Jack Kramer

JACK KRAMER (U. S. A.)

Born: 1/8/1921 Died: 12/9/2009

Wimbledon 1947

US Open 1946,1947

Pro Champion 1948,1949,1950,1951,1952,1953

British Pro 1949

US Pro 1948

Jack Kramer was an exponent of the aggressive serve and volley style of percentage tennis nicknamed ‘the big game’ and was also a successful promoter. He made his Grand Slam debut at the US Open in 1938, where he managed to win just two games in his opening match against Robert Kamrath. Kramer made the US Open semis in 1940, losing in four sets to Don McNeill. At the 1941 US Kramer beat Bill Talbert and Gene Mako before losing in the quarters to Frank Kovacs in straight sets. At the 1943 US Open Kramer beat Bob Falkenburg in the second round and Pancho Segura in the semis before losing in four sets to Joe Hunt in the final. Making his first trip to Wimbledon in 1946, Kramer lost in five long sets to Jaroslav Drobny in the fourth round. At the US Open Kramer beat McNeill in the quarters in four sets, Falkenburg in the semis in straight sets and Tom Brown in the final in straight sets to take his first Grand Slam title. At Wimbledon 1947 Kramer overcame Dinny Pails in four sets in the semis before thrashing Tom Brown in the final. At the US Open Kramer beat Falkenburg in the quarters in straight sets, Drobny in the semis in four sets and fought back from two sets to love down to beat Frank Parker in the final to retain his title. Kramer then signed a professional contract and thrashed Bobby Riggs in a head to head tour. Kramer then won tours against Pancho Gonzales, Pancho Segura and Frank Sedgman. He retired from touring in 1953 and only played part time after that. By then much of Kramer's time was spent promoting the pro tour. Kramer had taken over as promoter from Riggs in 1952 and was instrumental in persuading many of the top players of the 1950s and early 60s to turn professional by waving big paycheques in their faces. Some amateur officials accused Kramer of trying to wreck the game but Kramer was always a great supporter of open tennis. At the ITF AGM in 1960 a Kramer backed measure to introduce open tennis failed to gain approval by five votes. Kramer felt this was largely due to many of the amateur hierarchy disliking him so he resigned as promoter. When the game finally went open in 1968 Kramer became head of the ATP and initiated the Grand Prix circuit. In the 1960s and early 1970s Kramer was one of the two main BBC commentators at Wimbledon alongside Dan Maskell. However, he couldn't commentate on the 1973 tournament because, as head of the ATP, he was instrumental in organising the players boycott. Apart from the odd occasion, Kramer never returned to commentate for the BBC and John Barrett became known for his BBC Wimbledon commentaries alongside Maskell in the 1970s and 1980s. Kramer's son Bob followed in his father’s footsteps becoming tournament director of the Canadian Open. If open tennis had come in earlier, Kramer would have had a lot more than three Grand Slam titles to his name, but several of his best years came during the Second World War (after losing the 1943 final he was busy serving in the war and didn't play again until 1946 when he won the event). It's unlikely he would have won as many Slams as Laver, Gonzales and Rosewall. Today tennis is a sport of multimillionaires, but people often forget how they came to earn such large sums. Although pro tennis had begun before Kramer's time, only a handful of top players turned pro then. During his time as promoter he regularly persuaded the top three or four amateurs each year to sign professional contracts. This forced the amateur tennis bodies to start thinking seriously about open tennis. There was much resistance and some personal animosity towards Kramer that stopped it arriving in 1961. Then in 1967 Dave Dixon came along and signed up all the cream of the amateur crop to the WCT (Dixon's time in tennis promotion was shortlived as he soon handed over the reigns of the WCT to Lamar Hunt). Then Herman David and the LTA took the brave step of defying the ITF and announcing that the 1968 Wimbledon would be open. By their actions Kramer, Dixon and David put in place a chain of events that led to open tennis. Kramer died aged 88 in 2009.

© GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE

HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: J.Drobny 1-1, B.Falkenburg 3-0, J.Hunt 0-2, D.McNeill 1-1, D.Pails 1-0, F.Parker 2-0, P.Segura 1-0, S.Wood 1-0

PRO SLAM HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: D.Budge 2-0, P.Gonzales 0-1, L.Hoad 1-0, F.Parker 1-0, B.Riggs 2-0, K.Rosewall 0-3, P.Segura 1-1, T.Trabert 0-1

Jack Kramer's Grand Slam record
Jack Kramer's Pro Slam record

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