SUFFER? (374)

A new buzz word cropped up among the talking heads at the us open tennis tournament: SUFFER!  How much will one suffer for the tennis win?  Got to suffer to beat Nadal.

Sort of grim sounding.  Particularly to a minister’s son.  Don’t recall all the ways it appeared at the First Baptist, but sounded ominous.  “Jesus suffered and died on the cross” popped up a lot.  “Suffer the little children to come unto me”?  Not me! at five.

Don’t  think I  don’t know the value of conditioning in tennis.  Mental toughness.  Grind it out!  Dig deep.  You are only playing half a point!  Easy for me as a coach to yell, or blow the suicide whistle.

Nada vs Medvedev  2019 might have been the toughest match I have ever seen.  Nadal has a trump card.  He can wear anybody down and he knows it and they all know it.   But this new villain/hero never blinked.  Thanks to this match we saw a new willingness to suffer.  Aggassi was great for a while at this.  and  it does provide the public a deep look into admirable quality.

But wait a minute.  Two of the greatest ever suffered beyond even their max in  New York  (Joker and Fed),  begs the question—how long can these 3 super heroes survive?Is someone going to have to die to qualify?  If the women are paid the same, do they have to suffer equally?

College tennis is changing lots of ways.  But their intent is to enhance crowds.  Pros are looking at 5 sets?  Is parity of players and quality of equipment  demanding risking life long injury of upcoming aspirants.  Everyone in the draw can play.  No more 6/1, 6/0 semifinal clay victories for women.   Administrators and coaches and parents and players:  It ain’t one set and  a beer at the club, but does it have to be the lions and christians?

Romans 5:3

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;




I was a head tennis coach for forty years for two different colleges. Twenty years at Atlantic Christian/Barton College, twenty at Elon University. Most of our teams were in the National Association of Intercollegiate Association (NAIA). Elon years included NCAA 11 then NCAA 1

In 1972 the NAIA voted on college tennis’s most volatile issue; international players were completely dominating college rosters. Enclosed are a small percentage of letters I have written in an attempt to support American Junior players and their families in pursuing college tennis scholarships. This issue over the years spread from the NAIA men’s rosters to the NCAA11, NCAA1, both men and women’s teams.



In 2017 my friend Chuck Kriese, former Clemson tennis coach, asked me to be a panelist at a meeting in Bradenton FL. to deal with this issue. (I thought) Coach Kriese has long been an ally on the international issue. There were ten people on the “panel” and I was asked to speak first (see notes). I did so attempting to gain support for tennis scholarships for Americans.

The second speaker startled me and others with his topic. Stripped down, it proposed to bring smaller satellite tournaments for college tennis in America. One panel member questioned where was the financing of these local tournaments coming from? Response: “we already have five million dollars in reserve.” Silence! Who is that sponsor was the question from the floor. I do not remember the name but another panelist replied “that is a gambling outfit in Europe isn’t it?” Yes was the answer. We all seemed a little stunned. And did not bring up the subject through the next several presentations.

As I exited the meeting Coach Kriese stopped me and asked “what do you think?” I was very frank with my friend –“Chuck this is an attempt to bring big time gambling to American College Tennis.” I was then no longer involved with this effort.

Concern for the game I reported this development to all involved in American tennis that I thought should be aware. Hardly anyone was aware of such a movement and I worried about overreacting and put my concern aside.

Still it nagged at me. How about the pro who revealed this scenario in the meeting: ”yes, one of my fifteen year old players asked me what to do about that man.”  Why?

“He stopped me on the way to the dressing room and offered me $1500.00 to lose the second set”.

One statistic said the volume of betting on tennis was second only to soccer in Europe.

The light comes on! With the ability to electronically report the current score of a tennis match worldwide was now technologically available to anyone as the official punched in the score. Anybody, tennis knowledgeable or not could place a bet on anything in the game. Second serve a double fault? Total number of games played per match?

Light #2. Gamblers get a 4% vigorish on any bet. The more bets the more 4% flows to management.

Voila. Where can you find the most number of tennis matches played in the world? Europe satellites? Nope. College tennis in America, no where close. Men & women, all divisions. How about Old Dominion’s number four girl against number four from William & Mary?

Will NC’s number two guy win the next point? 4% !

Today’s paper features an article entitled “New Series Seeks A Improved Pathway To Pro’s for US Tennis”.

Did I attend the beginnings of this current attempt? Is this really a “pathway to gambling”?

ORACLE is now the ITA (College Tennis) leading sponsor. All gamblers need now is that score recorder in a college referee’s hands. Worth watching this all develop?


This is very insightful coach.  Well done!  I hope this is not a trend that will increase.  Gambling in tennis will paralyze our sport.  There are too many issues in sports as a whole to have this muddle the mix.  I have heard of the few regulars that show up at tour events and college matches with cell phones in hand ready to call the next bet.  Some have been stopped but just like the drug traffic, there is another right behind them to take their place.  High school, college and tour coaches need to unite in integrity.  They need to draw their lines in the sand and let the tennis world know that they are not going to participate.  Period and without discussion. Violators should be prosecuted for the fullest extent possible.  No exceptions.  No appeals.  Put me in charge of it.  I’ll take care of this quick, fast and in a hurry.  Anything that tarnishes our game is off limits.  We saw some fantastic performances at the Open over the past few weeks.  Gambling has no place among that royalty.  le




Our friend, Norma Rose White , is a retired high school teacher. Finding it painful to report negative grades for her students, yet required period comments, Mrs. White chose “not yet” as a grade for “those others”. Our family found this evaluation a reasonable response for many a category, and we often responded, “not yet, Norma Rose!” when expectations weren’t quite met.

