1999 ATP TOURNAMENT THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER MONDAY, AUGUST 9, 1999 Trabert was city's best player
BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Alvin Bunis was home on leave from the Navy in the winter of 1944 when he received a call from a man named Arch Trabert.
Bunis was one of the top tennis players in Cincinnati at the time, and the man wanted him to hit around with his son Tony, who was developing into a decent player himself.
The Traberts had a key to the Walnut Hills High School gym. On a Saturday, the group went into the gym, put tape down on the basketball court for lines and set up a volleyball net the height of a tennis net.
Then, Bunis started to play with "this roly-poly little freckle-faced kid." Tony Trabert was 14 years old.
"I was aware of the good city players we had," Trabert said. "I was somewhat in awe and very appreciative one of the best players in Cincinnati was willing to spend a little time with me. I think they were willing to do it because I would listen. I was really pleased and thrilled to have help from people who did it a lot better than I did."
FUN FACT Cincinnati played host to a Davis Cup tie for the first time in 1952. The term "tie" comes from the British at the turn of the century. USTA spokesman Randy Walker said "tie" means contest or match -- because the two teams are tied, then compete to break the tie.
"You knew he was good," Bunis said. "He had some national experience already. He was sort of on his way."
Tony Trabert, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, is the greatest player ever to come out of Cincinnati. He won the NCAA championship in 1951 while attending the University of Cincinnati, where he was on the basketball team.
"I was a pretty well-rounded kind of a player, which I thought was necessary so you could win on alternative surfaces," Trabert said. "And I was the kind of guy that when I went out there, I wanted to get it over with as quickly as I could because I knew you're only safe back in the locker room. So I didn't want to go out and mess around."
As a pro, he won singles titles at Wimbledon (1955), the French Open (1954, '55) and the U.S. Championships (1953, '55), and doubles titles at the Australian Open (1955) and French Open (1950, '54, '55).
"I'm proud of what I did accomplish," Trabert said. "We didn't make any money like they do now, but they can't take the thrill of the title from us."
His 1955 season was one of the best in the history of the sport.
"I must say, from the first day I hit a tennis ball with him, I knew he was going to be prominent in that world," Bunis said. "Just how prominent was in the hands of the gods.
"Tony Trabert had the heaviest groundstrokes of anybody I ever played against. When just a normal ball he hit came at you, it had more thrust to it than any player I ever played with. You experienced that and you knew there was something quite special about this young fella."
A LOOK BACK...
Copyright 1999 The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.
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