Class of 1958
World No. 2 (1917)
Grand Slam Results
2-time U.S. Nationals Winner
Robert Lindley Murray, who graduated from Stanford University in 1913 with a degree in chemistry and added a chemical engineering master's degree the following year, jump-started his national tennis career in February 1916 when he won the National Indoor Tennis Championship played in the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York.
The handsome 6-foot-2 left-hander from San Francisco had a brief but successful career, winning the 1917 and 1918 U.S. National Men’s Singles Championships. After losing in the 1916 semifinals to Bill Johnston, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, Murray rebounded nicely in 1917, but not without coaxing from his employer, Buffalo, NY-based Hooker Electrochemical. Murray was hesitant to take a work hiatus and felt he possessed much-needed wartime skills. He was reportedly encouraged by founder Elon Hooker to enter the 1917 U.S. Championships, renamed the National Patriotic Tournament that year to support the war effort. All proceeds benefited the Red Cross. Murray reluctantly obliged and without significant preparation won the championship over Bostonian Nat Niles, better known for his figuring skating prowess as a three-time national champion, in four highly competitive sets, 5-7, 8-6, 6-3, 6-3.
In the 1918 championships, Murray lost only three sets in seven rounds and throttled future seven-time champion Bill Tilden, 6-3, 6-1, 7-5, for a rewarding final victory. Ranked No. 1 in the United States in 1918, Murray described his game thusly: “My strong points were a vicious serve, a quick dash to the net, and the ability to volley decisively anything that came near me.” Those tennis characteristics – tenacity, focus, single-minded attention to efficiency – served Murray well in the business world, as he rose to become President and Chief Executive Officer of Hooker Electrochemical. In 2011, Roger Ohnsorg, a ceramic engineer from Niagara Falls, New York authored, Robert Lindley Murray: The Reluctant U.S. Tennis Champion, a history of tennis that included biographies on Murray’s male and female contemporaries.