Born: July 20, 1921
Died: May 26, 2006
Town: Newark, New Jersey
Frederick Rudolph Schroeder was born July 20, 1921 in Newark. His family moved to the West Coast when he was a boy and, after showing early promise as a tennis player, “Ted” came under the tutelage of Perry Jones. Ted and Jack Kramer were the top schoolboy players in California. They became lifelong friends. Ted also played with Bobby Riggs and Gene Mako, who were also pupils of Jones.
While Kramer had a powerful all-around game and a killer instinct, Ted relied more on stamina and tenacity. He believed he could win matches by staying in points until his opponents made a mistake—despite the fact he had ordinary groundstrokes. Ted’s goal was always to get to net, where he had great touch and anticipation—and a deadly overhead.
After high school, Ted attended USC for two years and Stanford for two more. In 1940 and again in 1941, Ted and Jack won the U.S. Doubles Championship at Forest Hills. They were the youngest duo ever to capture the national doubles crown.
In 1942, Ted reached the finals of the singles competition, defeating Jimmy Evert (Chris’s dad) and Gar Mulloy on the way to a championship showdown with Frank Parker. Ted took the first two sets, Parker the second tow, and Ted won the fifth set 6 games to 2. That same weekend he teamed with Sid Wood and reached the finals, but lost to Mulloy and Billy Talbert. Ted did won the mixed doubles alongside teenager Louise Brough. Ted also won the national collegiate doubles title at Forest Hills, teaming with Stanford teammate Larry Dee.
Ted’s net game made him a great doubles partner. The Schroeder-Kramer team won the U.S. title again in 1947. A year later he reached the finals for the fifth time, with Parker, and in 1949 he and Gar Mulloy reached the Wimbledon finals.
Following his Forest Hills victories, Ted enlisted in the Navy and eventually became a fighter pilot. After serving in in World War II, Ted continued his amateur career while working as an executive for a refrigeration company. Never a fulltime player, he nonetheless ranked among the best in the world. He consistently beat Pancho Gonzalez, the top-ranked amateur, and won the singles title at Wimbledon in 1949. He also played Davis Cup each year from 1946 to 1949.
After Ted’s Wimbledon triumph, he achieved his first #1 world ranking. He had been the #1 U.S. player in 1942. Kramer, who had already turned pro, wanted his friend to join him on the pro tour. Ted was reluctant, and after losing to Gonzalez at the U.S. Open (after holding a 2-set lead) missed his chance for a big payday. He never did turn pro, and from that point on curtailed his tennis playing in the early 1950s. He made his last Davis Cup appearance in 1951.
Had Ted focused more on his game, or joined the pro circuit, few doubt that he would rank among the Top 10 Americans of all-time. He was enshrined in the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1966. Ted remained a friend and business partner of Kramer’s, investing in racehorses together. Ted passed away at 84 in 2006 from cancer in his home in La Jolla, California.