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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role will cover all areas ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss