row near the centre of Dublin. (Prior to 1821 Kingstown was known as Dunleary. The name was changed to Kingstown in honour of King George IV?s visit that year. After the founding of the Irish Free State in 1921, Kingstown was once again named Dún Laoghaire, or Dun Leary.)
Joshua Pim was educated at Kingstown School, Dublin, and later went on to study medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons, now the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RSCI), located, then as now, on Saint Stephen?s Green near the centre of Dublin. He also studied at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Joshua Pim became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) in 1896.
As a youth, Pim liked athletic sports, including football, rackets and cycling, but did not enter for open competitions in any sport except lawn tennis, which he began to play at the age of eleven. He had become quite proficient at this sport before he joined the Lansdowne Lawn Tennis Club in Dublin circa 1885. He was coached at this club by the great Irish professional, Thomas Burke.
Although he had been competing in some Irish tournaments, mainly in handicap events, from as early as 1885, Joshua Pim first really came to notice in 1888 when, at the age of nineteen, he took the Wimbledon champion of the previous year, the Englishman Herbert Lawford, to five sets in the Irish Championships, played in those days in Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, close to the city centre. At this point in time the Irish Championships was one of the most prestigious lawn tennis tournaments in the world; during the period 1880-1902, when it was held at the end of May, thus effectively opening the outdoor lawn tennis season in the British Isles, the Irish Championships attracted many of the top English players such as Lawford, the Renshaws and the Dohertys. 1888 was the first year in which Joshua Pim participated in his native championships. The following report on the match between Pim and Lawford is taken from the 1889 Lawn Tennis Calendar, an annual published by The Field sports gazette:
The other match in the All-Comers Singles nearly resulted in a surprise, as for a time it seemed as if Mr Pim would defeat Mr Lawford, he winning two out of the first three sets, but afterwards Mr Lawford got partially over the stiffness from which he was suffering, and playing better and better as he went on, eventually won the match by the odd set. No one expected that Mr Pim would make anything like so good a show as he did, and he certainly is a player destined to take very high rank; he plays with great coolness, and has a decidedly good style. The final score in the match was 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. (The All-Comers event was held at a time when there was a Challenge Round at many tournaments; the winner of the All-Comers event would play the holder, who did not have to play through the tournament, for the title in the Challenge Round match.)
Later on in the year 1888, towards the end of July, Joshua Pim played in the East of Ireland Championships, held in Howth, a town situated along the east coast on the north side of Dublin. Pim made it all the way to the Challenge Round of this tournament where he met the best Irish player of the time, Willoughby Hamilton, who, as the holder, had sat out to wait to see whom he would play in the match for the title. In a one-sided contest Hamilton beat Pim 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
The following year, 1889, Pim lost in the first round of the Irish Championships to William Renshaw, already six times singles champion at Wimbledon and three times a champion in Dublin. The score of 6-0, 6-3, 6-0 tells its own story. One year later, in 1890, Pim reached the All-Comers? Final at the Irish Championships for the first time before losing in five sets to Ernest Lewis of England; the final score was 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. Pim had better success in the doubles event, winning the title with Dubliner Frank Stoker. In the final they beat Ernest Lewis and George Hillyard, also of England, 8-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
Pim was to enjoy a great deal of doubles success with Frank Stoker. The latter was noted more for his doubles than for his singles play. He was born in Dublin in May 1867 and, like Pim, was a member of Lansdowne Lawn Tennis Club. Frank Stoker was also a cousin of the writer Bram Stoker, best known for his 1897 novel Dracula.
At the end of June 1889, Pim successfully defended his title at the County Dublin Championships, held at Lansdowne Lawn Tennis Club in Dublin, where he had once been coached by Thomas Burke. In the Challenge Round match Pim beat Grainger Chaytor, the middle, and probably the most talented, of three tennis-playing brothers from Dublin, by the score of 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2. (It is not clear whom Pim had beaten to win the same title in 1888.)In the run-up to Wimbledon in 1890, Pim won his first important singles title at the prestigious Northern England Championships, held in Liverpool that year (for many years it was held alternately in that city and in Manchester, usually during the second half of June). In the Challenge Round Pim beat the holder, Willoughby Hamilton, 2-6, 6-8, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3. The following report on the Challenge Round match from this tournament is taken from the 1891 Lawn Tennis Calendar, published by The Field sports gazette:
Mr Pim had the first service, but almost from the commencement Mr Hamilton seemed to hold him, the challenger only managing to gain two games in the opening set. The strokes were 27 to 16 in favour of Mr Hamilton. The second set was far closer, but both seemed to play well by fits and starts. Mr Pim gained the opening game, then the next four fell to Mr Hamilton, and the set seemed almost over; but Mr Pim now made a good effort, and in turn won four games, thus causing the score to be called five to four in his favour. Mr Hamilton took the tenth game, making it an advantage set, but, after losing the next, won three consecutively, and so the set by eight games to six, and 47 strokes to 42.
After two games to one, Mr Pim leads, had been called in the third set, Mr Hamilton secured four in succession, and also had 40-30 in his favour in the eighth game, but the three following strokes fell to Mr Pim, and the same player then gained a love game and also the first three aces [points] in the next, thus making ten aces running. One, two, three and four strokes in succession were then won by Mr Hamilton, this making the second time at which he was within one ace of winning the set, match and championship, but this he was unable to obtain, and by [Pim] securing the next three caused another advantage set to be played.
