DORIS S. HERRICK | by Nancy Gill McShea
If presidential hopefuls Al Gore and George W. Bush are compiling a list of potential cabinet appointees, they shouldn’t overlook Doris Herrick. Doris would be the ideal candidate for any post, especially secretary of state or ambassador to the United Nations. She is a born leader and a born diplomat.
She is also 5-foot-2 with eyes-of-blue, always cheerful with a quick smile, and everybody’s best friend.
Ask all of the people who worked with Doris during the 20 years she presided at the center of Eastern tennis as executive director and they’ll tell you she treats everybody like family. They’ll say she put on a model clinic of how to succeed as the chief operating officer of a not-for-profit organization, that she was brilliant in the role of liaison to 10 volunteer presidents, the board of directors, the professional staff and the people they serve in the tri-state area. They’ll say she was the velvet glove behind the scenes who engineered Eastern’s emergence as a national leader in community and recreational tennis development.
“Barbara Williams was president when I began in 1978,” Doris said. “We moved from simply doing scheduling and rankings to inventing programming.” She explained that together they broadened the scope of Eastern’s mission with activities designed to get people playing and keep them playing, such as a traveling caravan to take tennis to the public parks and unranked player tournaments for beginners. The result put Eastern ahead of the national programming boom.
“The key to leadership in my opinion,” said Doris, “involves relationships, succeeding at getting people to work well as a team. This job was a challenge in that it involved the dynamics of a small staff and a large corps of volunteers.”
“My most important contribution to Eastern tennis was hiring Doris,” Williams said. “We got along so well we needed a hot fudge sundae at exactly the same time...Not only did she nurture volunteers, but she also began to hire and train a top-notch staff.”
One of those trainees was Laura Canfield, Eastern’s first director of the USA Schools Program and now executive director of USTA/Middle States. “Doris understood that new programs were not going to compete with traditional tournaments,” Canfield said. “It was her vision that they would supplement those offerings and reach a broader market. She could see that the schools effort was going to be a big breakthrough, so she made sure she provided the resources for staff, committees and volunteers to make it work...Doris was the boss! She could sell anything to any of us.”
Past president Dan Dwyer can vouch for that. “Doris had the unique ability to have an entirely different opinion than mine and in 10 minutes convince me that her original opinion was correct but that it was my idea,” he said, still sounding astonished.
“Doris is the ultimate politician because nobody thinks she’s a politician,” said David Goodman, who headed up Eastern’s Junior Department before he succeeded his boss as executive director in 1997. “Whenever people went over my head because they didn’t like the answer I gave them, they’d call Doris yelling and screaming. I could hear their voices through the phone. And the more they yelled the softer the tone of Doris’s voice would get. It was only a matter of time before she was in control of the conversation.”
When Doris was in her forties she could have been classified as one of the “Great Dames,” a tag writer Marie Brenner used in a recent New York Times piece to describe a generation of intelligent women with manners and endurance--Marietta Tree, Clare Boothe Luce and Kitty Carlisle Hart, among them--who came of age before the feminist movement and gained influence as career volunteers in charitable causes, the arts, politics and the diplomatic corps. Doris, too, was the volunteer president and/or board chairman of organizations such as The Woman’s Club of White Plains, the First Baptist Church, the PTA and the Jennie Clarkson Auxiliary, a residence for school girls from troubled homes. But she was divorced after 25 years of marriage and had to make the transition to the professional ranks.
“She did what she needed to do when she needed to do it,” said Doris’s father Jeff Schlesinger, 94, a chemist by trade who added that his only daughter was once the Sweetheart of De Molay in her hometown of Arkansas City, Kansas. He said she was also a cheerleader, editor of the college newspaper at Ottawa University and a member of the drama club, the university honor society, the Pi Kappa Delta national debate society and Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.
Doris’s brother Bill Schlesinger, a Ph.D. from M.I.T. and a professor of theoretical mathematics at Tufts University, said his sister is very genuine and the basis of her leadership is a combination of being sensitive, friendly and responsible. “I think there’s always been some ambition there, but it is masked by the responsibility factor which I think is much larger,” he said. “She’s always had lots of friends and fit in well with all kinds of people. She got that from our mother (Jessie, who passed away last year). Mother helped us with our homework and always gave us a reason for things. I see that aspect of her in Doris.”
Friends Kathy and Bob Garry said they are glad Doris traded in her Kansas ruby red slippers for tennis shoes because “as a woman of great faith she became a powerful example for so many people in our sport.”
