The Texas Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame in Waco has reopened. The museum celebrated its Grand Reopening on Saturday, November 21, 2015.
The celebration kicked off with a Grand Reopening Play Day in the parking lot of the museum. Kids of all ages gathered to play mini tennis. Children also went inside the museum to participate in a scavenger hunt.
The reopening festivities included screenings of two documentaries, "WCT: The Road to Open Tennis" and "Unforgettable: The Little Mo Connolly Story" in the late afternoon. Little Mo's daughter and long-time supporter of the museum, Cindy Brinker Simmons, and her son, William, were on hand to welcome viewers.
A cocktail reception took place before the Induction Banquet, celebrating the Class of 2015 which included Owen Davidson, Dick King, and Linda Rupert Thomas.
Visitors came from around the state for a first look at the newly refurbished museum. Plans for a new interior with additional and more interactive exhibits started in 2012. The museum was in need of a makeover and additional exhibits that would appeal to younger audiences. It now has a sleek, modern look and is filled with stories to inspire, as well as treasured Texas tennis artifacts and objects. The museum's exhibits take visitors through the early days of tennis in Texas and foundational events including the WCT and famous Battle of the Sexes match. When they've completed the tour, visitors can take a picture in front of a "future inductee" backdrop or watch a series of videos in the museum's new theater.
Visit the Texas Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame Website for complete information.
The Class of 2015
Owen Davidson has been competing and making contributions to the sport of tennis since the 1960s. Davidson holds the honor of being the first player to win a match in the open era of tennis when he defeated John Clifton in the first round of the British Hard Court Championships in April 1968. Davidson won 13 major mixed doubles titles and five doubles majors. Four of those title championships came at the prestigious Wimbledon Championship with one occurring at the U.S. Open. Eight of his 13 major mixed double titles came alongside arguably one the greatest women tennis players in the history of the sport, Billie Jean King. At the peak of Davidson's game he was ranked No. 8 in the world (1967). He finished with an overall career record of 242-181. Even when his playing days completed he never truly retired from the sport. Davidson has served as the Director of Tennis for the Houston Racquet Club as well as the Director of Tennis for the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch. He tutored over a 1,000 Texas tennis players including time spent as 2010 Texas Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Sammy Giammalva's Jr.'s personal coach on the pro tour. This will be Davidson's third Hall of Fame induction as he also was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in 2010 and the following year was inducted into the Australia Tennis Hall of Fame in Melbourne, Australia.
Glenn Richard "Dick" King has shared his passion and knowledge of tennis throughout the state of Texas for over 50 years. King played collegiate tennis at Southern Illinois University where he had a highly successful career winning numerous matches and tournaments. After completing his time at Southern Illinois University, he continued to compete and win at countless singles and doubles tennis tournaments across the United States. He began his coaching career at the University of Texas as the interim head coach of the women's tennis team in 1979. King continued his coaching career at Temple College from 1992-2014 serving as the head women's and men's tennis coach throughout his tenure at the college. During his time at Temple College he won three NJCAA Women's National Championships, and coached 20 women's teams and 22 men's teams to NJCAA National Tournament appearances. He coached three National Junior College Players of the Year and 56 Junior College All-Americans during his 22 year tenure at Temple. Additionally, he coached five UIL Texas high school tennis state champions. King was a three-time National Junior College Coach of the Year recipient in addition to numerous Texas College Tennis Coach of the Year awards. In 2000, he was inducted into the NJCAA Men's Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame. Four years later, he was inducted into the NJCAA Women's Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame as well.
Linda Rupert Thomas
Linda Rupert Thomas has participated in Texas tennis for nearly 60 years serving as an ambassador of the game to the state of Texas. She won numerous Junior Titles and was a Junior Wightman Cup Team Member. Rupert Thomas attended and played collegiate tennis at Lamar University from 1969-1973. She was a two-time TAIAW singles and doubles champion in 1972 and 1973. From 1970 to 1974, Rupert Thomas was ranked No. 1 in the Texas Women's Collegiate singles and doubles polls all four years. In her final year playing collegiate tennis at Lamar she won the National Collegiate Doubles Champion with partner Cathy Beene and was named an All-American. Rupert Thomas went on play seven years on the Women's Tennis Pro Circuit. In 1978, she advanced through four qualifying rounds of the Wimbledon Championship before eventually losing to Chris Evert in the third round. At the peak of her game, she was ranked the No. 76 women's singles tennis player in the world (1978). After her playing career ended, Rupert Thomas served as her alma mater's head tennis coach for three years from 1977-1980 until she became a club pro in Houston. She has spent the past 30 years actively promoting tennis in Houston serving as Head Tennis Pro of Chancellors Racket Club, Tennis Director of the University Club, and Tennis Director of the ERJCC Jewish Community Center. Additionally, Rupert Thomas is the co-founder of the Houston Wheelchair Tennis Foundation.