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- Birthdate: 11.09.1940
- Birthplace: Devon, England
- Plays: Right-handed
As of 19.01.2015
Singles & Doubles combined
Singles & Doubles combined
Torquay-based Mike Sangster was a big-serving British tennis player, who reached semi-finals of three Grand Slam championships in the early 1960s.
Sangster, the youngest of four children, was an all-round sportsman excelling at cricket, football and tennis. He attended Torquay Boys' Grammar School and played football for the local club as a teenager. He was offered a contract with West Ham United before he decided on a career in tennis.
Immaculately dressed and always polite, with a powerful serve and fine backhand, Sangster developed his game under the tutelage of Arthur Roberts. He started playing tennis seriously aged 11 and would sweep the courts and clean Roberts' office at the Torquay's Palace Hotel in return for free lessons. Roberts would later go onto coach Sue Barker, the 1976 Roland Garros titlist.
When asked about the secret of Sangster's serve, Roberts said, "It was unpredictable, because with the same throw-up Mike could get a variety of placements without giving any clue what was coming.
"As a kid, he would stay on long after all the others had gone, just hitting serve after serve. It was completely natural. He had that combination of coordination, timing and rhythm - you can't teach it or learn it from books."
Aged 15, he won the National Junior Covered Courts singles and doubles championships at Queen's Club in London. Sangster made his first appearance at The Championships, Wimbledon, aged 17 in 1958.
After a successful tour to Australia and America in 1960, Sangster's game grew in stature. One year later he became the first Briton since Henry "Bunny" Austin in 1938 to reach the semi-finals, where he was beaten by eighth-seeded American Chuck McKinley.
As fourth seed he also advanced to semi-finals at the 1961 US Nationals, losing to Rod Laver 13-11, 7-5, 6-4 and in 1963 he lost to another Australian, eventual champion Roy Emerson, in the French Championships at Roland Garros. In 1964, his Australian coach and mentor, George Worthington, died.
In Davis Cup play, Sangster holds the record for most matches played from 1960-68. He won 43 of 68 rubbers.
In later life, Sangster ran a chain of sporting goods stores in south-west England. He married Pauline Goodrich in 1972 and had two children, David and Amanda. On 30 April 1985, Sangster died of a heart attack aged 44 while playing golf at Torquay's Petitor course. His wife later set up the Mike Sangster Sports Foundation.
Bio: James Buddell
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