Cyril was born in 1915 and had a remarkable tennis career, including representing Ireland in Davis Cup in over 22 ties commencing in 1946. The following commentary on his tennis career was first published as part of Tennis Ireland’s centenary celebrations in 2008.
One of the most accomplished tennis players ever to grace the Irish sporting scene, Cyril Kemp reigned steadily as number one player in the country throughout the 1940s and never wandered too far from the top spot in the preceding or following five years. His greatest coup certainly entailed his sound victory over Tom Brown of the USA, then one of the top ranked players in the world, at the 1947 Irish Open Championships at Fitzwilliam. Brown had reached the final at Wimbledon the week prior to his Irish appearance. Kemp stunned his opponent and spectators alike by knocking the American out of the tournament and apparently shocked then President of Fitzwilliam, Willie Sandys, so that “his face was like the death of night”, according to Kemp’s contemporary Joe Hackett.
Cyril Kemp was well known for his remarkable sportsmanship and generosity, and earned great respect from his peers by maintaining his superior game over such a long period while working full time and fitting in practice and indeed competition after working hours and during holidays.