Jeff Robson, right, received the Herbert Scheele Award from BWF President Kang Young Joong for outstanding service to the sport in 2009 ©BWF

New Zealand sport has celebrated the life of Jeffrey Robson, who played both Thomas Cup badminton and Davis Cup tennis.

Robson, who died in Auckland aged 95, enjoyed a distinguished career as both player and administrator and was a Badminton World Federation (BWF) honorary life vice-president.

In tennis he made his Davis Cup debut in 1947, helping New Zealand beat Norway, but was then defeated by the great Jaroslav Drobný as New Zealand lost heavily to Czechoslavakia in the next round.

Robson's tennis playing career spanned 18 years in which he won three New Zealand singles, seven doubles and two mixed doubles titles.

Robson was also captain of the Davis Cup team for 10 years and was New Zealand's longest-serving player in the event over 17 years.

In 1959, at an invitational tournament, he defeated Australian Roy Emerson, winner of 12 Grand Slam singles titles.

It was a measure of his ability as a racquet sports player that he played international tennis and badminton concurrently.

In a badminton playing career of 12 years, Robson won a record nine New Zealand singles titles, seven doubles and five mixed doubles titles.

Robson won three events at the 1950 Australian Open and also won Scottish and Irish titles in 1954.

Jeff Robson in his playing days for New Zealand when he played both tennis and badminton ©BWF
Jeff Robson in his playing days for New Zealand when he played both tennis and badminton ©BWF

That year he reached the semi-final of the inaugural World Invitational held in Glasgow before losing to the eventual winner, Malaysian star player Eddy Choong.

Robson also competed for New Zealand in the Thomas Cup on five occasions.

After his playing career was over, Robson became a referee in the sport and first joined the BWF Council in 1979, when the global governing body was known as the International Badminton Federation.

Robson served as its vice-president from 1989 until 2004.

He was badminton's delegate at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Robson was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and became patron of New Zealand Badminton in 1995.

He had been recognised for his long service to the sport by investiture as a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 1976.

Robson was made an honorary life vice-president of the BWF in 2005 and was the recipient of the Herbert Scheele Award for services to Badminton in 2009.

He had also served as President of Badminton New Zealand, a role also taken by his late wife Heather who had also been his playing partner in both sports.