uring the summers in college I worked at various tennis camps and clubs at the NJ shore, as well as playing in tournaments in NJ, NY and PA. I also worked with some promising junior players during this time.
Upon graduating from college, I worked as a tennis instructor at Allaire Racquet Club in NJ until I entered graduate school. Since that time I have had periods of regular involvement with tennis, playing team tennis, playing in tournaments, and practicing on a daily basis, interspersed with long periods of complete absence from the sport. Thoughout, however, I have maintained a strong interest and follow the ATP tour and maintain my membership in the USTA.
My favorite tennis match of all time is the Wimbledon final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in 1980. Borg and Pete Sampras are my favorite players of all time, though I have a soft spot for Rod Laver and John McEnroe and Andre Agassi has grown on me over the years.
The first tennis match that I remember capturing my imagination was Arthur Ashe's defeat of Jimmy Connors in the 1975 Wimbledon final. Ashe hit the ball down the middle and took all the pace off the ball to take away Connors's ability to hit angles. It was an absolutely matersful display of tennis strategy and mental toughness as Ashe defeated Connors 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.
My interest in tennis came from my father who was an outstanding tennis player in his own right, and who got me involved with tennis to improve my footwork on the basketball court.
Before devoting myself to tennis in college, I was a complete basketball nut. As a freshman in high school I played football, basketball and baseball, but by that time basketball was already the sport I loved to play more than any other. I got in trouble on more than one occassion freshman year for shooting baskets after football pratice --- coaches would be upset because if you worked as hard as you were supposed to have at football practice you should have been too tired to shoot a basketball. I never was.
I grew up in a sports oriented family. My father was a star basketball player in high school and played for the US Army AirCorp team based in Waco, TX in the early 1940s before heading off to fly in Europe during WWII (he spent the last 18 months of the war in a German prisioner of war camp). As I mentioned already, he was also an outstanding tennis player (his favorite player was Don Budge and he modeled his game on this great champion). In Depression Era NJ, my father's family lived near a church that had clay tennis courts behind it, and my father got a job in his pre-teen years cleaning and taking care of the courts and was taught how to play the game by the gentlemen who frequented the courts. My father started at guard for the varsity basketball team and was number 1 singles on the varsity tennis team at his high school from his freshman year on. My Dad was also a devoted fisherman, and spent his retirement years as a Captain on fishing boats and taking people on fly fishing tours. At one time he held a world record in fishing. My father passed away in the fall of 1999, and I miss him dearly.
My brother Fred played basketball in high school and one year at Bucknell University before a knee injury ended his college playing days. My brother is 10 years older than me, so I was introduced to basketball at an early age. My sister Sue didn't play basketball but was an outstanding gymnist at Trenton State College in the 1970s and later a very successful gymnastics coach in NJ. My nephew Kyle (Fred's second of three children) was a standout high school soccer and basketball player and played one year of college basketball at Ramapo College in NJ before switching to volleyball where he actually led the nation in blocks a good portion of his junior year and was nominated for All-American honors in his senior year.
So you get the point -- lots of sports watching and talking around the Boettke household. I can remember my brother and his friends gathered around our TV set with my Dad watching then Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and UCLA take on Elvin Hayes and Houston in the Astrodome in 1968. I remember this more vividly than Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, though I know we gathered around the TV for that as well.
My love of basketball far exceeded my ability to play the game. Most of my teen memories are connected to basketball. I played for Johnson Regional High School in New Jersey, and worked as a camp counselor at Lehigh Valley Basketball Camp after graduation. The camp was well-known at the time for teaching skill development in high school players and was run by Ted Zawacki, then coach at Moravian College in PA. Zawacki played college basketball at Wake Forest in the 1960s and then had a coaching career that included stints at University of Delaware and a most successful stint at Union High School in NJ. In 1997, he was picked the NJ High School Basketball Coach of the Year. Zawacki retired from coaching basketball a few years ago to concentrate on helping his daughter Tory's tennis career -- she achieved a rank of #41 in the world in 2002.
