By Rob Kiser
As the son of Mickey and Pippy Booth, Andy Booth new early on that tennis was always going to be a big part of his life.
“Tennis has been a part of my lifer for as long as I can remember,” Booth, who will be inducted into the Miami Valley Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame at 7 p.m. tonight at Fairmont High School, said. “I can’t remember what age I started at, I have been playing for that long.”
And when Booth found out about the Hall of Fame induction, he couldn’t have been more excited.
“I was extremely honored,” Booth said. “Especially when I look at the credentials of some of the people that are in the Hall of Fame. I am really excited. Some of my former coaches and lot of people I know and played against are in the Hall of Fame.”
And there is an added bonus.
Booth will join his mom as the only parent-child inductees.
“My mom (Pippy) is in,” “I think we are the only parent child combo in the Hall, so that is pretty neat. I am excited about that.”
The 1989 Lehman Catholic graduate was a three-time state qualifier, once in doubles and twice in singles — still the only Lehman player to advance to state three times. He was the team MVP all four years.
“Playing high school tennis was a great experience,” Booth said. “Even though we were a small school, we played against great competition and it was a lot of fun.”
He also knew by high school that he wanted to be involved in tennis for the rest of his life.
“I knew at an early age that tennis is all I wanted to do,” Booth said. “By the time I was 15, I realized I was never going to be able to play tennis professionally.”
He went on to play at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a BA. He played both number four singles and second doubles for the Bearcats.
”I played for two years at the University of Cincinnati,” he said. “Then I had an injury and focused on my studies.”
He had no idea then the great life and opportunities tennis was going to provide for him.
It started at UC.
During summer months he taught tennis with the Inner City Youth Tennis Federation at the Parks and Recreation tennis courts for 2 years in Cincinnati. He then became head pro at the Lake Placid (NY) Tennis Club for two years where he was Johann Kriek’s hitting partner. And he spent one year in Burlington, Vermont.
After graduation from UC, he became the assistant pro at the Crested Butte (Colorado) Country Club followed by the head pro position. A promotion followed as he was selected head pro at the Snow Mass Country Club in Aspen, Colorado. He is now an Elite Professional at the prestigious Gates Tennis Center in Denver, Colorado.
Andy served on the board of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) – Intermountain for seven years. He was as elected president twice and served on the USPTA executive committee for three years. While president in 2014 he was among the tennis pros helping with Kids Day on center court at the US Open tennis tournament. He was invited into Venus Williams’s executive box for various matches meeting many touring pros.
He has enjoyed hitting with actors such as Jimmy Tolken of Top Gun fame.
Andy is still playing competitively in Colorado at the 5.0 level and recently won the 45 and over City (Denver) Open mixed doubles tournament.
“It is just amazing where tennis has taken me,” Booth said. “I was an instructor at Lake Placid. I have gotten to work with some of the greatest coaches and got to work with some of the greatest players.”
Booth has no trouble picking out a career highlight.
“I got to hit at Wimbledon,” he said. “I still remember when I walked on centre court at Wimbledon. That is something I will never forget.”
And he will add to those memories and an amazing journey Wednesday, when he is honored with a well-deserved Hall of Fame induction.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.