Launceston, 2 September 2012 | Ben Carenco

Denis Tucker has spent a lifetime channelling his passion for the game into an impressive collection of tennis memorabilia. Much of it is enshrined in Tucker’s Tennis Museum, which he unveiled in Launceston in 2011, but other parts of his priceless collection were stolen from a parked car in the New South Wales town of Forbes last month.

Tucker’s prized Australian Open hardcover book with over 200 signatures from top tennis players and a camera were taken from the back seat of his car as he and his wife slept at a motel on the way home from a trip to Queensland.

“The car was parked in a communal carpark and it was packed to the rafters with golf clubs, suitcases and my Newport Hall of Fame satchel, in which live my current two projects and my Canon camera with zoom lenses,” Tucker said.

The memorabilia is estimated to have an actual monetary value of $6000 but is both priceless and irreplaceable for the collector.

“My Australian Open hardback book had over 200 signatures of tennis players who had signed their own photo from Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis and Andre Agassi and the list is endless,” he said.

“My other project was to gather an autographed photo and information of every Australian Fed Cup player since the competition’s inception in 1963 … Although this was partially finished I was well on the way with all the early players located and signed.”

Tucker, who said a wallet and other items packed in the car remained untouched, acknowledges the chances of recovering his precious goods are slim, noting that “I can’t imagine what I would be able to say to such a thief and I imagine anything I said would have little effect.”

Having attended every Australian Open for more than 50 years, the 69-year-old will no doubt now set about rebuilding his collection with the same passion that’s made him one of Australia’s most prolific sports collectors.

If anyone knows anything about this theft, please contact Denis Tucker.