Take 5 with Tom Parham

Take 5 with a North Carolina Tennis Hall of Famer-Tom Parham

Our monthly “Take 5 with a North Carolina Tennis Hall of Famer” interview series kicks off with Coach Tom Parham. Coach Parham was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 1990 as a “Coach”. Some of Coach Parham’s coaching highlights include:

-Served as Elon College men’s tennis coach from 1985 – 2004 and won a national championship in 1990

-Named National Tennis Coach of the Year four times

-Compiled over 600 career wins as a college coach

-Coached Atlantic Christian College for 19 years compiling a record of 278-78 and two NAIA National Championships

-Has been inducted to 10 different Halls of Fame including the ITA Men’s Collegiate Hall of Fame in 2007 and North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2011

Coach Parham resides in Emerald Isle and still has a huge passion for tennis. Most recently he wrote “The Little Green Book of Tennis” which focuses on instructional tips and insights learned from North Carolina tennis legends. Coach Parham worked closely with the North Carolina Tennis Foundation to make sure every High School Coach in the state received a copy of the book to help increase their coaching knowledge.

Q: What does it mean for you to be in the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame?

A: I grew up playing all different sports; football, basketball, and baseball. I really was not introduced to tennis until a little later in life. As I became more aware and involved in tennis I not only respected the tennis players in North Carolina but I respected the tennis people in our state and the passion they had for the sport. It is a tremendous honor to be in the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame and be side by side with so many people who care so much about tennis and did so much to grow the game.

Q: Do you remember who called you and let you know you were getting into the Hall of Fame?

A: That would have been John Peddycord.

Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your tennis career?

A: That’s easy for me- Jim Leighton. He was a man that opened my eyes to taking tennis coaching to the next level. He nurtured me all the way through and did so not for any personal reasons but just to help me become a better coach. Many of the stories and lessons in “The Little Green Book of Tennis” have come directly from conversations and lessons I had with Coach Leighton.

Q: What is your favorite on court memory?

A: That’s a tough question to ask a coach to narrow it down to a specific memory. But I always loved leaving a match and knowing every kid on the team put in everything they had into the match and left everything they had on the court.

Q: If you could play any player from any era, who and where would you play?

A: I was never a great player but if I could play against Pancho Gonzales on center court at the US Open that would be a lot of fun, but I can’t play that well. I could also mention a lot of people I would like to beat but no one would really know who I was talking about. But I would have to go back to the Field of Dreams moment and playing catch with your dad. My dad was a good player but I didn’t respect it when I was younger. I would love the opportunity to get on the court with him again.

Q: Since this is our first interview we don’t have a question from a previous interview yet, but my question to you is- How have you seen college tennis change over the past 30-40 years?

A: The biggest change in college tennis was David Benjamin and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). The ITA came into the college game and really organized college tennis and made it very efficient. This organization led to more great coaches getting into college tennis and brought in even better players.

Q: What would you like to ask a North Carolina Tennis Hall of Famer?

A: What can you do to help tennis in North Carolina?

Thank you for reading this month’s installment of “Take 5 with a North Carolina Tennis Hall of Famer”. If you have a Hall of Famer you would like us to catch up with please let us know. To learn more about the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Tennis Foundation, please visit www.nctennisfoundation.com.