An Interview with Mark Meyers
An Interview with New Orleans native Mark Meyers, the 2013 USTA National Men’s 60 Clay Court Champion, played at the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club, October 14-20, 2013
October 21, 2013 By Billy Crawford
Q. You grew up on Jefferson Avenue near the NOLTC, playing on the clay courts as a youth. Winning the national championship in 2013 on these same courts must have been a special thrill. Would you share with us your emotions, feelings, thoughts?
A. Even though I haven’t played any tournament tennis for the last four years, I knew I wanted to play the National Clay Courts because of where it would be held. I played almost every day at the Lawn Club from the age of 7 to 18 before going off to Duke University. I was taught every Saturday morning at 9am by Emmett Pare. I then played at the Club from 1980-1992 before moving to Covington across the lake (and then to Holland and now Houston). I have nothing but fond memories of the place and still have many friends who play there. So, yes, it was especially thrilling to be able to return to the Club and capture a national championship there.
Q. In the final match, played on Saturday afternoon, you faced Fred Robinson of Charlotte, NC. What made this match special?
A. Fred is a very talented tennis player – effortless and economic in all his actions. I really enjoy watching him play. He also has a great sense of humor and is very gracious. After winning the first game of the match at love, he smiled and asked me if I “wanted to give up.” We had played in the finals of the 55s Clay Courts in Atlanta in 2009 and I had my hands full then so I knew the points would be hard-fought. Fortunately, I managed to win the big points.
Q. Who were the persons who inspired you at a young age to love the game of tennis?
A. My father played at LSU in the late 40s and my older brother started playing before me. It seems to me that I always played and enjoyed it. Coach Pare was an excellent teacher. I think it was more the thrill of competition than a particular player that inspired me. Of course, I loved watching Laver play, as did everyone else at the time – he was dangerous in any situation on the court.
Q. What were the first tennis matches you participated in? How old were you?
A. I played several 10&Under tournaments when I was 9 – mostly in-state. In fact, I beat Phil Trahan in the finals of the Alexandria tournament and he was a competitor in the 60s in New Orleans. It was great seeing him again! It wasn’t until the 12& Under that I started playing Southern and national tournaments. I was ranked No. 7 in the US in the 12s in 1965.
Q. I am sure you were highly recruited by universities known for successful men’s tennis teams. Why did you select Duke?
A. Both Duke and Virginia were in 1975 offering their first full tennis scholarship. I liked both schools and it was basically a coin flip. I was also recruited by LSU, Michigan, Alabama and others but Duke and Virginia just presented a more complete package of the college experience.
Q. What was your major at Duke?
A. I got degrees in both Economics and Political Science.
Q. What were some of the “highlights” of your college tennis years?
A. I played No. 1 for Duke for my last 3 years there and I won the ACC Championships at No. 1 as a sophomore and was runner-up as a senior. I think I still hold the highest winning percentage for a Duke tennis player. Unfortunately, I seemed to save my sub-par performances for the NCAA tournament each year.
Q. What were some of the “highlights” of your professional tennis years?
A. I had what I thought was a very good year after I graduated from Duke in 1975. For 1976 I ended up being ranked No. 38 in the US Men’s with wins over Brian Teacher (Australian Open champion), Tom Gullikson (US Davis Cup Captain), Hank Pfister (NCAA runner-up), Pat DuPre (Wimbledon semi-finalist), Peter Fleming (McEnroe’s doubles partner) and others, and finished the year at No. 148 in the world which made me a direct entrant into the US Open and the Australian Open,
Q. In 2012 the Meyers family was honored by induction into the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame. Would you describe that night’s event for us?
A. It was very special. There was a great turnout and we shared the limelight with Chanda Rubin who, of course, was a truly world class top tenner. I got to accept the award on behalf of the family and had a lot of fun recounting our tennis years and the exploits of my various siblings. We are a very close family – it was also a real treat to have my Dad there at age 90, as he passed away 12 months later.
Q. What is your profession?
A. I am an attorney with Shell Oil Company in Houston, Texas
Q. After having much success in your professional life as well as your continuing tennis successes, how have these achievements affected your outlook on life, and how you live each day?
A. Life is transient and uncertain – the Scriptures say we are but a “vapor”, a “breath”, and “dust”. And yet it also says we have “eternity in our hearts.” Any achievements in a career or an avocation are likewise transient and temporary, and, curiously, it is only with that perspective that they can be truly enjoyed. Once they become an obsession or a solitary focus the enjoyment of participating and even succeeding rapidly dissipates. As long as I remember that, I expect to continue to enjoy competitive tennis for years to come.
For the record, this was the result of 2013 National 60 Clay Court matches:
Round of 32 d. Keith Belcher 6-0, 6-0
Round of 16 d. Padg Bolton 6-0, 6-3
Quarterfinals d. (2) Tom Smith 6-4, 6-1
Semifinals d. (4) Larry Turville 6-3, 6-4
Finals d. (3) Fred Robinson 6-3, 6-4
Smith, Turville, and Robinson had recently returned from the Czech Republic, where they were members of a four person men’s team representing the United States in the USTA/ITF World Team Championship. The team won the championship, defeating Switzerland, Sweden, and Austria by 3-0 scores and France 2-1.