Frederick ("Ted") Rudolph Schroeder (July 20, 1921 – May 26, 2006) was an American tennis player who won the two most prestigious amateur tennis titles, Wimbledon and the United States Open. He was the Number 1-ranked American player in 1942 and the Number 2 for 4 consecutive years, 1946 through 1949. He was born in Newark, New Jersey, but developed as a tennis player in Southern California under the guidance of Perry T. Jones.
In his 1979 autobiography, the long-time tennis promoter and great player Jack Kramer included Schroeder in his list of the 21 greatest players of all time. Schroeder, says Kramer, "won with heart and stamina, but lacked in the simple mechanics."
"As a player," Kramer writes, "Schroed had weaknesses with his groundstrokes. Long before the rest of us, he was rushing the net because he couldn't rely on his backhand or forehand.... he had the ideal attacking grass game: a terrific overhead and volley (especially the backhand) and that most valuable of all tools, a strong second serve. Also, Schroed was tough physically, at a time of long best-of-five deuce sets, and he was a great fighter."
Schroeder was an almost exact contemporary of Kramer's, having been born only 10 days earlier in 1921, and they began to play against each other as top boy players in the mid-1930s. Schroeder's career is similar to Kramer's in that they both became top players whose careers were then interrupted by World War II. They were also life-long friends and at least once Schroeder mortgaged his house on short notice in order to be able to lend an unsolicited $25,000 to Kramer. Schroeder, however, attended college for 4 years, the first two at the University of Southern California (USC), and the last two at Stanford University, while Kramer, apparently, spent only two years at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. After the war Kramer proved himself to be slightly better than Schroeder in the amateur ranks. Kramer then turned professional, where he immediately established himself as the best player in the world by demolishing the pro champion, Bobby Riggs, by 69 victories to 20 losses in the 1948 tour.
Riggs then semi-retired and became the promoter of the tour. He and Kramer decided that the only player who could oppose Kramer for a financially successful tour would be Schroeder. The youthful Pancho Gonzales was the reigning American amateur champion, due to his upset win at the U.S. Open Championships in 1948, but during his brief career had been beaten by Schroeder 8 matches out of 9. Schroeder, playing during vacation time from his job, won Wimbledon in June of 1949. According to his obituary in the New York Times, he "also captivated London as an outgoing, straightforward Yank smoking a corn-cob pipe and earned the nickname 'Lucky Ted' there for his five-set escapes."
Following his Wimbledon victory, Riggs and Kramer offered Schroeder $25,000 to turn pro after he won the up-coming 1949 U.S. Open. Schroeder agreed. But Gonzales upset their plans by beating the heavily favored Schroeder in a five-set final that lasted nearly five hours — it has been called the 11th greatest match of all time. Gonzales lost the 1-hour and 15-minute first set 16-18 but finally managed to prevail in the 5th set. Kramer writes that in spite of his friendship with Schroeder, he has always felt that Schroeder subconsciously "tanked" the match, in order to avoid the rigors of the professional tour. In any event, Gonzales was now the two-time American champion and Kramer and Riggs were obliged to sign him, instead of Schroeder, to a professional contract.
According to his obituary in The Times, however, Schroeder was never much more than a part-time player after the War, being preoccupied with his family and his career as vice president of a commercial refrigeration equipment company, and had never really intended to turn professional. "Schroeder always said he took his tennis far too emotionally to allow him to treat it as a full-time job."
Schroeder remained a successful amateur player for a few more years and then faded from view. He died in La Jolla, California.
Schroeder was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1966, two years before his old friend Jack Kramer.
Grand Slam record
- Singles champion: 1949
- Doubles finalist 1949
- Singles champion: 1942
- Singles finalist 1949
- Doubles champion: 1940, 1941, 1947
- Doubles finalist: 1942, 1948
- Mixed Doubles champion: 1942
- Writing in 1979, Kramer considered the best ever to have been either Don Budge (for consistent play) or Ellsworth Vines (at the height of his game). The next four best were, chronologically, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs, and Pancho Gonzales. After these six came the "second echelon" of Rod Laver, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Gottfried von Cramm, Ted Schroeder, Jack Crawford, Pancho Segura, Frank Sedgman, Tony Trabert, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Bjorn Borg, and Jimmy Connors. He felt unable to rank Henri Cochet and René Lacoste accurately but felt they were among the very best.
- Tennis Magazine, on page 330 of The Tennis Book, Edited by Michael Bartlett and Bob Gillen
- The Game, My 40 Years in Tennis (1979), Jack Kramer with Frank Deford (ISBN 0-399-12336-9)
- Man with a Racket, The Autobiography of Pancho Gonzales, as Told to Cy Rice (1959)