ITHF mourns the loss of Gene Mako

June 17, 2013

NEWPORT, R.I. — The Board of Directors and Staff of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum mourn the loss of Hall of Famer Gene Mako, who won four major doubles titles in the 1930s and was ranked in the world top-10. In recognition of his great tennis accomplishments, Mako was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1973. Mako passed away on June 14 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 97 years old.

Mako partnered with his good friend, the late Hall of Famer Don Budge to reach 7 doubles finals at Grand Slam events. They won two doubles titles at Wimbledon (1937, 1938) and two at the U.S. Championships (1936, 1938). In 1936, Mako partnered with Alice Marble to win the mixed doubles title at the U.S. Championships, defeating Budge and his partner Sarah Palfrey.

While the majority of his success was in doubles, Mako was a skilled singles player as well. He was ranked in the U.S. top-10 in 1937 and 1938, reaching as high as No. 3, and he achieved the world No. 9 ranking 1938. That same year, Mako reached the singles final of the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills, where he faced Budge. Budge won the match, ultimately achieving the Grand Slam for winning all four majors that year.

Mako was an integral part of the United States Davis Cup pursuits in the 1930s, helping the team clinch two championships. He was a member of the team from 1935 – 1938, and compiled a record of 6-3. Mako was a member of the championship U.S. teams in 1937 (against the United Kingdom) and in 1938 (against Australia).

He also had a successful tennis career at the University of Southern California, where he won the NCAA singles and doubles championships in 1934. He was inducted into the University of Southern California Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.

Mako was born in Hungary on January 24, 1916. After World War I, Mako and his family lived in Buenos Aires, before settling in Los Angeles, Calif. Mako’s father was a skilled painter who inspired Mako to have a keen interest in art. Throughout his life he was an ardent collector and dealer of fine paintings.