Lawrence Alto
Albet L. Buschman
David B. Fredette
Eugene R. Maki
Kryn H. Rynbrand
Kalmazoo Central

(click on Inductee's name to read 'description')

Lawrence Alto, Monroe

One of the most outstanding veterans of the the tennis courts and a true teacher of youth was Larry Alto. He was instrumental in producing some of the best talent in the state of Michigan during his 30 plus years of coaching in Monroe. Sadly, Alto suffered a fatal heart attack in the fall of 1983 at the age of 76, eleven years after he retired from teaching.

Serving as assistant coach from 1940 to 1954 with another Hall of Famer, Tim Tambling, and then as head varsity from 1955 to 1972, Larry Alto contributed heavily to both high school tennis and recreation tennis in Monroe. His varsity teams never had a losing season in his 18 years as head mentor, winning or tying eight Border Cities League Titles, winning eight regional team tournaments, and finishing second in the state to Hamtramck in 1963. He coached 15 regional doubles champions and six singles champions in regional play, including John Kock and Bill Jones, who won the Class A state doubles title in 1963 in Kalamazoo.

Without doubt, his most famous protege was Vic Braden, the international tennis professional who has established his own tennis school in California. Vic won the state singles championship in Class A for Monroe High in 1945, 1946 and 1947 while Alto was the assistant. As the story is related, coach Alto caught a young Vic Braden stealing tennis balls at the local courts one day, and upon being told that he could either learn to play the game or be prosecuted by the law, the frightened, but appreciative Braden wisely chose tennis. Needless to say, the decision was a wise one. The rest is history. Braden has often thanked Larry Alto publicly for the direction given him in this great game.

Coach Al to produced other reputable players such as teaching professionals Jim Asher, Brett Perelman, Dean Finchoff, Mickey Schmidt, Dan Braden and Kathy Koch. Twin sister Barb Koch was the women's coach at Cornell University for six years during the '70's. Another notable of Altos was Scott Perelman, who graduated from Monroe in 1972 and now serves as the varsity men's coach at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. All of the above players are living legacies of our legendary Larry Alto, one of the most fundamental teachers of high school tennis in Michigan. His influence still exists in the coaching of Monroe coaches Ward Olson and Stan Noland, the present president of our coaching association.

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Albert L. Buschman, Midland

This fine gentleman of coaching and teaching, Al Buschman, grew up in the Dust Bowl of southwestern Oklahoma during the Great Depression of the 1930's, working in the cotton and wheat fields with no opportunities for such things as tennis. However, with encouragement of a friend and an old discarded racquet, Al took up the game and immediately loved it without reservation. In college at Southwestern State Teachers College, Al and some of his friends competed as a team (in the conference) even though there was no official team or coach.

After the war in 1945 Al accepted a teaching position in Midland and was also asked to take over the tennis team which he found to be exceptionally challenging. Quickly he scheduled the best teams he could find for competition which included the powerful Hamtramck teams. This developed better players and more outstanding teams within a few short years for enjoyment for the boys.

By 1949 Dean Britton became his first regional champion in singles and by the following year his team took team championship, the first of many (15-20) for Midland. In 1951 another highlight was a great duel match victory for the Chemics over Hamtramck, which later went on to the state championship in class A The 1951 Buschman team was his first undefeated team, a wonderful example of his tenacity and determination to win and to win with dignity.

There is no question that today's present tennis boom in Midland can be based on all of the ground work Al Buschman laid starting back in the mid 40's with his Oklahoman vision of outstanding tennis teams which stills exits. Coach Joe Haskins of Midland Dow High was one of Al's students and players who has maintained the same enthusiasm and direction. Other players included Jack Haskins, who coaches in Battle Creek, Dana Squire of Michigan State, Ron Cook of Kalamazoo College, and David Kingsley of Depauw University, just to mention a few.

The credo that Al always maintained as a coach was the following: take a genuine interest in the people with whom you work, instill integrity and pride in your players, schedule the best competition, observe and analyze the best players in the world and teach smart strategy. This is good advice from a true Hall of Fame coach.

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David B. Fredette, Armada

Back in Dowagiac in southwestern Michigan, Dave Fredette began his interest in tennis by participating on the high school team and then eventually playing on the Benton Harbor Junior College team. As a result of this, when he started teaching at Armada in 1964-65, he was assigned the task of initiating a boys tennis program which he has maintained with the same vigor for the past 22 years.

His personal statistics include eight Southern Thumb Coach of the Year awards and a MHSTeCA Coach of the year award bestowed upon him by his peer group. His teams have compiled eleven league titles, two regional trophies and an impressive 223-23 win-loss record in dual matches. Of the eleven teams which have qualified for the state championships in Class C-D, ten of them finished in the top 10 in the state. These records are outstanding in that there was virtually no interest in tennis prior to Dave's arrival on the Armada scene.

