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  Who was Dave Freeman?
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By Mary Ann Bowles

Dave Freeman, the only American to win a world singles championship, died of Merkle cell carcinoma, according to his family.

Rated by many the greatest player in the history of badminton, David Freeman,the Pasadena Flash, did not lose a singles match from 1939 until his retirement in 1953. He won the All-England title in 1949, the first and only American man todo so in the history of the competition from 1899 to date. He was considered a badminton phenomenon, winning seven US singles

titles from 1939 through 1942, and in 1947, 1948, and 1953. There were no national championships from 1943 through 1946, so he actually won six in a row. He won the men’s singles title in1953 after coming out of retirement, Freeman also won the men’s doubles title five times with three different partners.He partnered Chester Goss in 1940-42, Webster Kimball in 1947, and Wynn Rogers in 1948. No stranger to mixed doubles, he teamed with Sara Lee Williams in 1940-42 to win the national title. He was elected to the US Badminton Hall of Fame in 1956, and in 1997 became the first to be inducted into the International Badminton Federation Hall of Fame.

David Guthrie Freeman was born September 6, 1920, in Pasadena, California, and grew up there. His father was Dr. Robert Freeman, for many years the popular minister of the Pasadena Presbyterian Church. His mother was Professor of Religion at nearby Occidental College. By 13, already an outstanding player in squash and table tennis and nationally ranked in junior tennis, a friend introduced him to badminton. He was an instant success. According to the Hickok Sports Biography web site, His colorful style, darting and whirling around the court to return his opponents shots, has been described as resembling a Comanche war dance.

Dave graduated from Pasadena High School in 1938, and went on to Pomona College where he played golf and was a cross-country runner – there was no badminton at the school. He graduated in 1942 as a pre-med student, serving as student-body president in his senior year. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1945. He then served two years in the Army Medical Corps, and settled in San Diego as a neurosurgeon. In 1942, he married his high school sweetheart, Dolly Rees, with whom he had three children.

Freeman won numerous tittles in racket sports, his first in table tennis at the age of 13. He won the US National Junior Singles and Doubles Tennis Championships in 1937, and had wins over Jack Crawford of Australia and Charles Hare of Great Britain while playing Davis Cup for the US. He also won the World-Wide Army Tennis title in 1947, six weeks after winning the 1947 US Badminton Singles title in Los Angeles.

However, his greatest claim to fame rests on the fantastic tournament record he set in badminton. He was undefeated in US and world badminton until 1949. He was the undefeated US singles champion from 1939-1949 when he retired from tournament play. He emerged from retirement in 1953 to regain the title. He was world singles champion in 1949. He was a member of the US Thomas Cup team, which he captained. With his singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles in 1040-42, he pulled the that trick of winning all three titles for three successive years.

Badminton was built for me, he once said, "probably because I was quick more than anything else. I wasn’t powerful. I wasn’t fast. I couldn’t run very fast, but I was quick and I had good hand-eye coordination." He certainly set a truly remarkable tournament record unmatched by any other player. It was generally conceded by students of the game that were in not for the interruption of the war years and Dave’s voluntary retirement in 1949, he probably would have won the US badminton singles title for 15 successive years, a truly amazing probability.

After retirement from the badminton world, Freeman enjoyed his career as a doctor and his hobby of horseback riding, which his family shared with him. He was a member of the Mission Valley Tennis Club where he played with one of his sons. He played some badminton for fun, but his principal badminton activity was the presentation of trophies at the annual Dave Freeman Tournament, held each year in San Diego. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dolly; his sons, Rees of Roseburg, Oregon, and Dave of Arcadia, California; a daughter, Diana Peterson of Rancho Santa Fe; and four grandchildren.

This article was published in Badminton USA, the official magazine of USA Badminton, Colorado Springs, Colorado.