Jan Lehane/O’Neill, one of Australia’s foremost women’s tennis champions was raised in Grenfell. She began her illustrious tennis career in local junior tennis from where she eventually made it on to the world stage.
Jan was so esteemed by the local community that when the occasion arose for her to further her career by venturing overseas for the first time they (i.e. the Grenfell community) donated generously to an appeal organised by her legendary coach Vic Edwards and long-serving Grenfell Tennis Club secretary, Arthur Watson.
And so the legend was born. From here Jan was eventually ranked No 1 in Australia in 1960. She then went on to be ranked No 5 in the world and reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon. On three occasions she was seeded in the first 8 at Wimbledon. Jan was also four-time finalist to Margaret Court in the Australian Open, in an era when Australian women’s tennis players led the world.
In honour of the public assistance rendered to her by the people of Grenfell, Jan is now giving back to the community by generously offering to donate some of her memorabilia. The official handover will take place at a tribute dinner to be held at the Grenfell Bowling Club on Saturday the 28th April. Bookings are now being taken at Louisa’s Locker, the ANZ Bank and the Weddin Shire Council office and for catering purposes will close on the 21st April.
Two DVD’s will be shown during the evening. One prepared by Alan Jones as a tribute to Jan and the other DVD will highlight Jan’s career.
This is a great opportunity for the people to say thank you and to recognise the career of one of our sporting champions. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Commencing, as part of the weekend’s celebrations, on the Saturday morning the Grenfell Tennis Club in conjunction with NSW Tennis will be organising tennis activities for all ages including a speed gun that measures serving speed and Tennis Hot Shots for the juniors. This will be followed by the “Thank You” dinner that night at the Country Club.
JAN LEHANE TENNIS BIOGRAPHY
Jan Lehane - the tennis legend - was born July 9, 1941 at Piney Range, near Grenfell and won her first state title in 1953. Jan won the under 19 school girl title at 12 years of age and went on to win 30 state junior titles. She won successive state titles in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia in 1958. She was Australia’s number one women’s tennis player in 1960.
Jan was twice Australian Junior Champion and was the runner up in the Australian Open for 4 years from 1960-63 losing to Margaret Court each time. She appeared at Wimbledon in 1960 and was the first woman to use the double-handed backhand. Jan was runner up in the Australian Open women’s doubles reaching the final in 1961 and 1963 (in 1961 with Mary Bevis Hawton and 1963 with Lesley Turner Bowrey).
Jan won the Australian Open mixed doubles twice in 1960 and 1961 (in 1960 with Trevor Fancutt and 1961 with Bob Hewitt) and was a member of the inaugural Federation Cup team in 1963.
According to Lance Tingay of The London Daily Telegraph and the London Daily Mail, O’Neill was ranked in the world top ten in 1960, 1963, and 1964, reaching a career high of World No. 7 in those rankings in 1963.