Former University of Cincinnati (UC) multisport standout Tony Trabert passed away in his Florida home last week on Feb. 3. The UC alumnus was 90 years old.
A native of Cincinnati, Trabert excelled in both basketball and tennis. As a high schooler, he won back-to-back-to-back singles state championships, the first person ever to accomplish the feat. After receiving scholarship offers from schools across the country, Trabert decided to stay in the Queen City for his collegiate career, where he won the 1951 NCAA singles championship.
On the hardwood, Trabert was a starting guard for the UC team that took home the Mid-American Conference Championship.
After his collegiate career, Trabert spent two years in the Navy before returning to the tennis circuit. He wasted no time making his mark as one of the top players in the world. His 1955 season is one remembered as one of the greatest in tennis history.
After losing to fellow great Ken Rosewall in the semifinals of the Australian Open, Trabert dropped just six matches the rest of the season while winning 106, a record that still stands.
His remarkable campaign included a streak of 38 consecutive matches without a loss, and 10 straight tournament wins. The 25-year-old took home 18 tournament titles, including three major championships. In his career, Trabert won 10 major titles, five in each doubles and singles.
“Tony Trabert’s path from UC to top of the tennis world and beyond demonstrates the ability of college athletics to propel a student-athlete to go out and change the world,” said UC Director of Athletics John Cunningham. “Through it all, he represented the Bearcats with class, honor and dignity. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Trabert’s maiden major victory came alongside his doubles partner and fellow Cincinnati native Bill Talbert at the French Championships (now known as the French Open) in 1950. The UC tennis center is named after the duo.
Trabert led the United States to a Davis Cup title in 1954, a competition that pits countries against each other similar to the World Cup in soccer. He went on to captain the United States in the competition from 1976-1980, helping the team take home the Cup twice in that span.
In 1970, Trabert was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and later served 12 years as the Hall’s president. He also became a tennis broadcaster for CBS Sports, a tennis author and a motivational speaker.
Trabert remains one of only six Bearcats to make it into a national hall of fame. The other five are Sandy Koufax (baseball), Miller Huggins (baseball), Oscar Robertson (basketball), Jack Twyman (basketball) and longtime friend and on-the-court partner Bill Talbert (tennis).
“The world knew Tony for his excellence in tennis, from his remarkable career to his Davis Cup success as a player and captain to being the voice of the US Open during his decades with CBS Sports,” Western & Southern Open Tournament Director J. Wayne Richmond told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Tony’s impact went far beyond the court, in particular to those who knew him closely. He was so proud of his Cincinnati roots and was always a loyal supporter of the tournament here.”
Trabert leaves behind his wife, Vicki, his son, Mike, his daughter, Brooke, and 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.