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Kovacs was the No. 3-ranked American amateur in 1940 and the No. 2 in 1941.[6] He was ranked World No. 3 for 1946 in Karoly Mazak's amateur-pro combined rankings and the World No. 3 pro for 1941 by Ray Bowers.[1][7] His best amateur result was a runner-up finish in the U.S. Amateur National Singles Championship in 1941, beating Jack Kramer and Don McNeill before losing to Bobby Riggs.[8] The 1942 professional tour consisted of round-robin matches between Don Budge, Bobby Riggs, Fred Perry, and Kovacs. The seasoned Budge ended up with the best record while Kovacs had the second best. From 1943 to the end of WWII, Kovacs served in the army.

In the 1947 pro circuit, Kovacs scored 10 matches against Bobby Riggs', while losing 11 matches to Riggs, the 1947 Pro Champion. (See Bobby Riggs#Professional career.) In the pro circuit, Kovacs' greatest result was winning the World Pro Championships held at Lakewood just outside Cleveland where he defeated Pancho Segura in the final 62, 36, 63, 16, 97 on June 17, 1951. Unfortunately a week later he withdrew from the U.S. Pro Tennis Championships won by his last victim, Segura. The previous year, in 1950, he had reached the final of that tournament, losing to Pancho Segura. Kovacs also reached the semi-finals of the US Pro a further 4 times.

As tennis great Jack Kramer, and Kovacs' near contemporary, has written: "Kovacs had picture strokes, maybe the best Backhand, but he could never win anything because he didn't have any idea how to go about winning. He never had a set plan for a match. Hell, he never had a set plan for a shot. He could sort of decide what to do with it halfway through the stroke." Kovacs' best shot, says Kramer, was "a hard, angled backhand crosscourt, but he could never figure out how to set it up so he could take advantage of it." As Riggs said to Kramer one day: "...don't worry about Frankie.... He looks great, but give him long enough and he'll find some way to keep you in the match, and give him a little longer and he'll find a way to beat himself." Nevertheless, Kovacs had a very positive win-loss record against Kramer both in the amateur circuit (in that one Kramer almost never beat Kovacs) and in the pro circuit too (Joe McCauley, in his History of Professional Tennis, says that it was "reported in the [1951] PLTA year book that, as of October 1951, Frank Kovacs held a remarkable 14-3 lead over Jack Kramer in their head-to-head meetings.") .

A blistered racket hand probably decided his grueling fourth-round defeat (2-6, 17-15, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3) by cunning lefty Jaroslav Drobny, and prevented Jake from winning the first post-war Wimbledon. But he came back awesomely in 1947, the first to win in shorts, making short work of everybody. Whipping doubles partner Tom Brown in 48 minutes, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, he lost merely 37 games in seven matches, the most lopsided run to the championship.

Though the tennis activity was very limited between 1943 and 1945 Kovacs dominated all the players he met as Welby Van Horn, Don McNeill, Adrian Quist, Bill Tilden, Jack Crawford, Jack Jossi, Martin Buxby, Joe Whalen, George Lott, George Lyttleton Rogers

Kovacs was also responsible for something of a scandal over money in tennis, which before the Open era was strictly divided into amateurs and professionals. After he was barred from amateur tennis in 1941 (leaving with a characteristic witticism - "Amateur tennis stinks - there's no money in it any more."), he talked about how money was quietly - and widely - paid to supposedly amateur players for entering tournaments.

After being evicted from the amateur ranks, he and Riggs turned professional at the same time. From December 1941 through April 1942 the Pro tour consisted of round-robin matches between Don Budge, Bobby Riggs, Fred Perry, and Kovacs (with Gene Mako, Lester Stoefen and even Bill Tilden, for one match, as replacements). Budge ended up with the best record, 52 wins to 18 losses, ahead of Riggs 36-36 and Kovacs, 25 wins to 26 losses : Kovacs even led the very first part of the tour mainly because he had defeated Budge in their first five matches. After the tour he entered the U.S. Pro Championships and reached the semifinals and, as with the other great pros of the time, he then joined the U.S. Army. He was still a force in professional tennis into the 1950s; he played Pancho Gonzales in a match at the California Tennis Club in San Francisco in 1955 and nearly beat him. He spent his later years teaching tennis at the Davie Tennis Stadium in Piedmont, in Florida and at public courts near his home in Oakland.

In 1952 Kramer assumed the position of Promoter himself, the boss of pro tennis, a role he would hold for over a decade, well past his playing days Kramer's last tour as a principal was against the first man he recruited, Frank Sedgman, the Aussie who was tops among amateurs. Kramer won 54-41. An arthritic back led to Kramer's retirement as a player, but he kept the tour going, resurrecting one of his victims, Gonzalez, who became the strongman.

His cousin was the famous entertainer Ernie Kovacs. He married San Francisco vocal coach Judy Davis in 1950 and they lived for many years in their home on Ivanhoe Road in the Rockridge district of Oakland, until his death in 1990.


Frank Kovacs Rackets
  • Frank Kovacs signature racket ($299 very scarce, have not seen another)
  • Very unique early open throat racket
  • More scarce than the HAZELL'S STREAMLINE WOOD TENNIS RACQUETs that almost always sell for over $500 USD
  • Below are several picture links for famous collector Frank Kovacs signature racket
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Frank Kovacs Tennis Racket
Frank Kovacs wiki references
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  • The History of Professional Tennis, by Joe McCauley, page 66
  • Mazak, Karoly (2010). The Concise History of Tennis, p. 74.
  • Bowers, Ray (2006). "Forgotten Victories: A History of Pro Tennis 1926-1945, Chapter XI: AMERICA, 1940-1941", Tennis Server: Between the Lines, 1st October 2006


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