Pictures of Neale Fraser
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In this video, Neale Fraser explores the image archives of Tennis Australia and reminisces about some highlights of his extensive involvement in Davis Cup tennis, and tennis in general.
Hi I’m Neale Fraser, I was born 3rd October 1933. I’ve have been involved in tennis for sixty-odd years and loved every minute of it. I was born in Victoria and grew up mainly in South Yarra. Fortunately enough my parents moved into a house which was right next door to some tennis courts, and having two brothers and two sisters our parents encouraged us to go into the tennis courts and play tennis and that’s how we started to play tennis.
Davis Cup ties took us all the way around the world. As a player I played not many ties because I only played about four or five years, but as the champion nation in those days you only played the one match a year called the Challenge Round. but then I became captain of the Davis Cup team and 24 years I was captain. I played something like 75, I was captain for 75 ties.
That’s a Davis Cup team of 1955, ‘56, maybe ‘57 I’m not too sure which year because it includes Lew Hoad, Roy Emerson, Ashley Cooper, Mal Anderson and myself, with the captain at the time Harry Hopman. I’m not too sure exactly Whether Mal was told to lie down and rest or he’d hurt himself or we were giving him some sympathy or we were sort of saying ‘what were you doing lying down?’ but it’s a I think a rather happy picture rather than an unfortunate one.
In 1973 we had to win our Zone which we did in Asian Zone...and thenin the semi-final we had to play Czechoslovakia who won their section of the European Zone and these are the semi-finals of the 1973 Davis Cup. The Czechs... this one is they were going out onto the court. Jan Kode and followed by other team members...possibly going out for the opening ceremony and this is the Australians with Laver and Newcombe followed by Rosewall and Mal Anderson going out and this is at Kooyong, 1973 November. They had won through. We had won through our zone, they had won through the European Zone and the winner of it was to go over and play America in Cleveland. And then we went on to Cleveland and played the final against the Americans who were the holders of the Cup at that time didn’t have to win their Zone. It was called the Challenge Round and Australia played America in the Challenge Round in Cleveland, and that tie has very happy memories for me for many reasons. It was the first indoor Davis Cup final ever and it was played in Cleveland in the middle of winter in early December... absolutely freezing outside but in the hall that they played the tie in, it was the Cleveland Town Hall converted into a stadium and they laid a court. But hardly any people came to it because they were unaware of the tie and it was bad weather and that. But it was the time that I managed to assemble probably the greatest Davis Cup team that Australia’s ever produced, in having John Newcombe, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and Mal Anderson was the fourth member of the team. As it turned out only two players actually played the whole tie. Laver and Newcombe played the singles and they teamed up for the doubles as well and they managed to win all the matches and we defeated America five-nothing and we got the Davis Cup back to Australia which we thought was it’s rightful place.
Well that is in the time of the doubles match when Newcombe and Laver are playing and of course they change ends every two games and I was discussing tactics with them - not that we’d had to discuss too much because they played absolutely brilliant tennis, and destroyed the opposition which was Erik van Dillen and Stan Smith. And they never played too much tennis together other than Davis Cup. In fact I don’t know whether they played any Grand Slams Newcombe and Laver, but it was an ideal doubles combination I was always a great believer in a left-hander and a right-hander doubles combination this is the commentators... this is Jack Kramer interviewing the players. He was the commentator for the television at that time and I don’t know whether I mentioned or not that Davis Cup final was the first Davis Cup final televised back to Australia. Prior to that it was in 1955 when we played Davis Cup over there it was only on radio, there was no television and so this is Jack Kramer, I’m not too sure... this would have been a commentator from the network that broadcast it, the American network and this is Laver and Newcombe being interviewed afterwards and this is a press for the newspaper people you can see that its just set up in a room and a table and there’s no facilities for the journalists or that, like they have nowadays, set particular rooms where you go to and I’m even standing up at the back I don’t even have a chair to sit down, on but Laver and Newcombe are discussing the match and the various press people from around the world, very few from around the world I should say mainly Australians and Americans that would do the interviewing.
That’s a Davis Cup tie in New Zealand and obviously this company lent us a car had to drive around in and they wanted some publicity or promotion for it. And that’s myself standing by the car Davis Cup players of Alexander and Edmondson and Phil Dent in the background, a casual photograph but that’d be staged I would think with the idea of repaying the gentleman who lent us the car to whatever value he could get out of it
This one is in, is possibly in Australia because there’s too many players involved there we’ve got Peter McNamara, Tony Roche, Brad Drewett, John Newcombe, Ross Case and in the front with myself is Geoff Masters. The blonde headed boy in the middle is Ray Kelly Brad Drewett eventually became president of the ATP, the Association of Tennis Professionals.
This one is a Davis cup tie in Hobart and that’s Jim Entink sitting in the background with the the white hat on as the referee and that’s Tony Roche playing there, or sitting there having a rest in between and it’s a I can well remember the match because we were playing Indonesia Hobart’s first Davis Cup tie ever, up at the Domain and the Indonesians were not too keen on playing on grass and thatand were a little bit out of their depth and Tony Roche was playing well and he won the first set 6-love at change of ends there he hardly lost a game in the second set and I said to him "well Tony I’d like you to keep it up I’ve never sat and watched a Davis cup tie where someone’s won it 6-love, 6-love , 6-love, and he duly fulfilled that task and won 18 games straight and it doesn’t happen too often in Davis Cup. That’s Ramanathan Krishnan, an Indian player we became very good friends even though I beat him in the semi-finals at Wimbledon, the year I won the singles in 1960, he was my semi-final opponent and then we played many Davis Cup ties Australia vs India, mainly in India in various places Bangalore and that, and he was captain of the Indian Davis Cup team and then later on in life we played a lot of tennis together in Senior Circuit and we had a lot of fun. But I was lucky enough over the years, no way did I ever think I would visit as many places as I have and enjoyed so much about tennis.