THE VAN ALEN CUP
Each summer some of the world’s best tennis players meet on the grass courts of Newport to vie for the Van Alen Cup. The silver Tiffany’s trophy, which is displayed in the museum year-round, is aptly named for Hall of Fame founder Jimmy Van Alen.
In the 1950s, when Jimmy was the President of the Newport Casino, he and his wife, Candy, visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and decided that tennis needed a place to honor its champions. As the inaugural home to the U.S. National Championships from 1881-1914, the Casino seemed the natural site. Van Alen lobbied the leadership of the United States Lawn Tennis Association (now the USTA) to sanction the establishment of a National Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, and so it came to be. It stands today as a true and fitting monument to the sport of tennis worldwide.
A national champion in court tennis, Van Alen was a progressive thinker among tennis leaders. On the grass courts of the Newport Casino he introduced VASSS, the Van Alen Streamlined Scoring System, which advocated for a tie-breaker to end prolonged sets and matches. His original nine-point “Sudden Death” tie-break was implemented at a Grand Slam event for the first time at the 1970 US Open, and it has evolved into today’s best-of-twelve-point tie-break.
In recognition of his contributions to the sport, Van Alen was enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1965.