Coach Emmett Pare’



Published by  on November 11, 2011 | Edit

In Memoriam



Coach J. Emmett Pare’ will be inducted posthumously into the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame on January 21, 2012, at the Perimeter Marriott in Atlanta, Georgia.  Students of Pare’s tennis teams at Tulane who are members of the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame are: Hamilton Richardson, Clifford Sutter, Crawford Henry, Wade Herren, Linda Tuero, Ernest Sutter, Leslie Longshore, Lester Sack, and Ron Holmberg.

J.  Emmett Pare’ was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 24, 1907.  He died in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 8, 1973.  He was 66.


1924.  Before entering Georgetown University, he was defeated at the U S Open in the second round by Jean Rene’ Lacoste, who was three years his senior in age, by a score of 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Lacoste, nicknamed the “Crocodile”, became one of the Four Musketeers of France, and led by their coach Pierre Gillou, won the Davis Cup over the American team at the Germantown Cricket Club in 1927.  Lacoste retired the following year and made his own sporting-goods fortune under the sign of “The Crocodile.”

1925.  As a student at Saint Mel High School, Pare’ won the 1925 singles title at the University of Chicago Interscholastic Tennis Tournament. Pare’ and his teammates banded together to win the 1925 Chicago Catholic League team championship.
Saint Mel was an all-boys institution served by Christian Brothers, located at One North Kildare in Chicago.

1926.  He entered Georgetown University in Washington D. C.  He was to become a team captain of the Georgetown tennis team.  While a member of his college tennis team, he had many individual successes including:

1927.  Won the Western Indoor Championship and the Michigan State title.

1928. Won the singles title at the Cincinnati Masters, defeating Harris Coggeshall 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4; he also reached the doubles finals in the NCAA Championships.
Also in ’28 he played in the Old Dominion Championship, which is described in the following article from a 1928 newspaper article in the Miami News:
Dateline:  Richmond, VA. May 19, 1928.

“A flashing young racquet master spurred by victory over Frank Shields, New York Tennis Ace, Saturday prepared to match his technique against that of John Doeg, the Santa Monica, CA, star for the tennis singles championship of the Old Dominion.

Emmett Pare, Georgetown University student, Friday eliminated Shields in the singles semi-finals of the 22nd Old Dominion tournament.  The New York man showed his real form in the first set which he won 10-8 but the Washington D.C. youngster flashed his way through the next for a love victory, 6 to 0.  He won the last 6-3.”

1929.  This year, in which he graduated from Georgetown, he won the U.S. National Clay Court singles title, defeating J. Gilbert Hall.

The following is a newspaper article dated July 9, 1929 from the St. Petersburg Times, describing this Championship.
Dateline:  Indianapolis, July 9th:

“Emmett Pare’, Chicago youthful veteran, defeated J. Gilbert Hall of South Orange, N.J. in five sets 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1.  Hall had entered the match a favorite after defeating Fritz Mereur of Lehigh University and Bethlehem, PA–the highest -ranking player in the U.S. at present, in an earlier round.  Hall also had the advantage of having rested since last Saturday, while Pare’ went through two sets earlier today to win from Bryant “Bitsy” Grant of Atlanta, GA in the semi-finals.”

1930.  In the US Open he defeated Donald Frame in Round #1 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 before losing in the Round 2 to Clifford Sutter 6-2, 6-0, 8-6.

1931.  Pare’ was defeated in the quarterfinals of the US Pro Championships to William “Big Bill” Tilden 7-5, 7-5, 6-4.

It is noteworthy to mention the high level of competition Pare’ was competing against. The following players, mentioned above, are members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.  They are:  Rene Lacoste, Wilmer Allison, William Tilden 2nd, Frank Shields, Frank Hunter, John Doeg, and Bryan Grant.

In his classic book published in 1925, Match Play and the Spin of the Ball, William Tilden 2nd describes on page 140 (second edition) Emmitt Pare’ with these words.  “I must mention at this place the sensation of the 1924 junior season although I deal with him at greater length elsewhere. He is Emmitt Pare of Chicago and, in my opinion the first great natural player the Middle West has produced in over a decade.  He seems destined for mighty works.”

In this book in Chapter IV, entitled Attack and Defense, Tilden states, “young Emmitt Pare’ seems born with the sense of when to attack speed and when to defend it.”

This same year, Pare’ had become a professional tennis player.  Since Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the United States is was in the midst of the Great Depression, which would last until the outbreak of the Second World War.  A good job was hard to find.  Nevertheless, Pare’ became a Professional tennis player. Because of the USLTA rules of the time, he was ineligible to play in amateur events.

