Vic Seixas, 8/30/1923 – 7/5/2024, Tennis Hall Of Famer And Three-Time US National Age-Group Squash Champion   
by Rob Dinerman

July 7, 2024 --- DSR is sad to report the passing this past Friday of Vic Seixas, 100, a 15-time tennis Grand Slam champion and three-time U. S. Nationals 40-and-over squash champion who had been the oldest living tennis Grand Slam champion and the oldest living national squash age-group champion as well.

Seixas won Wimbledon in 1953 (beating Denmark’s Kurt Nielsen in the final) and pulled off a Singles/Men’s Doubles/Mixed Doubles “triple” at the U.S. Nationals at Forest Hills in 1954, defeating Australian Rex Hartwig in the singles final and teaming up with Tony Trabert and Doris Hart to also win the Men’s and Mixed Doubles events respectively. Hart, who also engineered a U.S. Nationals “triple” that year, partnered Seixas to seven of his eight Mixed Doubles Grand Slam triumphs, while Trabert was Seixas’s partner in four of his five Men’s Doubles Grand Slam crowns, all during the decade of the 1950’s.

Although Seixas continued playing high-level tennis throughout the decade of the 1960’s --- his last U.S. Open appearance was in 1969, 29 years after he debuted in that event as a 17-year-old in 1940 --- by the early part of that decade he had taken up competitive squash as well, playing out of the Merion Cricket Club, and he won the U. S. National 40-and-over squash championship three years in a row from 1964-66. In 1964, he defeated the higher-seeded Carter Fergusson in the semis and the four-time defending 40’s champion Cal MacCracken in the final. MacCracken led two games to one, but Seixas’s superior stamina and athleticism, which had served him so well throughout his tennis career, came to the fore on the host Naval Academy’s hot courts and enabled him to wear MacCracken down in the single-figure (15-4, 15-8) final two games.

One year later, Seixas --- who earlier that season had reached the final of the Pennsylvania State A tournament before barely losing to the 22-years-younger Penn star Howard Coonley --- again rallied from two-one down, this time in his semifinal with Bob Stuckert, following which Seixas won the final in three single-figure games against Fergusson. Then, in 1967, Seixas, still riding the momentum of his week-old triumph in Atlantic City --- where he defeated both the three-time U.S. National champion Diehl Mateer in the semis and 1966 Intercollegiate champion Coonley in the final --- made it a U.S. 40-and-over three-peat by out-playing Del Fuller, 15-7 in the fifth, in the semis and MacCracken in a dominant 22-minute 15-4, 5 and 10 final.

Seixas almost certainly would have even more U.S. 40-and-over titles were it not for the fact that Mateer and Henri Salaun, who between them won the U.S. Nationals seven times during the eight-year period from 1954-61, aged into the 40-and-over division during the late 1960’s. After losing in the semis of the 1967 edition of this championship to Stuckert (who then lost to Salaun), Seixas returned to the final in both 1968 (beating Stuckert with a 15-3 fifth game in the semis) and 1969, losing both times to Salaun, who won the U.S. National 40-and-over six times in seven years, including five-straight from 1967-71. In Seixas’s last U.S. 40-and-over appearance in 1970, he had a five-game quarterfinal win over another former star in a different sport (baseball Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn) before losing to Mateer.

In 1971, Seixas was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. To the end of his life, he remained close friends with his contemporary (born just one week apart) and 1941 U.S. Junior Davis Cup teammate Newt Meade, a two-time U.S. National Doubles age-group squash champion. When the Cynwyd Club in suburban Philadelphia held a lunch to celebrate Meade’s 100th birthday in August 2023, one of the event’s highlights occurred midway through when Seixas and Meade had a “live” phone call hooked up to a speaker phone, thereby enabling the 50-plus attendees to listen in. Meade --- still playing occasional recreational tennis --- and Seixas are remarkable examples of longevity among racquet-sports practitioners, and both of them, each in his own way, made noteworthy contributions to both tennis and squash during their long and overlapping lives.