Tony Trabert
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Tony Trabert

Tony Trabert
Tony Trabert 1960.jpg
Trabert in 1960
Full nameMarion Anthony Trabert
Country (sports) United States
ResidencePonte Vedra Beach, Florida
Born (1930-08-16) August 16, 1930 (age 90)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Turned pro1955 (amateur tour from 1945)
Retired1963
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF1970 (member page)
Singles
Career record700-413 (62.9%)[1]
Career titles56[1]
Highest rankingNo. 1 (1953, Lance Tingay)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenSF (1955)
French OpenW (1954, 1955)
WimbledonW (1955)
US OpenW (1953, 1955)
Other tournaments
Professional majors
US ProF (1960)
Wembley ProF (1958)
French ProW (1956, 1959)
TOCSF (1959)
Doubles
Career record2-4
Highest rankingNo. 1 (1955)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian OpenW (1955)
French OpenW (1950, 1954, 1955)
WimbledonF (1954)
US OpenW (1954)
Team competitions
Davis CupW (1954)

Marion Anthony Trabert (born August 16, 1930) is a former American amateur World No. 1 tennis champion and long-time tennis author, TV commentator, instructor, and motivational speaker.

Trabert was the No. 1 ranked amateur player in the world in both 1953 and 1955 and the winner of ten major amateur titles - five in singles and five in doubles. Trabert took his keen mind and aptitude for tennis and created a career that included two French singles championships, two U.S. National Men's Singles Championships and one Wimbledon Gentlemen Singles championship . He won the French Professional Championships at Roland Garros stadium in 1956 and again in 1959 . Until Michael Chang won the French Open in 1989, Trabert was the last American to hoist the championship trophy.

Career

Amateur

Tony Trabert with Jack Kramer in 1955

Trabert was a stand-out athlete in tennis and basketball at the University of Cincinnati, and was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. In 1951, he won the NCAA Championship Singles title. He played doubles with Bob Mault and was coached by George Menefee, who later became the head trainer for the Los Angeles Rams. Trabert was also a starter on the basketball team at the University of Cincinnati. Previously, at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, he had been State Singles Champion three times and played guard on the 1948 basketball team that won the District Championship.

A native of Cincinnati, Trabert grew up two houses down from a public park. It had clay courts that helped hone his groundstrokes. By age 11, Trabert was winning junior tournaments and eventually became the world's No. 1 amateur at age 25. He turned pro after winning the '55 U.S. Championships because he had a wife and two children to support. Trabert honed his tennis skills on the courts of the Cincinnati Tennis Club with the help of another member of that club, fellow International Tennis Hall of Famer Billy Talbert. Talbert became Trabert's mentor. In 1951, Trabert posted his first win over Talbert in the final of Cincinnati's international tennis tournament (now known as the Cincinnati Masters). Both were enshrined into the Cincinnati Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002 and Barry MacKay was enshrined in 2003. In 1953, Trabert won the men's singles in the Ojai Tennis Tournament.[2]

Trabert's record in 1955 was one of the greatest ever by an American tennis player. He won the three most prestigious tournaments in amateur tennis--the French, Wimbledon, and American Championships--en route to being ranked world no. 1 among the amateurs for that year. In the midst of his amateur career, Trabert's game was interrupted by time spent in the Navy, but this did not stop him. Only Grand Slam winners Don Budge and Rod Laver, and in 2010 Rafael Nadal, have ever achieved the same feat. Trabert's own chance at a Grand Slam was stopped with a loss to Ken Rosewall in the semifinals at the Australian Championships. Trabert won 18 tournaments in 1955, compiling a match record of 106 wins to 7 losses.

An extremely athletic right-hander who mostly played a serve and volley game, Trabert won all five of the Grand Slam singles finals he appeared in. He won the French Championships in 1954 and 1955 (1954 over Mervyn Rose, Budge Patty in the semi-final and Arthur Larsen in the final, and 1955 over Rose in the semi-final and Sven Davidson in the final), becoming the last American man to win that event until Michael Chang in 1989), the U.S. Championships in 1953 and 1955 (1953 over Patty, Ken Rosewall in the semi-final and Vic Seixas in the final, and 1955 over Lew Hoad in the semi-final and Rosewall in the final), and the Wimbledon title in 1955 (over Jaroslav Drobny, Patty in the semi-final and Kurt Nielsen in the final) without losing a set (a record shared with Don Budge, Chuck McKinley, and Björn Borg).

Trabert, along with Vic Seixas, was an American Davis Cup team mainstay during the early 1950s, during which time the Americans reached the finals 5 times, winning the cup in 1954. It was one of only two victories over the dominant Australian teams during the decade (the other being in 1958).

