Did you know Ireland has a 5 times Grand Slam Champion in Tennis?
Ireland’s greatest ever tennis player came from County Kilkenny, named Mabel Cahill.
Attention is on the United States Open Tennis Championships this week as we reach the Round of 16 stage in Mens and Womens Singles, and Mens. Womens and Mixed Doubles, - as well as Wheelchair Singles and Doubles for both Men and Women. The events reach their climax this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Ireland had its own tennis star more than a century ago.
Mabel Esmonde Cahill won the US Open Grand Slam Women’s Singles titles in 1891 and 1892, the Grand Slam Ladies Doubles Titles in 1891 and 1892 and took the Mixed Doubles Grand Slam title also in 1892.
As Ireland’s only Grand Slam winner – with not 1 but 5 Grand Slam Titles, little is mentioned of Mabel Cahill in Ireland.
In 1976, Mabel Cahill was added to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in New York
From Ballyragget House, Ballyragget, County Kilkenny, Mabel Cahill was born in 1863 to a large family of 13 children. She was the second youngest. She had 5 sisters and 7 brothers.
Her well-to-do upper class family sent Mabel to secondary level school in Roscrea to a fee paying school, thought to be the Sacred Heart Convent Secondary School.
It was unusual at the time for women to obtain secondary education.
Mabel moved to Dublin after finishing school, in 1886, and it was there that she started playing lawn tennis, and her interest in the sport and in life grew.
With little prospects in Ireland, she decided to emigrate to America – via Liverpool. She boarded The Arizona ship in 1889, which arrived in New York City, where she took up residency.
Cahill won the Orange Club ladies championship in 1890 and 1891.
Mabel became the first foreign woman to win a major tournament when she defeated Ellen Roosevelt in the 1891 US Championships women's final at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
She successfully defended her title the following year, defeating Elisabeth Moore in a hard fought, five-set final, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Both years saw Cahill win U.S. National Women’s Doubles Championships.
In 1891 she paired with Emma Leavitt-Morgan to defeat final opponents Roosevelt sisters, Ellen and Grace, 2-6, 8-6, 6-4. . In 1892 she teamed with Adeline McKinlay and the pair downed Mrs. A.H. Harris and Amy R. Williams easily, 6-1, 6-3.
Partnering Clarence Hobart Cahill was to win her 5th Grand Slam, the mixed doubles title in 1892, winning over Moore and Rodmond Beach, 6-1, 6-3.
Today we salute and remember Mabel Cahill of Kilkenny, who was Ireland’s greatest ever Tennis player, in 1891 and 1892.
** Originally published on Published on: Jul 10, 2021