Vic Braden – Tennis Hall Of Fame Candidate

In the tennis world of today, tournaments along with accompanying activities take place all year round. Currently, the pros are on the Asian swing of their post-US Open tours. During the fall in Southern California, there are USTA Pro Circuit and intercollegiate events taking place at fan friendly locations. Elsewhere in the tennis realm, it is the time of year when the International Tennis Hall of Fame reveals the names of candidates for 2017 induction. Everyone involved in the game knows that earning a spot, in the annals that chronicle the best of the best, is the ultimate tennis honor.

Vic Braden Photo International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, Newport Rohde Island

Vic Braden Photo International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, Newport Rohde Island

Annually, nominees in several categories are announced. This go-around, Grand Slam tournament winners Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters, along with wheelchair standout, Monique Kalkman are the Recent Player Category candidates. Southern California’s own Vic Braden, who turned teaching tennis into a career of learning and discovery opportunities, as well as Steve Flink, the widely respected tennis author, historian, journalist and commentator, are both in the Contributor Category. (Braden, who passed away October 6, 2014 at the age of 85, was selected posthumously. A player in the Masters Category was not nominated for 2017.)

Vic Braden Photo International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, Newport Rohde Island

Vic Braden Photo International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, Newport Rohde Island

A one-of-a-kind tennis instruction guru, Braden, contrary to rumors, didn’t invent the game. But, he was one of tennis’ most fervent ambassadors. Over the years, he regaled audiences with tales of his teaching and his travel experiences, along with the roles that were played in the adventures by a bevy of Grand Slam champions, as well as a wide variety of “public park-ers.” He was literally “a kid” in a candy store, when he was working with youngsters, adults or seniors – in short, anyone who could hold a racquet and tie their tennis shoes. He loved tennis and he never grew tired of helping others explore and discover its joys.

Vic Braden and Andre Agassi Photo Vic Braden Collection

Vic Braden and Andre Agassi Photo Vic Braden Collection

He believed that people were always the key. He regularly admitted, “Get them out on the court and let me work with them, and let’s see what happens…” Wonderfully personable, the ever-energetic Braden captivated, cajoled and challenged those who spent time with him, either on the court or at the seminars he offered. But, even more important, Braden made getting better fun, because he cared so much for sharing with others who he hoped, in time, would become devotees of the sport.

Vic Braden and Jack Kramer doing NCAA Championships commentary Photo Vic Braden Collection

Vic Braden and Jack Kramer doing NCAA Championships commentary Photo Vic Braden Collection

A 2013 Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame inductee, he founded and directed the Vic Braden Tennis College, initially, in Rancho Bernardo then at Coto de Caza. The facility, which opened in 1974, was ahead of its time. It became the first research center not based at a college or university, because Braden’s desire to combine his passion for discovery and interest in psychology with Gideon Ariel’s ever expanding focus on using sports science (prior to the birth of the term “sports science”) to improve athletic performance.

Pete Brown and Vic Braden

Pete Brown and Vic Braden

The time Braden spent with Jack Kramer, for whom he helped organize the world pro tennis tour, earned additional kudos for him. He drew even more praise for teaming with the legend to start the Jack Kramer Tennis Club. The Rolling Hills Estate location became fabled because it was the place elite juniors such as Tracy Austin, Pete Sampras and Lindsay Davenport, (to name but a few of the all-stars), were developing their games.

A long serving member of the Southern California Tennis Association’s Board of Directors, Braden was a Library of Congress-like resource for all things tennis. He was a prolific writer, authoring countless articles, along with six books. He also developed more than twenty tennis VHS and DVD’s. As a television tennis commentator, he viewed players, points and match situations from an educator’s perspective. The insight was based on his never-ending quest to expand his knowledge.

Achieving a place in the Hall of Fame is by no means easy. Before 2016 concludes, tennis media members and Hall of Famers will vote on the Recent Player nominees. Historians, Hall of Famers and individuals with an extensive tennis background will make a decision on those in the Contributor Group. In both cases, an individual must receive 75% support in the vote that will be tallied by an independent accounting firm.

Having lived adhering to a “Laugh and Learn” mantra, Vic Braden would be a worthy International Tennis Hall of Fame addition. For now though, fans, administrators and the candidates themselves will have to wait until the announcement is made about the inductees early next year to see if, one of Southern California’s treasures becomes the 36th person from the section to be enshrined at Newport, Rhode Island.

Mark Winters

Look for a fresh examination of tennis topics at “Mark’s Thoughts”

 

Tags: , , ,
Subscribe to Comments RSS Feed in this post

One Response

  1. Mark, Just was trying to find the date for this Fall’s SCTA Hall of Fame Dinner and came across your column and the wonderful article you wrote about Vic.
    Hope to see you in Newport.

    Dr Peter Underwood from Perth, Australia is coming to California and the US to promote his recently published book, “The Pros” and he might be in town in October. I’ll try and telephone you at the office.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*