It would be difficult to find two less similar paths to the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame than those traveled by Alice Tym and Ned Caswell.
Struggling to make ends meet on the women’s professional tour of the late 1960s, Tym once smuggled diamonds from South Africa to India inside her racquet handle in order to cover a year’s worth of traveling expenses.
Caswell, the Manker Patten club pro and Baylor School director of tennis, refined his strokes in high school not through match play on the juniors circuit, but by pounding 500 balls a day against the back of his family’s suburban Atlanta brick home.
Yet when the TTHF convenes at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club on Oct. 24, Caswell and Tym will be its only inductees for 2013, their honors richly deserved for the combined 75-plus years they’ve devoted to the sport.
“These are the people I spend my time with, so it touches you,” said Tym, a member of the University of Florida’s sports Hall of Fame who has become almost as well-known these days for her pickleball skills as her tennis talent. “There were no (collegiate) women’s athletics programs when I came along, not just tennis. But it was also an exciting time because you had a chance to build something from scratch.”
In a sense, Caswell built his own tennis career from scratch after signing a basketball scholarship with Furman out of Atlanta’s Riverwood High School.
“I never aspired to this growing up,” said Caswell, who eventually played both sports at Furman, winning the Southern Conference singles title in both 1986 and 1987.
“I was very fortunate that [Paladins tennis coach] Paul Scarpa saw potential in me and helped me develop it.”
Yet as good as they were as pros — Caswell recorded ATP Tour wins over Pete Sampras, Patrick McEnroe, Tim Wilkison and Carlos Costa, while Tym was ranked the No. 13 woman in the world in 1969 — their lasting legacy may be the generations of players they’ve developed as coaches.
Tym led UT-Chattanooga’s Lady Mocs to AIAW small college national championships in 1977 and 19978 and Yale to two Ivy League titles in 1981 and 1982. She also started the tennis programs at Florida, her alma mater, and UTC.
As for Caswell, he guided Anderson (S.C.) College to the junior college national championship in 1992 and has led the Baylor girls to the last three TSSAA Division II titles. He’s also won 16 gold balls on the national senior circuit.
“I never imagined winding up in Tennessee when I was in college,” said Caswell. “But I’m certainly glad I did.”
Contact Mark Wiedmer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...