Obituary: Dan Maskell

Daniel Maskell, broadcaster, tennis player, coach, born London 8 April 1908, died Redhill Surrey 10 December 1992.

DAN MASKELL will always be remembered as the 'Voice of Wimbledon'. His gentle, unhurried, non-panicky commentaries on tennis made him one of the BBC's most respected commentators on any sport, writes Bill Edwards.

Maskell served lawn tennis for 70 years, starting as a ball boy at Queen's Club, London, in 1923, enjoying a career as world professional champion, coach to our last Davis Cup winning team and eventually retiring as the BBC commentator early this year.

He was born in 1908 in Fulham, not far from Queen's, the seventh of eight children of a working-class family. Always possessed of a competitive spirit, he became his school's football captain, but tennis was his main love. As a young boy, barely into his teens, Dan used to peer with envy through the gates of Queen's, or over the old graveyard wall, at the sight of players, hoping one day he would be able to emulate them. His chance came after some part- time ball boy activities in 1923 when, through the influence of someone his father knew, he was appointed a ball boy at 10 shillings per week. He seized the opportunity to learn all he could about the game and about other racket sports played there.

The young Dan soaked up the atmosphere and eventually joined the ranks of teaching professionals. Professionals at the club were not dedicated to one racket game and he also taught rackets and real tennis there. He stayed at Queen's until 1929, then moved to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon as their first professional coach, a position he held until 1955, with a break for the war, in which he served as a rehabilitation officer in the RAF.

He was the LTA training manager for 26 years; and coach to the Davis Cup team in the great years of Fred Perry and Bunny Austin when they monopolised the trophy, from 1934 to 1937.

A radio broadcaster in 1949, Maskell turned to television in 1952. It was as a television man that he became a household name. A stickler for facts, he was able to talk his way through the excitement and the crises, never panicking, but always fluent with a fund of knowledge and stories of the game.

As a player Maskell was world professional champion in 1927 and won the British professional championship 16 times. He played with all the great players and rated as his best Rod Laver among the men and Martina Navratilova among the women. He had a fund of great stories, which he recounted at tournaments until the early hours of the morning.

Dan Maskell was appointed OBE for his services as a squadron leader when as the rehabilitation officer, first at Torquay, then at Loughborough, he helped many an injured airman back into flying. In 1982 he was promoted CBE for his service to tennis. During his career he taught four members of the Royal Family the game of tennis: Princess Anne, who he considered could have been a great player had she had time to work at the game, Princess Alexandra, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew.

Next to tennis, Maskell's great love was golf. He at one time played down to eight and was a lifelong friend of Henry Cotton.

Two major tragedies, both centred on the West Indies, marred Dan Maskell's life. His son, Jay, was killed in an aircrash and his first wife, Con, was drowned while swimming. He is survived by his daughter, Robin, and his second wife, Kay.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent