Thursday, 10 November 2016

Rose Hannah Payten - Sportswoman Extraordinaire

I wonder how many people drive along Rose Payten Drive, unaware that it is named after one of the great sporting personalities of Campbelltown? Rose Hannah Payten was the youngest in a family of 6 children, with 5 older brothers. Consequently she was known as "Babe" to her friends and family. She was born in 1879 at "Woodbine" at Campbelltown Road, Leumeah, to parents James Payten and Sarah Elizabeth Rose. A natural sportswoman, Rose participated in cricket, golf, horse riding, shooting and tennis. At school Rose "led in every escapade, but from the Headmistress to the smallest tot of the kindergarten they loved her".  It was as a tennis player that Rose really shone. In 1898 she competed in the New South Wales Open Tennis Tournament, and was defeated in the semi-finals. Her  appearance there was described as "a merry freckled face, boyishly eager, whose owner could run like a deer".  In 1899 she was runner up, and in 1900 was at last the winner. The following year she won the singles final again, and amazingly, with partner Mr Rice won the mixed doubles, and with Miss Dransfield won the women's doubles! It was an unprecedented feat to win all three titles, a feat which Rose would repeat for the next 3 years running. At the Victorian Championships in 1903 she won all three titles, and again in Queensland in 1904. In 1905, the Open was not played in New South Wales, and in 1906 Rose was unwell and did not defend her title. She did however play the Strathfield Open, and the Western Australian Open winning the triple crown at both. In 1907 she again won the treble at the New South Wales Open, and then announced her retirement from tennis. For seven years she had been unbeaten at singles tennis. In many games she was given a handicap, on one occasions minus 40, with her opponent starting on 40, meaning she had to win 7 consecutive strokes to win the game.
Rose in her early tennis playing years. (Macarthur Advertiser)
Her tennis game was described as "most versatile. She played the game as a man would, coming in to rally on her service. She drove, she chopped, she lobbed, she volleyed, equally adept in any part of the court. Her opponents never got used to her game, never knew what she would do next. She loved to worry and puzzle them, keep them guessing. Rose loved every minute of a match, reveled in it, the cheeriest personality one could imagine, yet despite her carefree style she could be desperately serious too, and concentrate with the best". 
Following her retirement Rose took up breeding and training harness ponies, showing at Camden, Campbelltown and Sydney Royal Agricultural Shows, winning major prizes at all three for many years. She was considered as "one of the best known identities in New South Wales show-rings." Her last year of showing at Sydney Royal was 1927. At the same time she developed a keen interest in golf,  and in 1930, 31, 34, 36, 38 and 39 won the Ladies Golf Championship of the Campbelltown Club. At golf she was described thus; "her old style hat perched on her head, and a cigarette eternally between her lips, Miss Rose Payten has beome as much a personality on the golf courses as she was in the early days of this century on the tennis courts."
Rose died at the age of 71 on the 9th May 1951, at "Woodbine". She was buried in St Peter's Anglican Cemetery. Her remarkable sports career is unparalleled, and she is remembered for both her prowess and good sportsmanship.



Written by Claire Lynch
Sources:
Pamphlet File Campbelltown Library
Miss Rose Hannah Payten by J.F.Morris

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