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OVERHEAD SMASH: Women's Tennis Pioneer Carmen Lampe Boland

December 6, 2006 09:34 AM

Born and raised in Forest Hills, N.Y., Carmen's "second home" was the West Side Tennis Club – the official USTA facility where more than 50 US Opens were played before the tournament moved to Flushing Meadows.

Carmen's father taught tennis at West Side, and this club is where her passion for the sport commenced.  As a child, Carmen joined the club in 1950 and she is a lifetime member.

1950-54 – Carmen attended Rollins College in Orlando and played on a full tennis scholarship – rare for a female athlete in the 50s!

1955 – Carmen graduated from Rollins College and moved back to Forest Hills, N.Y.

1949-62 – Carmen played professionally for 13 years on what is today known as the WTA (Women's Tennis Association) tour.  During this time, the women's tour was considered amateur tennis because women were unpaid players.  To have their expenses paid, women had to be selected to join the tour.

"If it weren't for Billy Jean King," Carmen said.  "Women might still be playing for no money."

1959 – Carmen played at Wimbeldon.  Women who won during this time were awarded paid travel expenses, meals and a plaque or trophy.

1962 – Carmen's biggest claim to fame: Margaret Newfield Dupont defeated Carmen.

1978 – The US Open moved from West Side Tennis Club to Flushing Meadows, (where it is played today); Jimmy Connors won the US Open; Carmen was invited to compete in the US Open's senior doubles event.

1978 – 15-year-old Andy Gladstone – currently USTA Florida's director of competitive tennis – spent a week with Carmen at West Side Country Club learning how to be a ball boy!  Andy remembers Carmen well.

"I remember there were some really good junior players there," Andy said.  "I watched her hit with these kids, and I was really impressed by her playing ability!

"We have reconnected through tennis a few times since then, and it is always good to see her.  She is a really nice lady with a warm personality."

Post-tour, Carmen remains very active in tennis.  For more than 30 years, Carmen has been officiating tournaments, including many US Opens.  When it comes to tennis, Carmen has been involved with five-year-old children to college kids to seniors and everywhere in between.  She simply loves the game.

Carmen now volunteers with the Lee County Tennis Association, teaching Ralleyball to five and six-year-olds.  She lives in Ft. Myers with Bob, her husband of many years.  Bob and Carmen have three grown children (who all play tennis!) and four grand children.

"I have two grandsons who are coming to visit," she said.  "I am really excited for them to participate in the Ralleyball program while they are here so I can hit some balls with them!"

 

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