Dave Berles
East Kentwood
John Ghindia
Mike Hairabedian
Inkster Cherry Hill
& Wayne Memorial
Ward Olsen
Larry Seger

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

Dave Berles, East Kentwood

Some tennis coaches, including recent Hall of Fame inductees, were former football and basketball players who fortuitously picked up the game, fell in love with it, and made it a lifelong vocation. Others inherited their love of the game from friends, neighbors, the group that hung around the local courts, or family. Dave Berles, in a sense, was born to play and coach tennis. His grandfather played the game until he was 81 while his father played until he was 83. Dave himself was a star at perennial powerhouse East Grand Rapids in the 60's when he and his partner captured the regional and state Class B doubles titles. He went on to play for Grand Rapids Community College and Michigan State University.

Whatever Dave gained from these rich interscholastic tennis experiences he richly gave back. He has very successfully coached the East Kentwood teams for all or part of four decades. At the time of his retirement this past year, he had presided over 211 Falcon dual meets and his teams won 165 of them. His squads competed in over 100 tournaments, his team qualified for the state championships 5 times, and he has taken two outstanding individuals, Lee Isler and Brian Hodge, to the finals. He has seen 18 of his charges play for Michigan colleges and universities.

However, Dave's expertise as a player was only one reason why East Kentwood squads have been so successful. He was the backbone and coordinator of an intercity program for the East Kentwood Recreation Department from 1972-76, a program in which hundreds of young people and adults participated. He still spends his summer time teaching in Bay View. As a counselor, he knows how to listen and as principal Larry Gorbett puts it: "[He] does not judge students. It's this attitude that creates a positive environment that allows students to feel comfortable and willing to work, whether they are on the tennis court or in his office." Perhaps an even better testimony of the respect and affection that Dave has fostered over the years comes from football coach Arvin Anderson whose sons played tennis at East Kentwood. He writes: "Both of our boys, one a physician and the other a financial analyst, live out of this area. When they return to visit, they always want to include a visit with Dave. They feel that they are as important to him now as they were when they played on his tennis teams."

Someone once said that the world we get is usually the world we deserve (We get out of something what we put into it). However, the question becomes, is it also the world that the others around us deserve? For Dave Berles, the testimony of colleagues and players, past and present, is a resounding affirmative. His consummate skill as a tennis instructor and his accomplishments as a high school coach have left a legacy in East Kentwood that will be hard to match. The achievements of the coach and the qualities of the man make him every bit the equal of those who have preceded him into the MHSTeCA Hall of Fame.

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John Ghindia, Ecorse

To those of us in our midst who are a bit cynical, the stereotypical successful high school tennis coach is, perhaps, an individual who has captured several state championships, who has a successful middle school feeder system firmly in place, who has 8 beautiful tennis courts at the high school and another 8 available at a nearby park, and who benefits from the local racquet club where all of his players enroll in excellence programs. The absence of all these advantages is what makes John Ghindia's career at Ecorse High School so remarkable. In an era and area that reminds some of us historically-minded folks of the legendary Jean and Jerry Hoxie, he was a grass roots coach without the literal grass.

In addition, one does not envision the community of Ecorse, in aspect or in reputation, when contemplating historical high school tennis powers. However, local coaches might remember that back in the days when the state tournament format enabled three good players to win state championships, Ecorse teams under John's guidance beat Jean Hoxie's perennial state champions from Hamtramck in no fewer than three successive dual meets, all by predictable scores of 4-3.

John grew up in Ecorse and played many sports but didn't participate in tennis on an organized basis. To say that he was an outstanding athlete is a considerable understatement - John was a starting quarterback on three University of Michigan football teams (1946-48), all of whom won Big Ten Championships, one which captured a Rose Bowl, and another which won the national championship. Predictably, when he came back to Ecorse, his services were eagerly sought out for other sports besides tennis. However, when the opportunity to coach the sport presented itself in 1964, he characteristically seized the chance.

