50 Years, 50 Heroes: Frank Froehling, 1972

by: Blair Henley | November 27, 2018

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Frank Froehling has built or resurfaced more than 5,000 courts in Florida. (AP)

For our sixth annual Heroes Issue, we’ve selected passages from the last 50 years of Tennis Magazine and TENNIS.com—starting in 1969 and ending in 2018—to highlight 50 worthy heroes. Each passage acknowledges the person as they were then; each subsequent story catches up with the person, or highlights their impact, as they are now. It is best summed up with a quote from the great Arthur Ashe, that was featured on the cover of the November/December issue of this magazine in 2015: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

Why did U.S. Davis Cup Captain Ed Turville and Coach Dennis Ralston, on whom he relies closely for counsel, choose Frank Froehling instead of Clark Graebner as America’s No. 2 singles player in the 3–2 Challenge Round victory over Rumania at Charlotte, N.C.? The choice turned out to be a good one, as Froehling erased a two-set deficit and beat Ion Tiriac, 3–6, 1–6, 6–1, 6–3, 8–6, in the crucial second match. - Tennis Magazine / January 1972

Days before the U.S. Davis Cup team was set to take on Romania in 1971, Dennis Ralston called for a challenge match between Clark Graebner and Frank Froehling, the No. 2 and No. 3
American players, respectively. Down two sets to one, Graebner walked off the court, effectively conceding a match he felt was unnecessary. Froehling got the nod—and a career-defining victory.

Froehling also reached the U.S. National Championship finals in singles, doubles and twice in mixed doubles in the early 1960s, peaking before tennis went Open. But it was his post-tennis career in court construction that has perhaps been his greatest contribution to the game.

In over 40 years in the business, Froehling has helped grow the sport by building or resurfacing more than 5,000 courts in his home state of Florida. He continues to work full time at the age of 76, despite battling his toughest opponent, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, since 2000. He’s currently in remission for a second time.

“I don’t feel like I was left out or benefitted less,” Froehling says of the money and celebrity that accompanied Open tennis. “I really believe my biggest contribution is raising the quality of tennis courts in South Florida.”

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