Introduction of Mary (Cutter) Sanborn, presented by Lisa Stern Lax and Nancy Stern Winters, Class of 1986 and Women's Tennis, Lacrosse and Squash Team members
Establishing an Athletics Hall of Fame at Tufts has provided all of us the opportunity to hear the wonderful stories behind the many amazing student-athletes who have worn the Brown & Blue with such distinction over the years. Many of the names – Ellis, Fobert, Dugger, Stenhouse -- have been very recognizable, and their stories have given us a chance to retell and relive some of the greatest moments in the storied history of Tufts Athletics.
But here is a great thing -- the Hall of Fame has also provided an opportunity to dig deeper into our history, to uncover names that aren’t as well known, and tell some brand new stories about some outstanding and heretofore unknown Jumbos. That’s clearly the case with our next inductee, Mary (Cutter) Sanborn.
Over the last two years, Mary Cutter Sanborn’s name had not surfaced in any of the research conducted by the Selection Committee to identify potential Hall of Fame candidates. But last fall, an online nomination arrived in support of Mary from a woman named Barbara Pendleton in Overland Park, Kansas. When contacted by Paul Sweeney, Mrs. Pendleton revealed that she is a history buff with a keen interest in women's intercollegiate tennis. During her research, Mrs. Pendleton was surprised to discover that there has been a continuous national women's intercollegiate tennis championship dating all the way back to the 1920’s. She compiled a list of all of the national semifinalists and finalists from those championships, and she then contacted all of the universities with student-athletes on the list to nominate them for induction into their respective Halls of Fame.
It turns out Mary was one of the top female tennis players in the country during her collegiate years. After reaching the national semifinals while playing for Sargent College, which is now part of Boston University, Mary transferred to Jackson College.
As the top singles seed in the 1933 College Girls’ Invitation Tournament, Mary defeated Emily Lincoln of Smith College in the national championship final on the grass courts at Longwood Cricket Club. Mary then teamed up with Emily Lincoln to win the national doubles title in straight sets over a Vassar combination that same year. As a senior at Jackson College in 1935, Mary added another national doubles title playing with Marion Wood of Smith College – her third national championship at Jackson.
When asked to put these achievements into historical perspective, Mrs. Pendleton said, “I can tell you that most of the winners of these intercollegiate tennis national championships were ranked about 10-20 in the United States. That would be high enough,” Mrs. Pendleton said, “to get you into the main draws at the US Nationals - now the US Open - and other Grand Slam events.”
Mary was clearly one of the top tennis players in the nation in the 1930’s, and although our record-keeping going back to that era leaves something to be desired, we believe that Mary was the first individual national champion we’ve ever had at Tufts.
We are so excited to tell the story of the amazingly talented Mary Cutter Sanborn, and it is our privilege to honor her memory tonight and welcome her into the Tufts Athletics Hall of Fame.