He joined the original Tilden Tennis Tours, Inc. troupe.  Tilden was playing Karel Kozeluh in the highlight match and Pare often played Frank Hunter in an earlier match.  The first match occurred at Madison Square Garden on February 18, 1931 before approximately 14,000 spectators.  The group then hit the road for matches in Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Columbus, Detroit, Chicago, Omaha, and Los Angles.

In 1933 he won the National Professional Doubles title with Bruce Barnes.


In 1934, Pare’ became the men’s tennis coach at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.   He held that position until 1973.  However, during World War II he enlisted into the United States Navy and served as a Lt. Commander.  He returned to Tulane after the war.

During this time period he also served as Head Pro of the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club.  He also taught tennis during some summers at Shore Acres in Lake Bluff, Illinois.

In his 37 seasons as the Tulane Green Wave coach, Tulane was 285-61-19, including eight NCAA singles titles, two NCAA doubles titles, the 1959 NCAA Team Championship, as well as The NCAA runner-up championships in 1949 and 1957.  He produced 20 Southeastern Conference team champions.


Tulane Athletic Hall of Fame
Georgetown University Athletic Hall of Fame
Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame
New Orleans Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame
Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame
Court #1 at the Tulane Tennis Center is designated the J. Emmett Pare’ court


Lester Sack was a Member of the Tulane Tennis Team from 1955-1958.  He says:

“He was a very classy guy.  I remember he wore a coat and tie to practice almost ever day.  Only when he went on the court to play did he wear tennis attire.

He could play the game, coach the game and teach the game.

I liked him very much; if you would give a 100% effort and do what he advocated, he would really work with you.

He had an authoritarian manner, but in my opinion, it was not done harshly.

I chose Tulane because it had a good academic program and a good tennis program.  Coach Pare’ was widely known for being an excellent teacher and coach, so I decided to walk-on at Tulane.

He taught us exactly how to hit a stroke, that is, the mechanics of the forehand or backhand or serve. Let me qualify that by saying if a player could hit a ball well his “own” way he would not change the stroke.

We had three Rubico clay courts, which were located behind the basketball arena, where the new Student Center is now located.  It had a tall wooden fence of bamboo around the courts, and stands that would accommodate 1500 spectators; when we held home matches, the stands would be full.
We had an advantage since we where able to practice year-round in New Orleans, while most of the country had to stop because of cold weather. There were few indoor courts at that time.

He was not a ‘drill’ coach; however, he would work individually with you.  He believed in having us play as we had such great players to compete against in practice.  By playing constantly, he was able to measure our progress.”

Lester later became the Head Professional at the Racquet Club of Memphis from 1977-1982.  In 1982 he returned to New Orleans and became the Tennis Director at the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club, staying till 1996.

Ron Holmberg, a member of the Tulane Tennis Team from 1956-1959, writes these words concerning his college coach:

“I, for one, feel very lucky to have been able to play for such as coach. A very demanding taskmaster, a brilliant tennis mind to explain the game very simply to you, a person who held academics at the very highest priority and a friend all wrapped up in one very humble person who instilled striving for excellence on every occasion.  Coming from the faster courts I had grown up on, Coach Pare’ worked day in and day out to help me on the slower clay courts of Europe and the South.  He primarily was the reason I was able to register wins on clay over many of the world’s top players.  To have been part of a team that won three successive SEC Championships, two NCAA Doubles Championships, an NCAA Team Championship and to play for a coach named Emmitt Pare’ who truly cared for and took care of his players, these are tremendous memories I will always cherish.”

Tony Ullman, a member of the Tulane tennis team from 1951-1954, has these remembrances of Emmett Pare’:

“Emmett Pare’, or ‘Coach’, as I called him, was an absolute marvelous coach and mentor.  He was a no nonsense disciplinarian who was always in motion barking out instructions to the Tulane tennis team.  He was a stern teacher even when trying to teach the subtle nuances of the game.  With me he did his best to improve my backhand and which I realized many years ago that coaching has a finite amount of help and then your body and mind take over.  You either have it or you don’t.  Between Coach and Ham Richardson, who probably had the world’s best backhand in the 1950’s, I was never able to master a proficient backhand.

Coach did have a sense of humor.  One time he called out the team, ‘what are you guys doing? Quit posing for pictures on the baseline.’ Coach had a winning career at Tulane.  He effectively mixed humor and instruction and really helped the whole team.”

Linda Tuero was the first to woman to receive an athletic scholarship at Tulane, and was part of the “men’s” tennis team.  She played the women’s professional tennis circuit while a member of the team, but was required to keep her amateur status.  She shares her memories.