The eleventh game was well contested, Mr Pim gaining the advantage ace four times before he could win the game, but he followed this up by taking the next four strokes in succession, and so gaining a love game, and the set by seven games to five, and 45 strokes to 37. In the fourth set the score was called five games to two in favour of Mr Pim, but Mr Hamilton then made a fine effort and secured the next three games in succession, so a third advantage set had to be contested. Both the eleventh and twelfth games were called 15-all and 30-all and then deuce, Mr Hamilton in each instance gaining the first points, but in both cases the next two aces were taken by Mr Pim, who thus secured the set by seven games to five, and 39 strokes to 37.
Mr Hamilton commenced well in the opening game of the final set, taking the first three points, but the next five all fell to Mr Pim, and the same player also took both the second and third games. Again the match became equal as Mr Hamilton secured both the fourth and fifth, and also the sixth, but not until gaining the advantage ace four times. This, however, was his last game, as Mr Pim gained the next three, each to two strokes. This gave him the set by six games to three, or 36 strokes to 30, and the match by three sets to two.
Between the Northern England Championships and Wimbledon tournaments in 1890, Pim travelled back to Dublin to defend his title at the County Dublin Championships, held at the Lansdowne Lawn Tennis Club at the end of June. In the Challenge Round match Pim beat Frank Stoker, his regular doubles partner, who started well but could not maintain his good form, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-0. (Pim would not defend this title in 1891.)
At Wimbledon itself in 1890, Pim reached the semi-finals of the singles event for the first time before falling to Willoughby Hamilton, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Hamilton beat the great William Renshaw in that year?s Challenge Round match to become Ireland?s first Wimbledon singles champion. In the doubles event at Wimbledon that year Pim and Stoker repeated their success of a few weeks earlier in Dublin against Ernest Lewis and George Hillyard, beating the English pair handily in the All-Comers? Final, 6-0, 7-5, 6-4. (William Renshaw and his twin brother, Ernest, did not defend their doubles title at Wimbledon in 1890).In 1891, Pim was playing so well that many observers expected him to win the Irish Championships. However, after beating his doubles partner, Frank Stoker, in the All-Comers? Final on the Saturday, he badly injured his right hand later that evening in a motor car accident. The following Monday, against advice, he took to the court in Fitzwilliam Square for the Challenge Round match (held over due to bad weather) against Ernest Lewis and lost in three sets, 6-2, 6-2, 8-6. On 3 June 1891, the sports gazette ?Pastime? reported on this match as follows:
?The rain, which had fallen heavily in the morning and throughout the previous day, had made the courts very soft and slow, and the game suffered in consequence. Pim had two fingers of his right hand in a band [bandage] owing to a car accident on the previous Saturday, and this doubtless accounts for his poor display. Pim commenced the service. Both were nervous at the start and the play was somewhat wild. Pim started with a love game, but Lewis took the next four, and after losing another won the seventh and the eight, and the set at 6-2.
?Pim tried to run in on his service, but Lewis?s accurate placing soon showed that this would not pay. Both, however, contrived to follow up good returns, but Lewis made the best use of his opportunities, Pim losing a number of strokes through apparent carelessness. In the second set, Pim won the first two games, but again Lewis got runs of four and two games, this time winning at 6-3. Pim seemed afraid to approach the net and won nothing like so many strokes by volleying as Lewis did. Doubtless Pim?s injured hand told greatly against him. His usual confidence appeared to have deserted him and he lost the second set by serving a double fault.
?In the third set, Pim forced the game more and consequently took the lead, getting to 5-2. He could not, however, get the required game, and ultimately Lewis won at 8-6, thus securing the championship for the second year in succession. The thirteenth game was won by Lewis after it had been at 40-love against him. The winner won 114 strokes and Pim 92. The play, especially from the baseline, was most disappointing. Lewis?s service was very good, and his volleying was clever, usually finishing the rest [rally] in his favour. It is, of course, impossible to know what effect the injury to Pim?s hand had on his game, but judging from the play, the holder would have retained his title under any circumstances.?
In the doubles event at the 1891 Irish Championships Pim and Stoker retained their title by beating Ernest Lewis and Grainger Chaytor 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Challenge Round match.
At the Northern England Championships, held in Manchester in 1891, Pim retained his title by beating Wilfred Baddeley of England in the Challenge Round by the score of 4-6, 8-6, 6-4, 7-5. The following report on the match was carried in ?Pastime? on 24 June 1891:
?Handicapped as he was by a damaged finger, still much swollen and very painful, and by the fact that he had been obliged to abstain almost entirely from play since the Dublin meeting, Pim had no light task in store when he met [Wilfred] Baddeley in the championship round on Saturday. To defeat so strong a player as Baddeley showed himself to be, would have been greatly to his credit under any circumstances, and as it was, the victory, gained only by the narrowest margin, was something to be indeed proud of. The players were as well matched as could be, nor is it easy to single out any particular points at which the winner was superior, unless it was in his volleying and that wonderful forehand drive for which most of the Irishmen are famous.
?In condition Baddeley seemed, as was natural, to have the advantage, for Pim had been condemned to enforced idleness. Moreover, Pim?s backhand strokes, though brilliant at times, suffered from occasional fits of weakness, attributable doubtless to his recent accident. Both kept an excellent length throughout the match and placed so well that volleying was possible only at rare intervals. Pim?s service was the stronger, and he occasionally followed it up at critical times with good effect.
?In the first set Baddeley took the lead, and kept it until he had won at 6-4. There was little or no volleying, and most of the strokes were won by sheer hard driving or clever placing. Pim forced the game a good deal at the commencement of the second set, and by some effective volleying gained a decided lead. He reached 5-2, and then Baddeley in his turn commenced to volley well. Some weak backhand play, a double fault, and some failures at volleying on the part of Pim, quickly brought the scores level, and eventually Pim only saved the set after a long ?vantage game. In the last two games, which gave him the set at 8-6, he again volleyed extremely well, and won the last ace [point] with a fine backhand smash.
