Drew Meyers President of LTA, Phyllis Browning, Freddy Bailey, LTA Director of Adult Leagues
Interview with Phyllis Browning
December 30, 2013 By Billy E. Crawford
BC. Where were you born?
PB. New Orleans, Louisiana at Baptist Hospital
Q. How old were you when you started playing tennis?
A. About 29 or 30 years of age
Q. Who was your first tennis coach?
A. Isreal “Del” Delgado
Q. Who has contributed to your love for the game of tennis?
A. My husband, Robert Browning, who I started playing mixed doubles with shortly after I started playing. He started playing in 1971 while he was in graduate school at LSU. He was playing competitive mixed doubles with a girlfriend of mine, Sandra Williams Dinon. I decided I could learn to play tennis so I would not stay home cooking and cleaning while he was away playing tennis. We started playing at The Beach Club in Metairie who had the most state ranked players at the time. We played on their mixed doubles board, played tournaments together, went to several tennis camps ( Stan Smith’s Academy at Hilton Head , South Carolina ; John Newcomb’s Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas and Bollettieri’s Tennis Camp in Bradenton, Florida). We then decided to try to play Southern Sanctioned Tournaments to receive points based on your advancement in the tournament. These points were used to determine your Southern Ranking. Of course, we played only Mixed Doubles because we were both working and the mixed doubles draw did not begin until late Friday or so. We did maintain a Southern Ranking in the 45 Mixed and 55 Mixed divisions for several years. We also had a Louisiana State ranking in 35 and 45 divisions. We won the Southern Clay Court Sanctioned Tournament in the 45 Mixed Division in Birmingham, Alabama.
Q. When I recently “googled” your name, I thought your first name was Captain. How did you assume the role of captain on so many league tennis teams?
A. Due to my love of mixed doubles, I began captaining mixed doubles tennis teams for the USTA. I felt that running teams that have both men and women create a good environment that fosters “team” players. I also thought women’s tennis games improved when playing against male players.
Q. What are some of the “highlights” of your tennis teams?
A. The very first win in the 8.5 senior mixed division at the 2002 USTA “Regionals”, which is equivalent to our Nationals today. We played in Shreveport, Louisiana against Puerto Rico, Arkansas and, I remember playing Florida in the finals. My husband and I played a teaching pro from Bollettieri’s in the finals. If I remember correctly, we went to a third set, which was not a tiebreaker in those days. We won along with other team members, Cleburne Simon and Cheron Mann, Lee Rhodes and Peggy Minor.
Then our next win was in November of 2007 at Nationals in the 9.0 Senior Mixed Doubles, in Maitland, Florida a suburb of Orlando. We played the defending champions in the finals from Mid- Atlantic region, captained by the teaching pro, Gary Lyst, Sr. Gary recruited from 3 areas, Maryland, Virginia and Washington , D.C. He recruited other teaching pros and excellent seasoned tennis players. Their USTA playing records were pages long. In the finals, Jon Buise and Diane Simpson won in 2 sets. The winning match was William A. Rublee and Heldi Clemmer against Bobbie G. Miles and Chuck Harrington, 2-6, 7-5, 1-0.
The third win was in 2008, again in Maitland , Florida in the 2008 National Championship 9.0 Eastern Mixed Doubles. We only had three teams able to play in Florida and one female substitute playing, due to team injuries. I was lucky enough to play every match because Jon Buise was bumped to a 5.0 and I got bumped to a 4.0 for a couple years from 4.5, so since I had numerous 4.5 women, I did not want to add anyone. I was the team captain, played every match at State, Sectionals and Nationals and successfully won every match with my partner, Jon Buise. Jon Buise is one of my favorite male partners. I have been blessed with wonderful mixed doubles partners over the years, Jon Buise, William Cleburne Simon, Drew Meyers and of course, my wonderful husband, Bob Browning.
The other team in Florida that won every match was that of Bobbie Miles and Chuck Harrington, who always keep it exciting by going to a third set tiebreaker many times. We also had Drew Meyers, present Louisiana Tennis Association President , on our team for the first year. He played with Rebecca Vest, Eileen Lambertson and Diane Simpson. When I was giving out the National awards to my team, I asked him to play with us again in 2009 and he responded by telling me he was the “Common Denominator” of our team. He further explained that he was the only person with several different female partners to lose a match while playing matches at Sectionals or Nationals. He returned in 2009, fitter, faster and became “The Terminator”. This LSU All- American gets better every, single year!
In 2009 we lost to Arkansas at Sectionals in Jackson, then beat Tennessee who beat Arkansas: got into a 3 way tie; but lost in individual matches to Arkansas.
