At 41+, I am not old, but I find myself losing more friends to cancer or death by natural causes than I ever thought I would at this point. Sometimes learning of someone's passing takes me by complete surprise and makes me feel profound, heartbreaking sadness.
That's what I felt the other day when I heard that Dallas' Lee Hamilton had died. He passed on June 16 of complications from cancer, even though he had never stopped living his usual busy tennis- and family-centric life. He was 75.
I'm including links to his obituary and to his Texas Tennis Hall of Fame profile, so you can read about his life and tennis accomplishments through those. I'll just take a few minutes here to tell you how special he was to me and how important he was to my tennis-writing career.
Twelve years ago, when I started a four-year stint as tennis columnist at The Dallas Morning News, one of the first people I came to rely on was Lee. We got along well right from the start, and I would call him for everything from getting his suggestions for story ideas to asking if Dallas tennis rumors (good or bad) were true to finding out if he were going to attend a particular event.
It didn't matter if he was president or a board member of the Dallas Tennis Association or the Texas Tennis Association (now the USTA Texas Section), or if he was the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the entire USTA in New York. He was always helpful, always informative and always encouraging. He never made me feel as though my questions were stupid (I've never been afraid to ask a stupid question, to the chagrin of many), and he always said to call any time.
I continued to call him when I switched newspapers and began writing the tennis column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but when that ended in 2006 we lost touch. The good news is that we reconnected when TennisFortWorth.com began last spring, because we both attended Davis Cup in Austin, where he and his wife, Molly, were seated across the aisle from the media section at the Erwin Center--right near me.
As soon as we made eye contact, we shared a big hug, and I took a few pictures of Lee and Molly, and each day we would stop and chat at some point during the Davis Cup matches. I asked him about some USTA movers and shakers, as well as what he had been up to lately, and he gave me all the scoop. It was like old times, and I looked forward to keeping in touch.
When we got back to Fort Worth-Dallas, we emailed each other a few times, and I asked him to spell out his role with the USTA for me. Here's what he said:
"I am no longer a paid employee of the USTA, as of the end of 2007. My role with the USTA at the national level is as a volunteer--specifically as committee chair of the USTA Diversity & Inclusion Committee. That gets me to the USTA Annual and Semiannual meetings (including the US Open) plus various trips as part of my committee assignment. In other words, it keeps me plugged in."
Here's information about Lee's service, as per the obituary in The Dallas Morning News. I'm fighting off tears as I type this part. We'll miss you, Lee. I'll make sure you are always plugged in.
"A memorial service will be held on Friday, July 6, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church at the corner of Preston Road and Walnut Hill.
"In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in memory of Lee be made to the Bucknell Fund, Bucknell University, Development and Alumni Relations, Lewisburg, PA 17837 or www.bucknell.edu) or "Invest in a Child," Dallas Tennis Association, 14679 Midway Rd, Suite 104, Addison, TX 75001 (or www.dta.org--using the Razoo link).
"Condolences may be sent to the family; via the Aria Funeral Home, 10116 E. NW Highway, Dallas, TX 75238; or at www.tributes.com."
FWTA Seeks Volunteers to Work at Major Zone
The annual Fort Worth Tennis Association Major Zone is July 20-22, and as always the FWTA could use help at the four tournament desks. Matches will be held at TCU's Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center (headquarters for the event), Arlington Tennis Center, McLeland Tennis Center and Richland Tennis Center for the first two days, then only at McLeland and TCU on Sunday, July 22.
Here are the shifts for which they need volunteers:
Friday 7:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.;
Friday 1:30 p.m.–End of matches;
Saturday 7:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.;
Saturday 1:30 p.m.–End of matches;
Sunday All day.
Board member Patsy Mills asks that you indicate which location you would prefer to work at and says previous desk experience is not necessary. She says they need help with things such as giving out towels upon check-in, opening cans of balls, taking match scores, updating draws, etc.
Contact Patsy via email at
, if you would like to volunteer. Be sure to tell her where and when you want to help.
KATCH Loses a Dear Friend to Cancer
When I spoke with Nancy King, president of KATCH, the other day, she shared the sad news that the Keller tennis community had lost a close friend, Barbara Gilmore. I never had the pleasure of meeting Barbara, but she sure did make a lot of friends since moving to Keller in 2010 to be with family.
Barbara, 73, died June 5 in Southlake. Her family asks that, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be made to KATCH. Here is what the Star-Telegram published about her life and her family's wishes.
10 & Under Events Held Alongside Mid-Cities Events
Mid-Cities tournaments are very popular among are juniors getting used to competition, so it's a natural for USTA 10 & Under events to be held in conjunction with them. Cognizant of this, the Fort Worth Professional Tennis Association has set up the new 10 & Under Summer Play Day Shootout Series for all children to play in competitive environment that's fun and non-threatening. Click here for a schedule.
USTA 10 & Under Tennis uses smaller balls, rackets and courts so kids can learn how to play tennis with gear their own size. Seems like a good idea--wish they had it when I was a kid.