Important Events aka Major Events on the Old Pro Tour

thrust

Hall of Fame
At Wembley in 1968, there were actually 3 pro tennis events. In spring in a NTL event, Laver beat Rosewall pretty badly in 3 straight sets. Then the BBC 2 event was played in April i think, where Laver again beat Rosewall in 2 sets. This event was billed as "World Professional Tennis Championshpis" and transmitted on tv as first ever pro tennis event to Germany. First time i actually saw those mythical, so long hidden pro players on tv. The Kramer event in autumn was a combined NTL/WCT event and so called by the trustful Lance Tingay, who makes no errors in those questions, also so billed in the 1968 World of Tennis yearbook. I saw pictures of Kramer in a line with those pros present. Kramer at that time was no longer the regular boss of the pros, that were McCall and Hunt. He was still operating as the organizer of the very important open Los Angeles South West Pacific event. Maybe he still had the copyright on it and brought the bill Tournament of Champions with him to London. Nevertheless, I don't see it as a direct follower of the TOC, which were played at Forest Hills 1957-1959.
There was a Wembley tournament in 68 in which Rosewall beat Newcombe in the final. There was also a tournament in Paris, RG, in which Laver beat Newcombe in the final. I am pretty sure both were organized by Kramer.
 

urban

Legend
That the TOCs in the 50s had better prize money, is wrong. Wembley KTOC 1968 as successor of the London pro event had very good prize money and a very good draw of 16. Rosewall got 5000 British pounds for his win, his 6th Wembley win. In the next years the event was succeeded by the important open British Covered Court Championships, later Benson and Hedges tournaments with at least 32 draws. Winners included Laver (2), who won 6 Wembleys alltogether, Nastase, Connors (2), Borg and McEnroe (3).
The Roland Garros pro event in 1968 was played a week after Wimbledon on clay, and was the last French Pro. In some public statements is was billed as European Pro Championships.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
That the TOCs in the 50s had better prize money, is wrong. Wembley KTOC 1968 as successor of the London pro event had very good prize money and a very good draw of 16. Rosewall got 5000 British pounds for his win, his 6th Wembley win. In the next years the event was succeeded by the important open British Covered Court Championships, later Benson and Hedges tournaments with at least 32 draws. Winners included Laver (2), who won 6 Wembleys alltogether, Nastase, Connors (2), Borg and McEnroe (3).
The Roland Garros pro event in 1968 was played a week after Wimbledon on clay, and was the last French Pro. In some public statements is was billed as European Pro Championships.
That final RG Pro had a very strong field, Newk outlasted Rosewall but lost the final to Laver.
The 1968 Wembley TOC had a total purse of 20,000 pounds, but the Forest Hills TOC in the late fifties had national broadcast contracts, which fetched huge amounts of cash for the tour.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
And yes the perception was that there were no pro majors at that time. The term didn't exist until Peter Rowley mentioned it in his Rosewall biography I believe. Writers like Raymond Lee foolishly and in error promoted this myth but I understand he doesn't believe that now.

To call the Important Tournaments on the Old Pro Tour a major tournament much like the US Open today is overstating the importance of the Important Tournaments on the Old Pro Tour. They didn't have a set structure for tournaments in those days like they have now because everything was so unstable and they didn't have financial strength. How could they possible assume the French Pro was a so called Pro Major if it wasn't even going to be played?!

It's really not radical but just trying to correct incorrect information.
It seems clear from the pro player memoirs referring to that old pro era that the top pros did not make any attempt to win a Grand Slam of major pro events. They routinely avoided some of them if it was inconvenient to travel. Rosewall in 1963 and Laver in 1967 did not even mention winning a pro Grand Slam, which they surely would have done if the term had been current in those days.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
That the TOCs in the 50s had better prize money, is wrong. Wembley KTOC 1968 as successor of the London pro event had very good prize money and a very good draw of 16. Rosewall got 5000 British pounds for his win, his 6th Wembley win. In the next years the event was succeeded by the important open British Covered Court Championships, later Benson and Hedges tournaments with at least 32 draws. Winners included Laver (2), who won 6 Wembleys alltogether, Nastase, Connors (2), Borg and McEnroe (3).
The Roland Garros pro event in 1968 was played a week after Wimbledon on clay, and was the last French Pro. In some public statements is was billed as European Pro Championships.
The Forest Hills TOC and the Australian TOC had better prize money than Cleveland or Wembley in the late fifties.
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
That the TOCs in the 50s had better prize money, is wrong. Wembley KTOC 1968 as successor of the London pro event had very good prize money and a very good draw of 16. Rosewall got 5000 British pounds for his win, his 6th Wembley win. In the next years the event was succeeded by the important open British Covered Court Championships, later Benson and Hedges tournaments with at least 32 draws. Winners included Laver (2), who won 6 Wembleys alltogether, Nastase, Connors (2), Borg and McEnroe (3).
The Roland Garros pro event in 1968 was played a week after Wimbledon on clay, and was the last French Pro. In some public statements is was billed as European Pro Championships.
The biggest money events on the old pro tour usually were related to either a well-heeled sponsor or to a national television broadcast.
That would mean Forest Hills TOC with a national television broadcast contract with CBS Sports, Wembley and Roland Garros with their own broadcasts, The 1967 Wimbledon Pro colour broadcast on the BBC Television, which was the first tennis televised in colour in Britain, the 1965 CBS Dallas tournament with a record prize money at that time.