?The third set was very quickly played. Baddeley took the lead, but Pim brought the score to 3-all with a succession of four fine drives across the court. A temporary relapse gave Baddeley the next game, but then the Irishman scored three running, volleying well at every opportunity.
?The fourth set should have been won by Pim more easily than it was, for he scored four games to two, and was leading in the seventh, when he volleyed a ball which would have pitched well beyond the baseline. Baddeley after this crept up again, and in the end another ?vantage game took place. Pim made a last and successful effort in the eleventh and twelfth games, the first of which he won to love. The placing of a volley by his opponent only a few inches outside the sideline gave him the set and match.?
At Wimbledon in 1891, Pim reached his first All-Comers? singles final, but this time Wilfred Baddeley reversed the outcome of the final match at the Northern England Championships played a few weeks earlier, the Englishman winning 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, 6-0. In the doubles event Pim and Frank Stoker lost their title to Wilfred Baddeley and his twin brother, Herbert, in a four-set match, 6-1, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.Pim continued to progress in 1892. At the Irish Championships he was recovering from a bout of typhoid and did not perform well in the singles event, where he lost in the semi-finals to Ernest Renshaw, 6-1, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. Pim and Frank Stoker lost their doubles title to the English pair of Ernest Lewis and Ernest Meers in a one-sided final, by the score of 6-1, 8-6, 6-4. In early June, Pim again won the County Dublin Championships, held at the Lansdowne Lawn Tennis Club. In the All-Comers? Final he beat Frank Stoker 6-1, 2-6, 1-6, 6-4, 9-7. H.K. McKay, who had won the title in 1891, was not defending, so there was no Challenge Round match.
At the 1892 Northern Championships, held in Liverpool in the second half of June, Pim, beat the Englishman Harry Barlow in the Challenge Round by the score of 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. This was the third consecutive year that Pim had won this tournament, thus enabling him to take possession of the Challenge Cup.
A few weeks later, at Wimbledon, Pim went all the way to the Challenge Round of the singles event for the first time. In the All-Comers? Final, Pim had saved two match points to beat Ernest Lewis 2-6, 5-7, 9-7, 6-3, 6-2, but in the Challenge Round Wilfred Baddeley, a familiar foe, was too good for the Irishman and won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. In the doubles final, Pim and countryman Harold Mahony lost a 66-game match in the All-Comers? Final to the English pairing of Harry Barlow and Ernest Lewis.
At the 1892 London Championships, played at Queen?s Club in London just after Wimbledon, Pim lost a five-set final to Ernest Lewis by the score of 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1.
Starting in 1893, Joshua Pim was to prove that he was the best player not only in Ireland and the British Isles, but arguably in the whole world. At the Irish Championships in Dublin, Pim took the singles title for the first time, beating Ernest Renshaw in the title match, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. The following report on this match is taken from the ?Irish Times? of Monday 29 May 1893:
?The fine weather which favoured the tournament during the week again prevailed on Saturday, the concluding day, when the final round in all the events was decided, and the challenge match in the All-Comers? Singles was also decided. There were eight matches on the programme, most interest being in the match between Ernest Renshaw and Joshua Pim, which was commenced a 3 o?clock in court 5, in the presence of a very large gathering of spectators, most of whom had taken their places as early as 1.30 o?clock.
?The competitors walked together to the court, receiving loud applause, and Renshaw winning the toss, Pim commenced to serve from the south side, dropping the first game after deuce had been called twice. However, this was the only one he lost, and taking six consecutive games, one being to love, he won the set to one game. The play during the set was exceptionally good, and every game was keenly contested. Five out of the seven games which made up the set were won to deuce several times in each.
?In the second set Renshaw got 2 games, but the play was not nearly so close, as Pim had much the better of his opponent in every way. Pim got the first two games, Renshaw the third, Pim the fourth, and Renshaw the fifth, after which Pim got 3 games running, and thus the set, making the score 2 sets to love ? Pim leads. It now looked as if Pim would win by 3 sets to love, but in the third he went to pieces for a time, and instead of playing his old reliable game from the back of the court, he ran to the front, which suited Renshaw to a nicety, as the latter then passed his opponent very easily, and seemed to improve with every stroke. Renshaw got the initial game, but Pim soon made it 3 to 1 in his favour. Renshaw, however, got four consecutive games, and after Pim had taken the ninth game to 30, Renshaw put the set to his credit by winning the tenth game, after deuce had been called twice.
?The fourth set was a very important one, and notwithstanding Pim got the first two games he had completely gone off his stroke, putting no less than seven balls into the net during the following four games, all of which went to Renshaw, making the score 4 games to 2 ? Renshaw leads. It was now any odds on Renshaw getting the set, and if he had, we are inclined to believe he would have won the match. In the seventh game Renshaw was 40 to love, but Pim, getting back to the form he displayed in the first set, won it to deuce, as also the eighth game after the score stood 30 to love against him. This made the score 4 games all, and even now it looked like Renshaw?s set, as serving the ninth game he got the first two aces, but eventually lost that game, and also the next in exactly the same way, Pim getting them each to 30, and with them the set, Championship and Challenge Cup, amidst great cheering.
