Class of 1970
Contributions to Tennis
An amateur tennis official of almost unprecedented power and authority, Perry T. Jones was known as the “czar” of Southern California tennis during the 1930s and 1940s. He wielded a firm, authoritative hand in a region stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego. He served as President of the Southern California Tennis Association and Tournament Director of the prestigious Pacific Southwest Championships. At the peak of his administrative tenure he raised considerable money to fund and support the areas outstanding players, one of whom was the legendary Ellsworth Vines. Jones served as non-playing captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1958 and 1959 and comprised a team that included Peruvian-born Alex Olmedo, Barry MacKay, and Ham Richardson. In 1958, the U.S. snatched back the cup from Australia, 3-2, after a three-year drought. In 1959, Australia began a string of four straight victories with a 3-2 win over the U.S. Jones took the defeat personally. He felt the U.S. should dominate the Davis Cup like the New York Yankees dominated the World Series.
Jones’s stronghold over Southern California tennis was intense. The August 7, 1950 edition of Life Magazine profiled the organization's history, one that had produced more than 300 national and international titles, as a “factory,” and Jones as the ruler. The six-page feature claimed those in the tennis community viewed Jones as a tyrant, though his results couldn’t be questioned. One stunning photo shows a hundred white-clad boys and girls precisely arranged in military-fashion rows extending over four tennis courts, all with wooden racquets positioned the same way across their waist. Another photo depicts Jones sitting behind the cutout figures of some of the finest “products” of his system, including Hall of Famers Vines, Bobby Riggs, Ted Schroeder, Joe Hunt, and Jack Kramer, all of whom won the U.S. National Men’s Singles Championship.
In a July 9, 1991 column for the Los Angeles Times, the venerable Jim Murray wrote, “Perry T. Jones used to be the autocrat of the tennis court around these parts. He took the position tennis belonged to him. The greatest tennis players in the world came to him. You almost couldn't play unless this Emperor Jones gave the word. He ran the L.A. Tennis Club about the way Ivan the Terrible ran Russia. And the L.A. Tennis Club, in a sense, ran tennis. Players came from all over the world. Jones' power began to decline about the time they started to let them wear shorts on court. In Jones' time, men wore long pants and women wore long skirts. And you didn't dare let your shirt hang out. They all passed through the Jones fiefdom – Don Budge, Jack Kramer, Ted Schroeder, Pancho Gonzales, Tony Trabert, Budge Patty, Gene Mako, Bobby Riggs. Connors and Ashe came along as Perry's sun was setting. Perry wasn't a teacher or a coach, he was an organizer. He arranged for society to play host to big-time tennis. Perry wasn't rich. He just knew everybody who was. He made them think it was their duty to support tennis … You didn't stay anywhere if Jones didn't arrange it. Tennis players had to go in with their hats in their hands and a smile on their faces and wipe their feet and call everybody "Mam" and "Sir." The way Perry wanted it.”
Jones was fastidious about education, cleanliness, proper attire, and sportsmanship. He established the Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) Hall of Fame in 1968, and rightfully earned the moniker "Mr. Tennis of the West Coast.”
Writing in his memories about his first meeting with Perry Jones, Don Budge said, “I won my first match and as I came off the court there was Perry Jones waiting for me. I hustled over to pick up a compliment. Instead, with a distinct frown, he looked me up and down. ‘Budge,’ Mr. Jones finally snarled, “those are the dirtiest tennis shoes I ever saw in my life. Don’t you ever – don’t you ever – show up again on any court anywhere at any time wearing shoes like that.’ I nodded and slunk off … I know he made an impression on me. For I’ve never gone on court since that day with even scuffy shoes.”