“I feel privileged to have had Emmett Pare’ as my coach and mentor.  To me, if you wanted to excel in tennis, Coach Pare’ was the only choice, especially if you were living in New Orleans.  Of course, he had the playing credentials as one of the great players of the 20s and 30s.  In 1929 he won the National Clay Court Championships, and in 1930 he joined the first professional touring group with Bill Tilden and Frank Hunter.  He coached many top players like Ham Richardson and Ron Holmberg and of course, the renowned Tulane Tennis Team.  The latter responsibility left only weekends available for teaching individual students, and if there was an opening, it was hard to come by.  You had to be truly dedicated, willing to work hard, and spend hours drilling to learn the foundations of the game.  I was fortunate to pass his “tryout” at the age of 11, and I never forgot the opportunity I had been given and what was expected of me.

“To this day, I remember my lessons so very well.  His favorite technique was imitating your bad strokes.  If I pulled away on my backhand and let the racket head drop, he would demonstrate it in painful detail.  And as he fed me another ball, you could hear his booming voice sounding throughout the six backcourts.  And it wouldn’t stop until I did it right.  He was a stickler for footwork:  “Sixty percent of the game is footwork,” he told me over and over and over again.  “Linda, if you don’t pick up your feet, you’re going to trip over them!”  (Which is exactly what I did on the next shot!)   Of course, by the end of the lesson, everyone had overheard how well you performed that day.  Frequently it was awfully embarrassing, but it drove home the point, and made me want to do better next week.

“All this help was instrumental in my winning the nationals at 14, 16 and 18.  I was honored that he was present at the 16s in his home- town of Chicago.

“After I graduated from high school, Coach Pare’ offered me a scholarship to play at Tulane. It was the first time a woman was offered an athletic scholarship to Tulane and it was certainly one of the only times a woman was part of the “men’s” tennis team.  But Coach Pare’ was courageous enough to do that.  Besides this great honor, Coach enabled me to continue under his supervision and play among the best.

Coach Pare’ would still work with me in the summers, and was instrumental in my winning the National Women’s Clay Courts in 1970.  And Coach continued to work with me after I became a professional.  I would return home to New Orleans with my “scrapes and bruises,” and he would re-adjust my game back to the fundamentals he had given me.  I am certainly proud to have played at the top of my profession, but I don’t for an instant think I could have done it without Coach Pare’s direction.

“I treasure so very dearly all my sessions with Coach, and he has left an indelible mark on my life.  I know for a certainty that his teaching philosophy, personality, and courageousness were what inspired me to reach my lifelong goals in tennis, both as an amateur and a professional.  And that influence has lasted my entire life.  I can only hope that I will have conducted my life with the bearing and demeanor and honor of this wonderful man.”

Ronnie Fenasci was born in New Orleans and first learned to play tennis at the age of 16 at New Orleans City Park, taking tennis lessons with Ms. Rita Krupp: “ Rita recognized my desire and work ethic to become a skilled player.  One day she said, ‘Ronnie, I am going to give Emmett Pare’ a call to see if he will put you on this tennis schedule.’  He did.  No one could tell Rita Krupp no, she was such a magnificent lady.  I started taking lessons with Coach Pare’, and he took me to the next level, no doubt about it!  He charged $2.50 per hour, but he NEVER asked for it. If I did not have it, I would try to bring $5.00 the next week.”

Ronnie received a tennis scholarship from head coach Dub Robinson at LSU, where he played from 1952-56.  Later Ronnie became the Head Tennis Professional at the Baton Rouge Bocage Racquet Club from 1965-1981.  Ronnie was inducted into the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003.

Ronnie remembers attending the Emmitt Pare’ Day, in which the coach was honored by the City of New Orleans.  It was held in a private residence in uptown.  The Mayor, Victor Schiro, presented him with Key to the City.  Among the attendees were city officials, the tennis community, and the general public.  According to Renasci, the crowd was so large it spilled out of the home and filled up the block.
In a Times-Picayune article published shortly after his death, the article stated that when New Orleans celebrated Emmett Pare’ Day, the event was one of the coach’s fondest memories.



Tammy Nunez of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes in an article published in June of 2008, in which the 1959 NCAA Tennis Championship Tulane team was selected in the Top Ten Greatest New Orleans sports teams of all time.   Crawford Henry, who with Ron Holmberg, had just won the doubles title and clinched the national title for Tulane.

According to Henry in Nunez’s interview, Henry said he walked off the court in Evanston, Illinois, after the match and glanced at Coach Emmitt Pare.  “ I remember the smile on his face when we won.  I don’t know if you could describe it.  He was just thrilled.”
“It was pretty special,” said Henry.