?Many opinions were expressed as to the play, but we think that all impartial critics will admit that it was a grand exhibition of tennis, and that Pim winning as he did by 22 games to 13 was, on the play, by a long way the better player. Most of the play was from the end of the court, well placed returns, all of which were sent with tremendous pace, being perhaps the greatest feature of the match. Renshaw served about six double faults, which is very unusual with a first-class player, and Pim sent seven consecutive balls into the net in the third set. In this latter set Renshaw pulled himself wonderfully together, and it was quite manifest his earlier display was mostly due to want of practice with players of the first rank during the season. There was good volleying at times, but owing to most of the play being from the back of the court Renshaw had not an opportunity of showing that branch of his form. Pim deserves every possible credit for his most meritorious win, and we think that it must be conceded that he is at present a long way the best player extant.?
In the doubles event at the 1893 Irish Championships, Pim and Frank Stoker won their third title in four years by defeating Grainger Chaytor and Ernest Browne, also of Ireland, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.At the Northern England Championships, held in Manchester in 1893, Pim won the singles title for the fourth consecutive year. In the Challenge Round match, he beat Harold Mahony 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. Pim then went on to the London Championships, played at Queen?s Club and held before Wimbledon this year, where, in another all-Irish final, he beat Harold Mahony again, this time by the score of 9-7, 1-6, 6-1, 6-8, 6-3.
At Wimbledon a few weeks later, Pim took his first singles title in impressive fashion. In the semi-final he beat England?s Harry Barlow 9-7, 6-2, 6-2 and in the All-Comers? Final he easily defeated Harold Mahony, 9-7, 6-3, 6-0. In the Challenge Round Pim beat Wilfred Baddeley 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. The scores indicate just how well Pim was playing at this point. On 19 July 1893, the sports gazette ?Pastime? reported on these three matches as follows:
?Pim vs. Barlow was a disappointing match, for Barlow was not by any means at his best, and although he made a good many brilliant strokes and volleyed well, particularly in the first set, he also missed a good many which he would ordinarily have returned with absolute certainty, and moreover, seemed to be feeling the effects of his three previous five-set matches. He commenced running in from the first and led in the first set at 4-2 and again at 5-4, but Pim, after one or two exciting rests [rallies] in the tenth game, made it games all, and from that point onwards seemed to have the measure of his opponent, although Barlow twice robbed him of the advantage game.
?The next set was very soon over, Barlow only scoring a couple of games. Pim was relying almost entirely on his baseline game, and so good was it that Barlow?s volleying was almost utterly defeated. Some of Pim?s backhand passes, both across the court and down the line, were quite perfect. The third set opened more auspiciously for Barlow, for he led at 3-1, but this advantage quickly melted away. With one of those extraordinary spurts for which he is famous Pim commenced dealing out his drives right and left with strict impartiality ? or more correctly speaking, with strict partiality for the side on which Barlow was not ? and so won the next five games and the match by three sets to love.
?There was less excitement over the [All-Comers?] final than there has been for many years past. Pim and Mahony have met three or four times this season and always with the same result, so that, even allowing for the strides recently made by the covered court champion, there was every probability that Pim would win. Few, however, were prepared for such a runaway match. The game came off on Saturday, a day?s rest having been given on Friday. By this Pim had evidently profited, for he at once commenced playing in his best form. Mahony, too, started well, and the progress of the first set was most interesting to watch.
?Both men volleyed a good deal, but as a rule did not follow up the service, so that there was an agreeable intermixture of baseline play, which, as far as Pim at any rate was concerned, was of the highest class. Mahony led throughout at 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3, and then after Pim had won another game, Mahony twice got within a stroke of winning the set at 6-4, but lost the chance. From now till the end of the set the play was very good, but at the critical time Mahony?s back play was always at fault, and though he tried following up his service once or twice, Pim was too clever for him, and finally beat him at 9-7, as he had beaten Barlow two days before.
?The next two sets hardly called for any comment. Mahony?s baseline shots were getting less and less accurate, and soon his volleying followed suit. Pim, on the other hand, seemed to do just as he pleased with the ball, and as his marvellous returns succeeded one another in quick succession, one could hear the murmur of astonishment that ran through the ranks of the onlookers. Every now and then he made some mistakes, of course, and this was probably what enabled his adversary to win three games in the second set, but in the last he was perfectly overwhelming and won the six games straight off the reel. Thus Pim, for the second year in succession, won the right to challenge [Wilfred] Baddeley for the championship, having lost but two sets during his progress through the whole of the event.?After the overcast skies of last week the brightness of last Monday came as a welcome change, and, although there was a high wind blowing outside, the centre court was tolerably well sheltered, and the conditions were generally as good as could well be desired. The turf, too, had evidently profited from Sunday?s rest and the rain, and it was plain that Coleman, the ground man, had been making the best use of his time. There was a very fair gathering of spectators in the unreserved seats when the match commenced, shortly after the advertised time, but the stands were very thinly populated.
?At first it seemed as though Pim was in for one of his bad attacks of inaccuracy, for at the start he hit ball after ball into the net or out of court, and Baddeley, playing very steadily, soon got to 5-0. Most of the play was from the baseline. In the sixth game, Pim began to bring off some of the drives for which he had been trying, and although still making a good many mistakes, quickly altered the aspect of the score by taking three games in succession. In the next game, however, after making two strokes, he broke down twice, and Baddeley won the set with a couple of drives well on to the baseline, the second of which Pim hit on to the ground, thinking apparently that it was out.
