Rice University tennis player John Pickens
Black and white photograph of Rice Owls tennis player John Pickens, accompanied by text headlining his achievement and entry into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame. Caption reads: In the 20th century, no single Rice sport dominated an era as did the men’s tennis team of the 1960’s and early-1970’s. Under the guidance of head coach Sam Giammalva, the Owls won nine SWC titles in 11 years, finished national runners-up twice, produced 14 all-America players, nine SWC individual champions ad seven doubles teams that won titles. Those teams probably paced the athletic department in the percentage of athletic hall of fame inductees. Long overdue for joining his teammates in the hall is 1995 inductee, JOHN PICKENS (class of 1968). Pickens was a key part of the success for the Owls, attending school for parts of five different years (1963-68). In fact, the Owls won SWC titles all four springs in which he was a part of the tennis team. He took off the spring, 1967 semester in order to play tennis abroad for a year (which also coincided with the only year in which Rice did not capture the conference title from 1961-1972). No Rice team had ever won an NCAA team title at the time Pickens was inducted into the hall of fame, but no Owl squad ever came closer than the tennis team of Pickens’ senior year when the team finished as national runners-up to USC. Individually, Pickens captured the 1968 SWC singles title, the 1965 doubles title (along with Jim Parker) and he 1968 doubles title (along with Butch Seewagen). He was a two-time- all-America in singles, advancing to the quarterfinals both as a sophomore in 1965 (before losing to Arthur Ashe) and as a junior in 1966 (where he was defeated by Stan Smith). He also captured the singles title of the Rice Invitational in 1968, and was a member of Rice squads which won the invitational team titles both in 1966 and 1968. Pickens also made his tennis mark aside from the collegiate ranks. He competed at Wimbledon in both 1966 and 1967. In the former, he ranked as high as 16th among Americans in the national amateur listings and the fifth-ranked doubles player (along with Dave Power). Following his graduation from Rice in 1968, Pickens attended law school at Vanderbilt University. His legal career included organizing and founding the Georgia Justice Project, a non-profit law service for indigent people. After serving with the group for 15 years, he left the staff in March, 1995 to open a private practice. At the time of his induction, he and his wife, Donna, lived in Atlanta. The couple has two sons, Ryan and Neal. No one could ever accuse the Rice men’s tennis teams of the 1960’ for featuring slim pickings. In 1995, John Pickens joined his rightful place with former teammates, rivals and friends Butch Seewagen, Mike Estep, Zan Guerry, Harold Solomon and their head coach, Sam Giammalva as members of the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame.
Rice University Athletic Hall of Fame
Citable link to this pagehttps://hdl.handle.net/1911/64558
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