Tuesday 10 December 2019

Bray's own Wimbledon legend Pim


MAIN PICTURE: Joshua Pim playing tennis. INSET: 1-2 Millward Terrace where he was born.
MAIN PICTURE: Joshua Pim playing tennis. INSET: 1-2 Millward Terrace where he was born.

'YOU CANNOT be serious!' A certain air of mystery surrounds the history of Bray's own Wimbledon sensation Joshua Pim, who won the major competition two years in a row, in 1893 and 1894. It is unlikely that in those days, however, there would have been any star-making outbursts directed at umpires – unfair or otherwise!

A reporter for a London magazine wrote after his 1894 win that 'when Mr. Joshua Pim is on his day, there is no one to touch him at the game of lawn tennis'.

Some of his namesakes currently living in the greater Dublin area are certainly aware of the existence of the sporting legend, but others have never even heard of him. 'We would have to go back hundreds of years to find any common ancestry,' said Brian Pim of Blackrock.

Joshua's grand-niece Carmel Comiskey, however, is a resident of Shanganagh Grove in Shankill and has been looking into her ancestry recently.

Joshua, known as Josh, was born on August 13, 1869 at Millward Terrace, Meath Road. His brother, William, was Carmel's grandfather. They also had two sisters – Georgina and Susan. Their parents were Joshua and Susan. Records say that the family lived at 1 & 2 Milward Terrace so it is believed that they had both houses.

As well as being an exceptional tennis player, Pim was a doctor and well respected in his profession.

He was Medical Officer at St. Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown for 42 years. 'He lived a very upright and temperate life, and was devoted to his work,' said a hospital spokesman when he died.

'He was capable in the performance of the most critical duties, and was ready to answer a call for his services in any season, at any hour of the day and night, and he did so, as he did all things, in a spirit of cheerfulness, kindness, and cordiality.'

Tennis was a sideline for Pim, who never let the game interfere with his medical work.

His obituary in 1942 described Pim as 'one of the greatest players in the history of Irish lawn tennis'.

His first tennis triumph was in 1890, when he won both the English and Irish doubles championships alongside F. O. Stoker – a relative of the writer Bram Stoker. His record during the next 10 years was a remarkable one.

At old Wimbledon he won the English singles title in 1893 and 1894, and the doubles in 1893 – again with Stoker.

He also played for Ireland against England in 1892, 1893, 1894 and 1896.

He played for England against America in 1902 in the second match of the Davis Cup series, with the two Dohertys as his team-mates.

He had been out of tennis for some time at that point, but was lured out of retirement and played so well and beating the Dohertys so consistently that he was chosen to play the two singles.

He was ill at the time, however, and lost both bouts. '

He was one of the finest "natural" tennis players the world has ever seen,' wrote one of his contemporaries.

'He was a player with whom the joy of the game itself and the making of ace-winning strokes came before the satisfaction of beating his adversary. Dash was the essence of his game.'

'Pim was never equalled for the perfection of his style,' wrote an American tennis writer, E.C. Potter.

After his retirement from tennis, Dr. Pim became a keen swimmer and golfer.

He had moved to Killiney with his w i fe Robin and they had three daughters and a son. He could be seen almost every day playing around the Killiney course almost until the day of his death at the age of 72.