General James Andrew (Jimmy)
United States of America
Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States of America


Obituary of Jimmy Evert

From The Sun Sentinel, August 24, 2015

Jimmy Evert – one of the greatest American tennis teaching professionals of all time – passed away peacefully in Fort Lauderdale on Friday evening August 21, 2015, surrounded by his loving family. Evert, 91, died of natural causes. The son of Charles John Evert and Christine Marie Grotz Evert, he was born September 9, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois.

Evert was a fine tennis player in his younger days. He went to Notre Dame and was an All-American player for their squads in the 1940’s. In 1947, he won the Canadian Championships. He earned a No. 11 ranking in the U.S., but it was as a teaching professional of the highest order that he built his lofty reputation. In that arena, he was unsurpassed.

Jimmy Evert moved from Chicago to Florida with his wife, Colette, in 1948. For 49 years, he was the city of Fort Lauderdale’s tennis director. He became a fixture at Holiday Park – fittingly renamed the Jimmy Evert Tennis Center in 1997 –where he taught a wide range of top flight junior players. He was most proud of the fact that all five of his children reached at least the final of a national junior championship in the United States. His renowned daughter, Chris Evert, became one of the best women players in history, securing 18 Grand Slam singles titles, winning at least one major title for 13 consecutive years (1974-86), and finishing seven seasons as the No. 1 ranked woman in the world.

The work Jimmy Evert did at Holiday Park was extraordinary. Not only did he coach and groom all of his kids as players, but he worked with other standouts across the years including world No. 1 Jennifer Capriati and two highly ranked players who both resided in the world’s top ten – Brian Gottfried and Harold Solomon. All of those players came under his guidance, as did 1963 U.S. Championships finalist Frank Froehling.

When the facility was renamed in his honor 18 years ago, Evert said, “The time has come for someone younger with a lot of energy and a new vision to step in. Forty-nine years... isn’t that long enough? I need to step back a little. I’m not stepping away, just stepping back.” He continued to make his presence known for many years, but enjoyed having the time to spend with his children and grandchildren. His son John Evert – now the managing director of the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton – said at the time, “He has worked seven days a week for 49 years. He’ll always be attached to Holiday Park and will always have a presence, whether he’s actually there or not.”

Jimmy Evert was admired immensely for his understated manner and humility. He instilled those qualities in all of his children. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle once said, “Jimmy Evert is legendary and having him at the tennis center brings prestige to the city.” It made him so nervous to be present for Chris Evert’s matches in major events that he seldom attended. The first four times she won the U.S. Open, he was not there. But, in 1980, after she ended a five match losing streak against Tracy Austin in the semi-finals, she called him in tears right after the match and told him she wanted him to come to the final. He flew to New York to witness her win over Hana Mandlikova in the final, and made the trip again for her sixth and final Open win two years later, as he did for her final U.S. Open appearance in 1989.

Having issues with high blood pressure, he preferred to stay at home and watch on television. But the way he raised his kids and shaped them as tennis players and people was exemplary. As Chris Evert once said, “He would not criticize me ever for losing a match. I always tried to win for him. In a nutshell, my dad created the ideal environment for me to compete. He gave me the space I needed and in his own quiet way brought out the best in me by not asking me to be more than myself. As great as he was as a coach, he was even greater as a father. He worked hard as a father, too, and read to us and sang to us and took us swimming and took care of all five kids with my mother. He took us to church and was an unbelievably active parent, so active that he took all of his kids with him to work so the family could be together and he could keep an eye on us.”

Chris Evert continued, “I asked him once why he started all of his kids playing tennis. I thought he might give me a glamorous answer like ‘My goal for you is to be No. 1 in the world, but he said, ‘I started all of you playing so I could keep the family together.’ As a man he was exposed to fame, wealth and success but he remained unaffected and untouched. Once a Japanese tennis promoter walked into our house with $25,000 in cash when I was a young player. He wanted me to play a one-night exhibition in Japan. My dad told him to close the briefcase and please leave our house. That was my dad. He was the most moral, ethical, dignified person I ever knew.”

As Bud Collins said, “Jimmy Evert invented tennis in Florida. He loved tennis and you gave a gift to tennis in Fort Lauderdale. He showed all five of his children and his many students how to love tennis and how to live a life.” Added the late Don Budge, “He was such a great credit to the game. He is a real gentleman.”

Jimmy Evert is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years, Colette, son Drew Evert and wife Penny, of Delray Beach, Florida; daughter Chris Evert, of Boca Raton, Florida; daughter Jeanne Dubin of Delray Beach, Florida; son John Evert and his wife Mary of Boca Raton, Florida; daughter Clare Evert-Shane and husband Steven Shane, of Aspen, Colorado; and his 10 grandchildren: Anna Evert-DeHoag, Lauren Evert-Crawford, Eric Dubin, Catherine Aspenwall, Alex Mill, Nicky Mill, Colton Mill, Siena Evert, Tatum Shane and Remi Shane; and 3 great-grandchildren, Andrew, Lillian and Hailey; his brother, Gerald Evert and wife Audra, of Little Rock, Arkansas; and sister-in-law Ruth Evert of Columbus, Georgia.

He was pre-deceased by his brothers, John Evert and Charles Evert and a son-in-law, Brahm Dubin. In lieu of flowers, friends of the Evert family are asked to donate to the Jimmy Evert Scholarship Fund, which will honor Mr. Evert’s legacy of enriching children’s lives through the sport of tennis. Funds will go to provide private lessons and educational enhancement for underserved and at-risk children throughout the U.S.


Archive statistics 1938 - 1960

Tournament wins 1950 - PLTA Spring Championships (Professional)
1947 - Canadian International Championships ()
1945 - Middle States Championships (Amateur)

Tournaments Tuscaloosa Professionals - 1960 US Pro Clay Courts - 1955 Florida Professional - 1954 Canadian Professional Championships - 1952 US Pro Clay Courts - 1951 Canadian Professional Championships - 1951 US Pro Championships - 1950 US Pro Clay Courts - 1950 Philadelphia Pro Championships - 1950 PLTA Spring Championships - 1950 US Pro Championships - 1949 Southern Championships - 1948 US Clay Courts - 1948 Miami Pro Championships - 1948 Intercollegiate Championships - 1948 US Pro Clay Courts - 1948 US Open - 1947 Canadian International Championships - 1947 US Clay Courts - 1947 Intercollegiate Championships - 1947 US Clay Courts - 1946 Western States Championships - 1946 Middle States Championships - 1945 US Clay Courts - 1945 US Open - 1943 Middle States Championships - 1943 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1943 US Clay Courts - 1943 Southampton Invitation (Long Island) - 1943 Sullivan County - 1943 US Open - 1942 Sugar Bowl - 1942 US Clay Courts - 1942 Western States Championships - 1942 US Open - 1941 Tennessee Valley Invitation - 1941 New York State Championships - 1941 US Open - 1940 Newport Casino - 1940 Cincinnati - 1940 US Clay Courts - 1940 Western States Championships - 1940 North Shore (Chicago) - 1940 US Clay Courts - 1939 Western Indoor Championship - 1939 Chicago Indoor - 1939 Chicago Indoor - 1938

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