Saturday, September 28, 2013
- by B.B. Branton
Friday afternoon, former McCallie tennis great and college All-American Turner Howard ('65) reached to the distant past to speak of the present and future of McCallie tennis.
"Our founders built this school on three beliefs; a strong mind, a strong spirit and a strong body. In that tradition we dedicate this building," said Howard, a school trustee and one of four alums who spoke at the dedication and opening of the John Strang-Eric Voges Tennis Center.
Howard also spoke of the "long blue line" of tennis greats as McCallie celebrates its 100th anniversary of the sport.
Former players from seven decades were among the audience, including two-time state champion Andr Avram ('78).
"This tennis facility is off the charts," said Avram who played at Wake Forest after his McCallie days in leading the Blue Tornado to state championships in 1975-76. "I's put it up against any college tennis center. And I love that it is named after Yo (Strang) and the Big E (Voges). It is the right and only thing to do."
The "off the charts" facility is a 47,000 square foot, six parallel Plexi-pave acrylic finish indoor court, heated tennis center with 250 stadium seats, locker and team meeting room for the McCallie varsity players, men's and women's restroom and locker area and an entrance area with trophy case.
Avram was one of four living head coaches at the dedication ceremony and joined Chet LeSourd, David Vining and current head coach Eric Voges in a "First Volley" to formally christen the six indoors courts.
New Mind Set To Winning: Another trustee who spoke was Jim Burns ('89) who told the story of how coach Voges changed the mind set of the tennis players during his first season as head coach in the spring of 1988 and a Big Blue win against Baylor to snap the Red Raiders 103-match winning streak.
"Eric worked us early mornings before school, during some lunch hour sessions and even late at night which proved valuable as we beat Baylor for the first time in a decade," said Burms who won a three-setter at No.3 singles as McCallie edged Baylor 5-4 on April 6, 1988.
McCallie won four, three set singles matches (Nos. 2-3-4-5) and clinched the win as Kirk Haun and Jimmy Lever won at No.3 doubles.
The previous McCallie win was in 1979 when coach Voges was a McCallie sophomore.
"Eric instilled in us the necessary philosophy of winning, process, perspiration, fitness, correct mechanics," Burns stated. "A philosophy we were not accustomed to comprehending."
Coaches Strang and Voges have instilled those important life values in McCallie boys for 54 years.
contact B.B. Branton at William.firstname.lastname@example.org