Mike Sangster

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Mike Sangster
Full name Mike John Sangster
Country  United Kingdom
Born (1940-09-11)11 September 1940
Kingskerswell, Devon, England
Died 30 April 1985(1985-04-30) (aged 44)
Torquay, Devon, England
Turned pro 1956 (amateur tour)
Retired 1969
Plays Right-handed (1-handed backhand)
Highest ranking No. 7 (1961, Ned Potter)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open QF (1961, 1964)
French Open SF (1963)
Wimbledon SF (1961)
US Open SF (1961)
Team competitions
Davis Cup SF (1963)
Last updated on: 20 April 2012.

Mike Sangster (11 September 1940 – 30 April 1985) was a former British No. 1 tennis player of the 1960s.[2] He reached at least the quarter-final stage of each of the four Grand Slams, getting to the semi-finals of the 1963 French Open, 1961 Wimbledon and the 1961 US Open. Sangster was ranked World No. 7 in 1961 by Ned Potter.[1]

Birth and Early life[edit]

Mike Sangster was born in Kingskerswell, Devon on 11 September 1940. On 30 May 1943, he survived being killed by German bombs when his sister decided not to take him to Sunday School. 24 children died when the church was bombed. He attended Torquay Boys' Grammar School. As a teenager he played football for Torquay United and was offered a contract by West Ham United, before turning to tennis.

Tennis career[edit]

Mike Sangster made his first Wimbledon appearance aged 17 in 1958 and quickly rose to become British No. 1. He was immensely popular with the British public throughout the 1960s. He was renowned for his massive serve and for being a snappy dresser on court.

1961 Wimbledon Championships – Men's Singles[edit]

In 1961, Sangster became the first Briton in almost a quarter of a century to reach the Wimbledon Men's Singles Semi-finals (the previous being Bunny Austin in 1938). Sangster was beaten by the eighth seeded American, Chuck McKinley, 6–4 6–4 8–6. The only other Britons to have reached the Wimbledon semis since have been Roger Taylor, Tim Henman and Andy Murray.

In 1963, aged 22, Sangster reached the semi finals of the French Tennis Championships where he lost to eventual champion Roy Emerson of Australia 8–6 6–3 6–4.

In 1964, Sangster's Australian coach, George Worthington, died. The death of his coach and mentor seemed to undermine Sangster's resolve.

Grand Slam record[edit]

While Sangster never reached a Grand Slam final, he is one of only three British men since Fred Perry (the others being Tim Henman and Andy Murray) to have reached the semi-finals of three different Grand Slam events – Wimbledon in 1961, the US National Tennis Championships in 1961 and the French Championships in 1963.

French Wimbledon US Australian
1958 Round 1
1960 Round 1 Round 3 Round 4
1961 Round 4 semi-final semi-final quarter-final
1962 Round 2 Round 2 Round 4
1963 semi-final Round 1
1964 Round 3 Round 3 quarter-final quarter-final
1965 Round 2 Round 2
1966 Round 2 Round 2
1967 Round 3
1968 Round 1 Round 2
1969 Round 1


Sangster was renowned for his fast serve. His fastest serve was recorded at 154 miles per hour in 1963. This compares with the current world record of 155 mph set by Andy Roddick in a Davis Cup match against Russia in 2004. Although it was considered by many to be a world record at the time, Sangster's record remains unofficial since it was not timed with precise modern technology (Similarly, Bill Tilden had a serve timed unofficially at 163.6 mph in 1931). To return his serve, players had to retreat to the back of the court. In one match at the US Open, Rod Laver retreated so far back that he became entangled with the backstop netting.

Davis Cup[edit]

Sangster holds the record for the most matches played for Great Britain in the Davis Cup. He played 65 matches from 1960 to 1968, winning 43 of them.

Later Life and Death[edit]

In later years, Sangster ran a chain of sporting goods stores in southwestern England. Mike Sangster collapsed and died of a heart attack while playing golf on 30 April 1985. He was 44 years old.


1. Davis Cup profile of Mike Sangster 2. Report on Sangster's death 3. Details of 1961 Wimbledon Championships – similar pages for other Grand Slam data 4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/frenchopen/2380194/Sangster-played-heroic-roles-in-sporting-arena.html