Chuck McKinley

Chuck McKinley

Class of 1986

Recent Player

Career Achievements

Top Ranking
World No. 1 (1963)

Grand Slam Results
4-time major champion, 2-time finalist

Davis Cup
United States Davis Cup team member 1960-1965
Member of the 1963 Championship Davis Cup Team
Overall Record: 29-9                                                   
Singles Record: 16-6                                       
Doubles Record: 13-3                           

 

Citizenship: USA Born: January 5, 1941 in Dallas, Texas Died: August 11, 1986 Played: Right-handed

In Chuck McKinley’s New York Times obituary, Judge Robert Kelleher described him as “the toughest little guy with the sweetest nature I’ve ever known.”

It was a fitting tribute for an unheralded player whose life was tragically cut short at the age of 45 from a brain tumor, just one month after being enshrined into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

In 1963, McKinley swept all seven Wimbledon rounds without losing a set to claim the Gentlemen’s Singles title. Seeded No. 4, McKinley had a few interesting matches in winning 21 straight sets: He won 8-6 in the third set against Cliff Drysdale in the first round and defeated Arthur Ashe in the third round (6-3, 6-2, 6-2). In the finale against the 6-foot-3 Aussie Fred Stolle, McKinley had to bear down and employ all his resources to win, 9-7, 6-1, 6-4.

Prior to the match, archival video footage shows McKinley spinning his racquet on the grass to determine whether he or Stolle would serve first. McKinley served first and it proved a good sign. After clinching the match with a lunging backhand volley winner, that same video clip shows McKinley launching his racquet into the air and leaping over the net to shake Stolle’s hand. He received the Challenge Cup from Princess Marina, raised it to eye-level and kissed it.

“I was 13 years old when Chuck won Wimbledon,” his brother Bob is quoted as saying in a retrospective article on the Trinity University athletics Web site, where Chuck played from 1960-63. “It was shown on ABC’s Wide World of Sports one week after the match. Chuck had an all-around game that highlighted his great athleticism. He kept opponents off balance with a very effective kick serve.”

In 1961, and as a sophomore in college, McKinley showed he had the mettle to win a major title, becoming the first American to play in the Wimbledon final in six years. He marched through the field until he hit a brick wall named Rod Laver and fell in 55 minutes, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. In 1964, Stolle made sure McKinley wouldn’t repeat as a finalist at Wimbledon, ousting him in a thrilling and tightly-contested semifinal four-setter, 4-6, 10-8, 9-7, 6-4.

For such a gentle soul, McKinley was at times an overzealous player. He had powerful groundstrokes and rushed the net with passion. His aggressive style saw him hopping, lunging, jumping, and diving all over the court, much to the pleasure of fans that delighted in his competitiveness. McKinley’s tenacity did pay dividends in a relatively short career that ended abruptly at age 24 when he spurned offers to turn professional and instead joined a New York City brokerage firm. He was ranked in the world’s Top Five between 1961 and 1964 and the United States Top Ten for seven consecutive years (1960-1966).

McKinley and Dennis Ralston were a potent doubles combination, earning three U.S. National Men’s Doubles Championships in 1961, 1963, and 1964. The 1961 and 1963 victories were arduous – both coming against the dynamic duo of Mexico’s Rafael Osuna and Antonio Palafox. The 1963 triumph was rooted in comeback and had a thick line score: 9-7, 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 11-9. The Mexican tandem upended McKinley & Ralston in 1962, preventing a three-peat. In 1962, 1963, and 1964 McKinley was a U.S. National Men’s Championship semifinalist, losing in 1962 and 1964 to Emerson.

Without a doubt, a huge highlight in McKinley’s career came in the fabled 1963 season when he posted the decisive win over John Newcombe, 10-12, 6-2, 9-7, 6-2 in a U.S. 3-2 victory over Australia in Davis Cup play. The following year Australia regained the Cup when Roy Emerson downed McKinley, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, for a 3-2 Aussie victory. McKinley played Davis Cup from 1960-65.

McKinley played for collegiate powerhouse Trinity University from 1960-63, compiling a 48-2 record in singles. He earned All-America status in 1963 and graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics. The school inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 1999. Due to scheduling conflicts with Wimbledon, McKinley never played for an NCAA Championship at Trinity opting, to play his first Wimbledon as a college sophomore in 1961. The school never balked at McKinley’s decision and when he won the 1963 title, it put the small school located in San Antonio, Texas on the worldwide map.

Grand Slam

Grand Slam Best Results

Titles

1 singles | 3 doubles

Singles
Wimbledon: W 1963
U.S. Nationals: SF 1962, 1963, 1964

Doubles
Wimbledon: QF 1961, 1962, 1964
U.S. Nationals: W 1961, 1963, 1964