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Combo Stories

October 18, 2014 05:47 PM

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Jim Carroll and his Greenville teammates were pleased to win their second USTA state league championship on Friday.

They smiled for photos and later went to The Salty Dog Cafe to celebrate.

But as proud as Carroll is, he’s not likely to gloat about his state title to his younger brother, Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, the defending Super Bowl champions.

“It doesn’t quite balance out with a Super Bowl,” Jim Carroll said. “There’s championships, and then there’s championships.”

Carroll and his state championship team. Do you see the resemblance? Carroll is in the second row, third from the left.


The brothers have long been into sports and championships. Jim Carroll, who is five years older than Pete Carroll, remembers playing sports nonstop with his brother when they were growing up in northern California.

He also recalls when Pete Carroll wasn’t yet on ESPN’s Sportscenter or winning Super Bowl titles.

It was in the mid-1970s, and Pete Carroll was selling roofing products. I think I want to coach, he told his older brother. I’m going to quit my job and coach.

Jim Carroll was surprised. Coaching is a competitive profession, and graduate assistant jobs, how a lot of coaches get their start, receive paltry salaries. “You’ve got to really want to do it,” Jim Carroll said.

For his part, Jim Carroll had a successful career as well. About 10 years ago, he retired as the president of a commercial plumbing business.

He also had a brief football career. For two years, he played at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California The program has since been dropped.

“I live my football life vicariously through him,” Jim Carroll said of his younger brother.

In tennis, Carroll, 68, has found his sport.

He started playing when he was in his 40s. He enjoys the sport’s competition and the strategy involved in doubles. He also likes working out through playing tennis.

“No matter how good a tennis player I am,” he said, “it’s always good exercise.”


HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Doubles teams at USTA state league championships sometimes represent rare combinations. Childhood friends play together. Husbands and wives even occasionally join forces.

But Tisa and Monica Mullis of Rock Hill represent an even rarer combination: a mother-daughter team.

Tisa, 45, and Monica, 18, are representing the Mid-Carolina Tennis League at the USTA South Carolina Combo Doubles State League Championships taking place on Hilton Head Island through Monday.

Monica Mullis prepares to hit a forehand during the USTA South Carolina Combo Doubles State League Championships on Sunday at Palmetto Dunes Centre Court. It was the first time Mullis had played doubles with her mother, Tisa.


They played their first formal match together this morning at Palmetto Dunes Centre Court.

“I was just excited to play with her,” Tisa Mullis said.

Tisa is the tennis veteran of the two. She has been playing for about six years and likes how the family can enjoy USTA leagues and tournaments together. Her husband and the couple’s 14-year-old son, Matthew, also play.

Monica took some tennis lessons when she was younger but later became more interested in volleyball. Now Monica, who is a freshman at the College of Charleston, is getting into tennis again.

She said she prefers playing with her mother compared to other potential teammates because she feels comfortable asking Mom tennis questions.

This morning, Monica’s questions included where she should stand when returning a softer serve and how to return a softer ball.

“It’s better because I can say anything to her,” Monica said.

Tisa Mullis likes the new combination as well.

During their match this morning, they didn’t tell their opponents they were mother and daughter. But the opposing team picked up on some strong clues: A few times during the match, Monica called Tisa “Mom.”

Monica Mullis and Tisa Mullis talk during their match on Sunday morning.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Ralph Cash of UPTA in Greenville has played USTA leagues since 2000. Three times he has been on teams that have won state league championships. He also has played at a USTA National Championship. After all that USTA success, you might wonder what motivates Cash to keep working hard and winning state titles.

The answer? The state champion T-shirts.

"That's why we play -- to get the shirts," Cash said Saturday after winning his team won a state league championship. "We love the shirts!"

Cash and his teammates slipped on the T-shirts immediately after receiving them and grinned for more photos.

Cash was all smiles with a state championship won and a fancy new T-shirt to boot.