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Member Associations - 15 Jun 2015

Rosalind Cornett, English Heroine and World Champion, Passes Away

It was with great sadness that the death of Rosalind Cornett is announced; she passed away on Monday 15th June, she was 82 years old.

Born on Friday 14th April 1933 in Marylebone, London, the twin sister of Diane Schöler, the Honorary President of the Swaythling Club, it was under the maiden name, Rowe, that the duo became household names in the United Kingdom in the 1950s. Together, they formed the quite ideal Women’s Doubles partnership, Diane was left handed, Rosalind right handed.

The youngest of five sisters, the elder three being Jean, Pauline and Yvonne, they came from a sporting background; their father Vivian Rowe was an amateur footballer of note.

In 1947, for their 14th birthday they wanted a bicycle, instead they received a table tennis set and played on the dining room table at their home in Greenford in north London.

Soon they ventured to the nearby West Ealing Club where they were coached by Ken Craigie and later by the legendary Victor Barna; they improved quickly, especially Rosalind who outshone Diane. There are no records of Diane ever beating Rosalind in an official tournament.

Playing in her first ever senior tournament, the Surrey Open in 1949, Rosalind won the Women’s Singles title; later in 1950 in the West Country English town of Cheltenham, together they won their first Women’s Doubles crown of note.

Incredibly only 14 months later they secured the Women’s Doubles title at the World Championships in 1951 in the Austria capital city of Vienna. Three years later on Wednesday 14th April 1954, the date of their 21st birthday, in front of 10,000 spectators in London’s Wembley Arena, they beat Ann Haydon and Kathleen Best in an all English final to regain the title.

Notably in the intervening years they were the runners up Bombay in 1952 and in Bucharest in 1953 as well as in Utrecht in 1955. In five consecutive World Championships they reached the Women’s Doubles final, a remarkable achievement.

However, during that period, it was not only in the Women’s Doubles event that they excelled; they were bronze medallists in the Women’s Team event at the World Championships in 1951 and 1952, as well as in 1954 and 1955. 

In addition they were silver medallists in 1953.

The achievements and their photos together always appeared in the Eagle Sports Annual of the Year, a publication in the 1950s that always carried at least one page for table tennis and always featured the Rowe twins.

Featured in the press on many occasions, in addition they produced their own publication “The Twins on Table Tennis”.

Forever, Rosalind Cornett will be associated with her twin sister but alone in the five World Championships in which she appeared, Rosalind Rowe proved herself a more than worthy competitor without her sibling.

In 1951, 1954 and 1955 she reached the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event; in 1952 and 1953 she was a semi-finalist. Meanwhile, in 1953 she progressed to the last eight of the Mixed Doubles; whilst in 1952 and 1954 being a bronze medallist.

Later residing in the south east English county of Kent, she turned her attentions to golf but never lost her interest in table tennis; kindly in the early 1970s she made herself available to present the awards at the Kent Schools Table Tennis Championships.

Sadly missed, our condolences to her family; Rosalind Cornett rest in peace.

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