Violet Sutton, a woman who was born in England on January 22, 1881, and died in Los Angeles, California on August 3, 1957. Violet Sutton was married to a man named Harold Hope Doeg, who was born sometime between January and March of 1877 and died on December 22, 1917, in San Bernardino County, California.
Important Details of Violet Sutton
In 1920, she lived at 824 5th Street in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California. She had six children and lived with her sister, Florence E. Sutton. She did not have a husband. In 1930, she was a tennis coach and lived with her children John H., Doris H., Violet H., and William H. at 824 5th Street in Santa Monica.
The Sutton Sisters
Some of you may have already read this, but there may be a few of you who haven’t read much about how tennis started. Since many of you got to see Dorothy Bundy get into the Tennis Hall of Fame, I thought I’d share this passage from Allison Danzig’s book “The Fireside Book of Tennis.” It’s actually a book with work from Danzig and a lot of other writers. Even works by Tilden and Lenglen are there.
This one is called “The Sutton Sisters,” and it was played by them in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Dorothy’s mother was May Sutton. This passage tells us more about Dodo’s family and how much they enjoy playing games. It also shows how tennis started and what the women players had to go through.
Early Tennis Days of the Sutton Sisters
“It takes a Sutton to beat a Sutton” was an old saying. And because it did, the historic Southern California tennis championships were almost called the “Sutton California championships.”
Four sisters from Santa Monica named Ethel, Florence, Violet, and May Sutton won the tournament eighteen times between them. May Sutton Bundy was the first person to win it in 1900. She had won it nine times before. After 28 years and having four kids, she won it again.
All of this shows how strong the Sutton women are and why no one in Santa Monica is surprised that the four Sutton “girls” are still going strong, still playing tennis, and still the best tennis family in the United States.
Ethel is 72 years old. She plays doubles four times a week, teaches three private classes, and jokes, “A tennis ball in flight is the only thing that can make me run!” Florence teaches tennis to 25 students six days a week on a private court on Margurita Avenue “Tennis? It’s a drug. I feel great.” Violet has been a teacher at Marlborough for 25 years, and she never misses her “daily doubles.” “Little May,” who weighed 15 pounds when she was born, is now a tennis teacher at the Los Angeles Country Club. When she faces her opponents across the court, she still makes their forehands shiver.
What Made Sutton Sisters Famous?
“An all-consuming devotion to the game that caused my brother Henry and me to go up into Eaton’s Canyon in 1899 with two shovels, horse and buggy, and haul clay down to our father’s ten-acre ranch in Pasadena to build our own court,” declared Ethel, oldest of the famed quartet. “The court sloped over an embankment, so we had to run uphill for forehands. But it was one of ten private courts in Pasadena, and we were proud of it. We played with tennis balls minus covers, rackets with strings missing, and taught ourselves tennis.”
“We first learned the game in England, where we were all born,” explained Florence, the smallest. “Father was a captain in the navy. He had seven children:Adele, the oldest girl, two boys, the-after a lapse of four years-us four girls.”
“Adele played tennis in a club near Ealing. She’d give her warped rackets to us youngsters, and my sisters and I played every game with them-rounders, croquet, cricket. When we came to America, we built the court, but we had no equipment. A nearby family, the Radcliffes, had nets and rackets but no court. We pooled our resources. We learned so well that Violet won the first tournament she entered (the first in the family too), the Ojai championship in 1899.”
“Girls were faster in our days,’ remembered Violet, whose children-May, Billy, Doris, and Johnny Doeg-became tennis stars. (Johnny was national champion.) “We ran more. But it’s a wonder we could move at all. Do you know what we wore? A long undershirt, pair of drawers, two petticoats, white linen corset cover, duck shirt, shirtwaist, long white silk stockings and a floppy hat. We were soaking wet when we finished a match.”
“Girls today have a greater variety of strokes, but I believe we had more fight and speed, even though nobody ever dreamed of taking lessons from a professional coach,” said May, whose daughter, Dorothy Bundy Cheney, became a famous player. “Girls played the net even then. It wasn’t all baseline. Our weakest stroke was the serve. We just hit the ball up without much windup.”
“But ho May could hit that forehand!” enthused Florence. “She’d play all day without missing a forehand drive. She had power. When she won the nationals in 1904 and Wimbledon in 1905 and 1907, she weighed 160 pounds. Girls didn’t worry about diets then May even beat a men. Our ‘little sister’ was the greatest of ’em all.”