The USTA Missouri Valley runs a monthly Web segment entitled 'Six-Love,' spotlighting our many volunteers and their love for the sport of tennis and community by asking them six questions related to how they got started playing tennis, and, in volunteering with the USTA.
The state of tennis in America would be at a loss without each of our volunteers making a difference in everything we do. From tournament directors to junior coaches to USTA League organizers, there are a myriad of folks helping in a variety of roles, all of them helping us achieve our mission to "promote and develop the growth of tennis" here in the USTA Missouri Valley.
If you would like to nominate a volunteer from your area, please e-mail email@example.com.
In the spotlight this month is
|President's Award: Francis and Jean Baxter (Edmond, Okla.)|
Francis & Jean Baxter of Edmond, Okla.Compiled by Jennifer Schneider
Francis and Jean Baxter’s love and dedication to the sport of tennis over the years has earned them a much needed thank you for everything they do to make a difference in the game. The Baxters were both born and raised in Oklahoma. Francis attended Dover High School (Dover, Okla.), a small school with only 13 in his graduating class, where he played basketball and baseball.
In college, Francis lettered in track his sophomore year, and lettered in tennis his junior and senior years. He went on the teach mathematics in the Oklahoma City public school system for 14 years, where he also coached basketball, tennis and swimming. From there he went on to become an Assistant Professor in the Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Department at the University of Central Oklahoma. Francis was the head coach of both the men’s and women’s tennis teams there until he retired in June of 2006. Francis was the USTA Missouri Valley President from 1973-1974 and was a Missouri Valley Hall of Fame inductee in 1990. He currently serves as Chairman of the Hall of Fame committee.
Jean, like Francis, also attended a small high school in Hinton, Oklahoma (Hinton High School). Jean did not play sports in high school, but still excelled as an athlete in water skiing and bowling. Jean worked for the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company for 40 years before retiring in 1994. In 2007, Francis and Jean were honored with the USTA Missouri Valley President's Award, presented in Overland Park, Kan. during the Annual Conference. Jean serves on the USTA Missouri Valley Awards Committee and has been a longtime volunteer.
Thanks to Francis and Jean for their tremendous enthusiasm in helping us grow this great game!
How did you both get into tennis?
Francis saw his first tennis racquet after he got to college. He saw what a great game it was by watching two of his classmates, S.L. Shofner and Gene Land, practice on the courts beside his dormitory. Shofner and Land both won NAIA National Singles Titles for the college, and both have been inducted into the Missouri Valley Tennis Hall of Fame. Watching them was a huge inspiration for Francis.
Jean married into tennis at age 27. She had never played before, but could hit the ball quite well. However, working in a 65 degree office all day, then coming out into the 95 degree Oklahoma weather did not make for the practice necessary for continued improvement.
How long have you been playing tennis, and how long have you been volunteering?
|Francis and Jean Baxter|
Francis played tennis competitively for 45 years. He has been volunteering for 54 years. He got into volunteering by offering to call lines for Jack Kramer and Pancho Gonzales as they brought their pro tour to Oklahoma City in 1956. He continued from there to volunteer at local tournaments.
Jean has been playing tennis for 10 years, and has contributed 45 years of volunteering.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
It’s the people you meet and the friends you make.
Favorite non-tennis activity:
Jean enjoys shopping, and Francis enjoys going to sporting events (football, basketball, track and field, etc.).
Playing tennis is better than what . . . (why?)
Tennis is better than any other activity invented by man! Why, because the court, equipment, and rules are the same all over the world. Everyone, the young or old, male or female, able-bodied or wheelchair-confined can play with or against each other. It can be either recreational or competitive, to suit anyone playing. It is relatively inexpensive, and serious injury per hours played ratio is very low. It is great for the body, and it’s fun!
Best-ever tennis memory?
Jean and I were playing in a mixed doubles tournament in Edmond. In the middle of a point, Jean shouts out, "Look at that butterfly, it’s the same color as the ball." The couple we were playing were a bit disgusted, and I told Jean she had missed that ball because of not paying attention to the game. She said, "There will be another ball come by, but there may not be another butterfly."
Another favorite memory was when I was 30 years old and played a tournament against a sophomore, Glen Mullins, from Oklahoma University's Tennis Team (who later became an All-American). Somehow, I got to match point in the 3rd set. He serves, comes in, and I throw up a lob. He turns, goes back, the ball comes down and hits him on top of his head. It was my biggest win.
View past Missouri Valley Volunteer Spotlights