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50 Years as a USTA Member

Richard S. Hardaway

You probably think that 20 or 30 years is a long time to be a member of an organization, but if you're Richard Hardaway, you're just getting started.  Hardaway, joined USLTA (predecessor to USTA) in 1960 and is a continuing member, making him the longest active member in the Palmetto State.

In 1959, Hardaway’s tennis days began with his brother, Charles, asking if he wanted to join him hitting the ball against the backboard at the Greenville County Club. Shortly after that day Wilton McKinney, the first inductee into the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame, saw potential in him and began to coach Hardaway at Belton, SC. His time at Belton was some of the most influential on his tennis development. There he learned the importance of never being late, checking in, going to your court assignment and always bringing back the balls with the score.

Hardaway joined USLTA in 1960, which became USTA in 1975 and according to Hardaway was a move towards modern tennis. 

McKinney coached Hardaway to South Carolina State Championships in Boys’ 12’s, 14’s, 16’s and 18’s. In 1970, he also won the Southern High School Singles Championship in Chattanooga, TN. McKinney was one of Hardaway’s biggest influences, along with Hardaway’s parents. His parents did not push him into tennis but he never wanted to disappoint them and especially did not want to disappoint McKinney.

Hardaway graduated from Greenville Senior High School in 1970. He received a full tennis scholarship to the University of North Carolina playing under Coach Don Skakle. As a senior at UNC, Hardaway had his first undefeated ACC season and received a first place seed at the ACC tournament. At UNC-Chapel Hill, the tennis team was ACC Champions and in the Top-Ten of the NCAA all four years Hardaway played for them.

As you can imagine Hardaway has many wonderful memories of his tennis years. Some of his greatest memories are: making the semifinals in Boy’s national 18 doubles with Danny Birchmore in 1969; winning the Singles Championship in the Southern High School Championship in 1970; winning all of the age divisions in South Carolina including the adult open division singles and doubles with Chuck Hodgin; and last, playing for a high-powered NCAA tennis team at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1971-1974.

Without his mother driving him to Nationals and his brother, Charles, inviting him to play; Hardaway says he never would have become a national player. Learning many lessons along the way and meeting extraordinary people, tennis has played a significant role throughout his life. Along with skills coaching from McKinney and support from family, Hardaway become a national player and the longest member of USTA South Carolina. 

Currently, Hardaway is a Sales and Marketing Executive in Greenville, SC and plays social tennis from time-to-time.

 

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