Knowing very little about the game, John went to Mrs. Hoxie for advice. He picked up valuable drills, including Mrs. Hoxies penchant for workouts in the gym during the wintertime, long before the advent of indoor clubs. For years (back when this was legal), John had his players report for 5:00 a.m. workouts all winter long. Results were gratifying - John's kids captured 251 wins against 82 losses from 1964 to the time when Coach Ghindia retired from teaching in 1986.

In other words, John performed to a lesser degree for Ecorse what the Hoxies did for Hamtramck promote the game of tennis in the most unlikely of areas for kids who had very little going for them in terms of natural advantages. In doing so, he was rarely without two jobs. He became director of the Ecorse Recreation Department in 1962 and used this position to further tennis in his community. In addition, all five of own children played high school tennis.

This remarkable gentleman is no stranger to halls of fame, having been inducted to the Catholic League Hall of Fame and the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame. It seems most fitting and proper that we of the MHSTeCA now add our small laurel to the already considerable accomplishments of this outstanding individual.

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Mike Hairabedian, Inkster Cherry Hill/Wayne Memorial

In 1958, Cherry Hills High School opened its doors to students for the first time. In 1986, the school closed as the district consolidated with Wayne-Westland. In 1964, Mike Hairabedian became Cherry Hills tennis coach. In 1986, he was still its tennis coach. When his players went from Cherry Hill to Wayne Memorial High School, he was there as their coach, teacher, and mentor. This dedication, commitment, longevity, and continuity has made the program in this community one of stability and success over the years. Tennis players have known for a generation that this man would be there for them and the results has been rewarding for both.

Mike's boys and girls have given him over 300 wins and 7 Tri-River League titles over 30 years. He accounts for this success, in part, because of a summer program in which players were charged one dollar to participate (By the end of each session, they received the dollar back plus some gifts). This program reaped its rewards both in player proficiency and loyalty. For instance, Mike takes pride in the fact that even at the end of some dismal seasons, no player ever missed a practice. He notes that at the end of one up-to-then winless season, every girl was at the final match enthusiastically cheering the team on to a 4-3 win that became the only victory of the fall. If team character is a reflection of the coach, this type of behavior speaks volumes.

Coaches who follow high school tennis will remember the name Eric Berg, Mike's most powerful player. In these glory days, Mike took Eric to the state tournament all four year while the team won the regional title during Eric's freshman year (the teams other regional title came in 1977). These accomplishments put Cherry Hill on the map. Coaches have noted that Cherry Hill had always added quality to any regional it competed in. However, to his credit, Mike has always been the same concerned, supportive individual whether his teams were winning or losing. His focus has been on the joy of playing a lifetime sport, something Mike himself exemplifies through his active participation in the Birmingham Tennis Club where he served as president from 1982 to 1984.

Mikes attitude toward the game translates into a lifetime of caring for kids. He still fields teams even though this effort is a struggle in this difficult pay-to-play era. He bends virtually everyone's ear concerning issues that promote high school tennis. He is widely regarded as a hard worker who has always done a good job even in the times when he had minimal talent to work with. He is the kind of conscientious individual who hand-delivers his entry to the regional manager. He combines a geniality, a pleasant outlook, and a good sense of humor with a no-nonsense attitude toward doing ones best. A generation of young people in the Cherry Hill-Wayne area have been privileged to call him coach and we, in turn are privileged to not only call him one of our own but to honor him with induction into our hall of fame.

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Ward Olson, Monroe

It is worth noting that throughout its long history, Monroe High School has only had four tennis coaches. The first, Fielding Tim Tambling entered our hall of fame in the first class which was in 1 986. The second, Lawrence Alto, was inducted in 1988. Another, Stan Noland is no stranger to our association having served with distinction as president as well as in various positions of importance in SEMTA. This leaves Ward Olson, who has coached Monroe boys teams for over 30 years. Given the company he keeps, one might conclude that to coach in Monroe is to inevitably court great honor.

