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Rod Laver

Related Biography: Tennis Player/coach Harry Hopman

Harry Hopman's name is synonymous with Australian tennis in the two decades prior to the Open era. As captain of the Australian Davis Cup team from 1950 to 1969, he gathered a group of players around him who he groomed in the finest aspects of the gentlemanly game of tennis. Called Hop by his friends, his "genius," according to E. Digby Baltzell in Sporting Gentlemen: Men's Tennis from the Age of Honor to the Cult of the Superstar, "was to take a wide variety of boys and mold them into a cohesive team of gentlemen…. Harry Hopman was a great organizer, disciplinarian, and believer in the virtues of the gentleman." Among the players he groomed were Frank Sedgman, Ken McGregor, Lew Hoad, Kenny Rosewall, Mal Anderson, Ashley Cooper, Neale Fraser, Roy Emerson, John Newcombe, Fred Stolle, Tony Roche, and most famously of all, Rod Laver. He gave his name to a tennis epoch, the Hopman Era, the decades in the 1950s and 1960s when the Australians dominated amateur tennis.

Born August 12, 1906, in Glebe, New South Wales, Hopman played tennis himself, and was a singles finalist in the Australian championships in the early 1930s. He was also a fine doubles player, winning the Australian doubles in 1929 and 1930, and twice a runner-up in the French doubles title. He and his wife, Nell, won the Australian mixed doubles twice. However it was as a talent spotter, coach, and captain of the Australian Davis Cup team for which Hopman is best remembered. Childless, Hopman and his wife poured their energies into tennis and the young men coming up through the ranks in Australian tennis. Hopman led his team to 16 Cups between his first captaincy in 1939 and near the end of his reign in 1967. Hopman emphasized fitness, pride, and most of all, gentlemanly behavior.

Hopwood last served as Australian Davis Cup captain in 1969, and after the loss to Mexico, he immigrated to the United States and became a successful teaching pro. With his wife, he opened his own camp, the Hopman Tennis Academy, in Largo, Florida. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1978, and died on December 27, 1985. The Hopman Cup tournament was named after him, the first competition held in 1989.

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