Hans Nüsslein

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Hans Nüsslein
Country  Germany
Born (1910-03-31)31 March 1910
Nuremberg, Germany
Died 28 June 1991(1991-06-28) (aged 81)
Altenkirchen, Germany
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Turned pro 1926
Retired 1957
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HOF 2006 (member page)
Highest ranking No. 1 (1933, Ray Bowers)[1]
Professional majors
US Pro W (1934)
Wembley Pro W (1937, 1938)
French Pro W (1937, 1938)
W (1933, World Pro)

Hans "Hanne" Nüsslein (German pronunciation: ['hans ˈnʏslaɪ̯n]; 31 March 1910 – 28 June 1991) was a German tennis player and coach.


Nüsslein was born in Nuremberg on 31 March 1910.[2] In his youth, he played football, handball and tennis at the 1. FC Nürnberg. After finishing school he made an apprenticeship as a mechanic. At the age of 16, he gave tennis lessons to other club members for which he was paid a small amount. After a member of a neighboring club reported this to the German Tennis Federation, Nüsslein received a lifetime ban from amateur competitions. Thus he never could compete at a Grand Slam tournament.[3]

Nüsslein then decided to work as a professional tennis coach. On 1 April 1928, he passed the qualifying examination and became a member of the German federation of tennis coaches. He then was hired by the Deutsche Bank in order to give lessons to their executives.[3]

Beside his coaching work, Nüsslein pursued a career on the emerging professional tennis tournaments. In 1929, he reached the third place at the German championships of tennis coaches. In 1930, he reached the second place there. In the same year, he won his first international pro tournament at Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera.[3]

In 1931, Nüsslein won the German Pro Championships by beating Roman Najuch in the final who previously had won this title 11 times in a row. In this year, he played tennis legend Bill Tilden in Europe and took him to 5 sets. Tilden who had never heard of Nüsslein before the match ("Who is Nusslein?") was surprised by the German's performance on the court and invited him to play on his pro tour in the United States.[3]

In 1933, Nüsslein and Tilden met again in the final of the World Pro Championships. In front of an audience of 7,000, Nüsslein beat Tilden 1–6, 6–4, 7–5 and 6–3. Nüsslein won the title again in 1935 (against Henri Cochet) and in 1937, this time again beating Tilden.[3] Ray Bowers ranked Nüsslein the World No. 1 professional for 1933.[1] On tour in the United States in 1934, Nüsslein won the US Pro title. In 1937 and 1938, he won both the Wembley Pro and the French Pro championships. Another significant professional tournament of the time was the International Pro Championship of Britain, which Nüsslein won for 4 straight years from 1936 to 1939. He was known for his fine groundstrokes and tennis historian Robert Geist described his playing style "He possessed classic strokes, equal to Hall of Famers René Lacoste, Henri Cochet, and Karel Koželuh, as well as excellent volleys, magnificent drop shots and breath-taking half-volleys. As consistent as Ken Rosewall, Nüsslein was one of the best players during the 1930s."[2]

From 1936 onwards, Nüsslein started to focus on his coaching career. He signed a contract at the tennis club Rot-Weiss and moved to Cologne. At the end of the 1930s, Nüsslein coached the first Grand Slam winner Don Budge, the Australian Davis Cup team as well as several German players.[3]

In World War II Nüsslein served in the German army. Towards the end of the war, he was injured at an arm which impeded his tennis play. At the Wembley Pro Championships in 1953, at an age of 43, though losing the match, he was still able to push 25-year-old Pancho Gonzales 4-6, 4-6 . In 1954, he won the international championships of tennis coaches at Bad Ems. He continued to play tournaments until 1957[2] and gave tennis lessons until an age of 70. His most prominent tennis pupils included Wilhelm Bungert, Christian Kuhnke, Dieter Ecklebe and Wolfgang Stuck.[3]

Remaining a bachelor for almost his entire life, Nüsslein finally married his long-time partner Anneliese at the age of 72. He died nine years later at Altenkirchen after suffering a stroke.[3]

In 2006, Nüsslein was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.

Major finals[edit]

Pro Slam tournaments[edit]

Singles: 11 (6/5)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Winner 1933 World Pro Clay United States Bill Tilden 1–6, 6–4, 7–5, 6–3
Runner-up 1933 U.S. Pro Clay Czechoslovakia Karel Koželuh 2–6, 3–6, 5–7
Runner-up 1934 Wembley Pro Indoor United States Ellsworth Vines 6–4, 5–7, 3–6, 6–8
Winner 1934 U.S. Pro Clay Czechoslovakia Karel Koželuh 6–4, 6–2, 1–6, 7–5
Runner-up 1935 French Pro Clay United States Ellsworth Vines 8–10, 4–6, 6–3, 1–6
Runner-up 1936 Wembley Pro Indoor United States Ellsworth Vines 4–6, 4–6, 2–6
Winner 1937 French Pro Clay France Henri Cochet 6–2, 8–6, 6–3
Winner 1937 Wembley Pro Indoor United States Bill Tilden 6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 2–6, 6–2
Winner 1938 French Pro Clay United States Bill Tilden 6–0, 6–1, 6–2
Winner 1938 Wembley Pro Indoor United States Bill Tilden 7–5, 3–6, 6–3, 3–6, 6–2
Runner-up 1939 Wembley Pro Indoor United States Don Budge 11–13, 6–2, 4–6

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bowers, Ray. History of the Pro Tennis Wars, Chapter IV: Tilden and Nusslein, 1932-1933, Tennis Server: Between the Lines.
  2. ^ a b c Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed. ed.). New York: New Chapter Press. p. 621. ISBN 9780942257700. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Deike, Reiner (2002). "Der verfemte Weltmeister". In Deutscher Tennis Bund. Tennis in Deutschland. Von den Anfängen bis 2002. [Tennis in Germany. From the beginnings to 2002] (in German). Berlin: Duncker & Humblot. p. 103–104. ISBN 3-428-10846-9. 

External links[edit]