Bulldog men's tennis players return for reunion
Wingate, N.C.----Decades have passed since some of these players have last crossed over the railroad tracks and entered the beautiful campus of Wingate University. This weekend, Bulldog Tennis alumni from head coach Ron Smarr’s four teams (1968-71) will once again pass over those tracks as they return for a much-anticipated reunion.
“I haven’t been back since graduation,” CJ Travers says. “This weekend will be like old times.” Travers was a member of Wingate’s first NJCAA national championship team in 1970. He also served as a team captain.
Alumni from all over the country will arrive this weekend to share memories and reminisce about old times from their college days. Mr. Travers will be traveling with his wife from Bunnell, Fla., where he currently resides.
The one phrase most alumni share in conversation about this weekend and their experience at Wingate is “they love the small town atmosphere.” This phrase is something most alumni like to look back on and talk about when they remember their time as a student-athlete at Wingate.
“The small-town feel put me on a more personal level with my professors,” Travers says. Wingate helped prepare Travers for success at Georgia Southern University, where he obtained a degree in electrical engineering.
For most of the tennis alumni returning, they share a common athletic experience most would find unique in attending a university in a small town in North Carolina; however, these alumni would not trade anything for their time at Wingate.
Audley Bell won two national tennis championships with the Bulldogs. Wingate won the NJCAA men’s tennis crown in 1970 and 1971. A native of Jamaica, Bell played for his home country in the Davis Cup.
After his days at Wingate, Bell transferred to Wake Forest University. He received his B.S. degree in management (cum laude) from Boston College. Bell was inducted into the Wingate Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
During coach Smarr’s four seasons, Wingate won 100 matches, while losing only 14. In addition to the two national titles, the Bulldogs earned a third-place finish in 1969. Coach Smarr retired last spring with the most wins in college tennis history (873). His career included stops at Wingate, South Carolina, Colorado and Rice.
This weekend will be one of great happiness and catching up as these alumni return to the place which gave them a pleasurable college experience. Coach Smarr’s four tennis teams will be honored as Teams of Distinction during the Wingate University Sports Hall of Fame celebration Saturday. The Wingate Sports Hall of Fame weekend is sponsored this year by OrthoCarolina.
SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTION SLATED FOR OCT. 20
Three new members will be added to a prestigious and impressive list during the Wingate University Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday morning, Oct. 20. In addition, the University will recognize the Ron Smarr-coached men’s tennis teams as Teams of Distinction during the event. The Wingate University Sports Hall of Fame is sponsored this year by OrthoCarolina.
The Wingate Sports Hall of Fame class of 2012 includes football student-athlete Kendall Chaffin (Mocksville, N.C., class of ’94), volleyball student-athlete Karyn Deese Hart (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., class of ’97) and baseball infielder Marc Tsitouris (Monroe, N.C., class of ’92). The trio joins 77 other Bulldog luminaries in the University’s Sports Hall of Fame. Bulldog basketball point guard Lorinza “Junior” Harrington (Wagram, N.C., class of ’02) is playing professional hoops overseas; he will be inducted at a later date.
BULLDOG CLUB CLAM BAKE SLATED FOR OCT. 26
The Bulldog Club and the Board of Visitors are hosting the Wingate University Clam Bake and Auction at the University Lake Friday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. The second annual event is sponsored by Andark Graphics and Apparel. Wingate alum Col. Steve Vanhoy (’81) will serve as auctioneer for the live auction.
Everyone is welcome as the University celebrates Homecoming weekend. On the same day, the 37th annual Bill Connell Memorial Golf Tournament will be contested at Eagle Chase Golf Club. The shotgun start is slated for 9 a.m. Both the Clam Bake and the BCMGT benefit deserving student-athletes.
Wingate University, ranked as the 6th “best value” in the South by U.S. News & World Report, serves 2,648 students on three campuses in Wingate, Matthews and Hendersonville, N.C. Founded in 1896, the University offers 34 undergraduate majors, 37 minors and career concentrations, numerous pre-professional programs, graduate degrees in business, accounting, education, physician assistant studies and sport administration, and doctorates in pharmacy and education. With a 14 to 1 student/teacher ratio, Wingate students gain the tools and support needed to excel in academics and apply that learning toward an extraordinary career and life.
In addition to a robust intramural athletics program, Wingate student athletes compete in 20 NCAA Division II sports. The University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past six years.
Wingate is first among NCAA Division II Academic All-America®-producing private colleges in the 2000’s with 50 selections. Among North Carolina’s colleges and universities, Wingate’s 50 Academic All-America® honorees are first during this millennium. Wingate’s 59 lifetime Academic All-America® picks are tops among all SAC schools. For more information, go to www.wingatebulldogs.com.
(Wingate University communication studies student intern Jack Taylor contributed this article. Taylor is a senior from Keystone Heights, Fla.)