BOB Mark has died in South Africa 50 years after he began an illustrious international tennis career that took him from Albury to Wimbledon.
Mark, 68, was one of Australia’s greatest players in a golden era dominated by Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Neale Fraser, Roy Emerson, Ashley Cooper, Ken Rosewall and Lew Hoad.
His brother, Darrell, said yesterday Mark had been ranked the world’s No 10 and Australia’s No 3.
“Had Bob been born in an earlier or later era, he would have been the No. 1, but he was certainly world-class,” he said at his Albury home.
Robert Ian Mark was born in Albury in November, 1937, the elder son of Aubrey and Patricia Mark.
He attended Albury Public School and Albury High School and it was at the latter that teacher George Sheumack introduced him to tennis.
“He had tried other sports like any other kid and would have been about 12 when he picked up tennis,” his brother said.
Mark rapidly won the junior and senior championships at Albury High and entered the Easter and other tournaments, sparking an interest from sponsors Dunlop.
After he worked briefly at Burtons sports store in Olive St, he moved to Melbourne at 16 or 17 and was successful at state and national levels.
He won the national junior championship at 17 and improved his performance with the help of Frank Sedgman.
Soon after turning 21, Mark had an astonishingly successful year.
He joined the 1959 Davis Cup team with Laver, Emerson, Fraser and non-playing captain Harry Hopman.
Mark and Laver took out the 1959 Australian doubles by beating Don Candy and Bob Howe.
And Mark and Sandra Reynolds won the Australian mixed doubles.
In July, 1959, Mark and Laver were runners-up at Wimbledon to Emerson and Fraser, but beat them to take the 1960 Australian doubles again.
In 1961, Mark and Laver beat Emerson and Marty Mulligan in Melbourne.
Later in 1961, Mark and Albury’s Margaret Court won the US mixed doubles.
International tennis led to meetings with royalty and Hollywood celebrities such as Jane Russell.
But his life took a new turn when he returned home to Albury.
Mark married Merryl, a ranked South African tennis player, the ceremony taking place at St David’s Church, just up the road from his old sports shop.
The couple moved to Natal and Mark started a career in tennis coaching.
He also became men’s singles champion of South Africa.
Mark last visited Albury about 1982, but was not forgotten on the Border.
In 1995 he was inducted into the Albury-Wodonga Sporting Hall of Fame.
Mark died at home on July 23.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, their three children, three grandchildren and only brother, Darrell.
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