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
Born(1930-08-16)August 16, 1930
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
DiedFebruary 3, 2021(2021-02-03) (aged 90)
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, United States
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Turned pro1955 (amateur 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 (August 16, 1930 - February 3, 2021) was an 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 1953 and 1955, and the winner of ten Grand Slam titles - five in singles and five in doubles. He won two French singles championships, two U.S. National Men's Singles Championships, and one Wimbledon Gentlemen Singles championship. Until Michael Chang won the French Open in 1989, Trabert was the last American to hoist the championship trophy. He turned professional in the fall of 1955.

Tennis career

Amateur

Trabert (left) 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.[2] In 1951, he won the NCAA Championship Singles title.[3] 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 Cincinnati Bearcats basketball team at the University of Cincinnati.[4] Previously, at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, he had been Ohio scholastic champion three times and played guard on the 1948 basketball team that won the District Championship.[4]

A native of Cincinnati, Trabert grew up two houses down from a public park. It had clay courts that helped hone his groundstrokes.[5] 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). In 1953, Trabert won the men's singles in the Ojai Tennis Tournament.[6]

Trabert's record in 1955 was one of the greatest ever by an American tennis player.[2] 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.[7] In the midst of his amateur career, Trabert's game was interrupted by a two-year stint in the Navy, serving on the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea during the Korean War, but this did not stop him.[8][4] He is one of only ten male players to have won three Grand Slam singles title in a year.[9][5] Trabert's own chance at a Grand Slam was stopped with a loss to Ken Rosewall in the semifinals at the Australian Championships.[10] Trabert won 18 tournaments in 1955, compiling a match record of 106 wins to 7 losses, which included a 38-match winning streak.[3]

An athletic right-hander who mostly played a serve and volley game,[5] 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 semifinal and Arthur Larsen in the final, and 1955 over Rose in the semifinal and Sven Davidson in the final), becoming the last American man to win that event until Michael Chang in 1989,[2] the U.S. Championships in 1953 and 1955 (1953 over Vic Seixas in the final, and 1955 over Rosewall in the final), and the Wimbledon title in 1955 (over Kurt Nielsen in the final) without losing a set (a record shared with Don Budge, Chuck McKinley, Björn Borg and Roger Federer).[5][8]

Trabert, along with Vic Seixas, was an American Davis Cup team mainstay during the early 1950s, during which time the Americans reached the finals five 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). He called the 1954 Davis Cup win the "biggest thrill in my tennis career".[8]

Professional

Having reached the top amateur ranking in 1955, Trabert turned professional in the fall of that year. Trabert explained: "When I won Wimbledon as an amateur, I got a 10-pound certificate, which was worth $27 redeemable at Lilly White's Sporting Goods store in London. 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.[11] 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.[2] However, he beat Gonzales in 5 sets at Roland Garros in the final of the 1956 French Pro title.[5] Trabert also won a South American tour against Gonzales in 1956, winning 6 matches against Gonzales outdoors on clay, and losing three matches to the champion indoor, for a 6-3 tour victory.[12] For the year 1956 as a whole, Trabert had an edge over Gonzales in outdoor matches of 15-11 (1-1 on grass, 5-5 on cement, and 9-5 on clay).[13]

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.[14] 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 semifinal and then defeated Frank Sedgman in the final, to win his fourth title at the red clay venue.[5] 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 Lew Hoad in four sets.[15] 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.[16] Trabert also had wins over Hoad at the Forest Hills Tournament of Champions in 1957 and 1958.[17]

Post-playing career

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 events such as the US Open. During many of those years, he teamed with Pat Summerall and was the lead commentator at the US Open.[18] 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 Cup 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 anti-apartheid protesters who ran onto the court during a Davis Cup match against South Africa at the Newport Beach Tennis Club in California in April 1977.[19]

