CLASS OF 2001
Keith Marshall told his athletic eighth-grade son, "Pick any sport, I don't care which one, but just try to be really good at it." Mike Marshall chose tennis, inspired by an older player, Dick Gilkey, at Seminole High School in the mid-1980s. Dick had been injured in a traffic accident, and doctors said he might not ever walk again. His courage and perseverance proved the doctors wrong and proved to be an inspiration to the younger players.
Keith became a good friend of Coach Dewey Allen, both devotedly encouraging the team from courtside. Keith, Dewey, and Arnold Richardson attended a Missouri Valley tournament in Kansas, returning home disgusted with the way the tournament was run. Keith said, "Surely someone can do a better job than that." Keith proved to be that someone, directing numerous tennis tournaments in Oklahoma for years.
The policy was that each Oklahoma tournament should mail entries and accompanying match details to the prospective players. Marshall had a print shop and determined that an annual tennis book, listing data for all the Oklahoma tournaments, would be more efficient. For over 30 years, Marshall's Duplicate Service in Seminole printed the annual Oklahoma tennis guidebook with entry blanks for each tournament. Also included were each division's ranking for the previous year.
Marshall was one of the founders of the Oklahoma District Tennis Association (ODTA) and the Seminole Tennis Association (STA). In the era before computers and the internet, he spent thousands of hours at a typewriter recording opponents and scores of every match of every player in an effort to standardize seeding procedures. His records became widely accepted, and his records were passed from tournament to tournament. A true labor of love.
He held a open meeting before each tournament he directed when anyone who wished - player, coach, parent, or spectator - could supply statistics relative to making sure the tournament seeding were fair. No more permitting the host coach to do all the seedings so his own players could get the best draw! He carefully followed USTA rules as he sought to give both the novice player and the experienced player an equal opportunity. Over protests by some, he faithfully determined rankings, even in small tournaments, by USTA directives.
Encountering over-zealous tennis moms and dads (a term that has special meaning to tournament directors), Marshall reminded them, "The rules say, No coaching is permitted from the sidelines during the match." In his firm, but pleasant manner, he just invited parents to sit down and watch.
During the 1960s and '70s, junior players were housed free by local tennis families during tournaments. The Marshall household overflowed with players, enjoying the food too.
He initiated the Silver 60's tournament in Seminole especially for the senior players. It became an outstanding senior tournament as well as a special social event for longtime friends.
Keith Marshall, 6'-2" puffing on his pipe, was a familiar sight at the draw board. He was a tease, dubbing tennis a "silly sport," but he didn't really mean it. He loved the sport. He passed away on May 18, 1991, at age 70, leaving a large void in the Oklahoma tennis scene.