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Evelyn Sears

tennis player
Full name: Evelyn Georgianna Sears
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Bio In 1907, she won the U.S. National Championship women's singles title, after beating Carrie Neely 6-3, 6-2 in the All-Comers final and the default of reigning champion Helen Homans in the Challenge Round. She also won the women's doubles title in 1908 with Margaret Curtis, beating Carrie Neely and Miriam Steever, 6-3, 5-7, 9-7.

Middle- and upper-class women could participate in lawn sports like tennis, golf, croquet, and badminton in their own manicured yards. In this space attached to the home, privileged women like Evelyn could find common ground with men through outdoor activity. Evelyn played tennis almost every day with male and female cousins on one of the earliest tennis courts in the country built by her uncle and neighbour Robert Treat Paine. The skills she developed on the family’s estate brought her onto professional courts, and in 1907 and 1908, she won the US National Tennis Championship.

She was a niece of male champion Richard Sears and a cousin of Eleanora Sears. The two women's were often confused in the print media of the day-a fact resented by Eleanora.

In 1907 defending US champion Helen Homans was not on hand for the challenge round. Thus when Sears defeated Carrie Neely 6-3 6-2 in the All-Comer's final she became the US Nationals winner at the relatively advanced age of 32.

The Sears-Neely match was almost a default. Sears easily bested Mrs Chapman in one semi to await the winner of Neely and Mrs Pouch. The other semi was held two days later due to rain. Starting in the morning, Carrie prevailed in two tough sets before lunch. When the committee asked her to play the final in the afternoon she baulked. Officials were ready to default Neely, but Sears gallantly refused to take the title under such circumstances. This put the final off until Monday.

With two day's rest Neely's decision to delay the final looked wise, as she won the first 3 games. Then the tide turned as Sears ran Neely to the corners with cross-court drives that prevented Carrie from gaining the net. Sears often hit winners off of the service return, quickly gaining six consecutive games for the set. Neely never recovered and Sears waltzed to a 6-3 6-2 victory on the strength of her forehand and the ability to run like a rabbit. 'The Champion [Miss Sears] does not come into the net at all, and her backhand is surprisingly weak.' (Wright and Ditson)

Evelyn "sat out" the next year to wait for the player who won the All-Comer's. This was Maud Barger-Wallach. Most believed that the holder Evelyn Sear would do quick work of Barger-Wallach. Service counted for little, and all the match was contested from the baseline. 15 and 20 shot rallies were common. After splitting sets, the ladies took a break. The third set was a corker. Mrs Barger-Wallach squeezed past Sears 6-3 in the decider to become the new US Ladies Champion. This was an old final by age-Mrs Wallach being 38 and Sears 33.

Evelyn won the doubles with fellow Bostonian Margaret Curtis 6-3 5-7 9-7 over Carrie Neeley and Miriam Steever. In this exciting match, all 4 ladies volleyed frequently.

Though active in 1909, winning an event Brookline, she did not compete again at the US Nationals.

Evelyn's 1911 passport indicates she was living in Waltham but born in Boston.

Evelyn played select events in her later years-winning a doubles event with her cousin Eleanora as late as 1917.
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