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Beals Wright

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 2
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexMale
Full nameBeals Coleman•Wright
Used nameBeals•Wright
Born19 December 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts (USA)
Died23 August 1961 in Alton, Illinois (USA)
NOC United States

Biography

In 1869, Harry Wright, the English-born son of a cricket professional, formed the first professional baseball team in America. Harry Wright was the player-manager of the Cincinnati Red Stockings and included on the team was his younger brother, George, who drew the then-record salary of $1,400 for the season. As the popularity of pro baseball increased, George Wright was to earn much more than this and prospered sufficiently to send his son, Beals, to Harvard.

Beals Wright was to become one of the leading players in the early days of lawn tennis in America, but surprisingly he never won his letter at Harvard. He was America’s first Olympic lawn tennis champion, winning the singles and doubles (with Edgar Leonard) in 1904. These two Olympics titles came relatively early in his career although three years previously he had been runner-up in the U.S. singles. Beals Wright was destined to be runner-up on four other occasions, but in 1905 he took the national title by beating Holcombe Ward, a fellow Harvardian. Wright and Ward won the doubles for three straight years (1904-1906) and in 1910, at the age of 30, the left-handed Wright became the first American to reach the final of the All-Comer’s singles at Wimbledon, where he lost to the New Zealander, Tony Wilding, who went on to win the Challenge Round. Wright was a three-time singles champion at the Canadian Championships (1903-04).

Apart from these successes, Wright will also be remembered for his contribution to the Davis Cup squad. He was on the team in 1905, 1907, 1908, and 1911 and although the U.S. reached the Challenge Round in three of those years, they never succeeded in winning the Cup. They lost by only three matches to two in 1908 against Australasia in Melbourne, and Wright’s magnificent victories over Tony Wilding and Norman Brooks put the U.S. within an ace of winning the tie. In his later years, Wright maintained his keen interest in the sport and served a term as president of the USLTA.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1904 Summer Olympics Tennis USA Beals Wright
Singles, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
Doubles, Men (Olympic) Edgar Leonard 1 Gold