Class of 1966
World No. 1 (1948)
Grand Slam Results
7-time major champion
Played for the 1937, 1939, 1946, and 1948 US Davis Cup teams
Overall record: 12-2
Singles record: 12-2
Member of the 1937, 1946, and 1948 Championship Davis Cup Teams
Frank Andrew Parker had tennis longevity long admired by the sport: He ranked in the U.S. Top 10 for 17 consecutive years (1933-49). That streak remained a male record until Jimmy Connors eclipsed it in 1988. As a youthful tennis prodigy, Parker was nicknamed the “Boy Wonder of Tennis.” As his game matured and his strokes became finely grooved, he was labeled “The Human Backboard” by journalists who covered tennis during Parker’s era.
Parker won back-to-back U.S. National Men’s Singles Championships in 1944 and 1945 and French International Singles titles in 1948 and 1949. He added three other major doubles victories at the U.S. Nationals in 1943 and the French International and Wimbledon in 1949. With championships at the U.S. and French, Parker became the third of only five American men to achieve this feat, sharing this unique distinction with Don Budge, Don McNeill, Tony Trabert, and Andre Agassi.
He was born Franciszek A. Pajkowski in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Polish immigrants and the youngest of five children. As a 10-year-old, Parker was discovered hitting old tennis balls at the Town & Tennis Club by legendary club coach and Mercer Beasley. The Boy Wonder of Tennis nickname soon followed. At age 15, he became the national boy’s singles champion. With Beasley’s coaching and chaperoning him to tournaments, Parker won the 1931 Canadian National Championship, prominently chronicled in the August 16 Milwaukee Journal with a massive front page headline in the sports section. The hometown paper benevolently referred to Parker as “Frankie.” As a 17-year-old in 1933, Parker won the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, defeating Gene Mako in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, the third time in three years that Mako lost a national championship opportunity to Parker.
Parker had grooved and polished strokes, particularly on his backhand. His winning edge came from his demeanor: He was cool and confident under pressure. In order to defeat Parker, an opponent had to make him beat himself – he rarely made unforced errors. Parker was a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Forces when he won his U.S. titles. “Sergeant” Parker took out “civilian” Bill Talbert in four sets (1944) and in straight sets (1945). His back-to-back French International Singles titles in 1948 and 1949 were four set matches. The 1948 match against Czechoslovakian Jaroslav Drobný was tightly contested, with Parker winning 8-6 in the fourth. Parker teamed with Pancho Gonzales to win doubles titles at Wimbledon and the French International in 1949. With Jack Kramer, Parker won the doubles title at the U.S. Nationals in 1943.
Parker had a stellar run playing for the U.S. Davis Cup Team. He went 12-2 in singles and earned championships in 1937, 1946, and 1948. In 1949, he turned professional with the Bobby Riggs-led tour, but played only one year. In 1968 (the first year of Open tennis) and at age 52, Parker became the oldest male player in history to compete in the main draw at the US Open and his game still had vigor, despite losing to No. 5 seed Arthur Ashe, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
French Championships: W 1948, 1949
Wimbledon: SF 1937
U.S. Nationals: W 1944, 1945
French Championships: W 1949
Wimbledon: W 1949
U.S. Nationals: W 1943