In 1978, I entered Thiel College with the intent of playing basketball, and becoming a high school basketball coach. I suffered an injurty early in my freshman year that put me out for the season, and after one year I transferred to Grove City College with the same goals and carrer aspirations. But continuing injuries (and being introduced to economics) changed my life plan. However my enjoyment of the game of basketball never faded. I am an avid fan, watching hundred of games a year at the high school, college and pro level, and I am a GMU basketball season ticket holder. I have also coached youth basketball for many years in New Jersey and Virginia at the CYO, recreation, travel and AAU levels.
y favorite players to watch over the years have been Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Before them I was a huge fan of the New York Knicks in the early 1970s with Walt "Clyde" Frazier. I also thought John Havlicek was unbelievable, and perhaps the best all around player in the NBA when I was a kid (he was MVP of the 1974 NBA finals). My love of basketball, though, was actually sparked by the US loss to the Soviet Union in 1972, when Doug Collins won the game before the referees stole the game from the US team. Many hours were spent over the next few years in my driveway pretending to be Doug Collins and having to hit those foul shots myself. After Doug Collins I followed the careers of Kyle Macey (University of Kentucky), Adrian Dantley (Notre Dame), and Steve Alford (University of Indiana).
s a young boy growing up in NJ in the 1960s you might not believe this, but I suffered through those long summers cheering for Horace Clark, Mel Stottlemyre, Bobby Mercer, Roy White and, my favorite player, Thurman Munson as the Yankees had one losing season after another.
So I never tire now of seeing the greatest sports franchise in history win now.
y one exception to cheering for the Yankees, and even a concession to the National League, was the Pittsburgh Pirates and their star Roberto Clemente. When I was a young boy my grandparents spent the winters in Bradenton, FL -- the spring home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. My mom and I went to visit my grandparents when I was 10 and I went to spring training and met the Pirates catcher, Manny Sanguillen, who even took me in the bullpen and showed me how to catch balls in the dirt as a catcher (the position I played from Little League through American Legion baseball). In fact, I used a Manny Sanguillen signature bat from the time I was 13 or so until I played my last organized baseball game at 17. Without doubt the player that had the most impact on me, however, was the legendary Roberto Clemente. He was a stars STAR. His performance in the 1971 World Series earned him MVP honors, and in the 1972 season he joined the elite group of players with 3,000 hits in their career. He tragically died in on December 31, 1972 when a plan taking medical supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico.
As with many 40+ males, my new sports passion is golf. I picked up the game in late summer of 2000 at the urging of my friend Chuck Owlett, and further encouragement from my brother Fred (who has been playing golf for many years) and I am now addicted. Like most golfers, I am terrible but I am trying to learn the game.
One of the great benefits of academics is the opportunity to travel. Now that I play golf these opportunities have also been chances to play golf in some amazing places. I have played at one of the newest golf courses in the Czech Republic, and at a beautiful resort in Argentina. These are a far cry from the public courses I play on back home in Virginia.
Anyway, I enjoy the game tremendously. I now even subscribe to the Golf Channel, own my share of golf instructional videos, buy equipment that is supposed to magically cure my swing, go to the range at lunch time, sneak out with my graduate students to play a quick 9, and cheer for Phil to catch Tiger on Sundays.
LlaoLao Golf Course in Argentina. Economics has been very good to me!
Besides sports, I do have interests in music, TV and movies. My tastes are rather eclectic. I am a huge fan of Tori Amos, Genesis (especially with Peter Gabriel and in the post-Gabriel era up to And Then There Were Three) and Miles Davis.
My favorite TV shows are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seinfeld, Sapranos, and NYPD Blue (I believe I have seen every episode of these shows). As for movies, I am partial to Adam Sandler movies, in particular The Water Boy, but also The Wedding Singer. Though I should note that I love the Lord of the Rings movies, The Matrix, and The Godfather triology; Star Wars less so, but still a big favorite. Other movies I have particularly liked over the year have been Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Bang the Drum Slowly with Robert DeNiro, and The Right Stuff and Apollo 13 about the space program. I enjoy watching Tom Hanks movies as well. Given my interest in basketball it should not be a surprise that I loved Hoosiers, the story of Pistol Pete Maravich, The Pistol: Birth of a Legend, and even Robbie Benson in One on One.