Art "Tappy" Larsen passed away on 7 December 2012 in California at the age of 87. Despite a late start to his tennis career due to military service, Larsen achieved the No. 1 ranking in the United States in 1950 and was ranked in the world top 10 several times in the 1950's. Larsen captured the titles at the US Clay Courts (1952), US Hard Courts (1952) and US Indoors (1953), making him the first man to win the titles on four surfaces. In 1954 he was a finalist at the French Championships and he represented USA in Davis Cup in 1951 and 1952. Larsen was honoured for his tennis achievements with induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969.
Former tennis player and coach Boris Breskvar died aged 71 in December 2012 in Ljubljana.
His greatest tennis success was finishing third at the National Championships of Yugoslavia but he was more noted for his coaching work. He worked in Germany with Steffi Graf, Boris Becker and Anke Huber and in 1992 he established the Breskvar Tennis Academy in Ljubljana which is now run by his son Peter.
Breskvar was also Slovenia's Davis Cup captain from 1996-2005.
Giorgio Baldacci passed away on 10 November 2012. Baldacci was heavily involved in the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Assoication for a number of years. His myriad roles included coaching, being captain of Bahamas National junior teams and as Fed Cup captain in 1995 and again from 2000-2003.
Senior tennis player Tom Downie died suddenly on 28 October 2012. Downie represented Australia on a number of occasions at the ITF World Individual and Team Championships, winning the men's doubles event with long time friend Murray French at the 2007 World Individuals Championships in New Zealand. He was also runner-up on three other occasions.
In addition to his success at the World Championships, Tom also won seven Australian doubles titles.
Murray French said of Downie: "He was not only a wonderful tennis player but he will be remembered as one of the most friendly and popular people in tennis. A guy everyone wanted to sit next to at dinner. A common description of Tom is that he was the life of the party and everyone’s friend and had a wonderful sense of fun."
Margaret Osborne duPont
Margaret Osborne duPont passed away on 24 October 2012 in Texas at the age of 94. During a lengthy career from the early 1940s through the early 1960s, duPont won an incredible 37 titles at Grand Slam tournaments in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, which places her fourth on the all-time record list, despite the fact that she never entered the Australian Championships.
DuPont was the year-end world No.1 in 1947, 1948, 1949, and 1950 and had an impeccable Wightman Cup record, winning her ten singles and nine doubles matches between 1938 and 1958 to go undefeated. She also led the United States team to eight victories over those years.
Ajay Pathak died on 18 September 2012 at the age of 64 following a short illness. Pathak held a number of tennis position throughout his career including Vice President of International Affairs and Tournament Director at the Philippine Tennis Association and Director of Junior Competition and Board of Director at the Asian Tennis Federation.
Pathak was heavily involved in Davis Cup and was Davis Cup Administrator for the Philippine Tennis Association and an Asia/Oceania Davis Cup Committee member for the ITF from 1999-2001. He had also been on the ITF’s Junior Competition Committee since 2003 and was awarded the ITF Lifetime Achievement Award for the Services to the Game of Tennis in 1995.
Mervin A. Heller, Jr
Former ITF Board Member and USTA President Mervin A. Heller, Jr. passed away on 21 August 2012 age 65. Heller served two terms as an ITF Board member from 2001 to 2005, and was USTA President from 2001 to 2002 with a mission to “take tennis to the people.”
Heller worked tirelessly to make tennis more accessible to more people, in 2002 leading the way in raising multicultural participation to level one priority status for the USTA. He was also instrumental in enhancing the structure of USTA Player Development, and was a driving force behind the opening of the USTA Training Center-West in Carson, California.
Trained as an attorney and a longtime volunteer in the sport of tennis, Heller joined the USTA in 1974 and was a board member, treasurer and first vice-president before becoming president.
Harry Spilsbury died from cancer in August 2012. Spilsbury was President of Tennis West from 1982-1990 and represented Tennis West on the TA Council from 1982-1995. He was also vice president of Tennis Australia from 1989-1992 and served on the ITF Seniors Committee for a number of years in the 1990s.
Tennis journalist Olivier Breisacher died on 12 August 2012 aged 44.
Breisacher had worked for the Geneva Tribune’s sport section for over 12 years, specialising in ice hockey and tennis. After completing a Masters at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, he began his career as a journalist and was a member of ITWA (International Tennis Writers’ Association).
He was born in Biel in Switzerland, where he was instrumental in the organisation of the Biel Chess Festival for over twenty years.
Jim Davies, long regarded as the father of Kenyan tennis, passed away on 26 June 2012 aged 83. He previously described himself as “eating tennis, breathing tennis and sleeping tennis”. He became Vice-Chairman of the Kenya Lawn Tennis Association (K.L.T.A) in 1971 and Chairman in 1973 and again in 1991 where he served until 1996, when he resigned having completed a total of six years as Chairman. It is during his tenures that tennis is believed to have undergone tremendous growth.
In 1982 he opened the first fully-equipped gym in Kenya, the Nautilus Fitness and Health Centre, whose facilities were frequently used for training various tennis teams. In 1987, he opened the Jim Davies Tennis Academy in time for the Fourth All Africa Games where the Kenya team trained and where many Davis Cup teams also trained.
