Tennis and I go back a long way, ever since I was a little kid, and my Dad first taught me how to play. Make no mistake; I was never a good enough to play the grand slams, but I love the game and owe it so much!
As a sophomore I was the number one player on our East Orange High School tennis team. I posted a 2-13 record that year.
The first of the “2” occurred when the number one player from our cross town rival Clifford Scott, Henry Paillard, was not playing, and I got a win over their not-as-strong number 2, Bob Lawrie.
My second win, though, was huge! We played each of our conference rivals twice. In our first meeting at West Orange, I did not only lose; I received a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing from Jay Saunders. Maybe Jay took me for granted when they came to our courts a couple of weeks later, but I earned a 6-4, 6-4 win. I was so proud!
I was EO’s number one for three years, and in those three years I lost to Kearny’s Cal Trevenen six straight times. In those six matches I won only one set, the first set of the first match we played when we were sophomores.
At Hamilton College I became a better player earning a 50-3 record in three years on the varsity and winning a couple of NCAA, college division, regional tournaments and being the finalist in another.
My breakthrough came freshman year.
In those days freshmen were not allowed to play varsity, and I was the number one player on our freshman team. Who should walk out on the court as my opponent for our opening match against Colgate – at Colgate, no less – but Kearny’s Cal Trevenen! But this time I did something I honestly thought I couldn’t do and grabbed a straight set victory. I defeated Cal again when Colgate came to Hamilton.
I reached out to Cal about two years ago (he is a successful attorney in Montclair, NJ), and though he was very gracious, he really didn’t even remember who I was. I can never forget him, though, for helping teach me one of life’s most important lessons:
Yesterday is gone. It doesn’t matter anymore.
Do the best you can right now, and who knows what good things can happen?