Even in the old pro era, television was becoming the basis of the best money events. The pro TV series in 1962 and 1963 offered the best money per games played of that time,
 

urban

Legend
This is certainly correct, television did also great things to the popularity of golf, especially when Arnie Palmer became a big star. Strange, that Jack Kramer, the boss of pro tennis, was reluctant with tv transmission, because he feared, it would cost paying public. What an error. The 1966 Forest Hills round robin, which had the biggest prize money up to that date with 30500 $, was also transmitted on tv. The final was filmed and delayed transmitted in the US. Wembley had BBC coverage, i don't beleive that the French pro at Coubertin had tv. I do know, that the RG French pro 1968 was transmitted, the old coverage was available for some time on internet sellers. In the mid 1970s, virtually every tennis match in the US was on tv, sometimes transmitted a year later, and this laid the foundation for the tennis boom. The WCT final 1972 had some 20 million tv onlookers.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
This is certainly correct, television did also great things to the popularity of golf, especially when Arnie Palmer became a big star. Strange, that Jack Kramer, the boss of pro tennis, was reluctant with tv transmission, because he feared, it would cost paying public. What an error. The 1966 Forest Hills round robin, which had the biggest prize money up to that date with 30500 $, was also transmitted on tv. The final was filmed and delayed transmitted in the US. Wembley had BBC coverage, i don't beleive that the French pro at Coubertin had tv. I do know, that the RG French pro 1968 was transmitted, the old coverage was available for some time on internet sellers. In the mid 1970s, virtually every tennis match in the US was on tv, sometimes transmitted a year later, and this laid the foundation for the tennis boom. The WCT final 1972 had some 20 million tv onlookers.
Absolutely true, although I think that the 1966 Forest Hills Pro, while it had the biggest purse of the season, had only a regional television broadcast. Still, that in itself was important to the success of the event.
And Cleveland had a local television broadcast on the Cleveland CBS affiliate, which was important for the purse at that locale. L.A. Masters was televised locally in L.A., which was a big market in itself.

Even in this old pro era, television was a make-or-break necessity for the big pro tournaments. The pros could not play at Forest Hills without television, the 1963 event at Forest Hills failed financially because there was no television contract.

I suspect that the Forest Hills TOC for 1960 was cancelled because CBS apparently pulled the plug, Kramer had blacked out the New York area for the 1959 broadcast. The 1957 and probably 1958 broadcasts were not blacked out for NY, which would make a big difference for ad revenue for CBS. I am guessing that the 1959 blackout was not good for CBS ad revenue, and possibly might have caused CBS to pull out for 1960. A national sports broadcast on network television in that era was very lucrative. The pro football broadcasts gave out $125,000 per game in 1959, so those three broadcasts from Forest Hills TOC must have contributed a pile of money to the tour.
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
This is certainly correct, television did also great things to the popularity of golf, especially when Arnie Palmer became a big star. Strange, that Jack Kramer, the boss of pro tennis, was reluctant with tv transmission, because he feared, it would cost paying public. What an error. The 1966 Forest Hills round robin, which had the biggest prize money up to that date with 30500 $, was also transmitted on tv. The final was filmed and delayed transmitted in the US. Wembley had BBC coverage, i don't beleive that the French pro at Coubertin had tv. I do know, that the RG French pro 1968 was transmitted, the old coverage was available for some time on internet sellers. In the mid 1970s, virtually every tennis match in the US was on tv, sometimes transmitted a year later, and this laid the foundation for the tennis boom. The WCT final 1972 had some 20 million tv onlookers.
Amateur tennis also benefited from television, the 1955 Davis Cup final at Forest Hills was the first time that tennis was broadcast in color. The national audience on TV was 9 million for the Hoad/Trabert match. That was huge for 1955, when television was still in its infancy as a mass consumer item.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Just to follow on from this assessment of the importance of television for the old pro game, I would suggest that the truly important old pro tournaments were those which had substantial television contracts, which translated directly into big money, not necessarily for the players themselves, but for the tour itself, providing a fund to satisfy the requirements of the player contract guarantees.

So I would suggest that the real old pro majors were those with LIVE national broadcasts, which paid the biggest money for television rights, which means Forest Hills TOC in 1957, 1958, and 1959, which had three national broadcasts for each tournament year, plus Wimbledon Pro in 1967, which had BBC colour coverage nationally in Britain and a record payday for the pros who played.

That makes four altogether. There was some national BBC coverage for Wembley, but that broadcast money did not go to the pro players themselves, just the organizers of the Wembley event. And the television coverage consisted largely of brief highlights shown on a delayed basis.

Other tournaments had local TV coverage, like L.A. Masters (which was a large local market) and Cleveland (the money there went to the local promoter, not to the pro tour). Forest Hills 1966 had delayed filmed broadcasts in a series, as did 1965 CBS Dallas, which was filmed and then broadcast one match at a time as a weekly series.

There were other fine tournaments, but they were played behind closed doors.
 
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