Friday, June 11, 2004

Frazer's service to tennis puts him in Hall of Fame

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

J. Howard "Bumpy" Frazer, a decade removed from his tenure as president of the United States Tennis Association, still serves on three USTA committees and one International Tennis Federation committee. He turned 80 last Thursday but can't say when he'll retire.

"If I didn't love it, I wouldn't do it," he said.

That's the easiest way to explain how a self-described poor tennis player will headline the class of Cincinnati Tennis Hall of Fame inductees, to be announced today. The Cincinnati native and his wife, Jo, have for 35 years tirelessly supported the sport they're passionate about.

In 2003, Frazer was given the International Tennis Hall of Fame's Golden Achievement Award, the highest honor accorded a non-player.

He was just the fifth recipient of the award, and the first American. It is given to individuals who have made important contributions to tennis in the fields of administration, promotion or education. Frazer has served numerous roles for the USTA since 1970 and is a former vice president of the ITF.

Frazer and his wife received the USTA's Samuel Hardy Award in 1983 for service to tennis.

Yet this honor, Frazer insists, isn't overshadowed by the others. Frazer is skipping the annual ITF general meetings this week in Barcelona, Spain, to attend a reception tonight for the Cincinnati hall.

"All my tennis history started here," he said.

He and Jo began in 1969 as co-chairs of the entertainment committee for the Western Open, the pro tournament now known as the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters. The next year, Frazer began a four-year run as that tournament's chairman. One of Frazer's greatest legacies is the $300 million Arthur Ashe Stadium, which opened in 1997, at the U.S. Open. He oversaw its construction during a 10-year tenure on the USTA Board of Directors.

"It's the best tennis stadium in the world," he said. "I'm thrilled with what we accomplished."

Frazer's only regret is that today's honor couldn't be a joint award. His wife was chairperson of the USTA men's rankings committee for 25 years and hosted the president's box at the U.S. Open during his two-year term as president.

"It's very much been a partnership," Frazer said.


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