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Randy Gregson, Former USTA President, Passes At 91

May 24, 2010 11:25 AM

J. Randolph "Randy" Gregson, former USTA President from 1985-86, passed away in New Orleans on May 23, 2010.

Gregson was also the president of USTA Southern and USTA Louisiana as a part of his decades of service to tennis. He was a standout senior doubles player who reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 1965.

By his own admission, Gregson’s early tennis career was "no big deal." He played college tennis at Arkansas State and won several military titles while serving in the Navy. His game moved to higher level when he moved to New Orleans in 1948 and began playing at the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club, where he was a member for more than 50 years.

Gregson’s "real" tennis career came as a doubles player. With Frank Thompson, he won the Southern Senior Doubles and the National Clay Court Doubles in 1964. Gregson and Thompson defeated five-time national champs Bitsy Grant and Larry Shippey in the finals. After winning the National 45 Doubles in 1965, Gregson-Thompson were invited to Wimbledon, where they reached the semifinals. He also won two Southern Father-Son Doubles Tournaments with Randy Gregson II.

Gregson claimed 25 various Southern Championships in singles and doubles. He received the inaugural Dixon Award from the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. After Hurricane Katrina, the former member of the City Park Board workded to get a USTA grant to improve the City Park tennis courts. He also helped get a grant to repair New Orleans' Stern Tennis Center.

Playing in national tournaments sparked Gregson’s interest in the USTA and the Southern Section. "The first Southern annual meeting I attended could have been held in a telephone booth," said Gregson. "Two of us were nominated for the office of Vice President. I voted for the other fellow, but he voted for me and I was elected by a vote of two to one."

"This ‘ground swell’ carried over to becoming Southern President, a regional Vice President of the USTA, and eventually USTA President," explained Gregson. "As President, I was proud of getting the association into a more business-like mode with a board of directors that was given far-reaching powers."

"The many tennis friendships have been most rewarding," concluded Gregson. "And particularly rewarding are those friendships within our wonderful Southern Section. The Southern Section is truly the backbone of the USTA. The South has risen again in the form of the Southern Tennis Association."

Gregson's love of his native state was evident for years at the annual USTA Southern Section annual meeting. The Louisianan continued the state's tradition of heading up a parade with an umbrella when he would lead the section's annual award winners into the presentation luncheon each year.

Click here to read the obituary written by Larry Simpson, contributing writer for The Times-Picayune and 2009 USTA Southern Marc Kaplan Media Excellence Award winner.

 

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