Robert J. Kelleher
Former USTA President Robert J Kelleher died on 20 June at the age of 99. Kelleher was instrumental in the creation of the Open Era of tennis that allowed professional and amateur players to play together and be paid legitimate prize money.
He served as US Davis Cup captain in 1962 and again in 1963 when USA defeated Australia to take the title. Kelleher was President of the USTA from 1967-1968, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.
Former player, tournament director, promoter and commentator Barry MacKay died on Friday 15 June 2012 in San Francisco aged 76.
As a player MacKay reached the 1959 semifinals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and the quarterfinals of the US Open the same year. He competed for USA in Davis Cup from 1956 until 1960 and was involved in three finals with mixed success. MacKay was part of USA's winning team in 1958 when they beat Australia, but also part of the losing side in 1957 and 1959 also to the Australians, during those finals he did inflict a rare defeat on Ron Laver.
After his playing career he became the long-time tournament director of the Pacific Coast Championships, he promoted two Davis Cup Finals, and was a popular TV commentator, latterly for the Tennis Channel and Fox Sports Network.
Former USTA Executive Director Lee Hamilton passed away on 13 June 2012. Hamilton served the USTA firstly as a volunteer at community and section levels, and then on the board and as President of USTA Texas Section. He was USTA Executive Director from 2003-2007 working to make tennis more inclusive and accessible to more people, and playing a leading role in the growth of the game. He was inducted into the USTA Texas Hall of Fame in 2009.
Abdulsalem Aweeti, President of the Libyan Tennis Federation, died on Wednesday 16 May 2012 in Tunis.
Aweeti had been President of the Libyan Arab Tennis & Squash Federation since 2007 and was responsible for implementing coaching courses and introducing wheelchair tennis to Libya. During his time as President, the Libya Tennis Federation hosted a number of ITF junior and senior tennis tournaments in addition to the CAN 2010 (African Nation’s Cup) and several legs of the African junior 12 and 14 and under tournaments.
He played an important role in the creation of the Arab Tennis Federation and received the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) Award for Services to the Game of Tennis in April 2012.
Paolo Angeli died on 8 May 2012. He was an Italian administrator who oversaw the sponsorship deal with NEC that allowed for the professionalisation of the ITF.
An executive in the electricity industry, he became an ITF board member in the 1970s and oversaw the hiring of the Federation’s first generation of staff. After leaving the board, he was asked by Philippe Chatrier to remain with the ITF as a consultant to oversee the Davis Cup’s first sponsorship deal. The sports marketing agency West Nally had brought the Japanese electronics giant NEC to sponsor the Federation Cup in 1980, and when that was extended to Davis Cup in 1981, NEC needed an ITF partner, which Angeli became. He was also the first president of the European Tennis Association (now Tennis Europe) from 1975 to 1978.
Nell Truman Robinson died aged 66 on 8 April 2012. Truman was most noted for helping Britain to win the Wightman Cup – an annual US v UK women's event that came to an end in 1989 – when she and her sister, Christine Truman, reached match point in the decisive seventh match against the US at Wimbledon in 1968.
She was also a good doubles player, reaching the quarterfinals of the ladies doubles at Wimbledon in 1965, and did so again in 1969. Then, partnered by Roger Taylor, she reached the semifinal of the mixed doubles at the US Open in 1970 and, a year later, alongside Scotland's Winnie Shaw, made it to the final of the French Open doubles. She also won a gold medal at the 1967 World Student Games in Tokyo.
Journalist and World War II veteran Laurie Pignon died on 1 April 2012 at the age of 93. Pignon was born in 1918 to Fred Pignon, the Daily Mail’s golf writer and columnist. His first job was at Horse and Hound, and he covered his first Wimbledon in 1938 for an agency. During World War II Pignon was captured during the retreat at Dunkirk in 1940 and became a prisoner of war in Poland. In January 1945 he and his fellow captives were forced to walk from Katowicze to Austria during the very cold winter months, the journey took two months.
After the war Pignon joined the Daily Sketch, and when it merged with the Daily Mail in 1971 he became their ‘tennis man’. He retired in 1983 but was still seen regularly at The Championships, visiting his former colleagues in the press bar wielding his pipe and a glass of whiskey.
His status was such that he became one of the few journalists to be offered membership of the All England Club, and he was a long-serving President of the Lawn Tennis Writer’s Association.
Tennis Europe Honorary Life Counsellor, Wolfgang Hofer, passed away on 16 January 2012 shortly before his 88th birthday. Hofer succeeded Gottfried Von Cramm as President of LTTC Rot-Weiss Berlin in 1976, and held the post for 20 years before being named Honorary President of the club.
Hofer served on Tennis Europe’s Team Championships Committee from 1978-1990, and was also captain of Germany’s Davis Cup team 1971-1976.
ITF Honorary Life Counsellor Stan Malless, who also served on the ITF Board of Directors between 1975-83, died at his home in Indianapolis on 19 January 2012. He was 97.
Stan, a World War II veteran, was the USTA President between 1974-76 and during this time played a lead role in getting tennis reinstated as a medal sport at the Olympic Games.
In 1979, Stan received the prestigious Samuel Hardy Award from the International Tennis Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding volunteer service to tennis and, in 2008, he was recognised with a USTA Volunteer Service Award for 45 years of service.