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With Milos Raonic in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, we introduce you to Robert Powell

Stephanie Myles
Eh Game

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Robert Powell (seated) was the last Canadian to make the quarter-finals at Wimbedon before Milos Raonic and Genie …

WIMBLEDON – When you make tennis history these days in Canada, it often involves dusting off the archives.

In the case of Milos Raonic, who made the Wimbledon quarter-finals 24 hours after compatriot Genie Bouchard did the same – and on Canada Day, no less – that means learning about Robert Powell.

Powell, you see, was the last Canadian man (or woman) to reach the final eight at Wimbledon. He did it three times, in 1908, 1910 and 1912.

It was a completely different era, to say the least.


Even our flag was different.

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This was our flag from 1868 to 1921.

There were 81 players in the Wimbledon main draw that year, mostly British. After battling through their sections, the final eight were determined, and then they played something called the "All-Comers" draw.

The winner of that didn't win the tournament. No, he met New Zealander Anthony Wilding in the Challenge Round. Wilding (the 1911 champion) sat there for the duration of the tournament, watching all comers wear themselves out, and took the court to play for the title fresh as a daisy. It was a pretty good gig.

There were two Frenchmen, a German, four Brits and the Canadian Powell in that final round; he lost to Arthur Gore (who did make that Challenge Round, losing to Wilding), 6-2, 0-6, 11-9, 6-4.

Who was he? Per Wikipedia, he was born April 11, 1881 in Victoria, B.C., which made him 31 years old that third and final time he made the All-Comers Round.

Powell played Davis Cup for Canada in 1913 and 1914 (the photo above is of the 1913 team, for which he was the playing captain. That was Canada's first-ever participation in the Davis Cup and, so far, its most successful).

He's the one seated, with the racquet in his left (playing) hand. Powell also represented Canada in tennis at the 1908 Olympics.

Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:

"Tennis author and journalist A. Wallis Myers described Powell in his book Twenty Years of Lawn Tennis as "A sound player, using a left arm and a resourceful brain to deceive his opponent, one of the best lobbers I have ever known, an intrepid poacher and a fast sprinter."

Powell was a lawyer by profession. When World War I came along, he enlisted in the 48th Canadian Canadian Battalion of the Canadian Infantry, He was killed in action in France during the Battle of Vimy Ridge on 28 April 1917, at age 36.

If Raonic manages to beat Kyrgios and reach the semi-finals, we will hear about Powell again. He made the semifinals in 1908.

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