John Caldwell
Galesburg Augusta
Gary Harden
Muskegon Mona Shores
Joe Haskins
Midland Dow
James Van Zandt
Galesbutg Augusta

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

John Caldwell, Galesburg Augusta

Call it luck, call it fate, or call it destiny, but some communities have a deep wealth of tennis tradition primarily because they were fortunate enough to be led by a few very special individuals. Cities such as Holland, Midland, and Monroe come to mind as centers of high tennis interest which revolved around the leadership of a few outstanding leaders.

Galesburg-Augusta is just such a community. Back in 1941, a wonderful gentleman by the name of John Caldwell served as unofficial tennis coach. He was a true pioneer in establishing a quality tennis program in a small rural school district. During these years, a loosely organized nine school league called the Kalamazoo County Athletic Association promoted most of its athletic activities around as annual field day held at Upjohn Park in Kalamazoo in mid-May. Part of the activities consisted of both boys and girls tennis and under Mr. Caldwell's direction as coordinator-coach, Augusta players did very well. In

1948, Coach CaIdwell's Augusta high school tennis team was entered in its first high school regional tournament, placing fourth. From then on, his teams showed steady improvement, finishing third during the next two years and in 1951, the consolidated Galesburg-Augusta High School tennis team not only won its first regional but capped off an astounding year by winning its first state class C/D championship. However, John didn't rest on his laurels. He acquired still another state championship in 1954, albeit a shared title.

In all, Mr. Caldwell was associated with Augusta school and Galesburg-Augusta junior high and high school tennis for twenty five years, from 1941 - 1966. During that time, his teams won eight K.V.A. league championships, his boys establishing an incredible 218-13 record. He was truly a pioneer in that he coached individual girls to a 45-3 record over a ten-year span (1942-1951) long before girls tennis became an official MHSAA sport. Even when he stepped down from high school coaching duties, he aided the program greatly by coaching junior high tennis for six years and serving as mentor for those who followed him. He is fondly remembered by scores of players and coaches who credit him for establishing what was to become an even more powerful tennis program. Enjoying retirement, this octogenarian has much to be proud of. We hope that this award adds to that glow of pride.

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Gary Harden, Muskegon Mona Shores

In May of 1978, the community of Muskegon held a tribute to a man superintendent Gerald Keidel called "Mr. Tennis" of Mona Shores High School. Gary Harden took over the coaching job at the school in 1963 and held it for 15 seasons until a kidney ailment forced him to the sidelines. That testimonial dinner was just a small example of how much the man was esteemed in his community.

"Our trophy case used to be empty", said Bill Hanichen, the high school principal, "but Gary's teams filled it." Indeed, over the course of 15 seasons, his boys captured 14 different championships and were a Western Michigan powerhouse between 1973 and 1975 when they won 35 consecutive matches. During that period, they won the Lake Michigan Athletic Conference three years in a row.

Through all this success, Gary gained a reputation as a meticulous, exacting, hard-working coach according to athletic director John Nelson. Mr. Nelson characterized him as a quiet winner. Gary established this winning tradition by working with his players during the summer. By the time they reached his high school team, they were not only his friends but also experienced and proficient players. Chuck Luyendyk, who captained a Harden coached team in the mid-60's and who later played No.1 singles at Hope College make a statement typical of Gary's players when he said, "He was totally dedicated to the program. I can't thank him enough for what he has done".

Sadly, the ailment that sidelined Coach Harden in 1978 felled him in February of 1986. Gary died of kidney problems at age 47. One of the original 33 staff members of Mona Shores High School, he is survived by his wife, Evanna Jo and two children. In 1983, he was our association's first Distinguished Service Recipient, an award not often given to high school coaches. It is our hope that this Hall of Fame Award will further perpetuate the memory that many have for this truly remarkable man.

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Joe Haskins, Midland Dow

When a coach visits the Midland Community Tennis Center to participate in or view a state tournament, he/she is automatically awe struck at the facility and perhaps erroneously concludes: "Who couldn't be successful, given a tennis center and community program such as this?" This especially applies when one reviews the MHSTeCA's top ten rankings or attends the state tournaments where Midland Dow is seemingly always present. Little do people who draw such conclusions know, however, that Dow's present coach grew up in this tennis rich community, played marvelous high school tennis for Midland High School, and was successfully coaching there long before the MCTC was established.

Joe Haskins, together with his older brother Jack, played for undefeated high school teams in Midland during the 1950's under MHSTeCA hall of Fame coach Al Buschman. Those teams defeated everyone they encountered including strong squads from Hamtramck and East Lansing. Joe went on to play varsity tennis at Central Michigan as their 2S player behind his talented brother and then played the top position after Jack graduated.