Indeed, people who worked with her responded overwhelmingly with words of love and praise for Doris a few weeks back when I called. The following are excerpts from their thoughts:
USTA Executive Directors:
Peter Herb, Northern California: Working with Doris for 20 years was an honor. Her grasp of...financial matters has been an enormous help to us.
Henry Talbert, Southern California: With her winning personality, she keeps everyone talking so that at the end of a meeting people can part as friends without getting polarized.
Alex Aitchison: For her comfort and smile I would walk a mile.
Louis Dimock: She saw that it’s all about the community. I bow to the power of a legend.
Harry Marmion: She is the single most devoted and competent member of any organization I have ever worked with. Lois Prince: She makes us all look good. It had to be impossible to reestablish good relationships with a new president every two years. She’s so clever nobody ever gets angry at her.
Dick Scheer: My favorite person in tennis. I don’t know anyone else who is as efficient as she is lovable and warm at the same time.
Bob Schmitz: She filled in the gaps for me; she’ll be a friend for life.
Elaine Viebranz: Her ability to work with staff and volunteers and bring out the best in them is the reason the organization is as strong as it is today.
Mali Circle: She inspired us; we were indeed a family.
Ann Flint: She’s a psychiatrist, diplomat and confidante. I always knew she was on my side.
Denise Jordan: She has a willingness to stretch the human spirit to new heights and a belief that everyone can lead.
Renie Koehnken: She’s one of my favorite people to get into trouble with...she knows.
Nancy McShea: She never acts like...ahem...Tiny Alice. Jenny Schnitzer: She knows how to work the line between boss and friend; that’s a gift reserved for a few special people.
Aaron Segal: She gave...our staff tremendous support and guidance...motivated everyone by example.
Sue: She’s little “Miss Gotta Get to Work.”
David: She’s a great mother and a real force for good.
Bill: She has a positive attitude all the time, even in grim situations, which gets her through. She can lead the old, the young, liberals and conservatives. She can be all warm and fuzzy with people but at a board meeting she can cut right through trivia and focus. That ability to be honest in both roles is how she pulls people together.
In any given week these days, Doris could be interviewing candidates to head up her church’s ministry (in her role as board chairman), serving as vice president of her condo, visiting ill and aging friends or members of her church congregation, or tending to business as executive director of Eastern’s Junior Tennis Foundation. You might even catch her slipping out at 6 a.m. in rubber galoshes during a mini-hurricane to collect bittersweet from a friend’s garden for luncheon centerpieces at The Woman’s Club--because the local florist doesn’t have what she wants.
No doubt about it, Doris Herrick is one of the “Great Dames!”
Photo Credit: Edward Goldman
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PETER FLEMING | by Nancy Gill McShea
He is instantly recognizable as the lanky, 6-foot-5 blond who quietly wielded a big forehand as the right half of perhaps the greatest doubles team in tennis history. But anyone who has followed the career of Peter Fleming, who grew up in Chatham, N.J., and holds the Grand Prix record for most doubles titles, 57, with John McEnroe, knows that his low-key court demeanor masks an intense determination.
“I was the stoic one in that partnership,” said Fleming, who acknowledged that while he was not quite in McEnroe’s league in terms of temperamental court behavior, he was not totally in control all of the time either. “Being cool and collected is not necessarily my personality. I can be pretty intense…but it turned out to be more beneficial to my game. My demons came out in singles.”
Individually, Fleming achieved career high professional rankings of No. 8 in singles (1980) and No. 1 in doubles (1984) and won a total of 66 doubles titles while advancing to the finals of 21 other tournaments. He is third in winning percentage in doubles finals, at .759, behind McEnroe and Tom Okker of the Netherlands. He also advanced to the quarters or beyond with partners other than McEnroe, among them Eastern’s Fritz Buehning (they won Memphis and Atlanta); Gary Donnelly (Wimbledon finals, French semifinals); Ferdi Taygan (won the NCAA title while at UCLA and Hong Kong); Guy Forget (won LaQuinta); Ray Moore (won Johannesburg); Anders Jarryd (won Toronto); Tomas Smid (won the Italian and Monte Carlo Opens); Brian Teacher (Columbus finals); and Steve Denton (U.S. Open quarters).
Fleming won his first Grand Slam doubles title with McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1979, a 15-minute drive from where he now lives with his wife Jenny and children Joe; 15, Alex, 13; and Holly, 9. “[Winning Wimbledon] was fantastic, really a thrill I had never expected…I felt like I was on top of the world,” he said.
