One of the great Davis Cup competitors, Stan Smith added the U.S. (1971) and Wimbledon (1972) titles to his laurels, and, with Bob Lutz, was part of one of the preeminent doubles teams. Smith, who overcame teenage awkwardness to become a feared 6-foot-4 foe with crashing serves and volleys, may have hit his zenith on alien clay. That was in Bucharest in 1972 as the U.S. won a fifth consecutive Cup, and he supplied the clinching victory - the insuperable third point - for a fifth time. That's a Davis Cup record to which he added in 1979, with Lutz, in the 5-0 victory over Italy at San Francisco. Stan was in at the finish of seven Cup victories, tying him with Bill Tilden for a U.S. high. And he had a smaller share of an eighth Cup, in 1981, when he and Lutz took a doubles over Ivan Lendl and Tom Smid; the Cup adieu for Stan and Bob, at Flushing Meadow - in the win over Czechoslovakia en route to the final.
A notable sportsman, he had to "concentrate so hard I got a headache," he said after the three-day ordeal at the hands of a loud partisan crowd and overly patriotic line judges in Bucharest. It was an extended, rocky campaign during which Smith won seven of eight singles and, with Erik van Dillen, all five doubles. Stan scored the clinching point in each of five matches and nailed down two of the most dramatic singles victories ever by an American in the finale. Romania, loser to the U.S. in the 1969 and 1971 showdowns, appeared the favorite on home earth, but Smith shocked Ilie Nastase on the slow court to lead off, and then out-battled the sly, combative Ion Tiriac in a tense five-set struggle. Knowing that he had to hit outright winners well away from the lines to make sure of the points, Smith did just that to storm through a last-set bagel and send the U.S. safely ahead, 3-1, in the 3-2 victory.
Born Dec. 14, 1946, in Pasadena, Calif., he grew up there and was an All-American at the University of Southern California, where he won the U.S. Intercollegiate singles (1968) and, with Lutz, doubles in 1967 and 1968. During an 11-year Davis Cup career that began in 1968, embracing 24 engagements, he was on the winning side 22 times, and 16 times provided the clinching point: Three times in singles, 13 times in doubles (nine with Lutz, four with van Dillen). He and Lutz won 13 of 14 Cup matches together. As the U.S. ran up a record Cup streak of 17 victories from 1968 to the finale of 1973, Smith was involved in 14, the clincher in 12. His 1972 Wimbledon triumph over Nastase, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, was one of the outstanding finals, and his 1971 defeat of Jan Kodes at Forest Hills, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (5-3), was the first U.S. final to conclude in a tie-breaker. Smith and Lutz won the U.S. doubles four times, the Australian once.
In a career spanning the amateur and open eras, he was one of five centurions, winning at least 100 pro titles overall in singles and doubles. Stan hit the century with 39 singles, 61 doubles, and made $1,774,881 in career prize money. Eleven times between 1967 and 1980 he was in the U.S. Top Ten, No. 1 four years, 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1973. Six straight times from 1970 he was in the World Top Ten, No. 1 in 1972.
Stan was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1987. He served in the U.S. Army.
In September 2011, Stan became the president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Bio Courtesy Bud Collins
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