Bruce Littrell passed away on 10 July in Orlando, Florida. Littrell served as the Director of Professional Officiating at the United States Tennis Association and as the Chief Umpire at the US Open. Littrell became an official in 1987 and, having worked as a line umpire for the ATP, WTA, ITF and USTA, went on to join the Chief Umpire’s staff at the US Open in 2003. He was named Chief Umpire for the 2015 US Open, assigning and managing a staff of 350 officials at the New York Grand Slam.
“Bruce was an experienced official and an integral part of the Chief Umpire staff at the US Open for over a decade,” said ITF President David Haggerty. “The ITF is saddened to learn of his death and would like to recognise his great passion for the sport of tennis and his long service to the game.”
Former Belgian Davis Cup captain Julien Hoferlin died on 8 April at the age of 49. Hoferlin, who worked for the Belgian Tennis Federation as a consultant and had also coached the British Davis Cup team after a spell working for the Lawn Tennis Association, underwent major surgery on a brain tumour shortly before the two teams he had coached met in the 2015 Davis Cup Final in Ghent.
Hoferlin captained the Belgian Davis Cup team from 2006-2008, overseeing their promotion from Europe/Africa Zone Group I to a place in the 2007 World Group quarterfinals. He also coached a number of prominent players from Belgium and Great Britain, including Domanique Monami, Christophe and Olivier Rochus, Steve Darcis, Johanna Konta and Dan Evans.
South African Tennis Legend Abe Segal passed away from cancer on 4 April aged 85. Segal was one of the greatest tennis players to emerge from South Africa and a standout personality in the sport worldwide.
A lefthander, Segal reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in singles in 1964 and finished runner-up at Roland Garros in doubles in 1958 and 1963. He played 19 Davis Cup ties for South Africa, compiling a 24-14 win-loss record. Abe is survived by his two daughters, Nancy and Susie, who both live in the USA.
David Harnik died on 26 March following a six-month battle with illness. Harnik was President of the Israel Tennis Association for 23 years, and spent the past 12 years as the organisation’s Honorary President.
Tennis was an integral part of life for Harnik, who had a tremendous impact on the Israel Tennis Association. During his time at the organisation, Israeli tennis achieved good results at international level - notably in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Fed Cup by BNP Paribas and through its individual players at Tour level.
ITF President David Haggerty said: “The tennis family lost a highly respected man on Saturday with the death of David Harnik. He was influential in his role as President of the Israel Tennis Association for many years and remained active in our sport over the last decade as Honorary President. Our thoughts go to his family at this sad time.”
Journalist Jennifer Frey died as a result of multiple organ failure on March 26 aged 47. Frey wrote for the New York Times and went on to spend 13 years at the Washington Post from 1995-2007, working on the newspaper’s sport and style sections and, in particular, covering tennis.
She was best known as a general-assignment reporter, making a name for herself as a sportswriter at a time when women remained unwelcome in many locker rooms.
Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff died on 24 March aged 68, five months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Through his Foundation, Cruyff was a strong advocate of disability sport. The Cruyff Foundation has supported the ITF Junior Wheelchair Tennis programmes and the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund over a number of years.
The Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters has been the launch pad for several of the world’s top players and Cruyff Foundation International and National Junior Camps have given numerous juniors the opportunity to take up the sport.
The ITF Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund has received significant investment from the Cruyff Foundation and contributed heavily to the delivery of projects in more than 40 developing countries.
Bruno Agostinelli Jr
Former Canadian Davis Cup player Bruno Agostinelli Jr died on 10 March aged just 28.
Agostinelli represented Canada in a Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Americas Zone Group I relegation play-off in 2009. He recorded a victory in the decisive fifth rubber over Ivan Miranda to secure his country's place in the group.
Away from team competition, Agostinelli reached No. 2 on the NCAA rankings and was named University of Kentucky’s male athlete of the year, he finished his career as an All-American, and won multiple provincial and national junior championships.
After retiring from professional tennis in 2009, Agostinelli was the national coach for under 14 players at Tennis Canada's national junior training program in Toronto.
American journalist, commentator and historian Arthur “Bud” Collins died on 4 March aged 86. Collins was one of the most vibrant and respected figures on the international circuit, known as much for his outlandish outfits as his encyclopedic knowledge of tennis. His trademark bow-ties and colourful trousers were custom made from fabrics he collected in his world travels covering tennis.
Collins was born in Lima, Ohio, but made Boston his home and working headquarters for more than 50 years. He joined the Boston Globe in 1963 and went on to work for the local Boston PBS radio and TV affiliate WGBH. He moved onto television coverage of the sport in 1968, firstly on CBS Sports, and then on NBC, where he was a staple of their tennis coverage from 1972 until 2007. Towards the end of his career he also worked for ESPN and the Tennis Channel.
Collins also wrote several memoirs and biographies on tennis, as well as multiple tennis encyclopedias. Collins was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1994. In 1999, he was honoured by the Associated Press Sports Editors, who awarded him the Red Smith Award, America’s most prestigious sports writing honour. He went on to be elected to the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 2002.
Collins covered more major championships than any American reporter. In 2014, he attended his 61st US Open, and the following year the United States Tennis Association named its media centre in his honour. The inscription on the plaque in the media centre reads: "Journalist, Commentator, Historian, Mentor, Friend."
Collins is survived by his wife, Anita Ruthling Klaussen, who in recent years helped keep him connected to the sport he cherished.
ESPN producer Ted Brown died aged 36 on 24 January after suffering a heart attack while on assignment with the sports network covering the Australian Open.
National audiences appreciated Brown's work at ESPN and ABC, where his credits include the 2015 Women's NCAA Tournament Graphics Manager, 2015 Australian Open Lead Match Graphics Producer and 2014-15 and 2013-14 College Football Co-Graphics Manager. Additional graphics projects included the FIFA World Cup, Confederations Cup, college football on ABC and U.S. Open
From Connecticut, Brown had worked at ESPN since 2007. He is survived by his wife Elaine and two-year-old son Henry.
Former Sky Sports and BBC tennis commentator Gerald Williams passed away on Friday 22 January at the age of 86.
Williams, alongside Des Lynam, presented BBC Sport's coverage from Wimbledon for many years, and provided updates from the tournament for Sky Sports in the later years of his career. After giving up commentary due to fading eyesight, Williams reflected on his TV career and said: "I've seen many great players but I would say that Pete Sampras is the best I've seen." He also said Roger Federer was "the most perfect player I have ever seen".
BBC Sport presenter Sue Barker said: "I always admired his style and humour and was thrilled when he asked me to be his co-commentator many times. He was always so helpful and encouraging and I knew I was learning from the very best."
She added: "We remained close friends on and off air - dinners with Gerry were always full of laughter and his love of tennis was infectious.
"He was a wonderful commentator and broadcaster, but above all a great friend."