"Ted" Schroeder was an American tennis player who won the two most prestigious amateur tennis titles, Wimbledon and the U.S. National.
He competed unabashedly, joyously and ferociously. A sinewy Californian who served-and-volleyed with craft and dexterity.
He was the No. 1-ranked American player in 1942. Between 1946 and 1949 was the No. 2 and the latter year saw Schroeder ranked World No. 1 by Pierre Gillou (president of the Fédération Française de Tennis).
He was born in Newark, New Jersey, but developed as a tennis player in Southern California under the guidance of Perry T. Jones.
Schroeder was an almost exact contemporary of Jack Kramer, having been born only 10 days earlier in 1921, and they began to play against each other as top boy players in the mid-1930s.
Schroeder's career is similar to Kramer's in that they both became top players whose careers were then interrupted by World War II. They were also lifelong friends and at least once Schroeder mortgaged his house on short notice in order to be able to lend an unsolicited $25,000 to Kramer. Schroeder, however, attended college for 4 years, the first two at the University of Southern California (USC), and the last two at Stanford University, while Kramer, apparently, spent only two years at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. After the war Kramer proved himself to be slightly better than Schroeder in the amateur ranks. Kramer then turned professional, where he immediately established himself as the best player in the world by demolishing the pro champion, Bobby Riggs, by 69 victories to 20 losses in the 1948 tour.
Riggs then semi-retired and became the promoter of the tour. He and Kramer decided that the only player who could oppose Kramer for a financially successful tour would be Schroeder. The youthful Pancho Gonzales was the reigning American amateur champion, due to his upset win at the U.S. Open Championships in 1948, but during his brief career had been beaten by Schroeder 8 matches out of 9. Schroeder, playing during vacation time from his job, won Wimbledon in June 1949. According to his obituary in the New York Times, he . . .
“ also captivated London as an outgoing, straightforward Yank smoking a corn-cob pipe and earned the nickname 'Lucky Ted' there for his five-set escapes. ”
Following his Wimbledon victory, Riggs and Kramer offered Schroeder $25,000 to turn pro after he won the up-coming 1949 U.S. Open. Schroeder agreed. But Gonzales upset their plans by beating the heavily favored Schroeder in a five-set final that lasted nearly five hours — it has been called the 11th greatest match of all time.
Gonzales lost the 1-hour and 15-minute first set 16–18 but finally managed to prevail in the 5th set. Kramer writes that in spite of his friendship with Schroeder, he has always felt that Schroeder subconsciously "tanked" the match, in order to avoid the rigors of the professional tour. In any event, Gonzales was now the two-time American champion and Kramer and Riggs were obliged to sign him, instead of Schroeder, to a professional contract.
He died in La Jolla, California at the age of 84.
Schroeder was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1966, (Literally two years before his old friend Jack Kramer.)
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