SMITH, Peter

PeterSmith_sNgāpuhi, Te Rarawa

Peter was introduced to tennis by his father, Les “Pop” Smith.

Peter became an outstanding tennis player, winning the NZ Junior Singles and Doubles Championships in 1940. In 1947/48 he was runner-up in the NZ Senior Doubles Championships. He also won the NZ Māori Lawn Tennis Singles Championships.

Peter, the younger brother of JB, was also a Northland representative in tennis and cricket.

Peter was selected along with John Barry, to play exhibition doubles matches against American Davis Cup players Gardner Mulloy and Billy Talbert, who were touring NZ early in 1947.

It is little-known that at that same time, Peter was being considered for the NZ Davis Cup team along with Jeff Robson, John Barry, John Robb and Ron McKenzie. The team was to play in the European Zone and take in the Wimbledon Championships. Barry, McKenzie and Robson were selected. Peter, however, who could equal all on the court, missed out. As with rugby, “The ugly head of colour lifted its prejudicial head.” Northern Advocate

John Barry is quoted as saying, ‘Peter should have played Davis Cup for NZ ahead of some of the other selected players whom he consistently beat.’ John Barry also acknowledged that if Peter had played tennis year-round, instead of rugby, he would have been as good as any player – both nationally and internationally.
At rugby, Peter was as equally gifted as his elder brother JB. Both he and JB toured Australia with the All Blacks in 1947. A highlight for Peter was scoring four tries in a match against New South Wales Country.

Sadly, Peter died at the early age of 29.

NZ Titles

U/18 Doubles 1938, 40
U/18 Singles 1940, 41