Frank Parker, Early Tennis Professional, Dies at Age 81
As a 10-year-old in Wisconsin in the mid-1920s, Franciszek Andzej Paikowski earned $2 a week as a tennis ball boy at the Milwaukee Town Club. He kept a nickel and gave the rest to his widowed mother to help support the family.
The value of money was learned early by Paikowski, who later simplified his Polish name to Frank Parker and become one of tennis’ first touring professionals.
The two-time U.S. singles champion (1944 and 1945) and one-time Wimbledon doubles winner died Thursday in San Diego at age 81. A blood clot in his lung was listed as the cause of death. Services will be held Wednesday in Chicago.
At one time, Parker was ranked among the top 10 players in the world. Known for his backhand and coolness under pressure, he was described by one writer as “the human backboard.”
He won the French title in 1948 and 1949, the only two times he entered the tournament at Roland Garros, and teamed with Pancho Gonzalez in 1949 to win his only Wimbledon title.
His love of the game was such that in 1968, at 52, he became the oldest player to compete in the U.S. Open.