A member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Flam was a fast and "very resourceful" player. Considered to be one of the best male Jewish tennis players in history, he was ranked in the U.S. top ten for a decade (1948-1958, minus two years of naval service) and was an excellent Davis Cup player. According to both the 1959 USLTA Yearbook and 1959 U.S. Championships Program, Flam succeeded by being aggressive and exploiting his opponents' mistakes. Because of his playing style, he was often called a "retriever," but Flam resented the negative label. In 1950, he was the first Jewish player to advance to the finals at the U.S. Open -- he also reached the finals at the 1957 French Open.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Nov. 7, 1928 - d. mid-1980s
Flam's tennis success began in 1943 when he won the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association's 15-year old Boys Singles Championship. Two years later, as a high school junior, he won the USLTA Interscholastic singles and doubles titles; he repeated the doubles championship (with Hugh Stewart) the following year. In 1948, while attending UCLA, Flam reached the USLTA Singles Championships semifinals as an unseeded player, defeating the No. 3 and No.6 seeds along the way. Two years later, in 1950, Herb was the NCAA single's and doubles (with Gene Garrett) champion.
On the heels of his 1950 NCAA triumph, Flam became the first Jewish player to advance to the finals at the U.S. Open, losing in five sets to Art Larson. The following year, Herb reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, losing to fellow American Jewish star Dick Savitt. He also reached the Wimbledon semis in 1952. One of America's best players in the 1950s, Flam was a U.S. Top Ten nine times in an eleven-year period (1948-1958), and was thrice ranked as high as No. 2 (1950, 1956, and 1958). Although he served in the Navy in 1953-54, Flam quickly returned to the top of his game, winning the United States Hardcourt Championship in 1955 and the U.S. Claycourt title in 1956.
In 1957, Flam reached the finals at the French Open, but lost in three sets to Sven Davidson; that year, he was ranked No. 5 in the world by World Tennis Magazine, his highest ranking ever. During the 1950s, Herb was also an outstanding Davis Cup player. As as a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1951 until 1957, Flam won 12 of the 14 matches he played. During his career, Flam reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon three times and the quarters at the U.S. Open six times.
Brooklyn, New York
Use links below to navigate through the tennis section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
Great Jews in Sports, by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co, 1965)
1959 USLTA Yearbook
1959 U.S. Championships Program