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Tennis Anyone
August 2004 Article

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Pass It On

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John Mills, USPTA

When I was 10 years old, in the 60's, my days were filled with playing with my neighbors, but mainly playing with my best friend Bobby Cooley. We lived on the same street at opposite ends. We spent much of our time wrestling until exhaustion.

Bobby's father was Robert Cooley, a famous radiologist. Later I found out he was on the Atomic Energy Commission. Dr. Cooley was ahead of his time. He ate tuna fish and crackers for breakfast way before I ever heard about cholesterol. He had the only fall-out shelter in town and compared to most people in town he was well off. Although our school had tennis courts, they were often polished concrete and in terrible condition and the nets were often cyclone (metal) fencing. Dr. Cooley had the only private asphalt tennis court in the entire area. I remember just about every weekend Dr. Cooley and an assortment of other doctors would meet on his court and play tennis most of the day. At this point I had never really been interested in tennis and had no real knowledge of the game. When I was not wrestling with Bobby, I can remember watching these men play tennis with all their rituals and seeing how much fun they had playing the game.

Dr. Cooley was beginning to train Bobby to play tennis. Bobby, however, resisted it. One day Dr. Cooley saw me watching and talked me into coming on the court. He gave me one of his wooden rackets and I tried returning his serves to no avail. From that point on I was hooked.

My father passed away when I was in the first grade and I am the youngest of four, so when tennis came into my life it came into the lives of my entire family who supported me 100%. My mother and brother bought a racket, lots of tennis balls and tennis cloths and I started hitting on a backboard for hours, practically wearing out the balls.

As I improved, I was invited to Dr. Cooley's court where I subbed all day. Then I started playing summer tournaments and playing on the Jr. High and High School tennis team. I started teaching tennis right out of college and since then, I have trained hundreds of people to play and enjoy the game. All of this because of Dr. Cooley showing a little interest in me and because of the help and support of my family.

I am convinced that without my connection with Dr. Cooley I might never have found the course that I have chosen. It just goes to show how a simple act of kindness or thoughtfulness can cast someone's future.

Pass it on. Give someone the opportunity to love the game and all that it has to offer them.

Good luck on the courts!

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Tennis Anyone Archives:
1994 - 2002 | 2003 - Present

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This column is copyrighted by John Mills, all rights reserved.

John Mills' experience includes four years as head pro at the Windemere Racquet & Swim Club, where he was responsible for organization of all tennis activities at the club. John also played college tennis at the University of Houston and has spent 20 years teaching tennis at the Memorial Park Tennis Center, the Pasadena Racquet Club, and as the head pro at the Bay Area Racquet Club.


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