?In the second set Pim had acquired complete command of the ball, and thenceforward played with the same severity he had shown against Mahony. He scored with such amazing rapidity that Baddeley only got the second game, and only made thirteen strokes altogether in the set. A very long game opened the third set, and Baddeley just won it after a grand tussle. Both men were placing too well to admit of much volleying, and Pim showed fine judgment in only following up his most severe returns. In the fifth game Baddeley had a bit of very bad luck in the matter of a decision; a hard cross volley of Pim?s, which seemed to have pitched well out, was given in, and this brought the score to deuce, instead of making it game to Baddeley, and as Pim ultimately won the game it made the difference between 3-2 and 4-1 in Pim?s favour. Baddeley, however, played up most pluckily in spite of this reverse, and scored a couple more, the second being a very long one. Then Pim won a love game (the first so far) with a couple of fine smashes and a neat backhand volley, and although his opponent managed to make a deuce game of the next, principally owing to Pim?s mistakes, the Irishman continued to volley and drive with most wonderful effect, and won the set at 6-3 with a couple of fine volleys.
?The last set was almost a repetition of the third (except that Baddeley got one game less), for curiously enough in the fifth game once more Pim had a bit of luck. An exciting rest of sharp volleys (both men being up) ended in a fluky shot by Pim, which just cut the sideline, when Baddeley only wanted that stroke to make the score 3-2, instead of, as it ultimately was, 4-1. The next was a love game to Pim, and included a couple of fine drives clean out of Baddeley?s reach. The latter played most gamely at this point, won the next game, and in the next, after a long rest, made a fine backhand pass when Pim only wanted a stroke. The necessary stroke came at last, however, when Pim drove the ball hard into the backhand corner, and Baddeley, in trying to pass him, put it out.
?A finer exhibition than that given by Pim has probably never been witnessed in the challenge round at Wimbledon, and after the first set he played with such irresistible dash and severity that it was remarkable that Baddeley could stand up to him in the way he did. Some said that Baddeley did not show his usual accuracy, but it was the strength of Pim?s game ? not any weakness in his opponent?s ? that made it seem so. Some drives over which Baddeley apparently broke down would not even have been touched by a less active player.
?Although Pim won a lot of strokes by volleying, he seldom followed up his service, and it was generally after two or three of his terrific drives that he ran up and scored. His most noticeable stroke was a hard forehand return of the service at a very acute angle across the court, which generally put Baddeley at a disadvantage from which he never recovered. A victory so often striven for and so brilliantly won could not well have been better deserved, nor is there any doubt whatsoever that Pim on his day is the finest player that has ever wielded a racket. Baddeley, too, may be congratulated on making such a plucky fight and on doing better probably than any other player, in the face of such a brilliant onslaught, would have done.?
For good measure, in 1893, Pim and Frank Stoker took their second Wimbledon doubles title, beating Harry Barlow and Ernest Lewis 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 in the Challenge Round. Joshua Pim thus finished the year of 1893 as singles and, with Frank Stoker, doubles champion at the two most prestigious events in the world (Wimbledon and the Irish Championships). No one had achieved this feat before, although William Renshaw had won both singles titles and the doubles at the Irish Championships with his brother, Ernest, in 1881, when they also won the doubles event at Oxford, the precursor to the men?s doubles at Wimbledon (the first men?s doubles event was held at Wimbledon in 1884).
According to the ?Irish Lawn Tennis Handbook? of 1894, there was no weak point to Pim?s game: ?At his best there is no weak point in his game; but if there be one stroke in which more than any other he excels, and which he may be have said to have made peculiarly his own, it is a short backhand cross-court volley with which he disposes of many a furious and seemingly unreachable drive from his opponent?s baseline. Indeed, nothing all round is more characteristic in the champion?s play than his fondness for the backhand stroke, which in his case seldom rises more than an inch or so above the net, and is almost as severe as his tremendous, but not more deadly, forehand stroke. He is very sure and merciless in his treatment of overhead returns, even when placed farther back in the court than the point from which most people would attempt to ?kill?. Lastly, it may be said of him that he shares with the brothers Renshaw alone the distinction of having preserved an absolutely unbeaten record throughout an entire season .?
In 1894, Joshua Pim proved just how good he was by repeating his brilliant feat of the previous year in the singles events at both the Irish Championships and Wimbledon. In Dublin, Pim had a titanic struggle in the Challenge Round of the singles event before beating Tom Chaytor, younger brother of Grainger, 3-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2, 9-7. The following report on this Challenge Round match is taken from ?Pastime? of 30 May 1894:
?With Saturday came an unpleasant change from the constant sunshine to a cloudy sky and a wintry wind. The day, however, improved, and the afternoon was very bright, though a breeze sufficient to affect play still prevailed. [?] When Pim and [Tom] Chaytor faced one another in the Championship Round of the Singles every available space was occupied. The first two games fell to the holder to 30, but he then became very wild and careless, and Chaytor secure a sequence of five games, winning the fifth game by a beautiful backhand cross-shot and the seventh by Pim lobbing out. The challenger only wanted an ace to give him the set, but the holder won it [the point] by a backhand pass down the line. Chaytor then won the next game to 30.
?He continued to play splendidly, never running in except on a good length ball. Five games became his right off ? the third to love ? Pim hitting three balls out and one into the net. Pim won the sixth game to love, but Chaytor got the next to 15, Pim failing to return the service. In these two sets it was apparent that the holder was either below last year?s form or else short of first-class practice. There was no severity or length in his drives and he missed a number of easy returns.
?The challenger won the initial game of the third set, and looked all over a winner, as he was displaying great judgment and passing beautifully. Pim now came on considerably, driving with greater power and closer to the net. He obtained a run of four games. Chaytor won the sixth game and was within an ace of the next, but lost it, as he did the eighth, and the set, Pim?s final stroke being a backhand volley.
