Introduction to Athletics

Yearbook Photo 1984 - Orangeburg-Wilkinson Tennis Team

Yearbook Photo 1984 - Orangeburg-Wilkinson Tennis Team

Watching tennis greats like Martina Navratilova, Billy Jean King, and Chris Evert in the 70's and early 80's made me want to play tennis.  My parents were happy to support this interest but only if I promised to stick with it.  I had to prove that I really wanted to play especially since I was only 8 years old when I asked for my first tennis racket.  My dad finally went to Kmart and got me a wooden Chris Evert racket after seeing me glued to the TV week after week and hitting a tennis ball against our house with my hand.  From that point on, I remember hitting a tennis ball almost every day for years and played on a team from 7th grade through high school. I also learned about Althea Gibson who the first African American to win the French Open in 1956. If she could compete, I thought so could I.  Although I was never a star tennis player, I did develop a mean backhand and a consistent serve through lots of practice.  After high school, tennis remained in my life but only as a social outlet.  Except for that one time during my postdoc when I was asked to teach beginning tennis at the University of Miami.  It was either tennis or anatomy and physiology.  I opted to be outside with no regrets.  It was actually fun to be back on the courts again showing others how to play.  

Practicing with my Prince tennis racket - New Hillcrest Courts

Practicing with my Prince tennis racket - New Hillcrest Courts

My first coach, Mr. Carl Williams, also taught me about responsibility.  I heard him say many times, "excuses only satisfies the man who makes them."  That has stuck with me all of my life and it helps me to stay focused on my commitments.  I truly believe that my playing tennis taught me many invaluable life lessons and I am grateful that my parents supported my participation in this fine sport.  As for now, I occasionally catch one of the major tournaments on TV and have fond memories of this sport that taught me the importance of dedication, endurance, and persistence.