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South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation

 

Ben Varn


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VARN WAS BORN IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA WHERE HE PLAYED TENNIS FOR CHARLESTON HIGH SCHOOL WITH PAUL SCARPA.  CHARLESTON HIGH SCHOOL DID NOT HAVE TENNIS COURTS OR A COACH.  SO VARN, ACTING AS SPOKESMAN FOR THE TEAM, PERSUADED THE PRICIPAL TO ALLOW THE TEAM TO TRAVEL BY THEMSELVES, WITHOUT AN ADULT, TO TOURNAMENTS.  HE TOOK RESPONSIBILITY SCHEDULING MATCHES, FINDING A CAR AND GAS MONEY FOR THE TEAM.  AS A JUNIOR TOURNAMENT PLAYER, VARN WON A NUMBER OF STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS AND WAS AWARDED THE WILTON MCKINNEY SPORTSMANSHIP TROPHY AT THE STATE HIGH SCHOOL TOURNAMENT.

AT THE CITADEL, VARN PLAYED UNDER COACH DON BUNCH FOR FOUR YEARS (1958-1962).  HE WON THE STATE FRESHMAN CHAMPIONSHIPS, 3 SOUTHERN CONFERENCE SINGLES TITLES AND ONE DOUBLES TITLE.  IN HIS JUNIOR YEAR, VARN LED THE TEAM TO WIN THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE TITLE AND THE STATE TITLE, BREAKING PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE'S 27-YEAR WINNING STREAK.  IT WAS THE ONLY YEAR THE CITADEL EVER WON THE CONFERENCE TITLE.  HE INCLUDES IN HIS RECORD MANY MIXED DOUBLES TITLES WHILE IN COLLEGE PLAYING WITH LILLIAN SEABROOK.

VARN RETIRED AS A COLONEL IN THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE IN 1985.  DURING HIS TIME IN THE AIR FORCE, VARN WON NUMEROUS AIR FORCE AND INTER-SERVICE CHAMPIONSHIPS COMPETING AGAINST ARMY PLAYERS INCLUDING STAN SMITH, DICKIE DELL AND ARTHUR ASHE.  WHILE STATIONED AT WRIGHT PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, VARN BECAME THE FIRST WRIGHT STATE COLLEGE MEN'S TENNIS COACH.  HIS TEAM, WHICH CONSISTED OF ALL WALK-ON PLAYERS, DEFEATED MANY SCHOLARSHIP TEAMS.  HOLDING NATIONAL RANKINGS IN SINGLES AS HIGH AS 8TH AND IN DOUBLES AS HIGH AS 5TH, VARN WON NUMEROUS SC AND SOUTHERN TITLES DURING HIS YEARS IN THE AIR FORCE.  WHILE STATIONED IN TEXAS, HE AND HIS WIFE SHARON WERE RANKED #1 IN HUSBAND/WIFE DOUBLES.  IN 1974, VARN AUTHORED A TENNIS BOOK TITLED "STAIRSTEPS TO SUCCESSFUL TENNIS".  THE BOOK HAS BEEN USED IN MANY COLLEGE PHYSICAL EDICATION PROGRAMS AND IS IN THE AIR FORCE AND NAVY LIBRARIES.

IN 1977 VARN WON THE CITY, STATE AND SOUTHERN EQUITABLE FAMILY TOURNAMENT WITH HIS 14-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER YVONNE.  BEN AND YVONNE QUALIFIED FOR NATIONALS HELD AT FOREST HILLS IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE US OPEN.  THEY REACHED THE SEMI-FINALS OF THE NATIONALS FROM A FIELD OF 100,000 TEAMS.  VARN HAS ALSO BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL PLAYING WITH HIS SON BENJY.  THEY HAVE BEEN RANKED #1 IN FATHER/SON COMPETITION IN SOUTH CAROLINA.  FROM 1985 UNTIL 2000, VARN TAUGHT AND COACHED MEN'S TENNIS AT WOFFORD COLLEGE IN SPARTANBURG, SC.  DURING THOSE YEARS WOFFORD HAD A 135-98 RECORD AND MOVED FROM NAIA TO DIVISION II AND EVENTUALLY DIVISION I IN THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE.  WHILE IN DIVISION II, THE TEAM HAD TWO TOP TWENTY NATIONAL RANKINGS.  THE 1994 TEAM SET A SCHOOL RECORD OF 17 WINS, 5 LOSSES.  VARN COACHED THE FIRST TWO WOFFORD PLAYERS TO ACHIEVE NATIONAL RANKINGS.  WOFFORD NAMED HIM THE ALL-TIME WINNINGEST TENNIS COACH.

AS A PLAYER, VARN WON MANY STATE AND SOUTHERN TITLES IN SINGLES AND DOUBLES.  IN AGE DIVISION PLAY, HE HAS CONSISTENTLY RANKED IN THE TOP 20 NATIONALLY FOR SINGLES AND THE TOP 15 FOR DOUBLES.  HE WAS AWARDED USTA SOUTH CAROLINA'S ADULT PLAYER OF THE YEAR IN 1992.  IN SOUTH CAROLINA, VARN HAS FREQUENTLY BEEN RANKED #1.  IN 2002 AND 2003, HE WAS RANKED #1 IN SINGLES AND DOUBLES.  IN 2004, VARN WAS RANKED #7 IN THE SOUTH IN SINGLES AND #4 IN DOUBLES DESPITE PROBLEMS WITH HIS ROTATOR CUFF.  HE CONTINUES TO EXCEL TODAY REACHING THE ROUND OF 16 AT THE NATIONAL CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIPS.  THOMAS W. BUNCH SAID THIS OF VARN, "IF YOU ARE GOING TO BEAT HIM, YOU HAVE TO DO JUST THAT.  HE WILL NEVER BEAT HIMSELF.  HE WILL NEVER GIVE IN TO A SUPERIOR PLAYER OR A PLAYER WITH SUPERIOR TALENT.  HE FIGHTS TOOTH AND NAIL, AND FORCES HIS OPPONENT TO WIN AND EARN EVERY POINT."  AS A VOLUNTEER, IN 1976 VARN SERVED AS PRESIDENT OF THE CHARLESTON LAWN ASSOCIATION AND CHAIRMAN OF THE USTA SOUTH CAROLINA COLLEGE COMMITTEE.  VARN HAS SERVED ON THE USTA SC SENIOR CUP COMMITTEE SINCE 1986.  HE CONTINUED THAT WORK IN 2005 ANALYZING PLAYER RECORDS AND MAKING CALLS ACROSS THE STATE TO DETERMINE IF THERE WERE STRONG PLAYERS OUT THERE UNDER THE RADAR.  VARN WAS INDUCTED INTO THE CITADEL ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME IN 1990.  VARN AND HIS WIFE, SHARON, HAVE TWO CHILDREN BENJAMIN III AND YVONNE.  THE VARNS RESIDE IN INMAN, SC.

 

 
 
 
 
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