IN REMEMBRANCE 2019
Jolene Watanabe (1969-2019)
Jolene F. Watanabe (1969 – 2019)
Jolene F. Watanabe, 50, of Hilton Head Island, wife of Sylvain Elie and daughter of NSWTA member Janet Watanabe, died Saturday, June 22, 2019, after nearly two-year fight with cancer of the appendix. Watanabe was the head pro at the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Watanabe was recruited out of California to play for University of Nevada Las Vegas. She was the Big West Conference Player of the Year as a senior. UNLV went 10-20 in 1986 in its first season after a five-year break without a program, and the following season as a freshman Watanabe helped the Rebels go 24-13. They never had a losing record with her on the team. After her UNLV career, Watanabe played on the WTA tour for 11 years, reaching at least the second round of each of the four Grand Slam tournaments. She upset Jennifer Capriati in the first round of the 1997 Australian Open, and reached a world singles ranking as high as No. 72 in February 1997. Watanabe went on to coach the New York Buzz of World Team Tennis from 2003 to 2007, and was a United States Tennis Association certified high-performance coach.
Tribute from Shelly Works
Where does one begin to list all the wonderful qualities of Jolene Watanabe? Beautiful, smart, compassionate, caring, giving, humble, unselfish, silly, lover of life, funny, great example of sportsmanship, super player, a wonderful Christian example, animal lover and fighter even when the odds were against her. I knew of Jo from watching her on TV during her tour days. I got to know Jo when I had the privilege of playing on the 2014 45s ITF Cup team which was held in Boca Raton. I thank God that He allowed me to be on that team with her. It left a lasting impact on my life. She was such a down to earth person who was easy to talk to and openly shared the battles she had faced in 2 hip replacements and breast cancer. I got to hit with her, run sprints with her and laugh with her. We had a great team that consisted of Jo, Jenny Klitch and Alissa Finerman. I was the captain/water girl/cheerleader/warmer upper. How blessed I was to be a part of such a fantastic team!
We had won our first group round and now faced the Netherlands. We were down after the first singles and we had to win Jo’s match to stay in it. Evaline, the #1 singles player for the Netherlands was on fire. She could not miss and was pounding balls into the corners. Jo was down a set and a break. On the changeover, she was not a happy camper. She was complaining that her balls were too short or flying, her drop shot was not working and Evaline was killing her serve. I put my hand on her leg and said “Jo, look at me.” She did but not with her usual happy face. I said, “Aren’t you Jolene Watanabe?” She responded, “Yes….so?” I said, “Right! You ARE Jolene Watanabe. The same Jo that beat Jennifer Capriati. Evaline is no Jennifer Capriati but you are the same Jo. You can do this. I know you can and so do you.” She smirked, got up and proceeded to win that set and wear Evaline down to take the 3rd. Alissa and she had a battle in the doubles but won it. She never looked back after that. In a display of great tennis, she took out Virgini Bousson of France in the finals and she and Alissa won the dubs easily to give us the Gold! A moment that will forever be cherished.
Jo had a great sense of humor. Always smiling! We had an inside joke. One morning while in Boca walking out to the car to go practice, we found a very sexy looking bra by our car. I told Jo that she needed to keep better track of her bras and not leave them lying around. She laughed and told me that she was sorry and that it’s an issue she was working on. Two days, later we found another one! Before I could say a word, she said “Whew! I thought I had lost this one!”
The very best part of the Cup event (other than winning the Gold) was that Sylvain Ellie came to watch and support Jo. It was the beginning of something very special! She was so nervous but also so excited that he was there. You could tell by watching them that this was a match made in Heaven. He has been her biggest fan and supporter ever since. Thank you, Sylvain, for the happiness you brought her!
And to her mom Janet….Thank you for blessing all of us with Jolene. She held you in the highest esteem and told me how you were the rock that helped her through all the rough years. I miss you already, Jo. You left an imprint on the heart of everyone you met or competed against. You taught us to never give up and how to do it all with grace and a positive attitude. You will live on in our hearts always.
Tribute From Jenny Klitch
Every once in a while someone comes into your life who shows you, even if for a brief moment, how to care deeply, compete fiercely, befriend easily, and live life fully. Jolene Watanabe was such a person. Many NSWTA members had the good fortune to know Jolene from competitive USTA tournaments. I was lucky enough to meet her for the first time in 2014 and compete on a team with her in my very first World Cup event. When we arrived for the Margaret Court Cup event in Boca Raton, Jolene was full of energy and brimming with confidence. She confided in us that her (then) new boyfriend, Sylvain, would be attending. She was nervous and excited for him to see her play. It was obvious that Jolene was madly in love with Sylvain. So obvious that we poked fun at their constant PDA throughout the week. Jolene channeled her love for Sylvain, her teammates, country, and the sport to play inspired tennis that week. She won every match at #1 singles and doubles to help bring home the gold medal for TeamUSA. Although she had single-minded focus on the court, as soon as she won the deciding match, she hugged her teammates, then raced over to embrace Sylvain. It was a gift to see how happy she was in that moment. Jolene showed us all how to be a fierce, focused competitor on the court, and a kind, gentle, and loving soul off the court. We will miss her. The NSWTA extends its condolences to Sylvain and Jolene’s family.
