Mathes honored, funds raised at Milligan tourney

from staff reports

   More than $60,000 was raised at the first annual Milligan/Mathes Marathon Tennis Tournament on Oct. 18, honoring local physician and tennis legend W. T. Mathes.
   More than 35 local players participated in the one-day marathon, each playing 100 games of doubles play. The tournament raised funds toward construction of a new tennis complex at Milligan College.
   "I think this will quickly become one of the premier tennis events in the region," said Carole Pectol of Johnson City, one of the local players. "I had a great time and would encourage many more people to participate next year. It is a great cause."
   Milligan plans to break ground on the new complex in the spring as part of its plan to relocate and expand its tennis complex, all in preparation for the college's next major building project - the new Campus Center, which will be located in proximity to the current courts.
   The new complex is designed for the college's varsity and intramural programs, as well as for the local tennis community. Milligan's varsity program boasts standout players from several local high schools, including Science Hill, Elizabethton, Unicoi County and Sullivan South.
   "Milligan has a great tennis program that benefits some of our strongest local talent," said Dr. Tom Jones, who chaired the tournament committee. "This tournament is an opportunity for the community to support the college and advance tennis in our region."
   A Milligan alumnus, Jones is now a professor at Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City. His son, Tom, was a tennis standout at Science Hill High School and is now a freshman varsity player at Milligan.
   Honoring local tennis legend Mathes was also important to the tournament players. As a member of the class of 1942, Mathes was one of the first players to compete on the college's current courts.
   After a distinguished career at Milligan, he maintained a lifetime commitment to the sport, ranking first in Tennessee, third in the south, and 25th in the nation in amateur play. Mathes' granddaughter, Myra, currently plays for the Milligan Buffs.
   "Dr. Mathes exemplifies how good tennis can be a lifetime pursuit," said Rich Aubrey, who coaches men's tennis and women's basketball at Milligan. "He is a true gentleman when he plays, and he has passed his love for the sport along to his daughters and granddaughter. People in the Johnson City community have such a respect for Dr. Mathes and for his contributions as a physician and civic leader."
   Since the founding of the first club team in 1914, tennis has played a cherished role in the life of Milligan students, explained Milligan president Don Jeanes. The present courts were first built in the late 1920s and paved and surfaced in 1938 as a gift of Mrs. H. C. Price of Canton, Ohio.
   Over the years, coaches such as Hugh Thompson, Constance Mynatt, Duard Walker, Chuck Gee, Pat Bonner, Jack Knowles, Marvin Glover and Aubrey have coached decades of strong teams and winning players.
   In recent years, both Milligan men's and women's programs have produced strong teams. An Appalachian Athletics Conference powerhouse, the Lady Buffs won the conference crown three of the last six years under the leadership of Glover. Since 1996, they have made three trips to the national championship and have produced many all-conference performers.
   "This new complex could not come at a better time," said Aubrey. "This is an important piece of maintaining a quality tennis program."
   Jeanes concurs, explaining that the new complex "will recognize the vital role of tennis to the life of our college and help advance the program to new levels."
   For more information about giving and naming opportunities for the new tennis complex, call Milligan College at 423.461.8955.