Fredette's main thrust in the community has been his summer program which has given local people of all ages a chance to learn how to play and understand the game of tennis. Needless to say, seeing the younger players develop and improve each season has been his greatest personal satisfaction common among such devotees. Because of his dedication to this summer effort, Dave was cited by the local Lions Club with an Appreciation Award in 1973 for being the primary motivator in the summer program

When Dave arrived at Armada back in the 60's, there were only two non-usuabIe courts in town. He quickly had them renovated and had two more courts built, and today they use the six new courts along the new high school established in 1976. This is truly a visionary with immediate action and result which have benefited hundreds of tennis enthusiastics in Armada.

Of Coach Fredette's many excellent player's, three of them have done exceptionally well on college teams: Marty Meyer at the U.S Air Force Academy, Mike DeLong at Central Michigan, and most recently Dan Duncan who graduated from CMU in 1965. Duncan is presently boys tennis coach at Jackson Lumen Christi , another extension of the tremendous influence of our Hall of Famer, Dave Fredette.

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Eugene R. Maki, Wakefield

Entering his 32nd year as coach at Wakefield, set off in the western-most part of the Upper Peninsula, Coach Gene Maki represents to us dedication, consistency, longevity and determination.

It all started after World War II and his college days in 1951 when Gene returned to his hometown to teach. He assisted the head tennis coach during the season and conducted the summer programs and tournaments which he is still doing today. Gene became the head coach of the boys team in 1957 and took over the girls program in 1975, both teams always maintaining a winning average through these many years.

For Gene Maki working with young people has always been his main interest , primarily because of the great carry-over of tennis into life beyond school and because of its great recreational aspect. In addition to the tennis program, he has coached basketball from grade school through t he freshman teams for over 10 years. And he comments that watching these youngsters develop and progress through these various levels of competition has been most satisfying.

With Wakefield's cumulative dual match winning record, the Cardinals have also gained 15 Michigan-Wisconsin Conference Championships and five Upper Peninsula state titles in spite of being greatly hindered by the separation of being over a 100 miles from any other Michigan school with a tennis program. It has been Gene's obvious enthusiasm which has maintained the winning program in the community to which Gene acknowledges his personal gratitude for its continual support.

His most memorable seasons were the teams of 1969 and 1970 which lost only one match of the 29 played those two years. Even though these two teams were from the smallest school in the UP, they won the U.P. Open Class championships from A-B/C-D schools (14 in all) a truly gratifying experience for all of Wakefield. His best girls team was the 1985 contingent which won the conference title and his first doubles team winning the state title. About 15 of his players have gone on to play college tennis, the most notable of these being Rommily Gilbert and Dave Cvengros at Michigan Tech.

One of the yearly highlights for Gene is seeing his old players return to Wakefield to participate in the annual Down Home Tennis Tournament staged each summer, which attracts former residents from different parts of the nation. To Coach Gene Maki we salute a true Hall of Famer.

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Kryn H. Rynbrand, Kalamazoo Central

One of the most venerable personalities among high school tennis coaches in our state was Kryn Rynbrand who spent 30 of his nearly 80 years as head coach at Kalamazoo Central and later at the new Kalamazoo Loy Norrix. He presently resides in Venice, Florida, in retirement with fond memories of his great teams and outstanding players who were raised in the tradition-rich atmosphere of Kalamazoo.

Kryn learned the game of tennis on clay courts in a public park near his home as a teenager and maintained a strong passion for the game throughout his teaching career. After teaching for about six yeas at Kalamazoo Central, he succeeded Roy 0. Mesick as head varsity coach whose team won the state championship in 1937, a tough act to follow. However, during his first year as coach at Central, Kryn was blessed to have Roland Fend as his first singles player who went on to win the Class A singles title that year. Unfortunately, Fend was to lose his life for his country as a fighter pilot during World War II. In 1941 his doubles first team of Donald Staake and Robert Stowe copped the state doubles title for the Maroon Giants to bring more laurels to the Rynbrand-coached teams.

Central won many Southwestern Conference titles and several regional championships, but these teams had the misfortune of competing against the powerful Jean Hoxie teams from Hamtramck for most of Kryn's career. In 1960 he transferred to the new Kalamazoo Lov Norrix High School where he finished his great coaching in 1968 when one of his former players Herm Kiewiet took over the Knights to lead them to four state titles.

Kryn always remembers being a coach of a group of boys who always performed as class players and whom he never had (to his best recollection) to reprimand for bad language or poor sportsmanship on the court "I feel that is an excellent record. They were a very enjoyable group to work with", states Kryn in his reminiscing.

Don Stowe, coach at Portage Central H. S., was another protege of Rynbrand, as well as Bud Donnelly, who played on the Western Michigan University team, John and Fletcher DesAutels, Bob Van Dis, John Milroy, Tom Wylie, Tom Winn and Leon Koopsen. These are just a few of the many excellent players who were trained by our Hall of Famer, Kryn Rynbrand.

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