NEWPORT, R.I., December 19, 2012 - The Board of Directors and Staff of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum mourn the loss of a great American tennis champion and World War II veteran, Art "Tappy" Larsen. He passed away on December 7 in California, at the age of 87. Larsen was honored in a military burial service at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, Calif. Despite a late start to his tennis career, due to military service, Larsen achieved the No. 1 ranking in the United States in 1950, and he was ranked in the world top-10 several times in the 1950's.
In 1950, Larsen won the U.S. National Championships in a five-set match at Forest Hills. He also captured the titles at the U.S. Clay Courts (1952), U.S. Hard Courts (1952), and U.S. Indoors (1953), making him the first man to win the titles on four surfaces. Tony Trabert is the only other person to have accomplished this feat. In 1954, Larsen was a finalist at the French Championships. Larsen was a member of the United States Davis Cup team in 1951 and 1952. He compiled a 4-0 record, helping the team advance to the finals both years. Larsen was honored for his tennis achievements with induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969.
"Art was a wonderful tennis player who had great finesse in his game," said Hall of Famer Tony Trabert. "He had a unique personality, and he was a good friend and I will miss him."
In World War II, Larsen served in the US Army, 15th Cavalry, 17th Squadron. He was involved in heavy combat reconnaissance missions and was awarded four bronze campaign stars (Normandy, France, Central Europe and Germany). Larsen is said to have focused his energy on tennis as a form of therapy upon return from World War II, and he was admired for his focus and tenacity as a player. He picked up the nickname "Tappy" because he had a habit of tapping things, such as the net, for good luck.
A California native, Larsen attended the University of San Francisco, where he was a member of the 1949 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship team.
Larsen is survived by his companion of more than 30 years, Aline Mestas. He also leaves a sister, Joyce A. Stengel, nephews Willis C. Stengel and Carl A. Stengel, niece Patricia Rickner and their families; all of whom fondly remember enjoying tennis lessons and matches with their uncle.
About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum
Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport's official Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 224 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport's summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas, Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.