These days he works as a consultant/investor of an Internet media company and does television commentary for the BBC and Sky Sports. In addition, he coaches touring pro Laurence Tielman of Italy, who lives in London, and three of England’s talented 14-year olds. Fleming gets back to the States six or seven times a year and also plays several events on the ATP Champions Senior Tour, where he catches up with his old tennis buddies.
Fleming and McEnroe won a total of seven Grand Slam doubles titles; three U.S. Opens (1979, ’81 and ’83) and four Wimbledons (1979, ’81, ’83 and ’84) and were finalists on three other occasions. Fleming ranks seventh in doubles wins among U.S. Davis Cup players, having teamed with McEnroe for a 14-1 record from 1979 to ’84. The pair also won seven straight Masters titles in Madison Square Garden from 1978 to ’84.
“To be a good doubles player you need at least two out of three skills: serve, volley and return,” Fleming has said in assessing his successful court alliance with McEnroe. “Between us we covered these areas well. Then you need to make sacrifices for the good of your team, which we were prepared to do. Most importantly, there was a great chemistry between us. Mentally we had a great understanding of one another’s emotions and our psychological strengths seemed to complement one another.”
Of all the titles Fleming and McEnroe won together, Fleming has talked about a 1981 Davis Cup contest versus Argentina in Cincinnati as the most exciting: “Our match against (Guillermo) Vilas and (Jose-Luis) Clerc…had everything you could hope for in a tennis match. The tie was finely balanced and it looked like the winner of the doubles would win the Davis Cup that year. We were heavy favorites, but they played some incredible tennis. Everything happened in that match: players arguing with umpires, players arguing with players, captains arguing with players, and the kinds of momentum shifts that only doubles can provide. It was neck and neck throughout. The game we played when they served for the match at 6-5 in the fifth was probably the highlight of my career. We played four good points to break Vilas to love, and went on to win 11-9 in the fifth. It was a tremendous feeling to play such a dramatic part in a Davis Cup win.”
Fleming said his dad, Alan, played tennis every weekend at the Racquets Club of Short Hills, N.J., and “his love for the game was so infectious I wanted to have a racquet in my hand hitting the ball from age five.” He turned professional in 1976 and influenced the Eastern tennis boom. For example, at the 1979 U.S. Open, McEnroe beat Vitas Gerulaitis for the singles title, and Fleming and McEnroe won the doubles title. All three were friends and had trained together at the Port Washington Tennis Academy. Local kids began signing up for tennis lessons in droves.
“I owed a lot to that whole [Port Washington] program; Mr. [Hy] Zausner put together an environment that bred champions with competitive players and exceptional coaches Harry Hopman and Tony Palafox,” said Fleming, who traveled by train from New Jersey to Port Washington every weekend and was a guest in the Zausner home. “When I was 16, Vitas was the top junior in the country and I was like No. 30. Over the next year I improved a lot.” Fleming said he developed an attacking serve and volley game, and that his greatest strengths were his serve, forehand and return of serve.
He first played doubles on the professional tour with McEnroe in September of 1977 in Los Angeles at the Pacific Southwest tournament. “We both had done quite well and I was one of the few guys he knew,” said Fleming, who had transferred from Michigan to UCLA while McEnroe was just entering Stanford. “We figured it would be fun and an ideal situation if we played together and traveled around together.”
“When you think of doubles you immediately think of McEnroe and Fleming,” said Palafox, who observed the famous partnership from the beginning. “After playing all those tournaments together, they’re not enemies; they’re very good friends. They practiced together all the time and both of them improved because they had each other. Whether it was Davis Cup or tournaments, they were always in the same place.”
Asked for a comment about that partnership several weeks ago, when he was preparing for his second outing as U.S. Davis Cup captain, John McEnroe resorted to his usual wry humor: “One of us is right handed, the other is left handed. One of us is from New Jersey, the other from New York. One of us went to UCLA, the other to Stanford. One of us is quick tempered…and I’m a team player. But one thing we have in common is the USTA/Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame and 7 Grand Slam doubles titles. Congratulations, Peter.”
The famous tennis coach Carols Goffi, whom Fleming chose to present his award tonight, added, “Honorable comes to mind when I think of Peter. He’s a family man and a friend through thick and thin. You can always count on him. He would never look for the limelight…”
“I love tennis, I couldn’t have asked for a better sport to be involved in,” Peter Fleming has said. “I have found my niche. I can look back and say I could have done some things differently, but prefer to be known as a great doubles player than not to be known at all.”
