From the 1920s until his death in 1958, Frank Murphy was a consistent force in tennis at the local, national, and international levels. Born in Fort William in 1903, his career in sport began with a short-lived stint in junior hockey with the Fort William Collegiate and the Fort William YMCA teams. Before long, however, Frank’s passion for tennis took over.
He joined the Fort William Tennis Club upon its founding in 1922 and won the men’s singles and men’s doubles contests at the first ever New Ontario Tennis Tournament in 1925. Frank’s dominance at the tournament would continue for as long as he lived, winning at least one title in all but nine out of the next thirty-six years, claiming forty-two titles in all.
However, Frank would earn his greatest tennis honours outside his native region. He came into his own as a veteran player, winning the Ontario Provincial Veterans Singles title five years in a row, from 1948-52. In 1952, he became the champion of Canada in veterans’ men’s singles, and claimed national honours again in 1956, winning the veterans’ men’s doubles with Ray Summers. He also gained some international experience in Forest Hill, New York, where he competed in the United States Veterans Championships from 1948-56.
As a member of one of the most prominent families in the city at the time, Frank was heavily involved in the community throughout his life. He was a prominent member of the Fort William Rotary Club, Fort William Knights of Columbus, Fort William Chamber of Commerce, and served as director of the Fort William YMCA for many years. He was also the president of both the Fort William Daily Times Journal and his father James Murphy’s coal business for almost twenty years.
This exceptional tennis player passed away unexpectedly in 1958, but his legacy of sporting excellence and community involvement lives on.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 27, 1986