Class of 1985
World No. 2 (1966)
Grand Slam Results
19-time major champion, 17-time finalist
Open Era Record
Overall Record: 403-245
Singles Record: 214-144
Doubles Record: 189-101
Member of the Australian Championship Davis Cup Team 1964-1966
Overall Record: 13-3
Singles Record: 10-2
Doubles Record: 3-1
It can never be said that the Australian male tennis players who were mentored by the stern and disciplined Harry Hopman didn’t look out for each other – both on and off the court; Fred Stolle was no exception. A disciple of Hopman, Stolle won 10 of his 19 major titles playing men’s doubles. Seven complimentary majors were won in mixed doubles and he advanced to eight major singles finals, winning the French in 1965 and the U.S. Nationals in 1966.
At a sleek 6-foot-3, Stolle had the perfect build to serve-and-volley and cover the net. His size was a blessing, particularly on serve, where he could get on top of the ball, pound it into the service box corners and gracefully rush the net. On 16 occasions Stolle reached a major men’s doubles final, and he came away with ten trophies. He and Bob Hewitt were a recognizable and proficient doubles tandem, playing in six major finals and winning four – Wimbledon in 1962 and 1964 and the Australian in 1963 and 1964. All but one of those championships (Wimbledon 1962) were won against Aussie opponents, and two came against Roy Emerson, who would first team with Stolle at the 1965 Australian Championships. That final, against the veritable combination of John Newcombe and Tony Roche was as exciting as Melbourne had ever witnessed, a 3-6, 4-6, 13-11, 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory for Newcombe and Roche.
Emerson would be a perfect complement for Stolle, and together they won Stolle’s first French and U.S. National doubles titles in 1965 and a third Australian in 1966. In 1968 Rosewall added to his legacy and Stolle’s doubles victory list by teaming to win the 1968 French and 1969 US Open titles. That pair were finalists at Wimbledon in 1968 and 1970 and the Australian in 1969. A Fred Stolle-played doubles match, especially in the majors, was hardly ever easy – only three of the championships were won in straight sets, Wimbledon in 1964, the U.S. Championships in 1966, and the French in 1968.
Stolle battled his way into five straight major finals (Wimbledon in 1963 and 1964, the Australian in 1964 and 1965, and the U.S. Nationals in 1964) before he won his first major title. All but one, a 7-9, 1-6, 4-6 loss to American Chuck McKinley, came against Emerson, who won a dozen major singles titles from 1961-67, and was a formidable opponent when he advanced to a major final. Stolle got off the snide on his least favorite surface, clay, at the French in 1965, defeating Roche in four sets after dropping the first, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, 6-3. That victory proved that Stolle had the patience to keep his serve-and-volley game balanced when playing on a slower surface. Stolle told the Tennis Channel, “I lost a bunch of those to Emmo but against anybody else I felt comfortable … the French was not the one I was supposed to win, but it was exciting for me.”
At the 1966 U.S. Championships at Forest Hills, neither Stolle nor final opponent Newcombe were predicted to reach the championship match, as both were unseeded. But Stolle knocked off No.2 Emerson 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 and Newcombe outlasted No. 1 Manuel Santana, 6-3, 6-4, 6-8, 8-6. The title bout featuring two players of similar serve-and-volley prowess proved thrilling, as Stolle edged his compatriot, 4-6, 12-10, 6-3, 6-4. Aided by that impressive run in major events, Stolle finished in the World Top 10 four times (1963-66), reaching No. 2. He won 31 amateur titles in his career.
Stolle was a perfect three-for-three in titles playing with the Australian Davis Cup team, winning championships in 1964, 1965, and 1966. He earned a huge win over Dennis Ralston in the 1964 competition, rallying back from being down a break and the Aussies trailing 2-1, earning a 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 9-11, 6-4 victory. In 1967, Stolle made the jump to professional tennis, winning two singles and 13 doubles titles. As his career wound down, he became player-coach of the World Team Tennis New York Apples, winning league championships in 1976 and 1977.
Tennis always remained a fabric of Stolle’s life. He coached American Vitas Gerulaitis from 1977 until 1983 and took his considerable knowledge to the broadcasting booth, most notably with compatriot Cliff Drysdale on ESPN for nearly two decades. He was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1988, received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and earned Office of the Order of Australia distinction in 2005.
Australian Championships: F 1964, 1965
French Championships: W 1965
Wimbledon: F 1963, 1964, 1965
U.S. Nationals: W 1966
Australian Championships: W 1963, 1964, 1966
French Championships/Open: W 1965, 1968
Wimbledon: W 1962, 1964
U.S. Nationals/US Open: W 1965, 1966, 1969
Australian Championships/Open: W 1962, 1969*
French Championships: F 1962, 1963, 1964
Wimbledon: W 1961, 1964, 1969
U.S. Nationals: W 1962, 1965
*shared titled with Marty Riessen and Margaret Court