Tennis champion Gene Mako dies at 97

Published June 18, 2013

| Sports Network

Former tennis champion Gene Mako, who captured four major doubles titles and was ranked in the world top 10 during the 1930s, died in Southern California at the age of 97.

Constantine "Gene" Mako, who was born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, died of pneumonia last Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Mako and his friend Don Budge won doubles titles at Wimbledon in 1937 and 1938 and at the U.S. Championships in 1936 and 1938.

He reached the final of the U.S. Championships as a singles player in 1938, where he lost to the great Budge.

As a collegiate player, Mako captured NCAA singles and doubles championships in 1934 while attending the University of Southern California. He was enshrined at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1973.

Aside from being an athlete, Mako also composed music in his early twenties. He married actress Laura Mae Church in New York in 1941, a month before World War II broke out and he joined the United States Navy.

Following the war, Mako worked in a broadcasting studio, went on to design tennis courts, and was an art dealer at Gene Mako Galleries in Los Angeles.

Mako also acted in movies such as the 1938 musical 'Happy Landing' and the 1941 war comedy 'Caught in the Draft,' although he was uncredited in both films. He also published a book about his father entitled 'Bartholomew Mako: A Hungarian Master, 1890-1970.' And in the final decade of his life he taught art to up-and-coming artists.

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