The International Tennis Hall of Famer and former University of Cincinnati two-sport star Tony Trabert have passed away.
Trabert was 90 years old.
Trabert’s record of 106 match wins and 18 titles in the 1955 season remains one of the largest single seasons in tennis history.
“Athletics has lost one of its greats,” said UC Athletics Director John Cunningham. “Tony Trabert’s journey from UC to the top of the tennis world and beyond demonstrates the ability of college athletics to make a sports student change the world. Throughout all of this, he represented the Bearcats with class, honor, and dignity. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. “
Trabert is from Cincinnati and graduated from Walnut Hills High School. He became the first player in history to win three consecutive individual championships in Ohio. He was offered several scholarships, but eventually decided to stay home and enroll at UC, where he studied political science.
He won the NCAA Individual Championship in 1951 and started as a security guard for the Bearcats basketball team, which won the Mid-American Conference championship and entered the National Invitational Tournament.
“Today we mourn and remember one of the best athletes to represent the University of Cincinnati in every sport, Tony Trabert,” said UC tennis coach Eric Toth. “Mr. Trabert’s accomplishments and contributions to tennis are immeasurable. He has shaped our sport and put the city of Cincinnati on the international tennis map. Tony was a very humble and sincere man who I know is from his family and friends is missing. “
In 1955, the then 25-year-old Trabert produced one of the best seasons in tennis history, according to the ATP Tour obituary, when he set a 106-7 game record, including a winning streak of 38 games, 18 titles, including 10 consecutive tournament wins and three of the four major championships. He lost to Ken Rosewall in the Australian Open semifinals.
Trabert is one of seven men to have won three major titles in a single season, along with Don Budge (1938), Rod Laver (1962, 1969), Mats Wilander (1988), Roger Federer (2004, 2006, 2007) and Rafael Nadal (2010)) and Novak Djokovic (2011, 2015).
He was a member of five Davis Cup teams as a player and won singles and doubles in 1954 to help the United States recapture the Cup. From 1976 to 1980 he was then team captain and headed a team that included John McEnroe and John McEnroe Jimmy Connors to a pair of titles.
“The world knew Tony for his excellence in tennis, from his remarkable career to his Davis Cup success as a player and captain, to the voice of the US Open during his decades at CBS Sports,” said J. Wayne, tournament director of Western & Southern Open Said Richmond. “Tony’s influence extended well beyond the court, especially for those who knew him well. He was so proud of his Cincinnati roots and has always been a staunch supporter of the tournament here.
“Tony also worked very hard promoting the game, developing junior summer camp players, and recognizing the great history of the sport during his tenure as President of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Tony was above all a wonderful friend and an incredibly loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He will be missed very much. “
After his active career, Trabert worked as a tennis and golf commentator for CBS for more than three decades.
Trabert was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1970 and was later President of the Hall of Fame for 12 years.
Trabert was inducted into the UC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1977 and was awarded the UC Alumni Association’s highest honor, the William Howard Taft Medal, in 1994. In June 2007 he was awarded an honorary doctorate for humane letters by UC.
Trabert is one of only five National Hall of Fame athletes from the University of Cincinnati: Miller Huggins (baseball), Sandy Koufax (baseball), Oscar Robertson (basketball), Trabert (tennis), and Jack Twyman (basketball).
Koufax (85) and Robertson (82) are still alive.
Trabert is survived by his 30-year-old wife Vicki, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.