Some local Hall recognition for Billie Jean … at last

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It’s logical to assume that with all her accomplishments, Long Beach native Billie Jean King’s induction into the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame (linked here) would have happened years ago.

Uh, no.

On Friday, Aug. 5, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, King will join seven others to be honored by the organization that is involved in promoting and developing the growth of the game locally.

King, who won a record 39 Grand Slam titles, help found the Women’s Tennis
Association, World Team Tennis and The Women’s Sports Foundation and already is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, will go in along with former SCTA and USTA president Frank Johnson, players Dorthy Head Knode, Pat Canning Todd, Kathy Mae Fritz and Hugh Stewart along with former UCLA player and coach Billy Martin and USC player and coach Dick Leach.

The eight will boost the number of SCTA Hall members to 70.

Johnson, the current chairman of the ATP’s Farmers Classic that will be played this week at UCLA, led to the effort to rename the USTA National Tennis Center in New York after Billie Jean King.

Knode played in the 1940s and ’50s and was ranked as high as No. 5, reaching the final of the French Open in 1955 and ’57.

Todd, ranked as high as No. 4, is best known for her four Grand Slam championships, including the 1947 French Open singles.

Fritz once ranked No. 8 on the women’s pro tour in the late ’70s and was a fixture on the women’s tour for more than 20 years.

Stewart was an NCAA champion at USC, winning the doubles title in 1951 and the singles title in 1952.

Martin was an NCAA singles champion and has been on the UCLA coaching staff for 27 years. As the head coach for the past 18 years, he has a record of 383-79 with one NCAA title.

Leach, an All-American player at USC, spent 23 years as Trojan’s men’s tennis coach, winning three national titles with a record of 529-133.

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