August 17, 1913

I win Western Michigan Championship

ClaireWightPayne001a-KVM - Copy

Claire proudly displays her trophy.

Oh Diary diary I can’t believe it!! I thought there was no hope of my winning from Mrs. VenBoer the champion. Well it was such a hot day that I decided to let the men play their match first and then I would. I ate scarcely nothing and didn’t go out to the club till afternoon. When I saw the crowd gathering and realized that they were there to watch me play I felt awfully queer and couldn’t bear to see the courts or watch the men play or anything so I just went on a secluded porch away from it all and tried not to think, I picked up a Grand Rapids paper to sooth my nerves and this met my eye “Miss Wight will challenge Mrs. Veenboer [sic] today for the championship title. Her youth and free swing should stand her in good stead, and she has had enough playing experience under trying conditions to keep her nervousness in check” etc, etc. It sounded so funny to hear my self discussed like a race horse or something that I just had to smile, Well when they called our match I was so scared and sick I could scarcely stand up there were such crowds and so many kodaks and cameras watching that I wished I was dead. But behold after I started to play I most forgot they were there I forgot everything but the game and I felt fine. I don’t know yet how I managed to beat her but I just flew into her and played the best I ever have. The score was 6-4, 6-3  We just seesawed at first with the games but after I got control of myself I drove her back continually played for risks at the back court lines and had fine luck. One of the Kazoo papers put it “the Kalamazoo woman showed the name consistent from which had marked her perliminary [sic] play. The Grand Rapids contingent gives Miss Wight’s excellent back line drives the credit for her victory over the Furniture City veteran. The deep court play of the Kazoo representative kept her opponent on the defensive for the most of the time.” etc. etc.

            But the awfullest [sic] thing that happened was that they all asked for a speech when they presented me with the Cup (and it’s a beauty with three handles and lined with gold) and I don’t know to this minute what I said.

            Everyone was so kind and congratulated me so heartily that I felt as if they were all my friends though somehow I felt so embarrassed that I hurried away. Harvey B Wendy a fine tennis player from Virginia who played for the championship against his brother is a fine man so gentlemanly and kind, he umpired our match and while I didn’t like to have such a fine player watch my blunders so closely still he was a fine umpire.

            When I watched the men players that were at the tournament I felt as if I had never seen the game before it was wonderful when the best players were playing the balls passed so swiftly through the air that you couldn’t see the service ball until it hit the ground.

            James was up from Otsego for the games today and seemed quite delighted with it all. After the tournament Mr. Boltwood took me in his auto for a spin down town and around and then over to Lou’s for my supper and suitcase he wanted me to stay over this evening and go to the theater with him but if I had stayed I would have had to go to a party in honor of gladies [sic] martin and I wanted to come home with the others. Well he called for May and I and took us to the train then home  the bunch came and as there was nothing else for him to do why David escorted me up from the depot. This week has seemed like a chapter out of a story book to me.

            Well I haven’t said much about the other matches I played have I? I got along in the tournament all right up to Friday though each day it was more difficult to win. Friday & Sat it was so hot and the heat radiated up from the tar courts so that it was almost unendurable. Well Friday morning from 10-12 I was skeduled [sic] to play Mrs Shaw the champion of Grand Rapids in the finals it was terrifically hard and she is by far the hardest player I have ever met  it was a three set match which I finally won 6-2, 2-6, 6-2   I was nearly exhausted  There was great excitement in the gallery and the applause was about evenly divided. I had an hour to rest before the doubles and they made me drink raw egg in milk imagine. When I went out and started the double it was horrible playing, I was so tired, we won by a miracle almost, May had to do it most all towards the end, I was almost unconscious I can state the perdicament [sic] we were in best from the paper “Miss Wight figured with Miss Fraser in the winning of the women’s doubles from Mrs Ralph Ellis of Chicago and Miss Olive Grinnell. The score of the first two sets were 7-5 and 3-6, and with the score 5-3 and 40-love for the Grinnell-Ellis team in the third set they became disconcerted and lost four games and the title etc.

            I played on and on as in a dream I was so tired and feint[sic] that I scarcely knew what was going on and I staggered about so that all the gallery began cheering us on. We came within a point of loosing [sic] when suddenly the luck changed May seemed inspired and played wonderfully her own game and half mine. When it was over I just gasped for breath and could not walk for a while I guess I made quite a fool of myself after I was out of sight of the gallery but it taught me never to play in the heat of the day again. We won ($8.00) Thermis [sic] bottle apiece by our doubles and I won an $8.00 racket for the singles. Everybody about the grounds is talking and speculating about “That Miss Wight from Kalamazoo” and its really amusing to hear your name wherever you go though I must say its tiresome. You see May and I have completely upset their “dope” as they call it. I feel that I have made lots of friends and that’s what pleases me most. Well I wonder what will be the outcome next year!?!

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