While the Multnomah Athletic Club has sponsored all manner of outdoor and indoor sports in its 100 year history since 1891, it has played an exceptionally strong role in tennis
The MAC did not have its own tennis courts in the early 1890’s but there were courts available in the vicinity of NW 19th and Everett. Competition came early. Club member and all-around athlete Joe Smith became the first local champion, and Smith Fred Andrews in 1894 were runnerup in the Pacific Northwest tournament in Tacoma.
When the MAC acquired Multnomah field, one tennis court was built in 1898, then a second, in time to host the 1899 the first Oregon State Tennis Championships for men. The next year, women’s events were added to the state tournament. The MAC hosted the annual Oregon State Tennis Championships until 1908, when the tournament was held on the new Irvington Club courts. Thereafter, until 1928, the state tournament was alternated between the MAC and the Irvington Club.
By 1904, there developed a need for a northwest regional tennis organization. The MAC became one of the original five members of the Pacific Northwest International Lawn Tennis Association, today known as the Pacific Northwest Tennis Association.
Two MAC members, Walter Goss and A.B. McAlpin, played important roles in the early development of tennis in Oregon. Goss took an active part for many years in the Pacific Northwest International Lawn Tennis Association and also served as it’s Sectional Delegate to the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association.
In 1919, the Portland Lawn Tennis Association was formed to facilitate the scheduling of local tournaments and to establish annual local rankings. McAlpin served as president several years.
Walter Goss and Brandt Wickersham were probably Oregon’s two best players in the early days. Goss finally beat Wickersham in the Oregon State Tennis championships in 1919 to win a third leg and retire the Fisk trophy donated for the first tournament in 1899. this trophy now sits in the Irvington Club trophy case.
When the MAC clubhouse burned in 1910, and the new clubhouse was constructed on Salmon Street, several new tennis courts were built along the East side of Multnomah Stadium. In the early 1930’s when dog racing was introduced to the Multnomah Stadium, all but two of the tennis courts were removed to make room for the dog track. Later, a third court was built at street level on the corner of NW 18th and Salmon.
Another historic trophy, the Katz Cup, was donated by Alma D. Katz in 1906 for an annual men’s handicap tournament. Sam Lee won a third leg and retired the trophy in 1940. The cup is in the MAC trophy case.
After World War II, the court at the corner of 18th and Salmon was removed to make room for the club’s first parking lot. Also, the two remaining courts in the stadium were removed in favor of a centerfield fence for the Portland Beaver ball park. To replace these courts, two new tennis courts were constructed on the SW corner of the club’s property.
For a number of years after World War II, the MAC hosted the Pacific Northwest Invitational Doubles Tournament for men.
In 1964, the club inaugurated it’s reconstruction program – Phase I, Phase II and the parking garage, which resulted in seven new indoor courts.
Pictures on Display at MAC
Document Source: Sam Lee, 1995