Ashley Cooper was a strong and determined player who maintained Australia’s domination of world tennis in the late 1950s. In 1958, he rose to be Australia’s number one ranked player after winning the Wimbledon singles title, the US singles title, and the Australian singles title. His career in the public eye was brief though very productive.
After being runner-up to Lew Hoad in the 1957 Wimbledon men’s singles championship 6-2 6-1 6-2, runner up to Mal Anderson at the 1957 US singles championships, and winning the Australian singles title from Neale Fraser 6-3 9-11 6-4 6-2, Cooper approached 1958 with an attacking mind frame. He defeated Fraser 3-6 6-3 6-4 13-11 in a stern test of endurance at Wimbledon, went on to win the US singles championship from Anderson 6-2 3-6 4-6 10-8 8-6 and then the Australian title 7-5 6-3 6-4, again from Anderson. But whatever hopes he had for a Grand Slam in 1958 were dashed in the semi-finals in Paris by Luis Ayala, 9-11 4-6 6-4 6-2 7-5. Still, he had one of the finest years with a 25-1 match record in the majors. His doubles record is also notable, winning the US doubles in 1957 and the Australian doubles in 1958 with Fraser, and the French doubles in both those years (1957 with Anderson, 1958 with Fraser).
Cooper played Davis Cup for Australia, triumphant in 1956, 1957, and making the finals in 1958. In 1957, he joined with Anderson to successfully defend the Cup against the US, winning 3-2. He won two of his four Cup singles matches. Cooper spent three years, 1956 to 1958, in the world top ten, and was number one during the last two years.
A solid tennis player with excellent concentration, an athletic 5-foot-10, he turned professional in 1959 and among other victories won the European Grand Prix in 1960. Cooper’s fine backhand return of service enabled him to effectively counter leading left handers such as Mervyn Rose, Fraser, and Rod Laver.
Upon retiring as a player, Cooper settled in Brisbane to operate a large family tennis and squash complex before serving as a tennis player development administrator with Tennis Queensland. He presently also sits on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.
Cooper was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, Rhode Island, USA, in 1991.