In 2010 the Nationals was changed to the spring of the following year.
Flying to Surprise, Arizona to play Senior Mixed Nationals in 2010 was another highlight. We played on the same courts that the United States Champions Series Tour were played. We had watched John McEnroe on television play on these same courts. Our team that went to Surprise, Arizona were Diane Simpson, Jon Buise, Kathryn Talbot, Drew Meyers, Dr. Susan Taylor, Chuck Harrington, Bob Browning and Phyllis Browning. It only rains 17 days a year in Surprise, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. Of course the cold front, preceded by winds and rain, canceled our “team bonding” experience, that is, our hot air balloon flight which we all got up at 4AM to do. It also caused a day schedule delay due to rain. The tennis center in Surprise does not own “squeegees” because there is so little rain. We had to scurry around and reschedule our flights home early Monday morning, because playing in the finals against Florida did not allow us to make our Sunday flights. As we were playing the finals, one of the Florida teams defaulted because one of the players had to leave to make his flight. Of course, our team of Drew Meyers and Kathryn Talbot, had just broken this man’s serve! We won that tournament, changed hotels because our hotel was booked, celebrated by eating Chinese food Sunday night and, flew home on very early, some leaving at 4:30 AM, on more expensive Southwest Airlines flights. We arrived back in New Orleans tired but, extremely happy!
Pictured above are team members along with invited guests: Mike Mc Nulty, President of Southern, Bill Phillips, Brett Schwartz, Kathy Hinrich, NOMATA, Jana Fogelmann, NOMATA, Henry Crocker, President of NOMATA 2010.
A. The 2012 National Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, March 22-24, 2013 (played in the spring of following year). The most exciting win because we became the fourth placed team entering the semi-finals as the “Lucky Loser.” In the semi-finals there were the three brackets winners, Northern California, Southern California, and Northern. We were in second place in our bracket, with Northern California, who we beat, in first place due to our lost to Missouri Valley. The Tournament Directors determined a fourth place team by computing the percentage of games won compared to the number of games played for the entire tournament. We dramatically beat out the Southwest team from Arizona and got into the semi-finals as the “Lucky Loser.”
Sunday morning we showed up to play indoors, due to rain and possible snow flurries, and beat the tough team from Southern California 3-0 in the semi-finals. Our teams that played the semi-finals, Ann Ellis and Jon Buise, Mary and Robin Karas, and Kathryn Boustany Scurlock and Drew Meyers. went on to beat the 2011 National Winner, Northern, 2-1 in the finals.
Northern was a team basically of all teaching pros, close to 50 years old. Kathryn and Drew won in a third set tiebreaker! It was exciting to get back in after we thought we had lost and then to beat all the top division winners!
Q. Recently you received the prestigious League Tennis Legend Award from the Louisiana Tennis Association. Please tell us what you thoughts/feeling were as you accepted this honor?
A. I was humbled and extremely touched. It is one of the most rewarding highlights of my life. I love running, organizing, researching and recruiting “exceptional people who happen to be great tennis players”. These people who have played on my teams have become part of my extended family. I love them all and, they will always be a part of our lives. To be recognized for doing something you love to do and, being lucky enough to be successful at running mixed teams, is wonderful. Most captains are lucky if they get one national win but, five is unbelievable. It is my underlying belief, if you form teams of exceptional people who happen to be great tennis players, you have a winning formula. Good people are generally “team players”. Everybody on the team is a part of the decision making process and, decisions are always made in an unselfish manner. We make decisions to benefit “the team”.
Q. Where did you attend school/college?
A. Undergraduate School: University of Southwestern Louisiana ( Presently: ULL – University of Louisiana in Lafayette). Graduate School: University of New Orleans
Q. What is your profession?
A. Teacher ( Certified in grades 1-8) Masters in Administration and Supervision ( Principal Certification / Public School Supervision ) Presently, after experiencing teaching and part-time administrative work, I chose to enjoy the last years of my career as a Physical Education Teacher. I have taught for over 40 years in the Jefferson Parish School System.
Q. What has tennis meant to you and Bob?
A. It has made our life full of wonderful tennis experiences, tournament memories and wonderful people we have played with and had on our teams. We have been lucky enough to travel all of the United States to play in tennis tournaments.
Q. Where do you play most of your tennis?
A. Originally we joined The Beach Club, where my husband Bob, served on the board in several different positions and, as President, two times. During his last term at Beach Club as President, we joined New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club so he could go to a club and play, not being involved in club management issues while trying to play. Since joining New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club, we decided to make this our exclusive tennis club.
Of course most USTA league play and practice takes place at City Park Tennis Courts.