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Mary Kelsey, St. John's
Mary Kelsey, 2004

Mary Kelsey was born on October 17, 1920 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, daughter of Elsie (Penston) and Patrick Brien, chief accountant with the Newfoundland Government. She was educated at Littledale School and completed a commercial course at Mercy Convent. She was employed at Neil Soper Hardware. In 1948, she married Ron Kelsey and had seven children.

Littledale School offered one physical education class weekly, with exercises in drills and marching. Mary learned to play tennis from her father, when she was six years old. Patrick Brien, Regt. # 80, had enlisted as a Blue Puttee in World War I, and learned the sport while stationed in England. Mary initially played at the Bowring Park tennis courts and later at the tennis courts in Mount Pearl, where her family vacationed. Mary also played at the Bally Haly courts and with the Terra Nova Club. She competed in singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles matches. In addition to tennis, Mary also enjoyed cross-country skiing and skating.

Mary Brien enjoyed a very successful tennis career. She regularly competed in the Avalon Cup Tennis tournament, held at the Harbour Grace Aero Tennis Club. In the 1946 Tournament, held in Corner Brook, Mary won both the Double and Singles Championship. In the 1947 Corner Brook Tournament, she won the Lever Cup.

Both Mary Brien and Frances Godden, a playing partner found the Corner Brook matches a particular challenge. Their competitors were often the British wives of Bowater’s employees, who had benefitted from formal coaching. The St. John’s players never had any formal coaching. Fortunately, this disadvantage did not prevent either Mary or Miss Godden from winning several matches in Corner Brook.

The matches held on Bell Island were also enjoyed. In 1948, Mary won the Triple Crown. Following her marriage , Mary retired from tennis in 1950 to start a family. Mary (Brien) Kelsey was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.


Audio "Men Were Written Up More Than Women"
Audio "Marching and Drill"
Audio "The Tennis Courts"

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Janet Story, St. John’s Evelyn Gibbons, St. John’s (formerly Bell Island)
Frances Godden, St. John’s Hilda Green, St. John’s
Emma Wells, St. John’s (formerly Carbonear) Jean Taylor, St. John’s (formerly Carbonear)
Elizabeth Baird Eaton, St. John’s Mary Kelsey, St. John’s
Ruth Guzzwell, St. John’s