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Sun, Aug. 18

Column: Allen Fox, Ph.D., truly is the de Vinci of tennis

Allen Fox

Allen Fox

Allen Fox, 76, is a down-to-earth person who has done more in, around and for the world of tennis than many would realize. He started as a player, became a NCAA tennis champion at UCLA where he also earned a doctorate in psychology, was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist, and a three-time member of the U.S. Davis Cup team. He also coached the Pepperdine tennis team to two NCAA finals over a stellar 17-year career.

He was ranked as high as U.S. No. 4 in 1962, and was in the top 10 in the U.S. five times between 1961 and 1966.

Fox was named All-American in 1959, 1960, and 1961, and was named All-UCLA and All-University of California Athlete of the Year. He helped lead UCLA to NCAA team championships in 1960 and 1961.

When he graduated, Fox was the 4th-ranked singles player in the United States. He won the singles title at Cincinnati in 1961. He also won the 1962 US National Hard Court title. That year, he reached the singles final in Cincinnati, falling to Marty Riessen. In 1965 he reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

Fox won the Canadian Nationals in 1966. That year, Fox also won the (40th annual) Mercedes-Benz Cup, formerly known as the Pacific Southwest Championships, when he was a graduate student, beating the then-current champions of all four majors - Manuel Santana aka "Manolo" Santana, Fred Stolle, Tony Roche, and Roy Emerson in the finals.

He currently consults with athletes on mental issues, lectures on sports psychology, and is the author of several books on the mental side of competition.

Fox's writing career started with penning articles for "World Tennis," which later parlayed itself to "TENNIS" where he currently writes columns for most of their publications.

Fox has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and lecturer. He has authored several books, including "Think to Win: The Strategic Dimension of Tennis" (1993), "If I'm The Better Player, Why Can't I Win?" and "The Winner's Mind: A Competitor's Guide to Sports and Business Success," and more recently, "Tennis - Winning the Mental Match." He is a former editor of Tennis Magazine.

Allen has also published two videos, "Allen Fox's Ultimate Tennis Lesson" (2001) and "Allen Fox's Ultimate Tennis Drills" (2001).

Elected to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame as a player and a coach in 1988, he was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1991. He also was inducted into the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2002, and was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. 

When asked what his biggest achievements have been, Fox said, "I'd have to say the books I've written and the coaching successes at Pepperdine."

He said his mentors were growing up were his mother, who helped instill a very strong work ethic - though he learned the game with self-taught drills, reading and learning from Bill Tilden's book, "Match Play and Spin of the Ball."

The ups of coaching came with the close matches from the top schools in the country playing one another and the lows were wondering how each year's team would pan out. Both could be very closely related, but a great satisfaction took place most of the time.

As for a day in the life of Allen Fox, he said it's not as hectic as it used to be. A morning exercise routine, a walk, hitting some tennis balls, lunch with his wife Nancy - paying bills and working on investments, and then talking by phone with a few players on the tour helping them with the mental side of the their games, writing, and planning his next working vacation with his wife.

Will there be another book in the future? "Never say never, but currently my motivation isn't there ... although I do have a couple good ideas."

Fox has a lot of good things to say and he always seems to find the right slant to get people and players motivated in his own special way. See more of what he has to offer at www.allenfoxtennis.net.

Chris Howard is a USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry, he can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@q.com.

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