?The fourth set was a waiting game. The first three games fell to the holder, after Chaytor had twice been within an ace of the third. The fourth and fifth went to the challenger, and the sixth to Pim. The challenger hit three out in the seventh and lost it, as he did the eighth to love, Pim winning it and the set by a backhanded drive off the service.
?The holder won the first three games of the fifth set. Chaytor, becoming a little wild in his play, lost the third by a double fault. The fourth game went to Chaytor, the ball hitting the net. At the eighth game Chaytor served two faults and the score was 5-3; Pim wins. In the next game Pim was within an ace of the match, but lost it by lobbing out. The challenger made the score 5-all, and won the ?vantage game, but by dint of very careful play Pim made it deuce [6-all]. Again Chaytor took ?vantage, Pim running in on his service unsuccessfully. By lobbing, the holder made it 7-all. In the fifteenth game Pim ceased running in on his service, and won by a beautiful lob. The sixteenth and with it the match he won by a backhand pass down the line.
?The challenger played a remarkable game, and his very plucky effort in the fifth set, when all was going against him, was very nearly rewarded. He did not run in much on his service, in fact never except on a good length. His backhand strokes across and down the line scored time after time. The holder?s form was certainly below that of last year, his driving very seldom scoring outright, and being too high. He never crossed with the backhand, but always passed down the line. His lobbing won the match, as it seemed to tire the challenger, who might have lobbed more with effect. Throughout the match there was an unusual amount of back court play.?
In the Challenge Round of the doubles event at the 1894 Irish Championships, Pim and Frank Stoker beat Ernest Lewis and C.H. Martin, the latter from Ireland, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.Pim suffered a slight setback at the 1894 Northern England Championships, held in Liverpool that year, when, as the holder, he lost the Challenge Round match to Wilfred Baddeley by the score of 4-6, 11-9, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Pim did not play any tournaments between the Northern England Championships and Wimbledon.
At Wimbledon as in Dublin, Pim did not have to play through in the singles event (he and Stoker did not defend their doubles title). Pim?s victim in the Challenge Round of the singles event was once again Wilfred Baddeley. This time the final score was 10-8, 6-2, 8-6. The following report on the 1894 Challenge Round match in the men?s singles event at Wimbledon was carried in ?Pastime? on 25 July 1894:
?[?] the weather was not altogether unfavourable, though there was a gusty wind which sometimes made it a matter of extreme difficulty to gauge accurately the flight and bound of the ball. Still, there was no rain, which was something to be thankful for after the experiences of the previous three or four days, and the light was good except that at times the sun shone from the midst of dark clouds and caused that peculiar glare which is common under such conditions.
?The encounter opened very soon after the advertised time, and when Baddeley and Pim stepped into court, they were greeted with the applause of a large, though not unusually large, muster of spectators. Baddeley led off with the service, and very auspiciously, too, for he scored a love game. Both men were playing from the back of the court and somewhat cautiously. In the second game the superiority of Pim?s service was at once apparent; it helped him to reach 30-all, and then he tried a bit of volleying, but Baddeley passed him with a fine shot. In the next two, however, he persevered with the same tactics, choosing his opportunities well, and soon brought the score to 2-all after a tussle in the third game, in which deuce was called once.
?Then Baddeley got the lead again, but Pim would not let him get away, and made it 3-all with a good smash and a very fine pass. Baddeley again made the most of his service in the seventh game, and in the next a very fine rest [rally] of volleys occurred, but though he could not prevent Pim from reaching 4-all, and though he was a stroke behind up to deuce in the next game, Baddeley put in a good smash and a couple of fine forehand drives, and gained 5-4.
?A long game followed, with some fine rests (generally ended by Pim hitting out of court), and Baddeley was within a stroke of the set at 30-40, but Pim took the next three strokes, a good cross-court volley ending the game in his favour, and games all was called. Both seemed a little nervous in the ?vantage game, and Baddeley won it at 30, Pim again sending a lot out. Pim, with a double fault against him, stood at 15-40 in the next, his opponent thus having two strokes for the set, but he pulled up and made it games all again with some hard drives and a smash. A good rest opened the next game, which Baddeley won to love, serving very well, but Pim served, smashed and drove well in the fourteenth, bringing the score back to games all.
?Again, after a long and fine game, in which a lovely short cross-shot and a fine forehand pass scored for each man, Baddeley reached the ?vantage game, and again Pim retrieved the day in the next, a very lucky net-cord stroke making him 40-30, after a long rest. Both men continued to play extremely well, but Pim ended each rest in his favour with a couple of drives and two fine cross-court smashes, and thus in his turn won the ?vantage game; and this, aided by two very lucky net-cord strokes, in each case occurring to end a fine rest, he supplemented by taking the eighteenth game and the set, Baddeley, after picking up to deuce from 40-15, being unable to return Pim?s next two services.
?Again the net-cord helped Pim in the first game of the second set, and taking all advantage of his luck, he finished the game with a regular ?Irish drive? and won the next as well after he had been 0-40, the net-cord yet again giving him the ?vantage stroke. Baddeley played very well in the next two games, winning two strokes with smashes, and Pim ended the fourth with a double fault, which made the score 2-all. For the next three games, however, he was quite irresistible, hitting very hard and putting in a lot of drives that even Baddeley was unable to reach, and his service, despite another double fault, won him the next game after deuce twice, and the set at 6-2.
?Some very good play started the third set. Pim was still hitting tremendously, and won the first two games, having thus taken six off the reel. Then Baddeley, principally by means of good services, took the third, only to lose the fourth and the fifth, Pim?s drives in the latter down the forehand line being very severe, and the net-cord again coming to his aid. Two in the net and two out, however, lost him the sixth, and Baddeley put in some very good work in the seventh, and took it at 30. Pim, however, increased his lead to 5-3 with a good service, and one or two nice cross-court strokes off the ground, but Baddeley was after him again, and, keeping a rather better length with his drives than before, especially down the backhand line, put the next two games to his credit amidst much applause.
