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Honoring Tennis Ace Vic Seixas, One of Philadelphia's Best Athletic Champions

Posted on Thursday, November 26, 2020

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Tennis Career Highlights

  • Won Wimbledon in Singles in 1953
  • Won the U.S. National Championship in Singles at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York in 1954
  • Won the French Championships in Doubles in 1954 and 1955
  • Won the Australian Championships in Doubles in 1955
  • Won 15 major championships during his career
  • Achieved highest ranking of #3 in the World in 1953 (Seixas was ranked in the U.S. Top 10 thirteen times between 1942 and 1966)
  • Competed in 55 Davis Cup Matches for the United States from 1951-1957 (Member of the 1954 US Championship Davis Cup Team)
  • Achieved Overall Davis Cup Record: 38-17 (Singles Record: 24-12 and Doubles Record: 14-5)
  • Player Style: Right Hander

According to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, "Vic Seixas was the face of American tennis" from 1940 to 1968. 

Elias Victor ("Vic") Seixas, Jr. was born on August 30, 1923 in Philadelphia. Prior to winning his international championships, Seixas grew up in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia at 6414 Morris Park Road. Seixas graduated from The William Penn Charter School (PC) in the East Falls section of Philadelphia where has was a scholar athlete who played multiple varsity sports including on the Penn Charter Tennis Team (captain), Basketball Team and Squash Team. 

Vic Seixas, Penn Charter, Class of 1941

According to the PC Class Record of 1941, "The [Penn Charter] tennis team at the start of practice in the early Spring [1941] did not look too well. Only five of last year's twelve players were left. Captain [Vic] Seixas was as usual number one man; Wilmore Taylor was number two; Rossheim came from fifteen position of last year to number three position; next came Hirschwald, Crolius, Coll. These seven men received besides, PC's gold tennis balls for winning the InterAc Championship, the twenty-ninth straight victory for Penn Charter, and the Interscholastic Championship. In the InterAc League we did not drop a match and in the Inter-Scholastic League, out of forty games, the team lost but two... The team owes a great deal of its success to its Coach Edward Faulkner."

Penn Charter Tennis Team, 1941, InterAc Champions (Vic Seixas, Captain in kneeling in the center holding the trophy))Seixas was on the "Blue" team at PC where every student is assigned to either the Yellow or Blue team for intramural competition at the school's annual Color Day athletic contests. At PC, Seixas was also a member of the Board of Prefects, Trident Society, Varsity Club and Cum Laude organizations.

Seixas graduated from Penn Charter in Philadelphia in 1941. The PC Class Record yearbook humorously noted the following about Seixas in the section "As Seen By Their Classmates":

  • "Favorite Expression: Hi!"
  • "Where Usually Found: Contradicting a teacher"
  • "Chief Characteristic: All-American Boy"
  • "Needs: Humour"
  • "Ambition: World Tennis Champion"
  • "Destiny: Salvation Army"

Game On 

Seixas carried on his winning ways from Penn Charter ("Penn Charter! Penn Charter! Fight Harder! Fight Harder!"). The PC Class Record indicated that Seixas was going to attend the University of Miami.

During World War II, Seixas served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. However, when he returned from his service in the Army in 1946, Seixas studied at the University of North Carolina where he had a three-year career playing for the Tar Heels where he has regarded "by most as the greatest player in Carolina's tennis history." Seixas won 63 of his 66 singles matches when he earned All-American honors, and as a junior at UNC in 1948, Seixas advanced to the NCAA Singles Championship match. 

Wimbledon
Singles Champion: 1953
Doubles Finalist: 1952, 1954
Mixed Doubles Champion: 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956

US Nationals (predecessor to the US Open)
Singles Champion: 1954
Doubles Winner: 1952, 1954
Mixed Doubles Winner: 1953, 1954, 1955

French Championships (predecessor to Rolland Garros, the French Open)
Singles Finalist: 1953
Doubles Champion: 1954, 1955
Mixed Doubles Champion: 1953

Australian Championships (predecessor to the Australian Open)
Singles Semi-Finalist: 1953
Doubles Champion: 1955

 

Vic Seixas, Wimbledon Singles Champion 1953

Fun Facts

Back when Seixas was a junior, it was more common for athletes to play multiple sports, for example, tennis in the Spring through Fall and squash in the Winter. At PC, Seixas played #2 on PC's Varsity Squash Team in 1941.

Penn Charter Squash Team - Vic Seixas Played #2, 1941 (Seixas is seated on the far right)

When Seixas was 42, he played 94 games over 4 hours to defeat 22-year old Aussie Bill Bowrey, 32-34, 6-4, 10-8, during the 1966 Philadelphia Grass Championship which were played at the Merion Cricket Club.  

At the 1966 U.S. Nationals, the 43-year-old Seixas was the oldest entrant in the tournament, and he defeated 19-year-old Stan Smith in five sets: 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 2-6, 6-4.

In 1997, Seixas (OPC 1941) was inducted into Penn Charter's Athletic Honor Society including for his accomplishments on the Penn Charter Tennis Team and winning Wimbledon. Other notable members of PC's Athletic Honor Society include Matt Ryan (OPC, 2003) who is the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons; Mark S. Gubicza (OPC 1981) who won the World Series as a pitcher for the Kansas City Royals; and John B. "Jack" Kelly, Jr. (OPC 1949) who was a rower and won the Bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

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