The Southern Tennis Foundation and USTA Southern announced today three tennis luminaries are scheduled for induction into the 2018 class of the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.
Laura Dupont (deceased), of Charlotte, N.C. who once lived in Chattanooga, Dan Santorum, of Hilton Head Island, S.C. and Tom Smith, of Alpharetta, Ga., will be inducted January 20, 2017 in Atlanta.
For the first time, the event will be named the Lucy Garvin Southern Tennis Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Garvin, of Greenville, S.C., was a 2005 inductee, former USTA and USTA Southern president.
Established in 1977 with the induction of Bitsy Grant and Ham Richardson, the Hall of Fame will grow to 104 members after the induction ceremony. Other notable members include Stan Smith, Chanda Rubin, Roscoe Tanner, Linda Tuero, Gardner Mulloy and Lucy Garvin. The Southern Tennis Foundation’s website contains information on the hall, inductees and its charitable mission. The hall is located in the USTA Southern offices in Peachtree Corners, Ga.
By M. Marshall Happer III, Southern Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, 1995
Laura DuPont is arguably the finest female tennis player ever from North Carolina, having reached a world ranking of No. 9. She won the 1979 Canadian Open, the 1977 German Open and 1977 US Clay Courts. Additionally, she reached the finals of seven other WTA tournaments in singles or doubles.
She also was a star basketball player in high school and in college. DuPont was the first female All-American at UNC and won the first national championship for UNC. DuPont is being inducted into her fourth hall of fame: ITA Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame and the Charlotte Catholic High School Hall of Fame.
Her story and legacy are important for young girls everywhere who dream of success in sports.
DuPont was born on May 4, 1949, in Louisville, KY, lived in Chattanooga, TN, and moved to Charlotte, NC, in 1964. She graduated from Catholic High School excelling in basketball (38-point average), but there was no girls’ tennis program. However, DuPont became the North Carolina junior 16s and 18s state champion in 1965 and 1966 while in high school. In 1966, she was also the North Carolina state adult doubles champion with Julia Anne Holt. Next year, she was the North Carolina state adult singles champion and also doubles champion with Holt. In 1969, Laura was the state adult singles champion.
She attended Greensboro College for two years and then the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, graduating in 1972 with a B.A. degree in Physical Education. At UNC, Laura lettered in basketball with a 30-point scoring average. In tennis, she went undefeated in match play. UNC men’s tennis coach, Don Skakle, was unsuccessful in trying to obtain permission to have her play on the men’s team.
DuPont was the first woman at UNC to ever win a United States National Collegiate Championship, when on June 20, 1970, at New Mexico State in Las Cruces, NM, she defeated Linda Tuero of Tulane in the finals 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. Tuero is also a Southern Tennis Hall of Fame inductee.
DuPont always considered being the first female national champion at UNC to be her most memorable accomplishment. In 1998, she told the Raleigh News & Observer as Tar Heel of the Week. In 100 years or 200 years, no one will know I won the Canadian Open, but I will still be the first at UNC.”
In 1970 she was named the North Carolina AAU Athlete of the Year. In 1971, she won the Southern Championships and was ranked No. 1 by USTA Southern.
In 1977, she was ranked No. 10 in the United States. In 1980, the USTA ranked Laura and Pam Shriver No. 4 in doubles in the United States. The USTA ranked Laura and Barbara Jordan No. 8 in doubles in 1981 and No. 11 in doubles in 1982.
In recommending DuPont for induction, Shriver wrote, “We won tournaments, played against the best in the world and even qualified for the Tour Championships. … I remember losing to Laura in singles, when she beat me with her smart tactics and patience. I recall many doubles matches together when she was the level-headed team captain helping us think our way to win.”
Others who wrote in their support for Dupont were Billie Jean King, USTA President & CEO Katrina Adams, Southern Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Mildred Southern and other notables.
Famous tennis journalist and International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Steve Flink described her as “a formidable clay-court player known to her friends as ‘Flash’.”
She earned the respect of her peers on the international world tour and was elected to serve the WTA for 10 of the formative years for women’s professional tennis including two years as vice president and four years as treasurer. In 1974, she was a leader in the development of the first computer rankings system for women’s professional tennis.
In the mid-1980s she 1984 the US 35s singles and doubles tournaments.
After retiring from the international tour, DuPont became the manager and teaching pro at Shriver’s Orchard Indoor Tennis Club in Baltimore until the club was sold in 1996. In 1997, she moved back to Chapel Hill to manage and teach tennis at the Chapel Hill Tennis Club.
Sadly, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and considered her fight against her cancer to be “the greatest match of my life.” She passed away on February 20, 2002, at Duke Hospital in Durham, NC at age 52.
Laura DuPont, North Carolina, 2018
- Reached a world ranking of No. 9
- She won the 1979 Canadian Open, the 1977 German Open and 1977 US Clay Courts
- Played in the finals of seven other WTA tournaments in singles or doubles
- Served on the WTA Board of Directors for 10 years and as vice president and treasurer
- First female All-American at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
- Won the first national championship for University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
- Previously inducted into three other halls of fame: ITA Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame., North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame and the Charlotte Catholic High School Hall of Fame