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Carol Schneider – The Tennis Game Loses One Of A Kind

Carol Schneider with Henry Talbert at US Open

 

 

By Mark Winters

 

On Saturday, March 3rd, Southern California tennis and actually the game itself lost a legend. Though she would never consider her years of involvement in the sport anything more than fulfilling a long-standing commitment, Carol Schneider worked tirelessly, and never sought to be in the limelight, while bringing about change.

 

The ranking system used in Southern California, before computers took on the task, was a product of Schneider’s painstaking efforts. She came up with formulas that improved the overall ranking program. She was always looking ahead, preparing to deal with the restiveness that was present in the ranking process. When the USTA discovered she had these unrivaled talents, Schneider was made a member of the national ranking committee. In time, she headed the group, and stressed the importance of evaluating players fairly in a sensible manner. Parents and players would agree with those who served on her ranking committees – she was thorough, practical and precise.

 

For an individual who spent so much time in the sport, 40 years to be exact, Schneider was a tennis exception. She analyzed situations and communicated directly. Even more noteworthy, her ego never played a role in her work. Given her career in the game, she had every right to feel self-important, but then that just wasn’t Carol Schneider.

 

A long-serving member of the Southern California Tennis Association Board of Directors, her composure earned praise particularly during the time spent as Vice-President of the organization. She was thorough and efficient. Her philosophy was simple – problems have solutions that can be found.

 

These qualities led her to become a member and in time, the Chairman of the USTA Nominating Committee, which is a demanding responsibility. In addition, she chaired the Women’s Events – International Committee, and served on the USTA Long Range Planning Committee, Event Representative for Women’s 35 tournaments on the Adult & Senior Competition Committee and was honorary Chairman of the USTA International Senior Competition Committee.

 

Given her administrative background, few realized how good she was on court. She was ranked as a junior in Southern California and also nationally. As a senior, she scored the same double. Her performance at the 1968 National Public Parks Championships verified her playing skill. She won the Open doubles with Evelyn Houseman, as well as the Women’s 40 doubles with Phyllis Adler.

 

She teamed with Catherine Duke to claim the first National Women’s 45 Indoor doubles title in 1974, and with Dodo Cheney for the 1977 National Women’s 50 Grass Court trophy. In 1981, she and Vilma Gordon were the National Women’s 50 Grass Court double winners. In addition, Schneider captained the Women’s 40 Young Cup team in international competition for 17 years.

 

Pat Yeomans, the author of the preeminent book on local tennis history titled “Southern California Tennis Champions Centennial 1887-1987”, pointed out, “Carol could really play, but her knees fell apart. I also think that [the] ranking[s] couldn’t do without her.”

 

In 1990, she received an SCTA Service Award. The USTA presented her with the Service Bowl in 1978 and the Seniors’ Service Award in 1987. In 2000, she was honored twice. The International Tennis Federation saluted her dedication, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame did the same, honoring her with the prestigious Samuel Hardy Award.

 

During her time in tennis, she achieved a number of firsts other than the National 45 doubles victory. The SCTA presented her with its first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984. In 2003, she was named the inaugural USTA Barbara Williams Leadership Award recipient. She was also a member of the initial SCTA Senior Hall of Fame induction class in 2009.

 

Schneider, who was born in New York, but grew up in Santa Monica, passed away peacefully from natural causes. She was married to architect, Frank Schneider, for 68 years. Together they raised four children – Randy, Cliff, Tracy and Lisa – in the Hollywood Hills. Once they retired to Newport Beach in the early 1980’s, her five grandchildren, Brittany, Laura, Lauren, Skye, and Katie became the joyful focus of her life. (Sadly, two of her children, Randy and Cliff, passed away in the 1990’s.)

 

When Jim Hillman, the renowned former SCTA Director of Junior Tennis died in the fall of 2015, Schneider admitted, “If I had to give a short, one word, description of Jim, it would be caring. If I had to give another word, it would be worrier. Someone who did as good a job as Jim, worries.”

 

The same can be said of Carol Schneider who will be remembered for her selfless spirit, unwavering conviction for what she believed and her desire to make a real difference…And, it is quite clear she accomplished her mission.

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