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The History of Russian Tennis


Russian Union Lawn Tennis (RULT) is the oldest sport union in Russia and it came before the current Russian Tennis Federation. Its first regulations were registered on the 3rd of June 1908 and included in the community registry of Saint Petersburg under the № 265. This date is considered the birthday of the Russian tennis flagship.

The founder and the first chairman of RULT was a bright activist of the Russian sport – Arthur Davydovich MacPherson (1870 – 1919). Having Scottish roots, MacPherson was born in St. Petersburg, where he was raised and invested all his efforts into establishing and development of the national sport. MacPherson was first to be a chairman of three Russian unions at the same time, which were lawn tennis, football, and rowing. In 1903 MacPherson organized first ever championship of St. Petersburg on the grounds of the Krestovskiy tennis club. In 1907 he organized United Russian lawn tennis competition, which was the first championship in Russia of that scale. Until 1917 he was the leader of the RULT, which he founded and published  ‘Annual RULT’ (1909 – 1916) and ‘Lawn Tennis’ magazine (1912-1914). He was awarded with the 3rd class Order of Saint Stanislaus for his great achievements in the development of Russian sports. After the Bolshevik Revolution he was arrested twice and has passed away in 1919 in one of the Moscow’s prisons from Typhus. The highest prize one can receive from Russian Tennis Federation was named in the honor of Arthur Davydovich MacPherson. From its foundation the Russian Tennis Federation has gone through tough times. After the revolution government was cautious about sport, which was mainly associated with high society, and then they blacklisted it for years because it wasn’t included in the Olympic games. Despite of all the discrimination Russian tennis have stayed strong and flourished through the years.

Milestones of Russian Tennis

In Russia tennis as a sport was established at the end of 19th century. One of the first enthusiasts of lawn tennis was a famous Russian writer Leo Tolsoy; he even described it in his book ‘Anna Karenina’.

1860 – the first cricket club was established in St. Petersburg. Later it evolved into lawn tennis club.

1882 – ‘Niva’ St. Petersburg’s magazine first published about English lawn tennis.

1888 – Lahtinskiy lawn tennis club was established and was the first tennis club in Russia at the time.

1903 – Russian tennis players have taken part in the Stockholm tournament, which made it their first foreign tennis competition.

1907 – In St. Petersburg on the grounds of the Krestovskiy lawn tennis club the first Russian championship in lawn tennis was held with 65 players taking part.

1912 – The first open Russian championship was held hosting the strongest players from Europe and USA. In the same year Russian tennis players have taken part in Stockholm Olympic games for the first time.

1913 – Russian Union of lawn tennis clubs co-founded International Lawn Tennis Union (Now known as International Tennis Federation).

1918 – The first Moscow tennis championship was held, in which 11 clubs were gathered.

1924 – First USSR championship was played and the soviet winners were Tamira Suhodolskaya and Georgiy Stolyrov.

1928 – Tennis completions were executed during national sport festival where Moscow players have won. Malceva have won in singles and Kudryvcev became an absolute winner between men.

1929 – The United Tennis Department, which became a leader in developing tennis in USSR.

1936-1937 – Famous French tennis player has visited USSR and later established his own tennis school in Moscow. His school has taught soviet masters, such as Korbut, Ozerov, Belic-Geyman, Nifontova, and Philippova.

1942 – Moscow have had its tournament, which was won by Tepykova and Korbut.

1944 – 50 participants (26men and 24 women) in military tennis championship came to Moscow.

1956 – The USSR Tennis Federation was organized. The same year it was included into International Tennis Federation. From 1956 USSR started to host international tournaments like the traditional winter international tournament executed indoors and year later a summer tournament on the outside courts.

1958 – Soviet Masters debuted in the official international tournaments with the support of ITF. Dmitrieva and Potanin participated in the Kent, London and Wimbledon’s junior tournaments. Dmitrieva was 2nd in both Kent and Wimbledon tournaments. Potanin was the Kent’s finalist and got to the quarterfinals in Wimbledon.

1962 – The training of tennis specialists have been organised. In the Lenin’s university of physical training (now known as Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism) the tennis faculty have been introduced.

1964 – Youth team of USSR (men under 20) have won the Galeo Cup.

1967 - The USSR team achieved zonal final during Davies cup.

1968 - Youth team of USSR (Women under 20) have won the Suabo Cup.

1969 – Soviet tennis players have won European Championship amongst amateurs in team.

1970 – Morozova and Metreveli – Wimbledon’s finalists in mixed category.

1972 – Metreveli is a winner of he open tournament of 5 Australian states and first racket in the world amongst amateurs.

1973- Metreveli is a Wimbledon’s finalist in the single category.

1974 – Morozova is a Wimbledon’s finalist in the single category and a champion of France in the double category.

1987 – Chesnokov won the professional tournament in Florence and became first soviet tennis player to win the ‘Grand Prix’ tournament.

1989 - Zvereva and Savchenko have won Roland Garros in the double category.

1990 – Kremlin Cup has been established for male professionals and played in Moscow for the first time and Cherkasov won it.

1991 – Zvereva and Savchenko became first soviet female tennis players to win Wimbledon’s double category.

1996 – Kafelnikov has won he open championship in France in both single and double categories. Kafelnikov is first to win Grand Slam tournament in single category amongst Russian players (and first to win it in both categories).

1999 – Kafelnikov was the first Russian tennis player to take a first place in the single’s ratings.

2000 – For the first time Russian tennis player has become an Olympic champion when Kafelnikov won Olympic championship in Sydney.

- Marat Safin won the open USA Championship.

2002 – Russian team won the Davies Cup for the first time, which was held in Bercy Arena, Paris. Our team that was coached by Tarpishev defeated team France.

2004 – Anastasia Myskina have won in the Roland Garros finals from the Russain tennis player Elena Dementieva. This marked the first time for both playes of Roland Garos to be Russian.

- Maria Sharapova was the first Russian player to win Wimbledon tournament in single category.

- Svetlana Kuznecova became a winner of the open USA championship in the single category.

- Russian team has won the Fed Cup for the second time.

- For the first time ITF has awardered Russian player, Anastasia Myskina with the World Champion title amongst proffessionals.

2005 – Maria Sharapova was the first Russian player to achieve the first place in the world’s single category rating.

2005 – Russian team has won the Fed Cup for the second time. On the courts of Roland Garros Russian players have beaten France once again.

2006 – Russian men’s team in the finale of the Davies Cup in Moscow have defeated the Argentinian team and for the second time won a non-official team world championship.

2007 – It has been 100 years since the very first Russian championship in the suburbans of St. Petersburg and to honor this date the celebratory championship was held. The winners of it were Mikhail Elgin and Anastasia Pivovarova.

- Russian team has won the Fed Cup For the third time in 4 years.