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Florence tennis court named for beloved tennis pro Ron James

On December 4 the most prominent court at the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center, was named the Ron James Court in honor of Ronald Avan “Ron” James, who passed away in February of 2019.  Mr. James, an accomplished tennis teacher and player and a highly respected member of the Florence Tennis Community, was a mainstay of adult and junior beginner tennis for many years, managing and conducting programs for both the Florence Tennis Association and the City Parks and Recreation Department.  

A brief ceremony featured several speakers who lauded Mr. James’ organizational skills, teaching ability, volunteer spirit and selfless commitment to helping others.  These included City of Florence Director of Tennis Rob Hill, former City Parks and Recreation Director Darlene Buchanan, past Florence Tennis Association President Ernie James, and Janet James, who thanked the City and the Tennis Association for the tribute to her late husband.

The large crowd applauded as a sign marking the court with its new name was unveiled.  The sign, which describes Mr. James as a “tennis professional, teacher, coach, role model, and one of the finest men who ever walked onto a tennis court,” is permanently attached to the fence surrounding the court. 

Mr. James, a Florence native who held degrees from Morgan State University and Rhode Island University, spent 30 years as a coach and teacher in New York.  In 2006, he retired and returned to Florence, where he quickly became an important member of the community.  He was active in his church and a leader in the tennis community, where he was a highly-respected teaching professional.  A towering personality and a compelling role model, he introduced hundreds of children and adults to the sport of tennis, to fair play and sportsmanship, and to the ideas of winning with humility and losing with grace.  

The ceremony followed the Florence Tennis Association’s annual Polar Bear Tournament.  This tournament, held every December, is an enjoyable round-robin doubles event where the entry fee is a new toy.  This year over 80 players and other FTA members brought toys.  Captain Tim Scott, who accepted the toys on behalf of the Salvation Army, thanked the FTA for helping make Christmas brighter for dozens of area children.