Column: New tennis inductees are very special people
On Sunday, Oct. 8, the third annual Park of Tennis Fame day will take place, beginning with a clinic taught by all the local tennis professionals from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and followed by our induction ceremony at noon for six outstanding local people for what they have done in and for the game of tennis.
Dick McGaw has been playing the game since the age of 5, over 70 years now - playing and competing at its highest level. Growing up in Indiana and living across the street from the main tennis center in Fort Wayne, he fell in love with the game. Playing in his first tournament at the age of 8, ball-boying for the men’s professional tour, having one of his coaches take a real liking to him, becoming friends with Nancy and Cliff Richey whose father George was a teaching pro, and then competing successfully in tournaments as a youngster through the present.
He says, “Tennis has been good for me. It helped build physical and Psychological strength, moral character, and social relationships.”
Binki Thalmeier long time admired and hard-working USPTA Tennis Professional and Head Pro at the Prescott Racquet Club for years received the National Award for the Women’s 55 and over Player of the Year in 2011, one of many awards during her career for much time and effort exerted. As an 18 year-old she won the Girls 18 and under singles for the Phoenix district Tennis Championships in singles.
During her time teaching here in the Prescott area she brought many players into the game that are now solid in the community of tennis.
Her main hope is, “That the students I taught developed a love for the game that give them the same things I received - positive benefits for good health and lasting friendships.”
Sterling Fetty has been coaching the Prescott boys’ team for 10 years (since the age of 25) and many of those years both the boys and girls teams. Sterling has walked the walk, in winning the 4A State Doubles High School Tennis Championships with partner Cory Bennett 17 years ago (2000). He went on to play community college tennis and been a USPTA Tennis Professional since graduating from college teaching at the then Prescott Racquet Club and now with his own Junior Tennis Academy at Prescott.
His background in playing junior and adult tennis has given him the experience to help hundreds of tennis players, concentrating on juniors and having much success at the high school level - even here in the rural community of Prescott.
Rick Bothell who retired from teaching tennis at PHS in 2005 after 24 years there winning many regional tennis championships for both the boys and girls teams, coach of the year honors, two doubles state champions in Shannon and Michelle Howell, as well as Sterling Fetty and Cory Bennett, created some unmatched feats as a local coach to date.
He began playing the game at the age of 11 playing high school tennis, earning a second place berth with future tennis professional Jim Munsil his junior year. He went on to play at Phoenix College - teaching during his spare time.
Esther (Senora) Brown started her tennis coaching career in 1990 and won a slew of regional tennis championships, 7 coach of the year awards, even had a State Girls Singles Champion in Trisha Kempton and from 1995 to the end of tennis season in 2004 her win/loss record was 115-7, crazy good. Maybe you’ll remember some of the girls she coached; Trisha Kempton, Karen Collacot, Holly and Kerri Kuebler, Emily Griffin and Kristen Schmitt, Brittany Michelson, Elise Moore, Jessica Lund, Eva Dickey. Amanda Lewis, Carrie Yamauchi and Nicole Castro.
The death of Joe Morales left a very big void in the Prescott Valley area, and tennis players, especially juniors, were left without the person they could count on to give them opportunities to hit, be in clinics at the high school courts and play on a daily and weekly basis, that statement is as true today as it was in 2005.
Morales went over and beyond any thoughts of normal teaching duties while rebuilding the 4 courts at Bradshaw Mountain into 6. What he did for tennis at Bradshaw as their tennis coach with his “no-cut” rule continues today in their program and the many he inspired.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or email@example.com.