Five-all again. He also won the ?vantage game, ending it with a nice cross drive, Pim being frequently in the net; but this was his last success as Pim ran him about a great deal in the twelfth game, scoring his first three strokes by service, followed by four long rests, all of which Baddeley won, but only at the cost of a great deal of hard work, thus coming within a stroke of the set. Pim, however, continued to keep him going, and eventually won the game. Baddeley?s exertions in the last game seemed to tell on him, as he started the next with a double fault, and his service was laboured all through, though Pim seemed a little nervous too, and sent two services into the net. Then, however, he again got Baddeley on the run and finished up with a cross-court volley. Although serving a double fault in the last game, that was the only stroke he lost in it, though the last two rests were good. Pim won the last of all and the match by running in on his service and making the inevitable cross smash which had done him such frequent service all through.?As a rule when steadiness is opposed to brilliancy, it is the steady player that will come out uppermost at the end, but when exponents of extreme excellence in the two styles meet, as in the present case, the issue is much more doubtful. No one who saw the match would hesitate to say that, save for his steadiness, Baddeley was outshone at all points of the game. Pim?s service was better, his length was better, and when he got to the net he killed four times out of five.
He drove all through much harder than Baddeley did, and kept him on the run all the time, whereas he himself had very little running to do except to get up to the net to finish the rest. Per contra, he [Pim] made a great many more mistakes than his opponent, repeatedly for two or three strokes together putting balls in the net that he should have scored off without difficulty. He was also blessed with the best of the luck, which, as usual, ?favoured the brave?, for the secret of Pim?s play certainly was that he took the risk, and went for his stroke all the time, as soon as ever he had worked Baddeley out of position. This is real brilliancy, but it may just as often lose as win; and few, perhaps, know how narrow the margin is.
Baddeley, of course, was as usual most plucky and untiring in his efforts to get back almost hopeless strokes; but the natural result was that, taking everything on the run, his returns were generally short, and this always gave Pim the advantage. He, however, suffered cruelly from the net-cord strokes, although he never lost heart, and till the twelfth game of the last set the issue was still in nearly as much doubt as at the commencement of the match. Here, however, his exertions told on him, and he perceptibly tired off in the last two games. Throughout the play his volleying, though very neat, was seldom hard enough to kill, and the pace at which Pim?s services and drives came in, seemed to detract from his usual accuracy in placing ? a great many being out over the sidelines.
It must be remembered, too, that he spent much of his strength in getting one stroke after another up in away that perhaps only Wilfred Baddeley can. It was a plucky thing to do, but a very tiring thing to keep on doing. If there was anything in which real weakness (i.e. weakness not occasioned by the harassing onslaughts of his opponent) was apparent, it was in his return of the service. This was unmistakably short, and thus Pim came up to the net time after time spontaneously and without an effort. It was obvious that Baddeley felt this weakness himself, for he tried hard to correct it, and succeeded to some extent during the third set, but his tremendous exertions in the twelfth game (when he must have almost rivalled the performances of Jordan and Fry on the previous day) checked this improvement, and set Pim volleying again harder than ever, and so ended the great struggle for the Championships of 1894.?In 1895, Pim won the singles and doubles at the Irish Championships for the third consecutive year, thereby taking possession of the singles challenge cup. In the Challenge Round of the singles event Pim beat Wilberforce Eaves, of Australia, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. In the final match of the doubles event Pim and Frank Stoker beat the twin brothers Charles and Roy Allen, of England, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2. The following report on the Challenge round singles match is at the 1895 Irish Championships is taken from the Irish Times of Monday 3 June 1895:
The last day of the tournament was quite in keeping with many last days of this great meeting, and the play in the different events was more than up to the standard anticipated. The big match of the day was, of course, the meeting between Dr Joshua Pim and Wilberforce V. Eaves in the challenge round of the All-Comers? Singles, which was played in court 5 at 3 o?clock. It naturally attracted a great deal of attention, and as early as 1.30 o?clock almost every available seat about that court was taken up.
The match was perhaps the shortest ever played in a championship round, and the three sets took a little less than fifty minutes. Pim was in his very best form, and played a game which told so much against his opponent that the latter was completely outclassed. Mr Eaves plays the best volleying game at the net ever exhibited in this country, but from the back of the court he is not in it with a man of Dr Pim?s class. The latter is fully half 15 better than he has ever played before, and he kept Mr Eaves continually on the trot from start to finish.
Mr Eaves at times endeavoured to come into the net, but Pim was always more than equal to the occasion, and, driving with that great force for which his play is remarkable, he did not give the All England man a chance. In fact, soon after the start it looked as if the champion would win three sets to love games in each set, and, indeed, on the form he displayed, it was quite apparent he was equal to it.
Pim started serving in the first game, which he won to 15, and the next four games very much as he liked. Eaves got the fifth at the loss of one ace, but the seventh going to Pim off his own service to love, he put the first set to his credit. The second set was almost identical to the first, and Pim got it to one game. The third set was the longest of the three sets, and some people thought that Pim had fallen off, but the fact was that he held his opponent so cheaply that he simply allowed him to win three games in it. The match must be considered as a really good display of brilliant tennis, though Mr Eaves was not at all happy endeavoring to play a game which was so different to that which he had to play during the week in the earlier rounds of the same event.