Professional

Having reached the top amateur ranking in 1955, Trabert turned professional in the fall of that year. Trabert has been noted explaining: "When I won Wimbledon as an amateur, I got a 10-pound certificate, which was worth $27 redeemable [for merchandise] at Lilly White's Sporting Goods store in London. [Tennis legend] Jack Kramer offered me a guarantee of $75,000 against a percentage of the gate to play on his tour." With a wife and two children to support, the decision was clear. In 1956, he was beaten on the head-to-head world pro tour by the reigning king of professional tennis Pancho Gonzales, 74-27, consisting mostly of indoor matches on a portable loose canvas surface. However, he beat Gonzales in 5 sets at Roland Garros in the final of the 1956 French Pro title (over Frank Sedgman in the semi-final and Pancho Gonzales in the final). Trabert also won a South American tour against Gonzales in 1956, winning 6 matches against Gonzales outdoors on clay, and losing 3 matches to the champion indoor, for a 6-3 tour victory.[3] For the year 1956 as a whole, Trabert had an edge over Gonzales in outdoor matches, 15-11 (1-1 on grass, 5-5 on cement, and 9-5 on clay).[4]

In the 1958 pro tour, Trabert won a personal series against Segura 34-31, showing that he had adjusted to the portable canvas surface used by the Kramer pros in small indoor venues and gyms.[5] In the Wembley Pro in 1958, he defeated Rosewall in the semi-final and was runner-up to Sedgman . In the French Pro at Roland Garros in 1959, Trabert beat Rosewall in the semi-final and then defeated Frank Sedgman in the final, to win his fourth title at the red clay venue. In the 1960 US Pro (billed as Cleveland World Pro), he was runner-up to Alex Olmedo. In November 1961, Trabert led the United States team into the Kramer Cup final (the pro equivalent of the Davis Cup) at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Trabert defeated Rosewall in four sets, but lost the fifth and deciding rubber to Hoad in four sets.[6] In October 1962, Trabert won the South African Pro Championships on the cement courts of Ellis Park in Johannesburg by defeating Hoad in the final in five sets.[7] Trabert also had wins over Hoad at the Forest Hills Tournament of Champions in 1957 and 1958.[8]

Later years

At a tournament between the United States and South Africa in Newport Beach, California in April 1977, when anti-apartheid protesters ran on the court during the match, Trabert, then the U.S. captain, "hit two protestors with a racket" according to The Washington Post.[9]

In 2000, the USTA originated the Trabert Cup for Men's 40 and over International Competition.

Retirement

Trabert with wife Shauna in 1953

After retiring from the game, Trabert enjoyed a 33-year career (1971-2004) as a tennis and golf analyst for CBS covering such events as the US Open. During many of those years he teamed up with Pat Summerall and was the lead expert commentator at the US Open. The popularity of their broadcasts helped propel the US Open into an annual financial success for CBS and the United States Tennis Association. He was also the US Davis team Captain from 1976 to 1980. Trabert's captaincy is remembered by his frustration in dealing with the egos of younger players like John McEnroe, and for his racket-wielding expulsion of an apartheid protest demonstrator during a Davis Cup match against South Africa at the Newport Beach Tennis Club in California in April 1977. He is also a tennis author and a motivation speaker. In 1988, he published a book, Trabert on Tennis, sharing his insights on the game from a player's, coach's, and commentator's standpoint. In 1971, with the encouragement of Dr. Toby Freedman his good friend and doctor, Trabert opened a tennis camp "Trabert Tennis Camp" in Ojai, California at Thacher School, and then one in Pebble Beach, for ages 8-18 with his son, Mike Trabert, which he operated for many years before handing it over to his son and grandchildren.

In 1970, Trabert was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, and served as President of the Hall of Fame from 2001 to 2011.

In 2004, Trabert announced his retirement from broadcasting while commentating at the Wimbledon Championships.

On September 8, 2014, Trabert was inducted into the United States Tennis Association's Court of Champions prior to the US Open men's singles final.

Trabert currently resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida with his wife of thirty years, Vicki, and their grandchildren. Together, they have five children (two of his and three of hers) and twelve grandchildren. Forty years after his matches with Gonzales, Trabert told interviewer Joe McCauley "that Gonzales' serve was the telling factor on their tour -- it was so good that it earned him many cheap points. Trabert felt that, while he had the better ground-strokes, he could not match Pancho's big, fluent service."[10] In his 1979 autobiography Jack Kramer, the long-time tennis promoter and great player himself, included Trabert in his list of the 21 greatest players of all time.[11]

Major finals

Grand Slam tournaments

Singles: 5 (5 titles)