When Joe came back to Midland in 1960, he became the assistant tennis coach under the legendary Mr. Buschman. Having been an accomplished player, he clearly must have learned his lessons well during this four-year apprenticeship. When he took over the head coaching reins in 1964, his Midland High School teams established nothing less than tennis supremacy in their area. From 1964-1979, they produced a 166-31 record. For eight years during the 70's, Joe's boys were undefeated while playing strong competition (Flint Southwestern with the Sorchers, George Purdy Saginaw Arthur Hill's teams, and of course, the ever-present power, East Lansing). Joe's squads finished second in the state twice before the MCTC was built. Much of the successful tennis generated during this time came out of Joe's efforts in the community summer tennis program and the tournaments that he ran at this time.

In 1980, Joe's brother, who was coaching tennis at Dow, decided to leave his post in order to become a full time teaching pro. Joe moved over to Dow and is continuing his winning ways. His teams are always among the most powerful in the state, having won the championship once and been second three times. His boys and girls have never lost a Saginaw Valley dual meet match and have filled the schools trophy case with over 20 regional awards. In 25 years of coaching, his boys have amassed a 266-44, while in 5 short years, his girls are 72-14.

Joe's coaching style is a quiet, behind the scenes disciplinarian. His teams are among the best in the state year after year, yet one rarely hears negatives about his kids conduct; indeed, they are always both tough and well behaved players. He has sent his share of them to college tennis programs, most notably John Carras, 1S at USC, Paul Mesaros and Steve Yoromoto at MSU, and Ron Cook at Kalamazoo College. He is such a gentleman that one does not begrudge him the success that he has earned. He is a credit to our profession and our organization and justly deserves a place among the best coaches that Michigan High School tennis has enjoyed.

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James Van Zandt, Galesburg Augusta

Although the communities of Galesburg and Augusta are small rural environments not conducive to developing quality tennis players, they have two distinct advantages. One is that they are located close to tradition rich Kalamazoo, in particular to Kalamazoo College with its wonderful facility, Stowe Stadium, and the expectional leadership of such men as Dr. Allan B. Stowe and Mr. George Acker. The other is its good fortune in securing the services of such men as John Caldwell and his successor, Jim Van Zandt.

When Mr. Caldwell was building the program, he met a young freshmen from neighboring Comstock whom his team had just thrashed. Coach Caldwell, as was his habit, encouraged the young man in his quest to improve in this lifetime sport. Jim did so to the point where he came back to defeat the school where he would eventually find so much success. He also went on to build a solid foundation by playing varsity at tennis rich Kalamazoo College from 1957 to 60.

When Jim graduated from Kalamazoo College, he took his skills and enthusiasm back home where he assumed the tennis coaching duties from Mr. Caldwell's successor and proceeded to expand upon the solid foundation that coach Caldwell had built. For the next 11 seasons, his teams met with exceptional success, producing an unbelievable 150-20 dual meet record. His teams also won 6 Class C/D state titles, finished 2nd four times, and 5th once. In fact, Galesburg-Augusta is the last public school to win the C-D state boys title.

In the process of achieving this, Jim's teams proved that they could play with the best in the state regardless of class. He fondly remembers journeying to Ann Arbor and, in turn, hosting the Pioneer teams at Stowe Stadium, where his teams defeated this powerful Class A school three times. His teams also more than held their own against powerful Kalamazoo area teams.

A major reason why Jim's teams did so well was his association with Kalamazoo's summer program. Because he taught at Stowe Stadium in the summertime, he would load his van every day with Galesburg-Augusta players who benefited from his all day, everyday coaching. Of course, tournament stops were part of the program. His players were among the most successful in Michigan because of their association with excellent Kalamazoo-area players, top tournament play, daily coaching from men like coach Van Zandt, George Acker, and K College varsity players, and the inspiration of watching the country's best at the National Jr. and Boys Competition.

Jim's promotion to educational administration as principal of an elementary-middle school precluded his continuation in high school tennis coaching. However, it had not stopped his service to the sport. For the past thirty years, he has worked at the USTA National 16 and 18 Tournament in virtually every capacity, from running the concessions to training the ball runners to umpiring (he fondly remembers umpiring a 5 set final match involving an 18 year old named John McEnroe in which Jim claims that the young McEnroe gave him no trouble whatsoever. He kiddingly suggests that McEnroe should have stayed with him throughout a career that might not have been so volatile). Jim is currently director of the feed-in part of the tournament.

Although Jim still is not allowed to coach high school tennis, he is back in the coaching aspect of the game by helping for the last four years in the community education program in Galesburg. The magnificent success of his teams in the 60's, together with his exceptional service to the sport, make his inclusion into the Hall of Fame most worthy.

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