Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Queen's Club, West Kensington
Date Started: May 18, 1908
Date Finished: May 23, 1908
Format: Single-elimination tournament.
Jeu de Paume, also known by the names of court tennis, royal tennis, real tennis, or in 1908, simply as "tennis", is the original racket sport. It is played indoors on a dédan, with a very complicated system of scoring. Finesse and strategy count for far more than power as in what was then called lawn tennis.
Professional tennis has crowned a world champion since the mid-18th-century in a series of challenge matches, not unlike professional boxing or chess. The greatest professional players of the era were British, Peter Latham and Cecil "Punch" Fairs. Latham had claimed the title in 1895, and defended it in 1898 and 1904, but lost it in 1905 to Fairs, who again defeated him in 1906. Latham regained the championship in 1907 and 1908, with Fairs claiming the championship again later in 1908 and winning his final championship in 1910. Because of the amateur restrictions, neither could compete in the Olympics.
Among the amateurs the top British player in 1908 was Eustace Miles who was Amateur Tennis Champion in 1899-1903, 1905-1906, and 1909-1910. He had also been American champion in 1900. But the top player of the era was an American, the youthful Jay Gould, the son of the well-known robber baron of the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. Gould won the American championship in 1906-1917 and 1920-1925. He was also British champion in 1907 and 1908 and would later become world professional champion in 1914 and 1916.
The entries were all from Great Britain and the United States. The Official Report and The Times expressed regret that the top French "paumiers" did not enter, notably M. A. de Luze and M. Basin. Both Miles and Gould entered the Olympic tournament, setting up a match between the top amateur players of the era. The only other non-British entrant was Charles Sands, who had been U.S. champion in 1905, and won the gold medal in men's golf at the 1900 Olympics in Paris.
Gould and Miles were the class of the tournament. Miles got to the final by winning three matches by 3-0, and Gould, who had received an opening round bye, won two matches by 3-0. In the final, Gould also won all three sets, but it was a well-fought match, the set scores being close at 6-5, 6-4, and 6-4. Miles actually led every set, but could not close out Gould. Miles had a 4-1 and 5-2 advantage in the first set, but lost the last four games of that set. He likewise lost the last three games of the second set after leading 4-3, and with the 3rd set even at 4-4, Gould closed out the match by winning the last two games.
The precise scoring of the final was as follows, Gould always listed first: Set 1 - 4-2 (1-0), 4-6 (1-1), 3-5 (1-2), 5-7 (1-3), 1-4 (1-4), 4-1 (2-4), 2-4 (2-5), 4-2 (3-5), 4-2 (4-5), 5-2 (5-5), 4-1 (6-5); Set 2 - 4-0 (1-0), 3-5 (1-1), 4-0 (2-1), 2-4 (2-2), 2-4 (2-3), 4-1 (3-3), 0-4 (3-4), 4-2 (4-4), 5-3 (5-4), 4-2 (6-4); and Set 3 - 2-4 (0-1), 2-4 (0-2), 6-4 (1-2), 2-4 (1-3), 5-3 (2-3), 4-1 (3-3), 4-1 (4-3), 2-4 (4-4), 4-2 (6-4), 5-3 (6-4).
|1||Jay Gould||19||United States||USA||Gold|
|2||Eustace Miles||39||Great Britain||GBR||Silver|
|3||Neville Lytton||29||Great Britain||GBR||Bronze|
|4||Arthur Page||32||Great Britain||GBR|
|5T||Edwin Biedermann||30||Great Britain||GBR|
|5T||Arnold Palmer||21||Great Britain||GBR|
|5T||Evan Noel||29||Great Britain||GBR|
|5T||Vane Pennell||31||Great Britain||GBR|
|9T||Charles Tatham||43||Great Britain||GBR|
|9T||William Cazalet||42||Great Britain||GBR|
|9T||Charles Sands||42||United States||USA|