Rice Institute Owls tennis player Sam Match
Black and white photograph of Rice University Owls tennis player Sam Match, headlining his achievement into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame. Caption reads: There have been a number of great tennis players in the history of Rice Athletics, but there’s never been a better ‘Match’ player than Sam Match. Now, some 44 years after his heroics on the courts of the Big Blue, Sam goes into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame. A few Owls had preceded Match in winning NCAA titles, such as Wilbur Hess and Frank Guernsey in tennis and Fred Wolcott in track. But when Match and Houstonian Bobby Curtis teamed up to win the NCAA doubles title in 1947, it was a major happening on the Houston and Southwest Conference sports scene. College athletes of today often go far away from home to compete, but not many did so in the 1940’s. That’s the way it was back in 1946 when Sam trekked down to Houston from California, bringing along fellow Californian Ken McCarthy for the ride. As Sam says, “I found myself after World War II on a train from California to Rice in Houston in April, 1946.” That spring, McCarthy and Match won the SWC doubles title, and then in 1947, Match teamed up with Bobby Curtis to win the SWC and NCAA championships in doubles. Unfortunately for Rice, after that sophomore year here, Match left Texas to finish his college career at the University of San Francisco in his home state of California. Sam now says, “Looking back some 44 years, the first thing that comes to mind is if I had known then what I know now, I may have never left for the old home state. As the years past, more and more I realized how good a school Rice really was, and how I left a great bunch of friends.” You have to admit, though, he made the most of his switch. At USF, he teamed with a phenomenal player named Art Larsen and the Dons finished national team runners-up in 1948 before capturing the NCAA team title in 1949. That championship title in 1949 came in Austin in a tournament hosted by the University of Texas. He and Larsen led USF to the national team title, but they lost in the doubles final and Match lost a five-set heartbreaker in the singles final to a “Tulane fighter in Jack Tiero who just wore me down after I led 6 – 2, 6 – 0 and 5 – 2 in the third set.” Match was named to the USF Athletic Hall of Fame 15 years ago, and now he’s thrilled to make it a daily double at Rice, too. He had five years on the famed amateur circuit while in college at Rice and USF, and was nationally ranked 8, 10, 10 and 11 in four of those years. A memorable match for Match was beating the great Pancho Gonzales at the famous River Oaks CC tournament here 6 – 1, 6 – 2, in just 35 minutes when Pancho was the U.S. champion. Sam currently is a loan officer with the Jon Douglas Company in Beverly Hills, specializing in home loans. He first went to that famous home locale for many movie stars as a newlywed right out of college, leaving the tour to become a teaching pro. As you would figure, he was pro to many stars, such as Charlton Heston, Barbara Streisand, Dan Rowan (of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh—In), and more. Match still plays a lot of social tennis, and in senior tournaments – including four trips to Wimbledon to compete in the senior doubles competition. After all these years, he still has great memories of his stay at Rice. One special tennis memory for Match however stands out over the rest. “I was a radio operator for three years in the Air corps while in Guam, and I got to play a lot of tennis with Bobby Riggs when we weren’t flying to Iwo Jima. Riggs taught me an enormous amount about the psychology of tennis and how other players think. He and I played in the finals of the Army-Navy Championships in 1945, and I was only two points away from winning, but I guess I just couldn’t beat my idol because he came back to win. But what I learned from him paid off in 1946 after leaving the service.” Later that year, Riggs became the world’s professional champion.
Rice Athletic Hall of Fame
Citable link to this pagehttps://hdl.handle.net/1911/63995
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