Photo Credit: Edward Goldman
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RENEÉ RICHARDS | by Nancy Gill McShea
Reneé Richards needs no introduction. In 1975 Richard Raskind became Reneé Richards, and the whole world knows that story. In 1977 Richards began playing on the women’s professional tennis circuit and later coached Martina Navratilova to her first victory on red clay at the 1982 French Open Championships and to several other Grand Slam titles.
“New Yorkers have always supported me--at the Open, everywhere,” said Richards, who recalled an incident from 1978 when she was a member of the World Team Tennis New Orleans Nets squad with player/coach Marty Riessen, Bjorn Borg, Wendy Turnbull and her mixed doubles partner, John Lucas, who had played pro basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks. “John and I flew into LaGuardia [Airport]; we were going to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Apples. He was always telling me what a big shot he was everywhere. I said, ‘Wait until you get to New York and you’ll see what a real big shot is.’ When we stopped at the Queens Midtown Tunnel, the guy in the toll booth said, ‘Hi, Doc, welcome back.’ At the Garden, Apples’ captain Billie Jean King implored the crowd, ‘Let’s hear it for the New York Apples.’ Forget it, I told her. Tonight these people are rooting for me because I’m ‘the’ New Yorker.”
Richards comes from a family of medical doctors and would agree that her noteworthy career as a New York ophthalmologist and one of the world’s leading surgeons in Strabismus, the correction of eye muscles in cross-eyed children, ranks among her greatest achievements. She would also agree that the joy of hitting a tennis ball ranks among the most constant rhythms in her life.
“That was my thing. I’ve spent my whole life as an Eastern tennis player,” Richards said. “I played the game like a true amateur; I was known for two things: being a deadly competitor and a great sport. I’ve played in every club and on every court in the metropolitan area.”
Born in New York City, Richards moved to Forest Hills at age 6 and was ranked among the top-ten Eastern and national juniors in the late 1940s and early ‘50s. She was captain of her high school tennis team at the Horace Mann School in New York City, and at 15 she won the Eastern Private Schools Interscholastic singles title. “My first big win,” she said. She was later captain and played first singles for Yale in New Haven, Ct. (1951-55). When she attended medical school at the University of Rochester (1955-59), she swept snow off the tennis courts through the long winters rather than interrupt the rhythm of hitting the ball.
By the early 1960s, Richards was steeped in the complexities of her internship and residency training at the Lenox Hill and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospitals in New York City. But she and Don Rubell, a fellow doctor and Eastern player, found time to escape to the tennis courts during their lunch hour. “I’d pick him up at the Midtown Tunnel and he’d be standing there in his whites,” she said. “We’d go to Queens, find a court and then go back to the hospital in the afternoon. Sometimes we’d go up to Baker Field at Columbia and play with Dick Savitt, Ham Richardson and Paul Cranis.”
This past January, Richards received the George Seewagen Award at Eastern’s Awards Dinner in recognition of her teaching ability, sportsmanship, excellence in competition and love of the game. “I am especially pleased,” she said, “because I was taught how to play tennis by George...” She was 12 in 1947 when her father, David Raskind, told her that Seewagen, a top teaching pro in New York, would give her lessons [at the Jackson Heights Tennis Club], and that it was a privilege which would only be continued if she applied herself and worked hard.
Richards said she wouldn’t dare address Mr. Seewagen as George until she was 30, that his dignified demeanor and behavior commanded instant respect and became a model for her. “George would rarely verbalize disapproval,” she explained. “He would simply shake his head and say, ‘I don’t know about that.’ He taught me tennis but he taught me much more. All of his students were taught how to behave like decent human beings.”
Les Pollack, a native of Woodmere, L.I., has known Reneé Richards since they played tennis together on the Eastern and national junior circuits, and later on Yale’s tennis team. “She was an all-around athlete, a lefty, fastball (pro) pitching prospect who several times in the same day threw complete games for the Horace Mann baseball team, then quickly changed into tennis clothes and won at first singles for the school’s tennis team,” Pollack said. “When we were freshmen at Yale, she was still eligible to play juniors and was planning on going to the national indoors in St. Louis. She got stomach pains and the doctors thought she had appendicitis, so they put her in the infirmary. She sneaked out, went to the indoors and got to the semis of singles and the finals of doubles.”