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Win 1953 U.S. Championships Grass United States Victor Seixas 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Win 1954 French Championships Clay United States Arthur Larsen 6-4, 7-5, 6-1
Win 1955 French Championships (2) Clay Sweden Sven Davidson 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
Win 1955 Wimbledon Grass Denmark Kurt Nielsen 6-3, 7-5, 6-1
Win 1955 U.S. Championships (2) Grass Australia Ken Rosewall 9-7, 6-3, 6-3

Doubles: 6 (5 titles, 1 runner-up)

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1950 French Championships Clay United States Bill Talbert Egypt Jaroslav Drobný
South Africa Eric Sturgess
6-2, 1-6, 10-8, 6-2
Win 1954 French Championships Clay United States Vic Seixas Australia Lew Hoad
Australia Ken Rosewall
6-4, 6-2, 6-1
Loss 1954 Wimbledon Grass United States Vic Seixas Australia Rex Hartwig
Australia Mervyn Rose
4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6
Win 1954 U.S. Championships Grass United States Vic Seixas Australia Lew Hoad
Australia Ken Rosewall
3-6, 6-4, 8-6, 6-3
Win 1955 Australian Championships Grass United States Vic Seixas Australia Lew Hoad
Australia Ken Rosewall
6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1
Win 1955 French Championships Clay United States Vic Seixas Italy Nicola Pietrangeli
Italy Orlando Sirola
6-1, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4

Pro Slam tournaments

Singles: 4 (2 titles, 2 runners-up)

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Win 1956 French Pro Clay United States Pancho Gonzales 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 8-6, 6-2
Loss 1958 Wembley Pro Indoor Australia Frank Sedgman 4-6, 3-6, 4-6
Win 1959 French Pro Clay Australia Frank Sedgman 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Loss 1960 U.S. Pro Indoor Peru Alex Olmedo 5-7, 4-6

Singles performance timeline

Trabert joined the professional tennis circuit in 1955 and as a consequence was banned from competing in the amateur Grand Slams until the start of the Open Era at the 1968 French Open.

Key
W  F  SF QF #R RR Q# A NH
(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)
1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 SR W-L Win %
Grand Slam tournaments 5 / 16 58-11 84.1
A A A A A A 2R SF not eligible 0 / 2 4-2 66.7
French Open A A 4R A 4R A W W not eligible 2 / 4 18-2 90.0
Wimbledon A A 2R A A A SF W not eligible 1 / 3 13-2 86.7
US Open 3R 2R 1R QF A W QF W not eligible 2 / 7 23-5 82.1
Pro Slam tournaments 2 / 19 27-17 61.4
U.S. Pro A A A A A A A A SF SF SF A F A A QF 0 / 5 5-5 50.0
French Pro not held W NH QF W SF SF 1R 1R 2 / 7 11-5 68.8
Wembley Pro NH A A A A A NH NH SF A F SF QF QF QF QF 0 / 7 11-7 61.1
Win-Loss 2-1 1-1 3-3 4-1 3-1 6-0 16-3 23-1 6-2 1-1 4-3 6-1 5-3 3-2 1-2 1-3

The results of the Pro Tours are not listed here.

References

  1. ^ a b "Tony Trabert: Career match record". thetennisbase.com. Tennismem SL. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ L.A. Times, 30 July 1956
  4. ^ "Tony Trabert Player Activity 1956". thetennisbase.com. Tennis Base.
  5. ^ McCauley, P.208
  6. ^ McCauley, P.115
  7. ^ McCauley, P.120
  8. ^ McCauley, P. 209, P. 206
  9. ^ Lorge, Barry (February 1, 1978). "USTA: No Choice On Davis Clash With S. Africa". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ McCauley, Joe (2000) The History of Professional Tennis. The Short Run Book Company Limited
  11. ^ In his 1979 autobiography Kramer considered the best player ever to have been either Don Budge (for consistent play) or Ellsworth Vines (at the height of his game). The next four best were, chronologically, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs, and Pancho Gonzales. After these six came the "second echelon" of Rod Laver, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Gottfried von Cramm, Ted Schroeder, Jack Crawford, Pancho Segura, Frank Sedgman, Tony Trabert, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Björn Borg, and Jimmy Connors. He felt unable to rank Henri Cochet and René Lacoste accurately but felt they were among the very best. Kramer himself surely belongs high on this list (in his head-to-head tour with Gonzalez in 1949 and 1950, Kramer won 78% of the matches).

Sources

  • The Game: My 40 Years in Tennis (1979), Jack Kramer with Frank Deford (ISBN 0-399-12336-9)
  • Little Pancho (2009), Caroline Seebohm
  • Man with a Racket: The Autobiography of Pancho Gonzales (1959), as told to Cy Rice
  • Trabert Cup (2000), Men's 40 and over International Competition
  • Cincinnati Tennis Hall of Fame (2002)

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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