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Wilmer Allison

tennis player
Full name: Wilmer Lawson Allison
Nickname: Tumbling Texan
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Class of HOF
Bio He was an American amateur tennis champion of the 1930s. Allison's career was overshadowed by the arrival of Don Budge, although he was both a fine singles player and, along with his frequent partner, John Van Ryn, a great doubles player.
He was one of two children of Dr. and Mrs. Wilmer L. Allison. His family moved to Fort Worth during his youth. He graduated from Fort Worth Central High School, where he was an outstanding amateur baseball player. He enrolled at the University of Texas in 1925 and he began an internationally acclaimed career as a tennis player. Under coach Daniel A. Penick, he won the Southwest Conference and National Collegiate Athletic Association championships in 1927.
At the University of Texas at Austin, Allison was the Intercollegiate tennis champion in 1927. One of Allison's earliest tournament wins was the 1928 Canadian Championship, where he won the final over doubles partner Van Ryn 6–2, 6–4, 6–3.

Right-handed, Allison's greatest triumph was winning the 1935 U.S. Championship singles, defeating Fred Perry in the semifinals and Sidney Wood in the finals, both in three sets. He had previously lost to Perry 8–6 in the fifth set in the 1934 finals.
Allison was ranked in the top 10 eight times by the USLTA, including number one rankings in 1934 and 1935. He was ranked U.S. No. 1 both years and World No. 4 in 1932 and again in 1935 by A. Wallis Myers of The Daily Telegraph.
At the Wimbledon Championships his best results in singles came in 1930 when he finished runner-up to Bill Tilden, losing the final in straight sets. En route to the final he defeated reigning champion and first-seed Henri Cochet in straight sets in the quarterfinals. As a doubles player with partner John Van Ryn, Allison won back-to-back Wimbledon doubles titles in 1929 and 1930. As well as they won the U.S. doubles championships in 1931 and 1935. He won the mixed doubles title at US Nationals in 1930 with Edith Cross.
Allison's last major tournament was a 1936 quarterfinal loss to Bunny Austin.

Wilmer Allison was the top ranked amateur player in the United States in 1934 and 1935.
He defeated the world No. 1 Fred Perry in the 1935 U.S. National Championships in one of his greatest performances, however Perry suffered a painful injury to his right kidney in the first set. Allison later eliminated Sidney Wood Jr. in the final.
His doubles prowess was showcased in Davis Cup competition as he won 14 of 16 matches with John Van Ryn. Allison competed on behalf of the United States in Davis Cup competition from 1928 until 1937.
Allison played a total of 44 matches, 29 in doubles with Van Ryn, in Davis Cup for the United States, the third most of any player behind John McEnroe and Vic Seixas. He won 32 of those matches but never the cup. Allison and Van Ryn remained a formidable Davis Cup team until 1935.
His name and legacy is also associated with two memorable Davis Cup singles matches. The one is a pleasant memory for Allison when he completed the most unbelievable comeback against Italian ambidextrous Giorgio de Stefani in 1930.
He retired from full-time competition in 1937 after a serious injury to his lower abdomen.
After the injury in 1936 cut his playing career short, Allison continued to impact the game through coaching. Allison coached tennis for the varsity team of his alma mater from 1946 through 1972 and was head coach from 1957.
He served as an assistant to Penick at the University of Texas from 1938 to 1941, when he left to join the army air corps. After his discharge he returned to the University in 1947 and served as Penick’s assistant until 1957. That year he became the head tennis coach, where he served until his retirement in 1972. His teams won four Southwest Conference team championships, three singles titles, and one doubles title. He was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1957 and is a member of the Longhorn Hall of Honor. Wilmer was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in 1963 and into the Texas Tennis Museum & Hall of Fame in 1981.

In his 1979 autobiography Jack Kramer, who had a fine volley himself, devotes a page to the best tennis strokes he had ever seen. He writes: "FOREHAND VOLLEY — Wilmer Allison of Texas, who won the 1935 Forest Hills, had the best I ever saw as a kid, and I've never seen anyone since hit one better. Budge Patty came closest, then Newcombe".

He was known for his impeccable overhead, consistent volley and peerless backhand.

George Lott, who himself won five U.S. doubles titles as well as two at Wimbledon, wrote an article in the May 1973, issue of Tennis Magazine in which he ranked the great doubles teams and the great players. He called the team of Allison and Van Ryn the ninth best of all time.
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