History

A History of Legendary Tennis

Orange Lawn Tennis Club was at the heart of tennis over a hundred years ago. The tennis greats: Rod Laver, Stan Smith, John McEnroe and so many others have played at Orange Lawn. Today, we are still playing the game here, with lots of heart.

In the beginning

Our campus was built and maintained to attract tennis royalty back in the day. Orange Lawn Tennis Club was host to the Mutual Benefit Open, a doubles and singles national championship, in addition to a variety of other national championships over the past century. The mountainside club with its spectacular grass courts and large campus was a perfect setting for players and spectators alike. Now, just as beautiful as ever, we enjoy excellent tennis at Orange Lawn.

Arthur Ashe at Orange Lawn, 1964

Arthur Ashe at Orange Lawn, 1964

A few of our har-tru courts

A few of our har-tru courts

The tradition continues

Enjoy all that great tennis has to offer. The ten meticulously-kept grass courts that the pros played on still get a workout from our members. Over time, we have added ten har-tru and 5 paddle courts for full season play. Full time tennis pros are available and have a healthy schedule of clinics for everyone: from the new player to advanced. We offer league play and inter-club tournaments as well.

Chris Everett, 1971

Chris Everett, 1971

Billie Jean King, 1967

Billie Jean King, 1967

Rod Laver, 1970s

Rod Laver, 1970s

Members, 1900

Members, 1900

Timeline

  • 1873

    The first tennis game was played in the US in Staten Island, NY.

  • 1880

    The club was founded at the intersection of Montrose and Berkeley Ave in South Orange, where it remained for 36 years.

  • 1881

    Representatives of 19 tennis clubs, including OLTC, met to standardize the rules of the game.

  • 1885

    OLTC held the Middle States Championships from 1885-1920.

  • 1886

    The first national championships held at OLTC. At that time Newport held all of the national singles championship matches in the US, and Orange Lawn had the doubles championships.

  • 1897

    OLTC had more nationally ranked players among its members than at any time in history, most notably William Larned, who was #2 and was national champion eight times.

  • 1916

    OLTC moved to what was known as "Hillside," part of the Redmond Estate, in order to accommodate a more social, larger club.

  • 1920

    Middle States Championships was replaced by an Annual Invitation Tournament until 1940.

  • 1946

    The Eastern Grass Court Championships were played at OLTC for the first time. This marked the beginning of the “glory years” of tennis at OLTC when all the world's greatest men and women players sought invitations to Orange as the second most prestigious tournament in the US, second only to Nationals at Forest Hills. Standing room crowds of up to 4,000 usually appeared for the semi-finals and finals.

  • 1956

    Althea Gibson won her 18th tournament out of the last 21 she had entered.

  • 1964

    Billie Jean Moffit (King) took the women’s singles crown.

  • 1969

    Open Tennis, with $25,000 in prize money came to OLTC.

  • 1970

    The 1970 Tournament, named the Marlboro Open, attracted the likes of Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall.

  • 1971

    Chris Evert won the Women's Singles, Eastern Grass Court Championship.

  • 1977

    Guillermo Vilas of Argentina was the winner of the $85,000 Mutual Benefit Open, defeating Roscoe Tanner. Tennis this week drew 40,000 fans to OLTC and was televised. The crowd was entertained by an exhibition match: Governor Brendan Byrne and George Plimpton playing against John McEnroe and Peter Fleming.

  • 1979

    John McEnroe, seeded #1 at OLTC and #3 in the world, was two-time winner in the Mutual Benefit Open Championship, for singles and doubles.

Doubles, 1932

Doubles, 1932

Ellsworth Vines, 1932

Ellsworth Vines, 1932

Early days

OLTC early days

Mlle Suzanne Lenglen

Mlle Suzanne Lenglen