Last month, Tennis Maryland overheard a USPTA instructor say something interesting to a kid at a clinic in Newport, Rhode Island, during the International Tennis Hall of Fame Championships. “Tennis is the game you’ll always come back to”, he said. “As a teen-ager, you’ll fall in love with baseball, football or basketball. Or maybe you’ll just fall for something else. But when you get older, you’ll come back to tennis”.
We thought those words were pretty profound. Imagine how shocked we were, when days later, we met the man to whom the salty New England tennis instructor must have been referring. And we met him right here in Maryland. Jim Magee was coaching very affordable public lessons through the Baltimore Tennis Patrons program in Baltimore County. He gave excellent instruction to his students, including this writer.
It’s your turn to meet Jim Magee. He’s a Coach. He’s a Dad. And he has more tennis memories than could possibly fit into the entire Tennis Hall of Fame.
TM: How long have you been involved with Baltimore Tennis Patrons?
JM: I’ve been been involved with BTP for one year. My son Jimmy played last fall and winter in their league and I coached this summer.
(TM: His son, Jimmy, won the Baltimore area 13 and under Interclub Championship and was a Maryland State Championships 12 and under quarter-finalist.)
TM: Did you play for Boys’ Latin (Baltimore)? You’re a Boys’ Latin graduate, right?
JM: I’m a proud alumni of Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, Class of ’74, My son, Jimmy Jr., will be class of ’17, like “Back to the Future”.
TM: When did you start playing?
JM: I started playing tennis at five. My grandfather and father played for Yale. Good tennis in those days. I was a top regional junior, but my fondest memories are from the warm-up tournaments at Baltimore Country Club for Forest Hills (US Open) that my grandfather and, later, my father directed.
I grew up with (Rod) Laver, (Pancho) Gonzales, (Roy) Emerson, (Ken) Rosewall, (Stan) Smith, (Frank) Froehling, (Dennis) Ralston and countless others from the 60’s and 70’s. Most of them were at our house for the tournaments. I played doubles with Rosewall, Emerson, and (Andres) Gimeno and I played singles with Gonzales, Butch Bucholtz and others.
I played four years of varsity in High School. For three years, I was ranked #1 at Boys’ Latin, #2 in the State of Maryland, and I was a Maryland State doubles runner-up in 1973.
TM: Did you play in College?
JM: I didn’t play in college. To be more exact, I played for a couple of months for Loyola (Baltimore), but I wasn’t inspired by the program. In fact, I stopped playing tennis in 1975 and didn’t start again until my 50th birthday.
TM: What have you been up to since you picked up a racquet again?
JM: For the last five years, I’ve played an average of four times weekly and currently I have a USTA computer rating of 4.5, but I play competitively at the 5.0 level, as well as on the “A” and “B” teams for L’Hirondelle Club in Ruxton, Maryland.
TM: When did you get into coaching? Where did it begin and where have you coached?
JM: My first coaching job was as the first tennis pro at Sea Colony (near Ocean City, Maryland) in the summer of 1973. I’m now in my fifth year coaching at Boys’ Latin. I’ve been Head Varsity Coach at Boy’s Latin for three years and coached the Middle School program for four years.
I’m also in my second year as Head coach of Loyola’s (University) Club Tennis Team. As participants in USTA-TOC/MAS (Tennis on Campus/Mid-Atlantic) we placed 12th out of 26 in the region and won TEAM SPIRIT for the Sectional Invitational. Loyola Club Tennis had 33 students participating last year with a competitive team of 8-10 players, and the club has a bright future being led by Captain Carol Nettina and a motivated, more organized group of officers. They’re a great group of kids!
More importantly, we adopted the Montebello Tennis Team, where team members provide lessons to an under-served youth program. We were also active in “Presence for Christmas”, providing presents to a family in Baltimore City. We’re running a charity tennis tournament for The Henrietta Lacks Foundation on October 8, as well as an intercollegiate tournament on Oct 23-24.
I was named Coach of the Year 2010-11 for both Boys’ Latin School and Loyola Recreational Sports, representing 22 club sports teams. Additionally, I was appointed as the Maryland representative to USTA/TOC/MAS committee. This has been especially exciting, because over the summer, we formulated and instituted a new “off-court point series” that recognizes and rewards club tennis teams for community service. I’ll spare you a dissertation on the aims and benefits of college recreational sports, but suffice to say that I’m ecstatic about the new emphasis on personal and social responsibility!