Tribute: Remembering Trevor Fancutt
A passional tennis lover and patriarch to three generations of pro players, Trevor Fancutt is being remembered as a coach, a volunteer, an AO doubles champion – and a great man.
Many kind words have been used to describe Trevor Fancutt, who passed away at age 88 last week, but “gentleman” is arguably the most frequent.
Born in Kokstad, South Africa, Fancutt emigrated to Australia after his marriage in 1957 to fellow player Daphne Seeny, who had partnered Trevor in mixed doubles tournaments.
The couple settled in Brisbane and became parents to sons Michael, Charlie and Chris, who all competed at a professional level.
Ken Laffey, a former Director at Tennis Queensland, has been involved in the sport for decades and says the game owes much of its modern strength to the legacy of Trevor Fancutt and his family.
“He and his wife Daphne were made honorary life members of Tennis Queensland,” Laffey said. “Their legacy can’t be overstated. If we go back to the early ’70’s they had a three-court tennis centre and they were the first tennis coaches to teach over 1000 kids a week. They were teaching in over 30 schools. It was enormous.
“Over a number of years as people started to cotton on, all the best kids in the state went to them.”
Laffey explained how the former Grand Slam competitor also supported the sport in a promotional sense.
“In the early days we promoted the Australian Hardcourt Championships on the Gold Coast at the Southport Tennis Association,” Laffey added.
“Trevor arranged for Evonne Goolagong to play the event, and she happened to win a little event called Wimbledon that year, but she still came. It was huge for us.
“For a guy to come across from South Africa, where he was a terrific player, buy a tennis centre with his wife, do it up and spend a lifetime making the game better here is a wonderful thing.
“He was on the board, he chaired the committee, he coached, he played, you couldn’t do any more.”
Laffey related an amusing story of he and Trevor taking it upon themselves to provide covers for courts on the Gold Coast that previously had none.
“He had a little Volkswagen that he took everywhere. He got a six by four trailer, we got some tarps and off we went. We only got a few minutes down the road and the trailer broke off and went into the back of the car.”
Fancutt was a singles quarterfinalist at the Australian championships in 1958 and lifted the mixed doubles trophy (with Jan Lehane) at the tournament in 1960.
He played Wimbledon four times, with three of those occasions pitting him against multiple Grand Slam champion and former world No.1 Lew Hoad.
But his story in the game stretches well beyond the grass courts of SW19 more than six decades ago.
Chris Mahony, the Head of the National Tennis Academy in Queensland, reflected on the enormous legacy Trevor left in the sport.
“I have very fond childhood memories of the many hours I spent on court with Trevor, as well as the rest of the family – Daphne, Charlie, Michael and Chris – at their tennis centre in Lutwyche,” said Mahony.
“Trevor was one of the true gentlemen of our sport. He was patient, kind, generous and incredibly caring.
“He had a genuine passion for teaching the game of tennis and was always looking for ways to give back to the sport.”
Mahony added that Fancutt’s influence will continue for generations to come.
“He was a true mentor, in every sense of the word, to me and hundreds of other young tennis players in Queensland over the last several decades.
“His lasting legacy will be the enormous positive impact he had on the lives of many.”
Dot Deacon, who was a top tennis player (in addition to being ranked No.2 in squash behind the invincible Heather Mackay) has known the Fancutt family for decades.
She shared a special moment with Trevor three years ago that she remembered fondly this week.
“A few years ago, Daphne went up to (North) Queensland and she asked me to look after Trevor,” she said.
“I spent a week with him and we got up each night to watch Wimbledon, which is an event he’s always loved.
“It was very important looking back to spend that time with him and experience that late in his life.”
The Fancutt Volkswagen was also front and centre in Dot’s mind.
“We always travelled around to tournaments in the little VW,” Deacon added.
“He used to jolt the accelerator all the time to pretend he was out of petrol. He got a kick out of it.”
Reflections on Fancutt always came back to the same simple message.
“He was a lovely man and a true gentleman,” Deacon said. “Everyone loved him.”
Trevor’s grandson Thomas is currently competing on tour, and shared a touching tribute to a man who sparked his rise on the sport.
“Thanks for being such an incredible role model, you were someone I truly looked up to and admired,” said Thomas on social media.
“Thanks for showing me how a gentleman acts … what a legacy and what a life.”