During her tennis career through the 1930s until 1948, North Vancouver’s Eleanor (Young) Stonehouse was something of a rebel at a time and in a sport where that was definitely unique.
With a powerful forehand and an aggressive, net-charging style that foreshadowed the play of future women’s players, Eleanor was possibly the best women’s player ever developed in Canada to that point and a barrier breaker in more ways than one.
In 1935, Eleanor and fellow North Vancouverite Caroline Deacon became the first BC women and just the third and fourth Canadian women ever to play on the hallowed grass courts of Wimbledon. Eleanor’s Wimbledon appearance also caused a minor sensation from a fashion perspective as she became one of the first women ever to play there wearing shorts, helping to make this common wear for women at Wimbledon thereafter.
If not for the outbreak of World War II, which halted most tennis tournaments and rankings during the prime of her career, Eleanor’s career accomplishments would be even more impressive.
As it was, with her powerful forehand that blew past opponents, Eleanor won the Canadian singles championship in 1940 and was runner-up in 1934 and 1947. She also won two national doubles titles, a national mixed doubles title, and was ranked as the number one singles player in Canada in five separate years.
The only Canadian player of her era who could compete against top American singles players, Eleanor won the Western Canadian Lawn Tennis Championships three times on the grass courts of the Vancouver Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club. Because of the top US players who entered, many felt this tournament was harder to win than the Canadian nationals and until it was discontinued in 1974, no Canadian player achieved greater success in it than Eleanor.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.
To read more on the career of Eleanor (Young) Stonehouse, please see the March 2023 Curator’s Corner article here: https://bcsportshall.com/curator-corner/eleanor-young-stonehouse-rebel-with-a-racquet-2023-inductee-spotlight/