Ben Press

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Ben Press
Born (1924-05-21)May 21, 1924
San Diego, California, U.S.
Died September 9, 2016(2016-09-09) (aged 92)
Coronado, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles
Occupation
  • Tennis player
  • writer
Employer Kona Kai Club
Hotel del Coronado
Hilton Beach and Tennis Club
Known for Tennis

Ben Press (May 21, 1924 – September 9, 2016) was an American tennis player, coach, and writer, known for his involvement in World Team Tennis, his connection with the Hotel del Coronado, and as teacher of tennis standouts such as Maureen Connolly and Karen Hantze Susman.

Early life[edit]

Press was raised in the University Heights and North Park neighborhoods of San Diego, California.[1] Interested from an early age in tennis, his early tennis teachers included longtime San Diego tennis coach Wilbur Folsom.[1] Press's neighbors in North Park included Ted Williams, with whom Press would play baseball and tennis growing up;[1][2] and Maureen "Little Mo" Connolly, who would count Press as a lifelong friend, competitor, and coach.[1][3] Press was considered a top junior player,[4] and won the Bob Carrothers Sportsmanship Award.[5] He played varsity tennis at UCLA.[6]

Playing career[edit]

Press's playing career included wins at the La Jolla Championship Summer Tournament in 1949 and 1951.[4][7][8] Press played against such contemporaries as Jack Kramer, Bill Tilden, Bobby Riggs, Pancho Gonzales, Whitney Reed, and Tony Trabert.[1][6] In addition, Press won three USTA Senior National mixed doubles titles with Jeanne Doyle Garrett in 1970, 1973, and 1974,[9] and represented the United States against Canada four times for the Gordon Trophy.[4]

Teaching career[edit]

Press was one of the founders of the San Diego Friars in World Team Tennis.[6] He was a nonplaying assistant coach and part owner of the 1974 WTT champion Denver Racquets.[1][10]

Over the course of more than six decades, Press was head pro at several prominent San Diego-area tennis facilities, including 17 years at the Kona Kai Club[1] and 28 years at the Hotel del Coronado, where he was pro from 1977 until the demolition of the hotel's tennis courts in 2005.[5][11] Press subsequently became head pro at the Hilton Beach and Tennis Club.[1] He was recognized as a Master Professional by the USPTA.[6]

Press taught Wimbledon champions Maureen Connolly and Karen Hantze Susman, and Australian Open winner Brian Teacher.[4] Press also taught other standout San Diego-area players, such as Marita Redondo, Walter Redondo, Kristien Kemmer, Angelica Gavaldon, Steve Avoyer, Randy Thomas, and Alexandra Stevenson.[2][4]

Service, achievements and honors[edit]

Along with his longtime teaching career, Press wrote at length about tennis. In the 1970s, Press wrote a regular column on tennis for the San Diego Evening Tribune.[1]

Press was a co-founder of the Greater San Diego City Tennis Council, an organization that provides resources and funds for the improvement and refurbishment of public tennis court facilities in San Diego.[1][12]

Ben served two terms as president of both the San Diego District Tennis Association and the San Diego division of the USPTA.[4][6]

In 2006, Press was one of ten initial inductees into the San Diego Tennis Hall of Fame.[13] Press was awarded the National Community Service Award from both the USTA and the USPTA.[4][6]

Press was a 2010 inductee into the USTA Southern California Senior Hall of Fame.[6][14]

In 2011, Press was given the United States Professional Tennis Association's Presidential Award.[6] Press won the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award of the USPTA San Diego Division.[15]

Press was the inventor of the Scepter Racquet, which was the first commercial graphite tennis racquet.[6]

Press died of prostate cancer on September 9, 2016 at the age of 92.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "A Legend at Balboa - Ben Press". Center Court (PDF) (Newsletter). Balboa Tennis Club. February 2008. p. 5. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Magee, Jerry. "Press honored for contributions to game," San Diego Union-Tribune. May 4, 2004.
  3. ^ See also Brinker Simmons, Cindy, Little Mo's Legacy: A Mother's Lessons, a Daughter's Story Tapestry Press. 2001.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Press profile. San Diego District Tennis Association.
  5. ^ a b Martin, John, "Remembering Bobby Carrothers, a Tennis Prodigy Killed in 1940". New York Times. March 21, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Ben Press honored with USPTA Presidential Award". USPTA website. September 27, 2011.
  7. ^ La Jolla Tennis Club Archived July 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine..
  8. ^ Inside Tennis. June 2009.
  9. ^ USTA 2008 Yearbook.
  10. ^ Janoff, Murray (July 7, 1973). "Tennis: New Pro Circuit". Sporting News. 
  11. ^ Magee, Jerry, "The Del's Rich Tennis History Chronicled". San Diego Union-Tribune. February 1, 2010.
  12. ^ "USPTA Awards Honor Leaders in Tennis Profession" Archived March 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.. 11/06/05.
  13. ^ Magee, Jerry. "A Courtly History". San Diego Union-Tribune. August 22, 2006.
  14. ^ SCTA website.
  15. ^ USPTA San Diego Division Newsletter. Winter 2012.
  16. ^ Tennis legend Ben Press dies

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • 100 Years of Tennis at the Hotel del Coronado. The Greater San Diego Tennis Council/Kales Press. 2010. ASIN: 0979845637.
  • The serve ADDvantage. December 2011.

See also[edit]

Unforgettable: The Little Mo Connolly Story 2003.

Doren, Kim and Charlie Jones, Game, Set, Match: A Tennis Book for the Mind.