In tennis lore, Jack Kramer left a legacy that endures
USTA Southern California | March 7, 2019
Today, we ponder how many of the hundreds of thousands of tennis fans coming to the BNP Paribas tournament in Indian Wells over the next week will stop and wonder, as they are dazzled by the stadiums and the extravagant grounds and the incredibly athletic players, how this all came to pass.
The first and quick answer will be Charlie Pasarell and his dreaming, Raymond Moore and his business savvy, Steve Simon and his anal-retentive organizational skills and Dee Dee Felich and her public relations and charitable instincts. And now, of course, Larry Ellison’s vision for the game and financial commitment.
But before there was the Indian Wells dream and this massive success for Southern California and the tennis world, there was Jack Kramer.
It will be ten years in September since Kramer died, at age 88. ADVERTISEMENT At the time, all the right things were said. Those who knew called him “the most important person in the history of tennis,” and the “father of the Open Era.” But memories and perspective drift away in ten years.
So, let’s refresh.
Kramer won Grand Slams and Davis Cups, had a pro record of 678-288 or 70.1%, has been in the Tennis Hall of Fame since 1968 and brought the serve-and-volley approach to the game. He was 6-foot-2 and seemed more like 7-2 to his opponents. He had huge hands, played with rackets with grip-sizes from 4 7/8 to 5¼ (today’s men often use 4¼ to 4 5/8). He once told a reporter that, once in a while, when an opponent was acting badly or being particularly annoying or unprofessional, he would serve for the match by taking four balls in his left hand, tossing them one at a time, hitting four aces and walking to the net for the handshake.