He was also a tennis author and was a motivational speaker. In 1988, he published the book Trabert on Tennis, sharing his insights on the game from a player's, coach's, and commentator's standpoint.[5] In 1970, with the encouragement of Dr. Toby Freedman, Trabert opened Trabert Tennis Camp in Ojai, California at Thacher School, and then one in Pebble Beach, California for ages 8-18.[8]

Trabert served as president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island from 2001 to 2011.[8]

In 2004, he announced his retirement from broadcasting while commentating at the Wimbledon Championships.[5]

Trabert resided in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida with Vicki Trabert, his wife of 30 years, and their grandchildren.[4] They had five children (two of his and three of hers) and 14 grandchildren.[4] 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."[20] In his 1979 autobiography The Game Jack Kramer, the former world No. 1 player, included Trabert in his list of the 21 greatest players[a] of all time.

Trabert died at age 90 at his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on February 3, 2021.[4][22]

Awards and honors

In 1970, Trabert was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.[5] He was enshrined into the Cincinnati Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002 together with Billy Talbert.[23] 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.[8]

Major finals

Source:[24]

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

Source:[25]

Singles: 4 (2 titles, 2 runner-ups)

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.
Source:[26]

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ 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..[21]

References

  1. ^ a b "Tony Trabert: Career match record". thetennisbase.com. Tennismem SL. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Collins, Bud (2016). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (3rd ed.). New York: New Chapter Press. p. 694. ISBN 978-1-937559-38-0.
  3. ^ a b Keith Jenkins (February 4, 2021). "Tennis Hall of Famer, former Cincinnati Bearcats standout Tony Trabert dies at 90". Cincinnati.com.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Richard Goldstein (February 4, 2021). "Tony Trabert, a Two-Time No. 1 in Men's Tennis, Dies at 90". The New York Times.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i James Buddell (February 4, 2021). "Tony Trabert, Major champion & tennis icon, dies aged 90". ATP Tour. Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).
  6. ^ Images of America - Ojai. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. 2007. p. 112. ISBN 9780738555775.
  7. ^ "Happy 90th birthday, Tony Trabert". ATP Tour. Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). August 20, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Mark Preston (February 4, 2021). "Remembering Tony Trabert". USTA.
  9. ^ Crawford, Perry, Budge, Trabert, Hoad, Laver, Wilander, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic
  10. ^ "Trabert hopes crash over Rosewall". The Argus (Melbourne). January 31, 1955. p. 23 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ "Tony Trabert". International Tennis Hall of Fame.
  12. ^ L.A. Times, July 30, 1956
  13. ^ "Tony Trabert Player Activity 1956". thetennisbase.com. Tennis Base.
  14. ^ McCauley, p.208
  15. ^ McCauley, p115
  16. ^ McCauley, p.120
  17. ^ McCauley, pp. 206, 209
  18. ^ Mark Schmetzer (January 15, 2016). "Tennis legend Tony Trabert enjoying retirement". Cincinnati.com.
  19. ^ Lorge, Barry (February 1, 1978). "USTA: No Choice On Davis Clash With S. Africa". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017.
  20. ^ McCauley, Joe (2000). The History of Professional Tennis. The Short Run Book Company Limited.
  21. ^ Kramer, Jack (1981). The Game : My 40 Years in Tennis. London: Deutsch. pp. 43-45. ISBN 978-0233973074.
  22. ^ Buddell, James (February 4, 2021). "Tony Trabert, Major Champion & Tennis Icon, Dies Aged 90". ATP Tour. Retrieved 2021.
  23. ^ "Cincinnati Tennis GCTA Hall of Fame" (PDF). Greater Cincinnati Tennis Association.
  24. ^ "Tony Trabert". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2021.
  25. ^ McCauley, Joe (2000) The History of Professional Tennis. The Short Run Book Company Limited, pp. 205, 211, 214, 217
  26. ^ "Tony Trabert - Player Activity". ATP Tour. Retrieved 2021.

General 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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