This is not to imply that Ward has been dragged along on the coattails of great men all these years. Indeed, he stands on his own merits. From 1957 to his retirement this past June, his boys and girls teams accumulated over 400 dual meet victories. Over a 36 year span, this lshpeming native not only filled Coach Altos shoes but launched the girls program in 1971. His boys teams captured 247 dual meet wins while suffering only one losing season in 22 springs while his girls were 160-117 in 21 autumns without a losing season.

Ward did not assume the heavy mantle of responsibility in Monroe unprepared. Although he had no training in the sport (he competed in basketball and track in high school and high jumped for MSU in college), he was not afraid to ask for help, read books, attended clinics, talked to coaches, and learned many lessons from the kids themselves. In addition, he spent no fewer than 14 years developing interest in tennis at the junior high. He organized paddleball tournaments in his physical education classes and ran badminton competition before school started in the morning. Those who showed tennis promise got a big invitation to go out for the team when they got to high school.

Ward credits the community and his predecessors for much of his success, calling Monroe a real tennis town (This is, after all, the city which nurtured Vic Braden). However, his longevity and commitment helped to foster an atmosphere and tradition that went, over the years, from father to son and brother to brother. The result is that Monroe has maintained a reputation as a power in tennis statewide.

Monroe is, indeed, not only a community of fine high school tennis players but outstanding tennis coaches. Ward Olson deservedly takes his place in our hall of fame beside not only those outstanding individuals in his own community but throughout the state.

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Larry Seger, Middleville

Middleville is located 30 miles south of Grand Rapids. As befits its name, it is a relatively small community which is home to a Class B high school. Given the lack of natural advantages that this area offers to tennis players, it is nothing short of astonishing that the tennis coach at Middleville High School has won more dual meets than any active coach in the state of Michigan. Over the past 25 years Larry Segers teams have captured an astounding 481 dual meet victories. It is heart-warming to realize that he has accomplished this feat in an area where tennis was not paramount until his influence made it so.

Larry started coaching the sport in 1969, in part, because nobody else wanted the job. Prior to that time, the boys had captured just one league championship back in 1954. However, since that 1969 season, his boys teams have won eight conference titles and two regional titles. In addition, they have captured the runner-up spot seven times, and have not finished lower than third in the past 20 years. After the breaking in period of two losing seasons in 1969-70, the boys have had 23 consecutive winning seasons.

The story of Larry's girls teams is even more impressive. He started the program in 1974 when they finished seventh in their league at 0-9. The second year they finished fifth (4-7), the third year they were second (9-6) and then won four straight conference championships in the ensuing years. In all, the girls have produced 12 conference championship teams in the past 20 years, four runner-up teams, two regional titles, and one second-place regional finish. They have been undefeated for the last three seasons.

Together, Larry's teams have won 76% of their matches over the years, 11 conference titles, four regional titles. Out of 44 seasons, they have experienced only six losing seasons, most of them in the formative years. They have had no fewer than eight undefeated seasons.

Because Middleville is located 30 miles from Grand Rapids, very few of Larry's players actually join a club. As a result, he makes hay while the sun shines which is in the summer months. For the past 24 years, he has been so busy giving lessons, running camps, and conducting tournaments that he has seldom found time for a two week vacation. He has offered up to eight tennis leagues each summer for 12 years, conducted a local tournament that included one week and two weekends of play for both adult and junior players, offered camps for 17 years to junior players, and run an intercity program for the past three summers where he has been league commissioner for the past two. As a result of this considerable effort and dedication, tennis has grown in quantity as well as quality in this community: 52 players signed up for the girls tennis team this past fall. This is a simply incredible achievement when one recalls that as Larry started coaching in 1968, Middleville had only two courts at one site and two courts at another.

Larry has not been a well-kept secret within the confines of Middleville or even of the west side of the state. His colleagues have named him regional coach of the year several times and he was voted state Class B Coach of the Year by our association in 1986. Given what has transpired over these years, it is most appropriate that this quiet but incredibly productive individual is being inducted into the MHSTeCA Hall of Fame.

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