Henrick (Harry) Hopman CBE
A world acclaimed champion tennis player and coach with numerous singles and doubles Grand Slam titles.
Henrick (Harry) Christian Hopman was born in Glebe on 12 August 1906 the second son of John Henry and Jennie Hopman He moved to Parramatta with his family and attended Rosehill Primary School where his father was headmaster and Harry later attended Parramatta High School where he played tennis and cricket.
At a young age, Hopman rose to prominence in tennis and in 1924 he was selected to represent NSW in the Australian Junior Championships. In the match against Tasmania he won the doubles in straight sets with A. Berkleman. It was noted that Hopman played attractive tennis and took a lot of risks, with favourable results. In December 1925, he and Jack Crawford were selected as NSW representative junior players in Adelaide for the Australian Tennis Championships, accompanying team members Daphne Akhurst, J.O. Anderson, Marjorie Cox and Norman Peach.
As a member of Western Suburbs Lawn Tennis Association he gained top rate match practice and competition with the likes of J.O. Anderson and Jack Crawford who became his men’s doubles partner. The two juniors, Hopman and Crawford, were to become a
formidable partnership playing in a great many tournaments across the country. In the mixed doubles he was partnered by Nell Hall.
Harry Hopman represented Australia in Davis Cup competitions over many years and was captain of the Australian team for over twenty years. He was a member of the WSLTA. (Australasian Lawn Tennis, May 1927)
By 1930, the Hopman / Crawford combination in mixed doubles tennis was well known and they were lauded as Australia’s greatest pair when they concurrently held the NSW, Victorian and Australian titles. They were the ultimate performers and drew enormous crowds when they played in suburban venues. At Pratten Park in January 1931 Hopman and Crawford came head to head in the finals of the County of Cumberland Singles Championship in a tense struggle. Hopman and Crawford provided a great exhibition of all-round tennis with Hopman coming to the net to volley after services, chopping returns to his opponent’s back hand and frequently cross-volleying the returns for winners, the result of the game being Hopman, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1. Hopman moved to Victoria in 1931.
Eleanor (Nell) M. Hall married Harry Hopman in 1934 and they continued their on-court partnership in the mixed doubles. Nell was a very capable player herself and at the peak of her tennis career was runner-up for the Australian Open Singles title in 1939. She had begun her year on a high, winning the Victorian women’s singles championship which was her first senior State singles title. She, like Daphne Akhurst, was an accomplished pianist.
Hopman won the Australian Open Doubles Championship in 1929 and 1930 and the Mixed Doubles Championship in 1930, 1936–37 and 1939. He also won the US championships in 1939. He represented Australia in the Davis Cup in 1928, 1930, 1932, 1938 – 39 and was captain of the team in the years 1938 – 39 and 1950 – 69.
Hopman was a sporting journalist and provided commentary in newspapers on tennis and wrote books on the game titled: Aces and Placesand Better Tennis. He also was sought after to write forewords for other tennis champions’, such as Lew Hoad and Frank Sedgeman’s, literary works on the subject of tennis. At age sixty-three he moved to the United States and became a successful coach to future champions Vitas Gerulaitis and later John McEnroe and opened the Hopman Tennis Academy in Florida. He did not approve of tennis professionals, wishing to keep the game with amateurs. He passed away on Dec 27th 1985 in Seminole United States of America.