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SC Tennis Icon's Death Impacts his Student Athletes

May 29, 2007 06:30 PM

The St. Joseph’s boys tennis team had a season of great highs and lows this year.  They finished the season at 10-4, their best record ever.  However, this accomplishment was darkened by the absence of the man who made it possible.  Allen Green, the Knight’s coach for the past seven years died suddenly just one week before the season started.  “That was very traumatic for us,” said St. Joseph’s athletic director Jan Carino, whose son J.D. is a sophomore on the team. 

“I almost felt like our team was going to fall apart at that point.  A lot of these boys were very close to him.  My son took private lessons from him.  He was a close family friend of ours.  The boys really liked him.  We knew he was sick, but we didn’t have any idea that he was that sick.  It was such a shock.”

Carino coached the team through its first two matches.  Bill Robertson, who had previously coached the boys team at Christ Church, took over from there.  Robertson had heard the Knights might be in need of a coach during a chance encounter with a St. Joseph’s teacher and had applied at that time. 

Carino called him the day of the Knight’s third match of the season, and Robertson hit the court running.  Four days later, St. Joseph’s handed eventual conference champion Heathwood Hall its only loss.  That led Robertson to nominate Green for conference coach of the year. 

“I can’t take credit for (the win over Heathwood Hall),” Robertson said.  “Somebody else did that.  I lobbied like the devil for him.”  Green didn’t win (Robertson did), but the new coach knew what Green had accomplished.

Robertson Said No. 1 singles player Jackson DeMere is the only Knight who takes private lessons.  “These kids have just been doing it on tenacity,” Robertson said.  “It’s been wonderful to watch.”

They also succeeded largely with underclassmen.  No. 2 Thomas Powers and No. 5 James Tobias were the lone seniors among the top six, which also included sophomores DeMere, Carino and Jeffery McMillan and freshman Kevin Hart. 

“It’s been interesting, because the boys have never been as serious about their tennis,” Jan Carino said as she watched the season finale.   “It’s almost like due to his death, they’ve stepped it up, and they’re playing for Allen.  They’ve played so well.  SCISA tennis is good, and for us to be where we are now is quite a feat.”


From the Greenville News Friday May 4, 2007