Pollack believes Richards inherited a great sense of the tennis tradition from Seewagen and her father. “Reneé is the fairest player I’ve ever played against,” he said. “Anything close is in. She learned that from Seewagen. And her father, who’s 100 now, is a lifelong player. When he earned his first national ranking, No. 18, in the over-85 division, I congratulated him and he said ‘It’s not so great, we only have 19 players.’ He kept at it because he loves the game.”
Richards used to bring her dog Rocco, an airedale, to tournaments. “Everybody knew Rocco,” Pollack said. “Whenever Reneé started losing, Rocco would start baying at the moon.” You might have heard Rocco the day Richards lost to Sidney Schwartz in the finals of the Brooklyn Championships at the Knickerbocker Field Club. “Reneé was just 16 and Sid was the king; he was ranked 10th in the country and won the first set easily,“ Pollack said. ”Somehow Reneé won the second, and when she started serving to open the third, Sid turned to his claque and said, ‘Count the points [in this set].’ Reneé heard him and hit an ace. Sid said, ‘That’s one.’ Sid won that match, but Reneé beat him badly in straight sets next time out at the Eastern claycourts.”
While competing on the women’s circuit, Richards was a 1977 U.S. Open doubles finalist with Betty Ann Stuart-the pair lost a close match to Navratilova and Betty Stove--and in 1978 she was a mixed doubles semifinalist there with Ilie Nastase. In 1979 she defeated Nancy Richey for the Open’s 35s singles title. Richards once extended Chris Evert to three sets in the finals of the Seattle Virginia Slims and posted wins over Hana Mandlikova, Sylvia Hanika, Virginia Ruzici and Pam Shriver. “I think Pam was about 10,” she said.
On the Eastern men’s circuit, Richards was a New York State champion in singles and doubles, and was ranked among Eastern’s top ten for more than five years. In 1964 when she was a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander and an eye surgeon stationed at St. Alban’s Hospital in Queens, she stood at No. 4 behind Gene Scott, HerbFitz Gibbon and Rubell. That summer, the Navy provided Richards with daily helicopter flights from Long Island to Newport, R.I., and back again so she could repeat as the All-Navy singles and doubles champ.
In 1973 Richards was ranked No. 6 in the country in men’s 35s and had wins over Ray Garrido, Paul Cranis, Tony Palafox and King Van Nostrand. “At the U.S. Open 35s [grass] tournament, I beat Jim Farrin in three sets, a grueIing win against a better player,” she said. “Then I lost to Gene Scott in a third-set tiebreak after holding double match point. Devastating! Only Gene beat me that summer--twice--but he’s five years younger than I am.” Reneé Richards is very comfortable with her life. “It was just the way my life was destined to turn out,” she said. “I had little control over it. I’m very fortunate because people with problems not as bad as mine have not been able to end up having such a wonderful life.”
Photo Credit: Edward Goldman
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WILLIAM J. TULLY | by Nancy Gill McShea
If you know anything about Bill Tully, you understand that the man is a tennis lifer. So much so that on paper he could be mistaken for a nomadic tennis bum who spends all his time following the path of the sun. Tully plays tennis every day, always looking to improve his serve and volley game. He has already won the five tournaments he’s entered in is first four months of over-75 competition, beating old Eastern nemesis Tony Vincent in one final at Delray Beach. And he’s been playing the sport outdoors year-round since he was a young jet setter commuting between Florida and various residences in Westchester, N.Y.
“My father’s business was slow in the winter, so we lived in Florida during those months, and still do,” explained Tully, who was captain of both the Iona Prep tennis team up north and the St. Patrick’s High School team in Miami Beach.
Granted, Tully does have another life. He is a veteran officer of the U.S. Navy Air Corps and a 1948 graduate of the University of Notre Dame who has owned a seat on the New York Stock Exchange since 1963. He even once dabbled in the politics of elective office in his native Younkers until he got so fed up with people calling him at all hours of the night to get their cats out of trees, that he fled to Pelham. And he and Kay, his wife of 50 years, are devoted to their nine children and 15 grandchildren.
But if you call him at home, Tully sends a clear message on his answering machine: “Kay and I are out playing a tiebreak.” When you reach him, he is quick to point out that all his children are good club tennis players who worked as ball kids or in other capacities at the U.S Open; his father, Leo, was an umpire and linesman at Forest Hills; and three of his grandchildren play Eastern tournaments.
He was about 12, he said, when he played his first extended set of tennis at the Orienta Beach Club in Mamaroneck before Jimmy Van Alen invented the tiebreak. He wasn’t allowed to go swimming for an hour after lunch because his mother, Catherine, believed the old wives’ tale that he might get cramps, so he played tennis to kill some time. “I just liked it, I could beat the kids around my town, it was probably my ego,” said Tully, laughing at his candor. “And my father encouraged me. I was never what you call a champion, but always a good Eastern ranked player.”
