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#TBT — May, 1978, Austin, Texas

Here I am serving in the final round of the Texas State High School Doubles Championship.

I was a sophomore, my partner was senior Chris Doane, and we were in the process of beating Sammy Giammalva & Mickey Branisa from Houston.

In the way high school tennis worked back then, you played either singles or doubles in the state tournament, not both. Our coach convinced both me and Chris to set our singles games aside for a month or so, and go for high school gold in the doubles. It proved to be good advice.

As you may be able to tell, those courts were in the shadow of the University of Texas’ Memorial Stadium where the Longhorns played their football games. The stadium is NOW named after Darrell Royal, and its massive expansion included the demolition of those courts. So these days the UT tennis team has both literally and figuratively moved out of the shadow of its football team, as its new tennis complex is in another part of campus. The tennis guys have also advanced beyond football’s current mediocrity — UT won its first ever NCAA tennis championship this past spring.

In the photo, it looks like I’m hitting a second serve (back is arched for more spin), while keeping my scissor kick, a method of jumping on the serve that John Newcombe and Boris Becker used back in the day but NO ONE employs anymore.

Of the four teenagers on the court that day, Sammy Giammalva far surpassed all of us with a good pro career, Mickey played at the University of Hawaii, and my partner Chris played for TCU. Chris died unexpectedly from a pulmonary issue a number of years ago.

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