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Marion Anthony (Tony) Trabert (born August 16, 1930 in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker) is a retired American tennis champion and long-time tennis author, TV commentator, instructor, and motivation speaker. 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.

Career

Trabert was a stand-out athlete in Tennis and Basketball at the University of Cincinnatimarker, and was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. In 1951, he won the NCAA Championship Singles title. He was coached by George Menefee. He was also a starter on the basketball team. 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.

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 William Talbert. Talbert became Trabert's mentor. The first win Trabert posted over Talbert came in the final of Cincinnati's international tennis tournament (now known as the Cincinnati Masters) in 1951.

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 Frenchmarker, Wimbledonmarker, and Americanmarker championships - en route to being ranked World No. 1 among the amateurs for that year. Only Grand Slam winners Don Budge and Rod Laver have ever achieved the same feat. Trabert's own chance at a Grand Slam was stopped with a loss to Ken Rosewall in the semi-finals at the Australian championshipsmarker. 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 of the five Grand Slam event finals he appeared in. He won the French doubles in 1950, 1954, and 1955 andalso won the French singles in 1954 (becoming the last American man to win that event until Michael Chang 35 years later) and the U.S. championship in 1953. He reached the semi-final of Wimbledon in 1953 before winning the title the following year 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).



Having reached the top amateur ranking in '55, Trabert turned professional in 1956. He was beaten on the head-to-head tour by the reigning king of professional tennis Pancho Gonzales, 74 matches to 27. He beat Gonzales for the French Pro Championship in 1956, however, and beat Frank Sedgman for the same title in 1959. He was runner-up to Sedgman in the London Indoor Pro in 1958; in the U.S. Pro Championships he was runner-up to Alex Olmedo in 1960.

Retirement

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."

In 2004, Trabert announced that the Wimbledon Championships he was commentating that year would be his last.

Trabert was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Famemarker in Newport, Rhode Islandmarker in 1970.

Grand Slam finals

Singles: 5 (5 titles, 0 runner-ups)

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent in the final Score in the final
Winner (1/1) 1953 U.S.marker Championshipsmarker Grass Victor Seixas 6–3, 6–2, 6–3
Winner (2/2) 1954 French Championshipsmarker Clay Arthur Larsen 6–4, 7–5, 6–1
Winner (3/3) 1955 French Championships (2) Clay Sven Davidson 2–6, 6–1, 6–4, 6–2
Winner (4/4) 1955 Wimbledonmarker Grass Kurt Nielsen 6–3, 7–5, 6–1
Winner (5/5) 1955 U.S. Championships (2) Grass Kenneth Rosewall 9–7, 6–3, 6–3


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

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents in the final Score in the final
Winner 1950 French Championshipsmarker Clay Bill Talbert Jaroslav Drobný

Eric Sturgess
6–2, 1–6, 10–8, 6–2
Winner 1954 French Championships Clay Vic Seixas Lewis Hoad

Ken Rosewall
6–4, 6–2, 6–1
Runner-up 1954 Wimbledonmarker Grass Vic Seixas Rex Hartwig
Mervyn Rose
6–4, 6–4, 3–6, 6–4
Winner 1954 U.S.marker Championshipsmarker Grass Vic Seixas Lewis Hoad

Ken Rosewall
3–6, 6–4, 8–6, 6–3
Winner 1955 Australian Championshipsmarker Grass Vic Seixas Lewis Hoad

Ken Rosewall
6–3, 6–2, 2–6, 3–6, 6–1
Winner 1955 French Championships Clay Vic Seixas Nicola Pietrangeli

Orlando Sirola
6–1, 4–6, 6–2, 6–4


Notes

  1. 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.
  2. The History of Professional Tennis, Joe McCauley


Sources

  • The Game — My 40 Years in Tennis (1979) — Jack Kramer with Frank Deford (ISBN 0-399-12336-9)
  • The History of Professional Tennis (2003) Joe McCauley


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