45 ITF Cup team: Klitch, Watanabe, Works, Finerman
ITF Cup Team Dinner
Lynn Little (1937 – 2019)
Lynn passed away May 10, losing a long battle with cancer. She was 81. Her husband Ned predeceased her in 2015 after 45 years of marriage. Lynn graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1958. She spent her career with Chevron Oil, retiring after 30 years working at their corporate headquarters in San Francisco and later in San Ramon. She lived in Orinda for years before spending more time in Palm Desert, where she and her husband moved full time in 2005. Though an active golfer, Lynn was best known for her skill and success on the tennis court. Born into an active tennis family, she was a lifelong tournament tennis player. But it was a little later in life that she enjoyed her greatest success in senior age group tennis tournaments. From 1992 to 2016 she won 55 USTA award balls. Later, playing as a USTA American Team member in international tournaments, she won two world doubles championships in matches played in Croatia and Istanbul. She won national and international tournaments on all four types of court surfaces - Hardcourt, Clay, Grass and Indoor.
There are no services planned. The family suggests gifts be made to The Living Desert or to your favorite charity in Lynn's memory.
Andi Polisky hosted a Palm Desert gathering to celebrate the life of Lynn Little. Pictured sitting are Tad Yamaguchi, Babarba, Back (left to right) Roz, Lis, Molly, Paige, Luci and hostess Andi. Not pictured are approximately 20 other tennis players who gave a toast and talked of Lynn's great forehand and unwavering sportsmanship through the years from Northern California to her retirement in Palm Desert.
Margaret Anderson (1928 – 2019)
Margaret passed away April 29, 2019 after a two-year fight with lung lymphoma. At the end she succumbed to pneumonia. Margaret was President of the NSWTA for the years 2001-2003. She remained our long-time Parliamentarian, keeping us honest at our meetings and gently chiding us when the photos in the magazine got too small. She was an energetic and helpful fixture at certain tournaments, even when she had to stop playing in them.
From her friend Carol Cofer:
Margaret had been sent to a rehab hospital and was there about three weeks. She thought she was getting better, her voice was stronger and she had enough wind to talk on the phone for awhile. I talked to her several times during her time in rehab. She was looking forward to moving in November to a Life Care community, and was in the process of selling her house, but died before that could be completed. She and I took several cruises together. She was a great travel companion. I snore at night, but she was deaf in one ear so she would just turn over onto her other side. She did a lot for women's tennis. We'll all miss her.
Tributes (from her fellow NSWTA Presidents)
Margaret Anderson was a wonderful role model for me. She was a true leader and extremely reliable. I have shown many opponents my Up/Down sticker on the end of my racquet. When I was president of NSWTA, Margaret had 1,000 of those stickers printed. She sold them for $1 each and donated $873 to NSWTA (after printing expenses!). My grandchildren all have them on their racquets! Even after Margaret stopped playing tennis, she always came to Houston to serve as parliamentarian at the NSWTA annual meeting. She was a truly fine woman who will be missed.
-- Sue Bramlette (NSWTA President 2007-2009)
Margaret always kept our annual meetings on the straight and narrow because she was one of the few people who really knew Roberts Rules of Order. One thing I learned from Margaret at the beginning of my presidency is that you don't use the gavel to call on people to speak at the meeting. It is to be used only to open and to close the meeting. Period! If you followed Margaret's advice you would never go wrong. She will be sorely missed.
-- Cindy Babb (NSWTA President 2013-2015)
Margaret was one of the key people to get the USTA to use the Comen tiebreak while she was on the USTA Senior Comp Committee. Once she got an idea on something she thought would help tennis, she was dogged in her efforts. She also ran a number of tournaments in Portland and entertained all of the players at her home during the event.
She loved tennis and was a true supporter of our game. May she rest in peace.
-- Kathy Langer (NSWTA President 2015-2017)
All who came in contact with Margaret were touched very positively in some way. Even though she hasn’t been able to compete for the past few years, she would always make her way to Club Green Meadows in Vancouver, Washington to visit with and support her peers in the Indoor Nationals. Never without a smile on her face, she LOVED tennis, but she loved her “comrades” more. She was a blessing to all who knew her.
-- Brenda Carter (NSWTA President 2009-2011)
Wynn Cooper (1949-2019)
NSWTA lost a dear friend and tennis enthusiast when Wynn Cooper passed away from breast cancer on March 26th. Wynn was amazingly kind and thoughtful and she loved tennis more than anyone I know. Apart from her bookkeeping business, tennis was her favorite pastime through which she made many good friends. I met Wynn at an Intersectional tournament in Austin, Texas. Carol Wood introduced me to her since I needed a bookkeeper and I hired her on the spot. I figured she had to be good and trustworthy since she was a tennis player, and I was right. Wynn was dependable, incredibly nice, detailed and always willing to help. We kept her very busy for 13 years, and she never complained. Wynn enjoyed hearing about our lives and our families, but Wynn was intensely private, so we never knew too much about her. Wynn would be honored to know that I’m writing about her and that so many of you considered her a friend. She was my good friend and an integral part of my law firm, and she will be truly missed. Thanks to all of you for making Wynn’s life so full. -- Lisa Dunner
Joyce Ann Gaddis (1947-2019)
Joyce Anne Gaddis, 72, passed away on July 7, 2019 at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis after a brief illness. Joyce was born in New Castle, Indiana on February 16, 1947. She had a lifelong passion for sports and as a youth, played pitcher in the New Castle Boys Little League program. Joyce was a graduate and valedictorian of the 1965 class at Chrysler High School in New Castle. She received Bachelor and Master degrees from Ball State University where she also played basketball and tennis. Joyce taught business classes and coached the tennis team at Pendleton Heights High School. She retired in 2003 after 34 years of service. Joyce maintained a love for tennis throughout her life and had been playing one week prior to her death. She was inducted in 1997 to the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame. She was also an avid traveler and had visited all fifty states. Joyce was a life member of the NSWTA and participated in many national tennis championships on all surfaces over her lifetime.
Margaret (left) with friend and competitor Rita Price (right)