Mike Davies Passes Away

Notice: Undefined variable: page_title in /home/tennisne/public_html/wp-content/themes/dante-child/single.php on line 205

Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.

Mike Davies Tennis News

Photo courtesy Tennis Hall of Fame

Tennis has lost one of the men who molded the current professional game and made it possible for the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams with the death of Mike Davies.

The compromising Welshman who played a major role in the foundation of Open tennis and served as executive director of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and both general manager and Marketing Director of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), has died in his American home at the age of 79.

Davies was the executive responsible for placing chairs on the court for the players during change-overs, the use of yellow tennis balls rather than white because they were easier to see on television, and granting permission for players to wear colored clothing.

On hearing of Davies’ passing, the ATP World Tour’s Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode said: “Today is a very sad day for men’s professional tennis. Mike was a true pioneer and widely regarded as one of the sport’s most influential leaders. His contributions to the game will be felt for many years to come. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Marshall Happer, who headed the United State Tennis Association in the early 1990s, added: “Mike Davies was one of the five most important people in history for the business of professional tennis and may be the least well known by outsiders, but he was well known by everyone on the inside of the game. Every professional player and every professional tournament benefited from the innovations and leadership that Mike gave to the game.”

As a player Davies was the British no.1 in the late 1950’s after first catching the eye of Fred Perry. He was a Wimbledon men’s doubles finalist after some coaching help from Harry Hopman and spent four years in the British Davis Cup team.

Controversy followed when he joined Jack Kramer’s professional touring group along with big names such as Pancho Gonzalez, Lew Hoad, Tony Trabert and Ken Rosewall. He was subsequently banned from playing the majors as well as Davis Cup and this became the catalyst of Davies’ lifelong drive to revolutionize the sport.

However Davies really made his name working with Lamar Hunt as the Executive Director at World Championship Tennis (WCT). In 1981, Davies he joined Butch Buchholz as Marketing Director of the Association of Tennis Professionals and eventually took over as Executive Director.

He joined the International Tennis Federation in 1987, holding positions as General Manager and Marketing Director. In 1990, he created the Grand Slam Cup, which was played in Munich from 1990 to 1999. Davies also served as CEO of the Pilot Pen International in New Haven.

“He was really an unsung hero in the pro tennis world,” said Donald Dell, the former player and sports marketing maverick. “He wasn’t a self-promoter. He didn’t go around talking about himself and what he accomplished. Mike Davies was really about ten years ahead of his time. He was always about ten years ahead of where the game was heading.”

Bucholz added: “Mike was always very creative. “He had a vision for what the sport needed to become. He so strongly believed in Open tennis and professional tennis. We’ve lost a pioneer. If you look at where the sport is today, he played a major role. There are so many things he touched.”

Davies was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012 and the institution’s president Stan Smith said: “Mike Davies was a special guy and he will be sorely missed as a both a leader in our sport and a great friend.

He was a visionary and a highly effective leader who saw the potential that tennis could have to become a viable, successful professional sport. He worked creatively and steadfastly to make it happen in a way that was advantageous for players, promoters, sponsors, broadcasters and fans alike. Our sport is what it is today because of Mike’s leadership.”

Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.