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Tournament Travel Tales

March 17, 2003 10:18 AM

I recently traveled to Auburn, AL to participate in the Auburn Holiday Classic, the last Adult NTRP sanctioned tournament in 2002. I was participating in Women’s 3.0 singles and doubles, and while playing one of my matches, saw my good friend Mr. Louis Hill pass by the back fence of the court I was on. He patted the fence and told me to, “keep focused” and “play well.”

I was quite happy to see someone I actually knew, and was thrilled with the thought that I might be able to see Louis play his singles match. I knew of his reputation in his age group.

When my match finished (I won), I went to Louis’ court, sat down on the grass, broke out a granola bar, and was pretty much in heaven. It was a beautiful day.

A lady sitting not far from the spot on the grass that I now called “home,” seemed happy to be a match observer too, so, naturally, I started a conversation with the infamous question, “are you playing in the tournament?”

I was much relieved to quickly discover her friendly demeanor, and was completely comfortable asking my next 1,000 questions.

Turned out she did not play tennis at all, but was there supporting her friend, who was playing against my friend Louis.

Interestingly enough, as we talked, I began to notice this fellow seemed to have an awesome serve, and unbelievably beautiful ground strokes. I thought, this is not a casual player, who is he, and how often (where) does he play?

So, thankfully, my new found friend was still happy to answer even more questions. Turns out, Louis Hill’s competitor used to play on the Tuskegee College tennis team, and actually won the National Singles Title the year the team made Nationals.

What was even more interesting is that this fellow has been involved in the music industry ever since his days at Tuskegee, and travels most of the year due to concert appearances.

HOW does he get his tennis in? He searches the Internet for tennis events wherever his concerts take him. Unbelievable, I thought, he must really love tennis, to not let it have gone by the wayside, due to his travel constraints.

So, WHO is this fellow? None other than William King, one of the original “Commodores”, - still singing and putting on performances around the world.

What’s really cool is that after Louis’ match with William (it ran 3 hours), William had another singles match that was just as rigorous - and after all that tennis, yes, he put on a concert appearance that very night.

No, I didn’t get to go to the concert. But that’s OK. I got to see another side of a great entertainer - the absolutely superb tennis player!

-- Susan Tafolla, Pelham, AL




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