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Bob Love-Kentukcy Tennis Hall of Fame

By GREG CREWS

 

gcrews@thenewsenterprise.com

 

It took more than two decades and a seemingly infinite list of accomplishments, but Bob Love is finally getting the last laugh.

 

Now one of the most revered tennis educators in the state, the 69-year-old Elizabethtown tennis guru can still recall being viewed as a carpetbagger when he came to Kentucky in 1984.

 

“I met a lady back then that was a bigwig in Kentucky tennis. She had found out who I was — at that point I had a higher teaching accreditation than anyone in the state,” said Love, who moved from Michigan to Louisville while working for Jack Nicklaus Club Management as it setup Valhalla Golf Club. “She told me, ‘You will never be honored in Kentucky. You are not from Kentucky and you will always be considered an outsider.’”

 

Those were some of the first words that came to Love’s mind when he learned that he was being inducted in the USTA of Kentucky Hall of Fame and they made the moment even sweeter.

 

“I was thrilled about this,” Love said. “I was already in the Midwest Hall of Fame and I was in the Hall of Fame in my hometown, but this is a special honor for me because I have been here for 24 years and I am being honored for my time here.”

 

The USTA of Kentucky officially announced Love as 1-of-3 inductees on Monday. He joins the late John Evans Jr., of Louisville and the late William Cooper Sr., of Louisville. The induction ceremony is Jan. 29 at the USTA Kentucky Hall of Fame and Awards Gala in Louisville.

 

Love held off submitting himself as a candidate for the Hall of Fame for several years. Since he hadn’t played tennis in Kentucky, he didn’t see it as being a place for him.

 

“Then there were several people who were in the Hall of Fame that said, ‘Bob, you are an idiot because you should be in this thing,’” Love recalled. “So I put together some materials in support of that and I was kind of surprised when I looked at it all.”

 

In order to be selected into the Hall of Fame, one must submit a list of accomplishments so the candidate can be screened by a committee and verified by a board. Love’s submission stretched 10 pages and listed enough accomplishments that it probably could have earned spots in the Hall of Fame for two or three people.

 

“My self image is that I am going into (the Hall of Fame) as a tennis educator,” said Love, who taught mathematics for nearly 40 years, including 11 years at Jefferson County Public Schools. “I might be the first person to go in as a tennis educator because I have had a very unique set of circumstances.”

 

Love became a member of the United State Professional Tennis Association in 1971. In 1983 he was one of only 18 teaching professionals to be designated as a Master Professional.

 

After playing tennis in high school, college and in the Air Force, Love began coaching tennis and served as the general manager of the Detroit Loves for World Team Tennis.

 

Since coming to Kentucky, Love, who has coached five NCAA All-Americans, has served as the president of the USPTA-Kentucky, he was a member of the USTA Kentucky Executive Board, the KHSAA Tennis Committee and the All-State Selection Committee. During that time he has also been a presenter at over 80 coaching workshops and coordinated more than 60 tournaments while running the USPTA-Kentucky Jr. Grand Prix league.

 

One of Love’s most recent endeavors is the Central Kentucky USTA Jr. Team Tennis League, which he coordinates. Love said that it is an interesting feeling coaching junior team tennis in Kentucky after he pioneered junior team leagues in Michigan 35 years ago.

 

It is just one of the many creations Love has seen come full cycle in a long and illustrious career of developing and expanding tennis around the state, country and occasionally even the world. And don’t expect Love, a disabled veteran, to stop anytime soon.

 

“I’ve looked back at my life. I’ve had heart attacks, twice last year I was told I was going to die – which is not a good feeling. I have just been through a lot,” Love said. “I’m in the give-back stage of my life. … The kids keep me young and that’s what motivates me.”

 

Greg Crews can be reached

at (270) 505-1754

 

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