In June of 1895, after the Irish Championships, Pim and Harold Mahony travelled by boat to the United States to play together with four American players in the West Newton international tournament at the Neighbourhood Club in Boston. On his arrival in New York, Pim modestly told a New York Times reporter that he thought that Wilberforce Eaves, whom he beat in the Challenge Round of the Irish Championships a few weeks earlier, had been somewhat out of form. Pim also confirmed that 1895 would be his last season of competitive tennis. ?I expect to rush back as soon as the tournament is over,? he said. ?This will be a sort of a farewell tour, and I am delighted of having the opportunity of facing the American players. I don?t suppose that I shall have an easy triumph; it will probably be the other way. I have heard a great deal of the hot days you have, and fear them considerably.?
In the tournament at West Newton, where each of the six players played each other once in a round robin format, Pim beat Mahony 5-7, 6-2, 6-3, William Larned 6-3, 6-1, Fred Hovey 6-3, 6-4 and Malcolm Chace 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, while Clarence Hobart beat Pim 7-5, 6-3. Pim and Mahony, the two best players, then faced each other for the title, if it can be called that, with Pim winning. In a special doubles match between the two visitors and Clarence Hobart and Fred Hovey, the Americans won 7-5, 6-4, 6-1.
Having competed in the tournament at West Newton, Pim and Mahony made a trip to Niagara before returning home. Some observers thought that Pim might defend his singles title at Wimbledon in 1895, but he did not. Indeed, Pim did not play much competitive tennis at all after 1895. In 1898, he was beaten 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 by his countryman Harold Mahony in the All-Comers? Final of the Championships of Germany, held at Bad Homburg. Mahony had taken the singles title at Wimbledon in 1896.In 1902, Joshua Pim took part in the Davis Cup Challenge Round tie between the holders, the United States, and Great Britain, held at the Crescent Athletic Club in Brooklyn, New York. Pim, then aged 33, was more or less the token Irishman on the team from Great Britain (Ireland was still under British rule at this point). The Doherty brothers Reginald (Reggie) and Lawrence (Laurie) were the other members of the British team; the latter had won his first Wimbledon singles title earlier in the season.
Pim had lost a good deal of weight in the run-up to the event, but was beaten in both of his singles matches, losing 6-1, 6-1, 1-6, 6-0 to Malcolm D. Whitman and 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to William Larned. A number of observers questioned the decision of the British captain to allow Pim to play two singles matches given that Laurie Doherty was the reigning Wimbledon champion (Reggie had won the same title in the years 1897-1900). However, the captain of the British team, William H. Collins, justified his decision by saying that he had wanted to keep Laurie Doherty fresh for what could have been the crucial doubles match. Although the Dohertys did win the doubles match, beating Dwight Davis and Holcombe Ward, the Americans had already won the tie and retained the Davis Cup because, in addition to Pim losing both of his singles matches, Reggie Doherty had also lost one of his (in those days all four singles matches were played before the doubles; nowadays, the doubles match is played between two pairs of singles matches).
While in the United States in 1902, Pim played in a number of tournaments after the Davis Cup tie, including the events in Southampton, Long Island, and the US Nationals. At the latter tournament, held in Newport, Rhode Island, in those days, Pim lost in the third round of the singles event to the American Leonard Ware. The score was 7-5, 7-5, 6-3.
One year later, in 1903, this appreciation of Pim's playing style, written by Harold Mahony, appeared in the volume Lawn Tennis at Home and Abroad, edited by the great English writer on lawn tennis (and sometime player) Arthur Wallis Myers:
The general opinion of experts would seem to rank Joshua Pim as the finest player the world has ever seen. His game was of the very severe type, yet executed with such ease and nonchalance as to give the impression that he was taking no interest whatever in the proceedings.
A critic at Wimbledon once described his play as a combination of Herbert Lawford's drives and [Ernest] Lewis's volleys, and though his style was quite different from that of either of these players, the description is apt enough. His drive was a long, easy swing, combining little effort with great pace and accuracy. He would place the ball in the extreme corner of the court time after time in the most daring fashion, and when in good practice, with perfect precision. There is considerable difference of opinion as to whether he took the ball on the top of the bound or allowed it to drop. As a matter of fact he did both.
His extraordinary dislike to any hurried movement and his determination that the whole swing of his stroke should be carried through, often made him take the ball very late indeed. But the stroke was generally such a good one, and the direction so well disguised, that it was as effective as if he had played it sooner. If it suited him he could take the ball on the rise as well as anyone. I have seen him swing on to a big kicking first service, playing the ball on the top of the bound and right into the extreme corner, winning the point outright.
His volleying was remarkable for its great variety, combining great power and crispness with the softest and most delicate strokes. He could drop the hardest drives short over the net and well out to the sides, a most elegant and effective manner of dealing with them. His service was powerful and kicked considerably, the percentage of faults being very small, while the second delivery was nearly as severe as the first, in strong contrast to the ludicrous description given in the chapter on the service in the Badminton Library. His encounters with Wilfred Baddeley produced the finest expositions of lawn tennis I have ever seen, and most lovers of the game who were present would seem to share this view.
In later life Pim became a keen swimmer and golfer. After their marriage Pim and his wife, Robin (née Lane), moved to Killiney in south county Dublin, on the coast, close to Dun Leary. The Pims had one son and three daughters. Pim was a member of Killiney Golf Club for many years. He worked as Medical Officer at St. Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown, County Dublin, and was resident surgeon in Jervis Street Hospital in the centre of Dublin.
Joshua Pim died at home in Killiney, County Dublin, on 15 April 1942 at the age of 72.
After 1895 Pim only played under pseudonyms (apart from Davis Cup).
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *