POINT OF IMPACT
Professional Tennis Registry Hall of Fame
More than just play, Barth captained the team, reached the doubles finals at the NCAA Championships, and was a two-time All-American. He also was ranked Top 14 four times (as high as #8 in men’s singles and #2 in doubles in the United States."
The entire recognition can be read in the March issue of TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS.
I was looking for information on Maureen Connolly for our December article. Dan Santorum and a handful of other readers pointed Roy because of his interactions with the tennis legend in San Diego, as written in his book "POINT OF IMPACT."
Recognizing Roy Barth's accomplishments, the PTR wrote in January: "From his success as a decorated junior to playing on the pro tour to managing a prestigious tennis center to countless accolades and induction into several halls of fame, Roy Barth has a long and storied history with the game.
Barth started playing – and winning – as a junior in San Diego. He won three national junior doubles titles, was selected to the USA Junior Davis Cup team, and went on to play varsity tennis at UCLA.
POINT OF IMPACT
Reviewed by Rich Neher
Very rarely do I really enjoy reviewing a tennis book. The last time that happened was January this year when I reviewed Sam Jalloh's "HOW TENNIS SAVED MY LIFE." Don't get me wrong, well-known authors like Andy Dowsett, Bill Patton, David Smith, Allen Fox, Frank Giampaolo, and so many others write excellent teaching books and are very good at sharing their coaching experience. But Sam's book was quite inspirational to me since I'm not teaching the sport. As a self-proclaimed tennis historian, I loved reading Tom Lecompte's THE LAST SURE THING about the life of Bobby Riggs, or Larry Engelmann's THE GODDESS AND THE AMERICAN GIRL about Suzanne Lenglen and Hellen Wills. Or, my all-time favorite tennis book, Marshall Jon Fisher's A TERRIBLE SPLENDOR about Don Budge during the time of the Nazis.
Roy Barth's book POINT OF IMPACT has now a very special place in my collection because of the way the author intertwines his life and career with those of a lot of interesting tennis celebrities in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Here's where my interest peaks. Roy was part of the tour at a time in history that tends to be forgotten amid the excitement we see about the current top stars. It's sad to realize that most San Diegans have never heard of legendary coach Wilbur Folsom. When I asked my group in Los Angeles if they ever heard of Maureen Connolly - silence. Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, Björn Borg, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase, Stan Smith, Pancho Gonzales, these were some of the stars in the era Roy Barth played on the tour. Many of those names are still well known but they, too, will be forgotten one day unless we make an effort to keep their memories alive.
Roy offers life lessons in two main chapters:
Part One: Life Lessons from the Game of Tennis
Part Two: Life Lessons for the Business of Tennis
In Part One, after a brief flashback to 2004 when he had to undergo heart and brain surgery at age 57, Roy writes about his upbringing in San Diego, what he learned from his dad who played for UCLA in the 1930s, getting 25 cents from Wilbur Folsom for picking up tennis balls at Morley Fields, and the beginning of a lifelong love affair with our sport. How 8-year-old Maureen Connolly and Wilbur Folsom connected is a fascinating read. Eight years later she won the first of three U.S. Championship (now US Open) singles titles.
Roy writes about losing his doubles partner and best friend, Johnny Sanderlin, who died in 1963 from leukemia, about developing character ("more important than winning,") and then transitioning to college tennis and then from amateur to the pro tour. In 1969 he played the "best tournament of my life thus far" by beating Roscoe Tanner, Barry McKay, Jim Osborne, and No. 3 seed Australian Bill Bowery to reach the quarterfinals in the U.S. Professional Championships in Brookline, Massachusetts. He writes, "My win against Roscoe Tanner in Boston was an important one. I have always heeded Maureen Connolly's advice to do something totally within my control: be a 'nice person' in victory as well as in defeat. I must have been a gracious winner that day because years later Roscoe Tanner recommended me for a job that changed my life."
Roy Barth writes that he named his book POINT OF IMPACT after his most cherished tennis lesson which also became his greatest life lesson. "One of my first coaches explained that the only time I had control of the ball was when I was hitting it. To make that control last, he taught me to watch the ball hit my racquet strings - the point of impact - and stay focused on that instant through each stroke." This is key to the value I see in Roy's book. He doesn't want to dish out random advice and recommendations, he tells us what he learned from other people and how it helped his job and his life. He continues, "On my journey from No. 3 in the tough Southern California junior circuit in 1958 at age 11, to playing No. 1 singles and doubles at UCLA, to competing for seven years on the pro tour, I learned other valuable life lessons - among them to 'take one point at a time,' 'hang on like a crab," and 'develop character on the court.' In my many years at Kiawah (Resort), I relied on these playing principles to shape my management style and earn Kiawah Tennis the distinction of being named the No. 1 Tennis Resort in the World."
Roy explains the challenges men's professional tennis had back in the day and his being a founding member of the newly created Association of Tennis Professionals in 1971. A large section of Part One is his recollection of inspirations from the "Greats" of his era.
His first job teaching tennis in Indianapolis was a backbreaker but then he was invited to play on the 'Indiana Loves World TeamTennis' team. After a short stint coaching the U.S. Wightman Cup team, he kept looking for job opportunities until the call came from Roscoe Tanner who suggested he interview for a position at the Kiawah Island Golf and Tennis resort in Charleston, South Carolina. little did he know that he would spend the next 41 years of his life there until retirement. The PTR wrote, "He built it from the ground up, and during his 41-year tenure, the Kiawah Island Golf Resort was ranked the #1 tennis resort in the world 12 times by Tennis Resorts Online and the #1 tennis resort in the US by Tennis magazine. In 2006, Kiawah aptly renamed its tennis operations to the Roy Barth Tennis Center."
Part Two of POINT OF IMPACT deals with Life Lessons for the Business of Tennis. I guess in 41 years working at a world-class golf & tennis resort, there is much to learn. And much of that Roy shares with the reader. He writes about a SoCal boy settling into his new life in South Carolina, dealing with a huge job, many new bosses, a growing family, and managing his responsibilities. He also gained a greater understanding of the tennis industry and became involved with the USTA and PTR. (see also Roy's 11-9-20 article "Understanding Your Industry" on the USTA website.
Roy shares the importance of cultivating important relationships, meeting and playing with celebrities, his internal competition with the golf department, and how to develop character. Again, I'm reminded that this is not a book to learn how to serve or get a better backhand. It's more, much more. It's the view of an era and the business of tennis. How to run it and survive.
For good measure (or maybe because he felt bad for readers that expected tennis instruction, Roy added some in the back of his book. Well, sort of. He gives us very general reminders and shares what he had to learn over many years. From "Top Ten Overall Tips" to "Top Ten Doubles Tips" and "Match Day Preparation" Roy covers those subjects very generally. But that's not where the magic of his book lies. POINT OF IMPACT is all about learning about an era, its popular events and players, and about getting to know the business of tennis from amazing life lessons shared on 313 pages.
I can highly recommend Roy Barth's book. It would make an exciting Christmas gift for someone who agrees that tennis history needs to be preserved and shared. And someone who thinks understanding the industry by learning from the best may be a good idea.