September 2018—till September 2019 was quite a year at Emerald isle. One neighbor just finished his house repairs last Tuesday. Hurricane Florence was a killer damage- wise to our community. Then Dorian caused forced evacuation from our newly repaired cites. Margaret and I left Thursday at 8am. At 9:1O not hurricane Dorian, but another assailant, tornado unnamed, roared down that path.

This one was vicious and found its frequent target (s)—back to back recreation vehicle parks.

Years ago when his small grandchildren visited, “Country”Boykin referred to them as “the thundering herd”. Three weeks before this hurricane our herd decsinded en mass on us.   We actually devised a common tact for older grandparents: we rented them a house.

Two nights their air conditioner shut down. So “several” sought relief at Pops. Logistically we had six adults, one semi teenager, and two four year olds. Nine people, two houses. One son of mine is mathematically off the chart but one could figure the variations of people we could combine. Yet, within minutes we all knew that all seven combined could not harness the two fours, when together.   Only the beach itself could tame them together.

Growing up in small North Carolina towns it was obvious that families did the same for their family vacations. “What are you all going to do on vacation?” Going to Myrtle Beach. Whole family, grandma, and dog, Emma.”

Most of the time there were lots of kids. No telling how many four year olds were babysat by the great Atlantic mother.

Grand parents giggle at the tail light joke. Our community elders host a “they are gone” party in the early fall. I missed that three weeks ago exit bliss moment.

Symptoms required a cardiac check, or three.   My history causes a lot of looking over my shoulder. Been lucky for twenty years after being lucky after quintuple bypass.   Need to go in there again, Coach. Odds got me.

God bless modern medicine and Dr. Williams. Ps. My first savior was another, Dr. Williams, my lifelong friend, Dr. Willis Williams.

Only a stint was required. And while it was the major one (right coronary) it feels like I have a new carburetor.

There is a reason or two for writing this. The three weeks back to back left a lot of reasons for concerns. Week one –many know lennox Parham (think thundering herd).   Somehow my hospital stay may have sounded serious to many close friends. Pile on a hurricane following a major hurricane that was reported to be headed right at 202 Blue Crab, only to be upstaged by a bombshell tornado, this too picking one of our nearby neighbors.

The streets are dry, the wind “lay down”as said locally.

Not yet Norma Rose.



Both my sons played college tennis and have continued to play.   Oldest grandchild plays tournaments.  Elder son, Tee,  just finished a tournament in hometown, Boulder.  Runner-up in doubles, they won $200.  Reminded me of my “total earnings” from pro tennis.

I attended all the early ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) coaches conferences, held mostly in Sanibel, Florida.  In 1989 the ITA held a prize money tournament, singles only, all ages.   Not for me.  1990 they added age divisions.  The late Bob Brynes, a fine player, asked me to partner with him in the 50’s and older.  When we got the draw there were only four entries.   Our first round opponents were both over 70 years old.  Pretty easy, this pro tennis.  However our next opponents, in the “finals”, no less, were pretty good,  The 7/6, 7/6 match was really long.  Bob carried the load.  I realized I was late for my free shuttle back to the airport.  A cab cost me $30.

Weeks later I received my share of the win.  EIGHTY FIVE BUCKS!  However, the check bounced.  Later redeemed,  I yielded $55.   Our  family earnings from tennis play are now:  Tee-$200, Dad –$55, or $255.

My trophy reads ITA NATIONAL DOUBLES CHAMPION  (50 and OVER).   Thanks, Bob.


Small college teachers often have colleagues’ children in their classes.  They are often the brightest is the class or’ “the others”.  Love for colleagues, or the realization that one of your own may be one of “the others” breeds special attention to the “not yets”.

Recently I talked to John Sanford, son of legendary “Doc” Sanford, our baseball  coach and my department chairperson.   Doc and I changed schools.  He came from Elon to Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, and later I moved to Elon.  One day at Elon Doc called saying he was bringing 12 year old son,  John,  to visit Elon.  I made preparations.

Doc came to Atlantic Christian because of a bitter turf battle with the  Elon basketball coach, the irascible  Bill Miller.  Vying  over services of Richard Such, future baseball Hall of Famer caused the tift.

Elon’s gym housed a hosting room, the Huey Room, where they displayed Elon’s athletic greats, or Hall of Fame members.   Large pictures of members were  hung on the wall in no order.  Before Doc’s impending tour I crept into the Huey Room and rearranged the pictures, putting Doc right beside Coach Miller.

After greeting Doc and John I escorted them down to the the shrine, all the way extolling the athletic prowess of his father to young John.  As we entered and squared away at the pictures I interrupted my praise.: “Oh my god , Doc!  They’ve got you up there by Miller!”

Doc said: “… yeah- move me down there by” Peahead” Walker!”

I asked John if he remembered that visit some thirty years ago?   “Like it was yesterday”.  he added, “..Coach, thanks for helping all us faculty kids.”