On the contrary, in the 60-something years since Tully hit his first tennis ball, he has won 10 USTA gold tennis balls and hundreds of tournaments, including the men’s national Canadian, New York and Florida State Championships. In addition, he has been honored with prestigious tennis awards. In 1985 he was ranked first in the country in men’s 60s and World Tennis magazine named him the Senior Player of the Year. In 1996 he was the USTA/Florida Player of the Year. And last month he received the USTA Seniors’ Service Award at the organization’s annual meeting on Marco Island, Florida.
“Everything revolves around tennis with him,” said Tully’s daughter Sue Rollins, who played tennis for Fordham and worked the walkie-talkies at the Open. “Every spring [when he returns from Florida] that net goes up in our driveway. He’s got to get out there and get those strokes going. He’s still a kid who likes to enjoy the moment that’s there.”
When Tully was 16, he was ranked No. 2 in Eastern junior tennis behind Charlie Oliver and qualified for the 1942 U.S. National Championships at Forest Hills. He lost to Bill Talbert that year, but vowed he would return. In 1943 he started playing tennis for Notre Dame where he formed what would become a lifelong friendship with Jimmy Evert (Chris’s dad) and his brother Jerry. Bill and Jimmy were ushers are each other’s weddings, Jimmy actually met his wife, Colette Thompson, a friend of Kay, at the Tully’s wedding. Jimmy played No. 1 singles for Notre Dame while Bill and Jerry traded places at the second and third positions.
In 1945 captain Tully’s Notre Dame team finished as NCAA co-champions when Pancho Segura of the University of Miami won the singles match to tie them. In the summer of 1947 Tully and the Evert brothers toured the country playing tennis, making stops at the national clay courts in Salt Lake City, Utah; Seattle, Wash.; and Vancouver where Jimmy won the men’s singles title at the Canadian Championships. In 1948 it was Tully’s turn to win the Canadian singles title and qualify again for the U.S. Championships.
He would play America’s Grand Slam tournament 13 more times over the next 18 years, the last in 1966 at age 40, when he lost to Frank Froehling III. During that same period, in 1965 and ’67, Tully won his first two national titles, in men’s 35 doubles. In 1968 he was a member of captain Dick Squires’ Olympic Fron-Tennis team in Mexico City, a team doubles exhibition among 16 nations.
Perhaps Tully’s most important contribution to Eastern tennis is his consistency as a team player, both off the court as a USTA and Eastern volunteer committeeman and Metro-N.Y. regional vice president, and on the court as a charter member and captain of team events, beginning with the Church Cup. In 30-plus years, he has played on every Eastern team in his age division, most recently on the Atlantic Coast 65 Intersectional’s.
“After many years of competing with Bill in team matches and against him in tournaments, I’ve concluded that it is better to be on his team than opposing him,” said Tully’s friend Tony Franco, a popular top-ranked Eastern player.
Tully has been captain of the USTA’s Stevens Cup team, a men’s 45 Pan American competition; and twice represented the U.S. on two other international teams, the 55s Austria and 70s Crawford Cups. He and his son Chris also played a few Eastern Father-Son events, and once faced Peter Fleming and his dad Alan at the Arlington Players’ Club in New Jersey.
Last October in Orlando, Fla., Tully added the National Senior Olympics’ men’s 70 singles trophy to his collection. The 64-player draw included players from every state in the nation. His other USTA national titles include five in doubles on clay; four in the 55s with Oliver (they once beat Bobby Riggs and Gardnar Mulloy in the final); and three on grass; one singles and two doubles, the most recent in 1998 with frequent Eastern teammate and national opponent Fred Kovaleski, which earned the pair the No.1 USTA 70s double ranking.
“Bill and I have known each other since college,” Kovaleski said. “He’s an excellent sportsman, very fair on the court. If there’s a questionable call, I’ve never seen him take it…He’s better on grass than any other surface, primarily because he’s more of a serve and volleyer than any other player in the 70s or 75s. It gets tougher and tougher to play as we get older, but he continues to play every day of the week.”
Now try to imagine a bona fide tennis champion who doesn’t curse but prefers to mumble “Jimminy Cricket, darn it anyway” or just plain “Phooey” when he misses a shot. No question Bill Tully is a respectable tennis bum!”
Photo Credit: Edward Goldman
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