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Monday, March 05, 2012

Richard C. Hudlin Courts -

This was a day of firsts for many reasons.  It was our first time playing on these courts, Scott's first time wearing a Martenitsa (Bulgarian Tradition), and Stan's first opportunity to beat Scott within the St. Louis City limits.   Richard C. Hudlin memorial courts are located in the shadow of the BarnesJewish Hospital Complex in the Central West End.

The courts are a part of Forest Park however a lease deal has been made with the city  transferring control to the hospital.  The courts sit atop an underground parking garage which serves the hospital.  It appears the hospital intends to replace these courts with additional hospital buildings in the future.  So the opportunity to play here will not be long term.  

Who is Richard C. Hudlin you ask -  Well it turns out he is not only a very important figure in St. Louis Tennis History but Tennis History in general.  Richard C. Hudlin was Arthur Ashe's coach when he came to St. Louis in his teen years.  A Google search of Hudlin does not turn up much so we turned to Jack Eggman's "The Roots of Tennis" to find some information.  Richard Hudlin coached the Sumner High School Team and was a St. Louis Tennis Civil Rights champion having to file suit to allow his Tandy Park Muny tennis group to play in city-wide Muny Parks tournaments. He won the lawsuit.


Richard Hudlin also coached out the Armory which Ashe credited his winter in the Armory as a major factor in his improved game.  The Armory is a subject for another blog.  Hudlin worked with many famous tennis players including Oscar Johnson and Althea Gibson.   

On to our match. Stan prepared by eating gluten free for 10 days and Scott prepared by drinking Bud Select and eating White Castle the night before! The courts are in beautiful shape and the facility also includes playgrounds and handball courts.   As we began hitting, we noticed the strange sounds the ball made due to the hollow garage space underneath.   The first set was pretty tight with both of us struggling to hold serve.   At 2-2 Stan held serve and then followed up with a break to go to up 4-3.

Scott was struggling as Stan seemed to have all the right answers even for his best shots.   At 5-2, Scott held serve to bring the match to 5-3 before Stan finished out the set at 6-3.  Stan dominated the start of the second set.  Stan ran up a 5-1 lead and then Scott started to fight back.   Stan had two match points on Scott's serve but could not convert.

Scott fought valiantly to win the next game and make it a 5-2 deficit.  Scott then broke Stan's serve in the next game by stabbing at a ball with his racket and forcing it down the line for an amazing passing shot.    Scott tried to keep the momentum going on his serve, but Stan was determined to end the match right then and there.

Scott saved his 3rd and 4th match points, but gave Stan a 5th opportunity to close up shop.  Stan took advantage by hitting a beautiful topspin lob over Scott's head as he approached the net.  Watching that lob go over his head Scott felt like Nancy Kerrigan getting smacked in the knee by Jeff Gillooly.  Match over Stan notches his third win in a row 6-3, 6-3.      

Courts had a couple weird bounces so our rating for the court condition is an 8.  The facility itself is in fantastic shape so it gets a 10 for an overall rating of 9 out of 10.   Play these courts before they go away forever!


3 comments:

  1. This blog is wonderful. Please don't wait too long to write about the Armory. I'm intrigued.

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  2. Thanks Peggy! We will get to work on the Armory. Will not be able to play in there as court surface not in playable condition. We will figure something out!

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  3. I'm a late comer to this blog. My daughter is in the pregnancy ward with a window that overlooks the courts, so I was curious about them. Very nice work, I'll be reading more.

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