Top Senior Player from Alpharetta, GA
Few Southern players have shown the devotion to playing high-level tennis at all ages as Tom Smith.
While Smith turned 65 this year, he keeps up an active playing schedule in adult tournaments and USTA League. A resident of Alpharetta, GA, a northern suburb of Atlanta, he also plays on Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association (ALTA) teams.
Among his long list of accomplishments are winning a World Individual Doubles Championship with Southern and Georgia Tennis Hall of Famer Hugh Thomson as well as 43 gold balls (emblematic of capturing USTA national championships). He has also collected 25 silver balls (which go to finalists) and 13 bronze balls (for third-place finishes). In addition, he was honored many times as Senior Player of the Year by USTA Southern, USTA Georgia and USPTA Southern section.
Smith was a member of the 2012 Men’s Super Seniors 9.0 combined USTA League national champion team that also featured two Southern Tennis Hall of Fame members (Steve Duffel and Thomson) as well as Marty Pearson, a Mississippi Tennis Hall of Famer.
A notable force on the world tennis stage, Smith has been selected by the USTA to represent the USA on the ITF Vets World Senior Davis Cup Team 10 times and served as the team captain six times. In 2013 they won the world championship in Austria.
“The first time I played on a national team was 2002. Playing for your country is the greatest feeling,” Smith said. “It was fantastic to be standing there with ‘USA’ on our backs at the (ITF World Championships) opening ceremonies.”
Smith has always enjoyed playing doubles more than singles. Even though he’s won five Gold Balls in singles, he explained, “I wouldn’t walk across the street to play singles. … I’ve always enjoyed the team aspect of doubles. I’ll always say yes when asked to play on a team, whether it be for the United States or a USTA League team.”
Smith has won national championships with 16 different partners, many of those being Hall of Famers in their own right. In fact, Phil Landauer, a Floridian who is in the Midwest Tennis Hall of Fame, has been Smith’s most frequent partner.
In 2008 Smith had a career year. Playing with Landauer, they won the “Golden Grand Slam” by taking four USTA national titles on four different surfaces: hard, clay, grass and indoor. That year Smith received USTA Southern’s Slew Hester Male Player of the Year award.
Landauer, who played at the University of Arkansas, remembered the last match to seal the 2008 slam, “A windstorm delayed all the matches that day by five hours which moved our match into the 20,000-seat stadium court (where we ended up playing our most important match) with only seven people watching.”
Smith grew up in Southern California and first started playing on asphalt courts in Buena Park. A self-taught tennis player, he never competed in the juniors but played on his junior high and high school teams. Smith attended the University of California at Long Beach on a tennis scholarship.
“I’ve never taken a tennis lesson,” said Smith, who was also the captain of his high school basketball team. He explained that in junior high and high school, none of his coaches were tennis players. “Even at Long Beach State, our coach just came out to run drills and make up the lineup.”
Smith was a policeman in Los Angeles County before moving to Atlanta, where he now resides with his wife, Debbie. They have five children between them.
Tom Smith, Georgia, 2018
- Achieved the rare “Golden Grand Slam” by taking USTA national titles on four different surfaces with Phil Landauer in 2008
- Won the World Individual Doubles Championship with Hugh Thomson
- Winner of 43 gold balls (emblematic of capturing USTA national championships)
- Collected 25 silver balls and 13 bronze balls in USTA championships
- Honored with the 2008 USTA Southern Slew Hester Male Player of the Year award
- Named Senior Player of the Year by USTA Georgia and USPTA Southern section
- Member of the 2012 Men’s Super Seniors 9.0 combined USTA League national champions
- Came in third or better in a USTA championship in every year since 1995