||This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
|Full name||Richard Skeen|
|Died||1994 (aged 88)
|Turned pro||1935 (amateur tour from 1930)|
|Plays||Right-handed (one-handed backhand)|
|Highest ranking||No. 2 (1941, Ray Bowers)|
|US Pro||F (1941)|
Last updated on: October 1, 2012.
Dick Skeen was an American professional tennis player. He was runner-up to Fred Perry in the Men's Singles in the 1941 U.S. Pro Tennis Championships, and was ranked the World No. 2 pro by Ray Bowers for the year (and No. 4 in his amateur-pros combined rankings). Skeen reached the semi-finals of the tournament on four other occasions.
Dick Skeen was born in Dallas, Texas in 1906 and died in Medford, Oregon in 1994 at age 88. He wrote a tennis book at the request of Dale Jensen, entitled Tennis Champions are Made, not Born in 1976. He taught three World Champions (Jack Kramer, Louise Brough, and Pauline Betz) and forty National Champions, including Billy Talbert, Gussie Moran, Kathy Harter, Carole Caldwell, Dave Ranney, Julius Heldman, Ted Olewine, Eleanor Purdy, Jimmy Wade, George Richards, Connie Jaster, and Barbara Winslow. Many of his players furthered their careers at the Los Angeles Tennis Club (LATC) under the guidance of Perry T. Jones, President of the Southern California Tennis Association. Skeen was ranked No. 1 in the National Senior Sixty-five and over in 1972, after a 28 year layoff (1973 USTA Year Book).
In 1918, Dick arrived in Southern California with his family and learned to play tennis on three courts in Hollywood. In 1931, he turned professional and began his tennis teaching career in Pasadena. He became a ledendary tennis teacher, according to Bill Tilden. Dick was known for his classic stroke production and his emphasis on the backhand chop, not the slice. After Pasadena, he taught at the Riveria Country Club, the Balboa Bay Club, designed the Newport Beach Tennis Club, founded the Blossom Hill Tennis Club in Los Gatos, and then moved and taught tennis in Medford, Oregon. While at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach in 1960, he met and taught Dale Jensen. This was the beginning of a lifelong Tennis and business relationship until Dick died in Medford.
While on the Professional Tour from 1935 until 1946, Dick played and defeated these top world-class players: Bill Tilden, Don Budge, Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs, Karel Kozeluh, Vinnie Richards, Frank Kovacs, Welby Van Horn, Bruce Barnes, Wayne Sabin, and Les Stoeffen. He believed that Frank Kovacs had the best backhand he played against.
Dick Skeen also was a tennis teacher to many Hollywood Movie Stars, including Errol Flynn, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Kirk Douglas, Ginger Rogers, Doris Day, Joseph Cotten, Merle Oberon, Johnny Weissmuller, Norma Shearer, Hugh O'Brian, Dolores del Rio, Robert Stack, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and Cornel Wilde.
Information garnered from:
- Jack Kramer, The Game, My 40 Years in Tennis (1979)
- Bill Tilden, How to Play Better Tennis (1950)
- Dick Skeen, Tennis Players are Made, not Born (1976)
- Los Angeles Tennis Club
- Tennis Archives
- Bowers, Ray (2006). "Forgotten Victories: A History of Pro Tennis 1926-1945, Chapter XI: AMERICA, 1940-1941", Tennis Server: Between the Lines, 1st October 2006.