Born on April 17, 1925 in Hayward, California, Arthur David Larsen was best remembered for his eccentric tendencies. Called “Tappy” or “Art” by colleagues, friends and relatives, he was described by writer Jack Kramer as a fascinating personality. He sometimes went around talking to an imaginary bird sitting on his shoulder. He was called “Tappy” because he believes that whatever he touches, he will bring good luck. Tennis helped as a mental therapy for Larsen after a long front line exposure during the World War II. He may have developed the skill of a good tennis player, but his unusual behavior failed him to join the professional tour.
His performances on courts where enough to advance him to become a member of the Olympic Club in San Francisco. He was also a member of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship team in 1949. He was the U.S. singles champion in 1950 and a singles runner-up in 1954.
The 5-feet-150 pound tennis player was popular as the only athlete who party all night before and during tournaments. He would directly head for his match straight from a party without much rest and sleep. His lifestyle was consistent even when he was enrolled at University of San Francisco.
Despite his unconventional behavior as a non-traditional athlete, he was the very first man to win championship titles as an amateur on all four surfaces. These included indoor, hard court, clay and grass. It was only after several years, when Tony Trabert was able to earn the same reputation.
After a tragic motor scooter accident that happened in Castro Valley, California, Larsen became paralyzed and one of his eyes became blind. This resulted to an early retirement in his tennis career. He only played as an amateur but was already ranking number 8 that time.
Larsen was inducted to the International Word of Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969.