Thursday, December 12, 2013
- by B.B. Branton
"George was a great sport, loved the game of tennis and he would fight you to the wire every time you played. Above all, you knew every call he made was the right call and you probably got few others in your favor."
-- Forrest Simmons, former Chattanooga City Closed Singles Champion
Known for his speed on the court, a solid forehand and impeccable character, former U. of Chattanooga national tennis champion George Dickinson passed away Tuesday in Atlanta.
Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Dickinson was a native of Lookout Mountain and was UC's first individual national champion in any sport. He claimed the NCAA small college singles title at the 1966 tournament held at the U. of the South.
The funeral is Monday Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Atlanta.
A graduate of Chattanooga City High School ('61) and U. of Chattanooga ('66), he also attended Ga. Tech for two years.
"Back in the early 1960s, there were not many tennis college scholarships available so George was a walk-on for the Ga. Tech tennis team in the fall of 1961," said his younger brother Tommy Dickinson.
"To show you the impact he had on people and the way he carried himself from day to day, Tech's legendary football coach Bobby Dodd awarded George a football scholarship after his freshman year since there not a lot of tennis scholarship money available."
Playing in the tennis boom of the 1950s and 1960s, he played with and against other top local tennis junior players, including Chris Brown, Morrow Chamberlain, Bill Brown and John Killebrew.
Winning championships as a junior and senior player over a four decade span, Dickinson was a member of the Greater Chattanooga, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain Sports Halls of Fame.
He also helped lead City High School to the first state wrestling team championship in 1961.
Run Around That Backhand: "No doubt he was the fastest player I ever played against, but he also had a terrible backhand," said former doubles partner Forrest Simmons with a laugh. "If you hit a shot wide to his backhand he would go to great lengths to run around his backhand, even to the extent of hitting a forehand from the adjacent court."
True Friendships: "We can all say we have our share of friends, but for George he had many true friendships, people he could count on no matter what and vice versa," said brother Tommy.
George Will Be Missed: "I have always been proud to call George my friend. He was all heart and honesty in everything he did. He will be sorely missed," said Cindy Kemp Battle, former Southern junior tennis champion who was inducted into the Lookout Mountain Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 with Dickinson.
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