Tennis Great Works Behind Scenes at Open

Sixty-two years after he won the U.S. Tennis Championship at Forest Hills and 55 years after winning the All-England title at Wimbledon, American Frederick "Ted" Schroeder has come to cover the Australian Open as a journalist — for the 53rd consecutive year.

At 82, Schroeder, who lives in La Jolla, Calif., wears a blue sports coat and dark tie as he sits in a media workroom at Rod Laver Arena. His employer, Southern Cross Broadcasting Ltd. of Australia, says it reaches 96 percent of the country's homes by radio.

"I work for the producer. I get him people," he says, explaining that his contacts in tennis, both in Australia and worldwide, enable him to get his calls returned and to line up guests for radio interviews.

"I usually get them what they want," he says proudly, sitting amid a group of journalists and broadcast technicians far more than half his age.

A Tennis Legacy

After winning both the U.S. intercollegiate championship and U.S. national (amateur) singles title in 1942, Schroeder entered the U.S. Navy. He added the Wimbledon singles crown in 1949, a year in which the four Grand Slam tournaments (Australia, France, England and the United States) were won by four players (Frank Sedgeman, Frank Parker, Schroeder and Pancho Gonzales).

Schroeder reached the summit of tennis before the professional sport emerged on the grand scale it occupies today, so he worked as an engineer after graduating from Stanford University. He spent the last 30 years of his career with General Dynamics.

In 1951, he began radio work on the Australian tennis championships. He would take vacation time to travel to Australia for the Open. His part-time radio gig became easier when, in 1965, his work brought him to Canberra, where he established General Dynamics Australia, serving as its first managing director.

The Australian operation, a subsidiary of the U.S. corporation based in Fort Worth, Texas, and San Diego, was attempting to sell jet fighter aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force.

"I worked as an advocate," he said, "which means lobbyist."

Connections Help Career

Schroder says his work in Canberra involved "convincing the government to buy something they didn't need at a price they couldn't afford."

Schroeder's job was made easier by his contacts throughout the country, some of them familiar with his radio work on the Australian tennis championships.

"I'm a go-fer," says Schroeder, proudly acknowledging his devotion to tennis and a part-time job that has allowed him to remain connected to his beloved sport of tennis for two-thirds of a century.