Bobby French

 I would like to offer a significantly different perspective from the recent Firing Lines by Bobby French and John Stephen Taylor, neither of whom I know.

My mother introduced me to tennis at Eastwoods Park just north of UT in 1945, when I was 9 years old. After 2 weeks she turned me over to Daniel Penick, the longtime UT tennis coach (over 50 years) on Saturday mornings. When Caswell Tennis Center opened a short time later, I spent my youth through my years at Austin High there almost every day. Then, in 1954, when I enrolled in Plan II at UT, I was on the freshman team. My senior year, 1958, I was captain. I got to play under Penick and my junior and senior years under Coach Wilmer Allison (only the second tennis coach in the school’s history). My junior year I got to play with Dave Snyder (a senior), who became the third coach for the next 29 years. The original courts where I played were on the north end of Memorial Stadium and were clay.

The tennis alumni had a meeting in October to discuss the situation with athletic director Steve Patterson. We were told that we, the alumni, needed to raise $15,000,000 before construction could begin. Meanwhile one of the best collegiate teams in the country must work out at the Intramural Fields, where there are no stands, no dressing rooms and no scoreboards. Contrary to the information given by Taylor, the new facility will not be built at the Intramural Fields, from what I have been told. One other point that needs to be addressed: Taylor asks, “Where has Coach [Michael] Center been?” I must point out that Center is not in a position to make a decision. He has more than enough to do to coach some of the finest young men that have ever represented the University of Texas tennis team.

They are students, gentlemen on the court and winners. I, and the alums, could not be prouder of the team and the coaches. Now I hope the University officials who have the power and the money to make the decisions will act with due speed to bring about a solution to this unjust and inexcusable situation.

— Laurence A. Becker, Ph.D., captain of the UT Tennis Team (1958), assistant coach (1962-1964), in response to Bobby French’s Tuesday Firing Line titled “Texas Tennis deserves proper home” and John Stephen Taylor’s Wednesday Firing Line titled “Texas Tennis fan got it right.”

I would like to briefly comment on the Firing Line submitted by Bobby French, identified as a Texas Tennis fan and resident of Austin, which appeared in Tuesday’s Texan.

First and foremost, I wish to absolutely agree with the sentiments expressed by Mr./Ms. French. It is difficult to understand why the “powers that be” would divert home tennis team matches (both male and female) to venues that are not reachable by UT shuttle or any other buses. As a fierce and longtime fan of our home team, I am troubled that a majority of students who might wish to attend, but have no car, cannot do so. 

The original courts have been demolished to make way for a parking garage, which I lament although I support the medical school. 

However, one correction I would like to make to the letter published: I personally asked UT’s athletic director, Steve Patterson, what the future would bring and was told a new tennis stadium would be built at the Intramural Fields location, which is accessible via UT shuttle and several other bus routes.

That being said, I cannot more eloquently express the writer’s own words, so I will repeat them: “The University should be ashamed of the way the Texas tennis teams and their fans have been treated this season.”  My only question is: where has Coach Mike Center been all this time?  On the road?

— John Stephen Taylor, government alumnus, in response to the Tuesday Firing Line titled “Texas Tennis deserves proper home.”