Incidentally, both men would become college tennis coaches, Crawford Henry at North Carolina State and Ron Holmberg at the United States Military Academy at West Point.


As a youth growing up in New Orleans, Drew Meyers was a tennis student of Coach Pare’ at the NOLTC.  He later played tennis collegiately at LSU in Baton Rouge from 1976-1980.  Drew shares his experiences and reflections of Coach Pare’:

“In addition to his success at Tulane, Coach Pare’ also developed a number of top- notch junior players in his years at the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club.  In addition to the great Ham Richardson, players like Ann Moore Heim, Peggy Moore Andry, the Frilot brothers, Frank Lamothe, Bobby Ecuyer, Steve Yellin, Gene and Neil Shapiro, and David Schumacher were a few of Coach’s top juniors over the years.  Coach was no-nonsense and would not waste your time or more importantly, his time, if he didn’t feel that you had the talent and the desire to improve your game.

“Coach was a master- stroke technician and very detailed oriented.  He would devote much of the lesson to the mechanics of striking the tennis ball.  Intricate details of stroke mechanics from thumb placement on the grip to the location of the elbow at the end of the follow-through were the focus of each lesson.  Anyone who has seen Lester Sack or Linda Tuero hit a forehand or backhand immediately recognizes Pare’s influence.  Other coaches on the junior tour could identify Pare’s players merely by watching them hit ground -strokes.  Coach’s match play strategy imparted to his juniors was simple: ‘it’s a game of errors, so don’t miss.’

“Coach Pare’s juniors dominated the Louisiana and Southern junior rankings and enjoyed high national rankings.  Many went on to play at the college and professional levels.  A number of Pare’s NOLTC juniors became all-conference or conference champions in the ACC, Big 10, SEC and at universities such as Duke, Georgia Tech, Northwestern (Il), Florida, and LSU.  Over the years, Pare’ s NOLTC players earned wins over the likes of  Tim and Tom Gullickson, Peter Fleming, Wimbledon finalist and NCAA Champion Kevin Curren, and U.S. top 10 players Pat DuPre and Tom Leonard.

Pare’s players continued to compete at high levels.  One of his prized NOLTC pupils, Mark Meyers, who played in the U.S. Open and Australian Open in the 1970’s, won the USTA National 55 and over Clay Court Championship in Atlanta in 2009 without dropping a set.

“For years, my brothers and I had a standing lesson from 9 to 10 am every Saturday at the NOLTC.  We would split the hour in half and Coach would work with each one for 30 minutes. It then became our responsibility over the course of the week to work on what we were taught.  If Coach did not see us out on the courts practicing, we would hear about it the following Saturday.  Consequently, the most stressful part of the week as a young junior player was the 30 minutes on Saturday with Coach.  He expected total focus and effort from his pupils during that time.  Looking back, I marvel at how lucky I was.  Coached by one of the greatest tennis coaches of all – time, playing tennis at one of the greatest tennis clubs of all time, and getting to hit with ‘old guys’ like Ernie Sutter who had ‘game,’ but I simply didn’t realize or understand how great they were until much later.”


During summers, Coach Pare’ would return to his native Chicago, playing and teaching tennis at the prestigious Shore Acres tennis facility located on the shore of Lake Michigan, just north of downtown Chicago.  Shore Acres was one of the few clubs at that time to have real red clay, which was prevalent on European tennis courts.  Coach Pare would teach tennis to prominent Chicago residents, as well as recreational players and young people. One such youngster was Barney Donnelley.
When Barney was about 11 or 12, he started taking lessons with Pare’.

This is how Barney remembers those times:  “Not only did he teach me tennis techniques, he talked ‘tennis’ with me. He told me stories about his touring and playing days with and against Bill Tilden.  He talked about Tulane and New Orleans, which I knew nothing about at the time.

I remember one special time:  I witnessed Pare playing Frankie Parker.  They would go after it!  10 or 15 strokes back and forth at each point, the most incredible and beautiful tennis I have ever seen. It was a match made in Heaven. AND I was the only one at the club to watch it.

“As I grew older, my goal was to become a better tennis player.  My parents sent me to secondary school at The Hill School in Pottstown, PA, which had a really fine tennis program.

“In 1952 I reunited with Coach Pare’ when I enrolled at Tulane and became a member of the tennis team.  We had many great players, and the team was deep.  We won many championships.

“On a more personal basis, I would describe Coach like this.  He was all business, old school.  Good values and he imparted them on his players. He believed in getting the ball back, in fact one of his favorite expressions was ‘the only time I want to see you at the net is when you shake hands after the match.’

He was a really neat guy, a father figure for me.”

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