The Texas Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame Mourns Eugenie “Jeannie” Sampson Kamrath Gonzalez
May 8, 2018
The Texas Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame mourns the loss of 2012 inductee Eugenie “Jeannie” Sampson Kamrath Gonzalez, who passed away on Sunday, May 6, 2018 at the age of 105.
In her youth in the 1920s and 1930s, Jeannie was the leading tennis player in the Midwest Section of the US Lawn Tennis Association and competed many years at the US National Championships in Forest Hills, New York. Before her first marriage to Karl Kamrath, she was invited by famed University of Texas tennis coach, Dr. D. A. Penick, to play tennis on the UT Varsity men’s tennis courts in 1931—the first woman player to be so honored.
In 1932, 1933, and 1934, she was a finalist at the fledgling Houston Invitation Tennis Tournament which became the River Oaks Invitational Tennis Tournament—now the USTA Clay Court Championships. She played numerous exhibitions at this tournament with Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Ellsworth Vines, and fiancé, Karl Kamrath.
Upon moving permanently to Houston in 1937, she was the first teaching tennis professional at both Houston Country Club and River Oaks Country Club, starting active junior programs at each. With other Houston tennis enthusiasts, she was instrumental in the founding of the Houston Tennis Association and prevailed on her father, Jack Sampson, to move from Chicago to Houston to serve as HTA’s first volunteer executive director in 1952, a position he held until 1969.
As a member of River Oaks Country Club beginning in 1938, she and first husband Karl Kamrath were instrumental in strengthening the club’s national invitational tournament by helping to bring some of the nation’s top amateur tennis players to the River Oaks Invitational Tennis Tournament. For her playing accomplishments and service to the game of tennis in Houston and Texas, Jeannie and her father were jointly inducted into the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012.