YMCA Courts will be named for Clinton Tennis icons
Clinton Tennis will honor its heritage by naming the YMCA’s four courts
Second in a series
Tennis coaches, professionals and enthusiasts from all over the country have “saved the date” for a grand gala of tennis in Clinton this spring.
Much of the event will be laid back, although there will be a dinner and, on the Clinton YMCA Courts, there will be competition or, rather, “exhibition tennis”. Part of the three-day program will be establishment of the Clinton Tennis Hall of Fame and an acknowledgement of the past with the naming of the four existing courts at the Y.
Court one will be named for player and coach Marian Ramage. Court two will honor the Clinton High School Boys Tennis State Champions of 1971, ’72, ’73 and ’74, coached by Keith Richardson and Andy Bee Young. The Adair Family Court – Chris Adair and Mary Adair – will be designated for Court Three. Court Four will be the Gene Simmons Family Court. Clovis Simmons has coached the Clinton High boys and girls tennis teams to 38 region championship, and her husband Gene is the YMCA’s executive director. This week, the Clinton Family YMCA Prayer Breakfast that Gene started is observing its 40th year.
These dedications will be part of the upcoming event – the Clinton Jr. Tennis Program Inaugural Homecoming and Hall of Fame Fundraiser, to be held on Friday, April 13 through Sunday, April 15. Every year from now on, organizers plan to induct new people into the Hall of Fame, and raise money for the Rufus Sadler Tennis Foundation.
Virginia Waldron will emcee the gala event on Saturday, April 14, planned as a Barn Bash with music, live and silent auction, and naming of the tennis facility and courts. A Friday night social kicks off Clinton’s tennis weekend, and that Sunday afternoon, there will be a courtside presentation of banners.
A flyer says, “Save the date and celebrate the rich history of tennis in Clinton and support its continued growth!” (Info and sponsorships: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
Organizers are working on a tax-exempt status for the Rufus Sadler Tennis Foundation.
The YMCA’s tennis facility will be named for William Plumer Jacobs II, a founding patron of the sport in Clinton, tennis author and instructor, and the third person inducted into the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame. The city hosted big tennis competitions for many years, before giving way to Belton as the “tennis capital” of Upstate South Carolina. As recently as 2017, the Presbyterian College men’s tennis team was conference champions. The junior tennis program for 46 years has funneled players on to the consistently winning Clinton High School tennis teams, and those players have continued on to college, professional tennis and coaching.
All the while, Clinton does not have a stadium court, or clay courts. Organizers of this inaugural Hall of Fame event have in their sights raising funds in the $50,000 - $150,000 range for three or four clay courts at the Clinton Y, and money for enhancements to existing courts. Outreach and development of a tennis camp for underprivileged youth is another goal.
Brainstorming for the Hall of Fame and fund-raising activities came last spring as Clinton was losing the Class AAA Boys Tennis State Championship to Hanahan. The championship winning players left almost immediately to compete in Southern Nationals, and tennis fans in Clinton began to wonder, “Why can’t our kids do that?”
Well, money is one obstacle. Plus high-level training facilities. Plus getting the players when they are young, sometimes emerging from humble beginnings, and putting a racket in their hands. Plus court time – plus playing on clay which reduces stress on joints, legs and backs. Local tennis enthusiasts are headed back into the schools, to promote tennis and, they hope, get JV teams started.
One off-shoot of having a Clinton Tennis Hall of Fame at the YMCA courts is going to be something young players will see as they train there. It’s going to be a banner, carrying a quote that has inspired the Wimbledon-winning Bryan Brothers by their coach-dad: “If you can see it, then you can dream it.”
(Last in a series: sponsorships and what “can be” for tennis in Clinton)