The sudden death of David Mercer has come as a great shock to the tennis community. The LTWA would like to offer its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of our former Chairman and Honorary Vice-President.
(1950 - 2020)
by Barry Flatman
David Mercer was unique in many respects amongst the ranks of the Lawn Tennis Writers' Association. Firstly, he played the sport at a high level, winning the Welsh junior doubles title in 1968. Just over a decade later he almost became a Member of Parliament and in 1984 he umpired the Wimbledon men’s singles final between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.
A proud Welshman, this son of Swansea served two terms as chairman of the LTWA but never really set out to be a member of the British tennis media. The law was his chosen career and he practised in his home city from 1973 onwards, running his own firm for almost a decade.
It was only after winning a BBC Wales competition, searching for new descriptive talent, that he took up the microphone and went on to demonstrate such versatility that he commentated for both radio and later television. He later diversified for the BBC at Olympic and Commonwealth Games, covering both badminton and rowing. Indeed he became almost as much of a fixture in the radio launch following the Boat Race as he was in the commentary box on the All England Club’s Centre Court.
© Julian Finney/Getty Images
David was part of the BBC commentary team at London SW19 for 35 years and also treated viewers and listeners to his knowledge and powers of perception on the channels of BT Sport and Eurosport. One of his favourite tasks was serving of Master of Ceremonies at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for 25 years (as seen above interviewing Feliciano Lopez). David also co-founded the Tennis Radio Network.
He was almost elected to Parliament in 1979, as a Conservative candidate in the safe Labour seat of Swansea West. He came within 401 votes, nearly winning it on the tide that swept Margaret Thatcher to power, second to long-time MP Alan Williams. During the 1983 General Election, he assisted in the Prime Minister’s private office.
As a pure spectator he loved nothing more than roaring on the scarlet shirted Welsh rugby team at Cardiff Arm’s Park or Twickenham and became a keen golfer, often getting up extremely early to fit in 18 holes before his commentary duties took precedence.
His sense of duty to the LTWA was always strong and he diligently employed all his legal training to great effect when the constitution of the association required a complete overhaul a few years ago.
A countryman of Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins, Mercer was a master of the spoken word and appreciated the value of a few seconds of silence as much as some beautifully delivered sentences of well measured praise.
David leaves a widow Sue who remains as forthright in her views on many matters sporting as her late husband. He also had a daughter, Caroline, and four grandchildren.
David Mercer, journalist, solicitor, sports commentator and umpire, born April 1950, died 27 August 2020.